The Breakthroughs of 2009

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Science  18 Dec 2009:
Vol. 326, Issue 5960, pp. 1589
DOI: 10.1126/science.1185821

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Every December, the editors of Science face the challenge of reviewing what Science has accomplished around the world in the past 12 months, so as to select our “breakthroughs of the year.” The task is an invigorating one, providing a powerful reminder of both the enormous scope and the continual advance of science. For this year's selections, the range is staggering. From the discovery of pulsars created by neutron stars that are many thousands of light-years distant, to the production of a new single-atom–thick material such as graphene, the same natural laws and logic have generated new understandings over a more than 1030-fold difference in scale. And there is usually special excitement when an advance directly concerns humans, as in the discovery of an ancient ancestor or a successful application of gene therapy to cure disease.