The week before the new year is a time for reflection, right? And so I though I would share my favorite stories from the magazine. Through Smithsonian, we visited some strange creatures -- cassowaries, hyenas -- and some familiar ones, like giraffes. We traveled to one of the most remote and beautiful places in the world (a marine reserve in Kiribati) and gazed upon the unseeable (the black hole at the center of the Milky Way). We discovered that the coldest place in the universe is a tiny spot in a lab in Massachussetts (who knew?) and learned how to make a diamond. And we traced the paths of our ancestors as they colonized the planet.
What's in store for 2009? You'll just have to wait and see.
My favorite science stories of 2008:
8. Things Are Looking Up for Niger's Wild Giraffes: In desolate Niger, wild giraffes are making a comeback despite having to compete for resources with some of the world's poorest people.
7. Diamonds on Demand: Lab-grown gemstones are now practically indistinguishable from mined diamonds. Scientists and engineers see a world of possibilities; jewelers are less enthusiastic.
6. Victory at Sea: The world's largest protected area, established this year in the remote Pacific, points the way to restoring marine ecosystems.
5. The Coldest Place in the Universe: Physicists in Massachusetts come to grips with the lowest possible temperature: absolute zero.
4. Invasion of the Cassowaries: Passions run high in an Australian town: Should the endangered birds be feared--or fed?
3. Who's Laughing Now?: Long maligned as nasty scavengers, hyenas turn out to be protective parents and accomplished hunters. And new research is revealing that their social status may even be determined in the womb.
2. The Great Human Migration: Why humans left their African homeland 80,000 years ago to colonize the world.
1. Homing in on Black Holes: To gain insight into the most mysterious objects in the universe, astronomers shine a light at the chaotic core of our own Milky Way.