Science News has attracted more than 22 million visitors to our website this year. Our COVID-19 coverage was the most popular. Here is a summary of the other most read news and long readings of 2020.
1. At first, a person’s immune system fought HIV and won
The scientists analyzed billions of cells from two people with HIV that do not require medication to keep the virus under control. What the team found was amazing: one person had no working copies of HIV in any of the cells, while the other had only one working copy. What’s more, that specimen was trapped in a very wounded DNA.
2. The first room temperature superconductor has finally been found
Up to 15 ° C, a material made of carbon, sulfur, and hydrogen can conduct electricity without resistance. Although the room temperature superconductor operates only at high pressures, the discovery brings scientists one step closer to realizing a more energy-efficient future.
3. Astronomers have finally found the edge of the Milky Way
Computer simulations and observations of nearby galaxies have revealed that the Milky Way extends 1.9 million light-years in diameter. The measurement can help eliminate how massive the galaxy is and exactly how many galaxies orbit it.
4. More "murder hornets" are appearing. Here's what you need to know
An invasion of Asian giant wasps into North America could cause problems for honey bees. But the threat that the world’s largest hornet species poses to people is minimal.
5. A star orbiting the black hole in the Milky Way validates Einstein
The rare orbit of a star around the supermassive black hole in the center of the Milky Way confirms Albert Einstein's general theory of relativity. Instead of tracing a single ellipse, the star's orbit rotates over time, the result of the deformation of the black hole with space-time.
1. After the Notre Dame fire, scientists glimpse the origins of the cathedral
A fire that ravaged Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris in April 2019 gave scientists the opportunity to delve deeper into the cathedral’s history and study the building’s materials, even to learn more about climate change.
2. New fleets of private satellites are jamming the night sky
SpaceX and other private companies plan to launch thousands of internet satellites orbiting the Earth. Hundreds of satellites already in outer space hinder the vision of terrestrial telescopes and interfere with astronomers' research.
3. It’s time to stop debating how to teach children to read and follow tests
Research has identified the most effective approaches to teaching children to read. Such findings could help resolve a lengthy debate that confronts phonetics with methods that emphasize understanding of the meaning of words.
4. To combat discrimination, the U.S. census needs a different race question
The U.S. Census could not accurately count certain minority groups. As a result, some sociologists ask for more nuanced census questions that better reflect how respondents see themselves, as well as what society sees them, a clearer metric for measuring discrimination.
5. What lifestyle changes will further reduce your carbon footprint?
Individual actions around shelter, transportation, and food can create negative effects on society to help mitigate the effects of climate change. But to have the greatest impact, people need to adapt their efforts to their own circumstances.
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Science News has reported on the COVID-19 pandemic since it began, but none of those stories have been included in the most read lists of 2020. That’s because we think coverage is in a league of its own.
Stories about when, during an infection, the coronavirus is most contagious and dispel the claim that the virus was made in a lab are among our most read stories of all time. Readers were also drawn to stories about how coronavirus and COVID-19 vaccines spread.
As a comment editor, I review all the emails we receive from Science News readers. By 2020, more than a third of the thousands of emails that filled our inbox were about COVID-19. The hunger for information, the certainty in an uncertain time, was insatiable.
We strive to accurately answer readers ’questions related to the pandemic, given the rapid pace of scientific research on coronavirus and its effects. Some of those questions have appeared in the pages of this journal, as well as in the Science News Coronavirus Update newsletter, a weekly email highlighting the latest research, data, and articles on coronavirus and COVID-19.
Everyone at Science News thanks you, our readers, for your sharp, insightful comments and continued support. We look forward to answering your many scientific questions, related to coronavirus and not, in the coming year.
“Measuring radiation could help guide long lunar missions” (SN: 7/11/20, p. 5) incorrectly stated that the average daily exposure to cosmic radiation on the moon is 1.5 million times higher than exposure average daily on Earth. The average daily exposure on the Moon is 1,500 times higher than the average daily exposure on Earth.