Top stories of 2015: Pluto, gene editing, a new hominid and more

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It probably comes as no surprise that the New Horizons mission to Pluto takes the top spot in Science News’ list of 2015’s most important stories.

Since New Horizons awoke last December, we’ve devoted more than two dozen stories in the magazine and on the website — upwards of 10,000 words — to this first-ever visit. No other science news this year garnered so many headlines.

But it’s not headlines alone that won this story, or the others, a spot on our list. What’s important is how they launched our thinking in a new direction. The outer solar system is no longer seen as a vast area of indistinguishable specks, but instead as a new frontier. Advances in gene editing made us reconsider how far we’ll go to rid our bodies of disease. A newly proposed species, Homo naledi, challenged our vision of the earliest members of our genus.

No one yet knows how H. naledi will rewrite our history, but one thing is certain: Like New Horizons, we have reoriented. We’ll start 2016 on a new trajectory, with many new questions to ask. — Elizabeth Quill

Here’s the complete list of this year’s top 10 science stories:

 

 1st; 

Pluto unveiled as a world like no other; Link here

2nd;

Breakthrough gene editor sparks ethics debate; Link here

3rd;

Early human kin could shake up family tree; Link here

4th;

Not all bodies act their age; Link here

5th; 

Global warming continues apace; Link here

6th;

Scientists tackle the irreproducibility problem; Link here

 

7th;

Global ocean spans Enceladus; Link here

 

8th; 

Microbe discoveries spur rethink of treetop of life; Link here

 

9th; 

Quantum spookiness is real; Link here

 

10th;

Epigenome makes its debut; Link here

 

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