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Scorecard for 2014

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Science  19 Dec 2014:
Vol. 346, Issue 6216, pp. 1449
DOI: 10.1126/science.346.6216.1449

Every year, the Breakthrough staff picks scientific developments likely to make news in the coming months. Last year's forecasts are below; those for 2015 are on page 1450.

IMAGE: SVEN LIDSTROM/ICECUBE/NSF

Space ghosts

Last year, physicists with IceCube, a massive neutrino detector deep in the ice at the South Pole, spotted high-energy neutrinos from beyond our solar system. But could IceCube track enough to pinpoint their mysterious sources? We predicted the IceCube team would release search results this year, and in November, it did—but didn't nail down any obvious sources.

Clinical genomes

Tests that sequence a patient's protein-coding DNA (the exome) or entire genome to uncover disease-causing glitches are fast becoming routine for rare disorders. Whole genome or exome sequencing to identify tumor mutations remains largely a research endeavor, however.

Cosmic history, with a twist

We predicted that cosmologists mapping the afterglow of the big bang might spot swirls that would be a telltale sign that in the first sliver of a second the universe underwent an exponential growth spurt called inflation. In March, one team claimed just such a sighting, but by September another had shown that the signal may be entirely spurious (see breakdown runners-up, p. 1451).

Bye-bye, chimps?

Chimpanzees still live in U.S. research labs, but efforts continue to grant them “legal personhood”—and the right to be free. The Nonhuman Rights Project lost all three of the lawsuits it launched last year to try to free four New York chimps—including two lab chimps—from captivity. This year, it appealed each case and now has its sights set on the state's highest court.

Space ghosts

A. Cho, “Physicists Snare a Precious Few Neutrinos From the Cosmos,” Science 342, 6161 (22 November 2013).

IceCube Collaboration, “Evidence for High-Energy Extraterrestrial Neutrinos at the IceCube Detector,” Science 342, 6161 (22 November 2013).

M. G. Aartsen et al., “Searches for Extended and Point-like Neutrino Sources with Four Years of IceCube Data,” The Astrophysical Journal 796, 2 (1 December 2014).

Clinical genomes

L. G. Biesecker and R. C. Green, “Diagnostic Clinical Genome and Exome Sequencing,” The New England Journal of Medicine 370, 25 (19 June 2014).

Bye-bye, chimps?

D. Grimm, “Chimpanzee ‘personhood’ fails on appeal,” Science (4 December 2014).

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