During the months and months of BP's ongoing oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, and even after it was finally halted, researchers struggled to determine how the oil hidden below the ocean surface was moving, and whether it was disrupting Gulf ecosystems. Then in November, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration released pictures like this one from an expedition that found coral coated in black gunk 4,500 feet below the sea surface.
That darned Einstein; he was right again. Using ultraprecise atomic clocks, scientists proved that for every one foot higher you move above the Earth's surface, time speeds up by a factor of 0.00000000000000004 due to the slight decrease in the force of gravity--just as general relativity would predict.
Do genetically modified foods lead to organ failure? In January, a study by European researchers tied genetically modified corn created by Monsanto to toxicity in the kidney and liver, resulting in hyperbolic headlines about the danger of GM foods. We checked with other researchers who highlighted serious problems with the study. The lead researcher from the original study responded, and the two sides argued the case in our post.
The Pentagon's mad scientists at DARPA were hard at work building hypersonic gliders and flying cars in 2010, but the deadly invention 80beats readers loved was the sniper rifle that offered an accurate shot across the distance of 12 football fields, even with winds up to 20 miles per hour.
The hulking blue star R136a1 lies in the Tarantula Nebula, 165,000 light years away. It's 265 times more massive than the sun, 10 million times as luminous as the sun, and is basically the biggest, baddest star astronomers have ever seen. It also challenges the limits on one of astronomy's more interesting questions: Just how big can a star be?
I don't particularly want to drive; I'd rather kick back with an issue of DISCOVER and a cup and coffee, and let the car take care of things. Thankfully, Google's on the job: This year their experimental self-driving cars were seen cruising the roads of California.