Table of Contents January/February 2019

A year of science, with context. That's the goal of our revamped year in science issue. We've taken the biggest discoveries and results from 2018 and grouped them by field so you can see where each story fits in the larger space of inquiry. We hope to give you a sense of the state of each field, through the breakthroughs that rise to the top.

From the environment to genetics to space, these are the scientific achievements that defined 2018, and which lay the groundwork for even more exciting accomplishments in 2019.

Digital editions


Hard to Swallow
A healthy 70-year-old starts to lose weight, energy and the ability to drink and eat.
A new mother wants to know if she's losing her mind, or if it's all in her head.
Behind the astronomical dispute that’s splitting apart the cosmos.
Efficient slumber may be a hallmark of humanity.
New research saves squishy sea life and explains the “Atacama Alien,” but we still want to know who drilled a hole in a Soyuz spacecraft.
Cataloging Life
Biologists’ most ambitious plan is just firing up.


Finding a Barrow, Barely
Even with the latest tech, luck plays a role in archaeological discovery.
Everything in Moderation
How well do kids balance sleep, screens and exercise?
Building Blocks
Martian dirt, spinning robots and a gut check.
The technique could provide a new way for biologists to catalogue biodiversity.
Environment and Climate
As our world faces unprecedented change, scientists amp up efforts to understand what the future holds.
The State of Science, 2019: Genetics
Researchers continue to wrangle with CRISPR while others debate the ethics of catching criminals with public genealogy data.
State of Science: Earth's Flora and Fauna
From huge penguin colonies to the tiniest of flies, researchers are making some extreme discoveries about Earth’s biodiversity — and the threats it faces.
Powerful black holes, the solar system, faraway galaxies and more spill their secrets.
Thanks to telescopes and probes, our solar system becomes a little less mysterious.
Ancient DNA analysis unlocks the complexity of human migrations, and drones and lasers reveal hidden structures.

More than two decades after Dolly the sheep, cloning finally passed a key milestone: The first cloned monkeys. What happens now?

A new gut pill could diagnose and even treat problems from inside our bodies.
A promising candidate for an HIV vaccine raises hopes.
Fossils from unexpected places, and new ways to study them, are changing how we see the deep past.

Bringing ancient brains back to life may unlock clues into human brain evolution.

The exploration of neuron communication is taking neuroscience into new frontiers.
Pharmaceutical failures have raised doubts about the role of beta-amyloid plaque in Alzheimer's disease.
Contradictory studies on neurogenesis are challenging what we know about the aging brain.
The State of Science: Topological Treasure-Trove
Physicists rediscover useful materials.

Spectroscopy reveals there's more to art than what meets the eye. 

Quantum computing gets its “Hello World” moment.

Researchers are making big strides with machines that pull moisture from the air and convert it into drinking water.  

Researchers gain insights into human brain evolution and find evidence of our ancestors in new places.

Just as countries around the world get serious about their plastic waste, a change in Chinese import policy will leave 111 million tons of recycled plastic with nowhere to go between now and 2030.