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Science  19 Dec 2014:
Vol. 346, Issue 6216, pp. 1444-1449
DOI: 10.1126/science.346.6216.1444


In addition to its Breakthrough of the Year, Science named nine runners-up as significant scientific achievements of 2014. Studies of fossils and DNA have filled in the picture of how ancient dinosaurs evolved the small, lightweight bodies that gave rise to modern birds; blood from young mice makes old mice more muscular, alert, and youthful; robot swarms that coordinate maneuvers without human supervision mark a new milestone in machine intelligence; and computer chips inspired by networks of nerve cells may prove ideal for data-intensive tasks such as processing visual signals and data from environmental sensors. Also, researchers published two new methods of making lab-grown cells that resemble β cells, whose absence or malfunctioning can cause diabetes; paintings and hand stencils in Indonesian caves turn out to be at least as old as their celebrated counterparts in France and Spain; scientists changed good memories into bad ones and vice versa in mice by zapping their brains with laser light; and researchers added two new, artificial nucleotides to the DNA in living bacteria. And cheap but powerful satellites literally smaller than a breadbox are starting to do serious science.