Technology & Science

2008: The year in science

As with any year, 2008 had no shortage of discoveries. Here are the biggest science stories of the year, as we saw them.

As with any year, 2008 had no shortage of discoveries, from the sequencing of the platypus genome to the latest advance in creating an "invisibility cloak" to our first look at the planet Mercury in 35 years.

Here in Canada and abroad, 2008 may well be defined as much by what didn't happen as what did. The government blocked the sale of Canadarm and Radarsat-2 maker MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates Ltd. to a U.S. arms maker. Talk of alternative energy initiatives fizzled as the price of oil dropped. The $9 billion Large Hadron Collider started with much fanfare and then broke down.

If the year taught us anything, it's that science does not live in a bubble and is subject to the same political and economic pressures as any other pursuit. The Large Hadron Collider, Norway's global seed vault, the International Space Station, International Polar Year research and the Phoenix mission to Mars are all examples of international collaboration, while public and private investment here in Canada helped make the Perimeter Institute a haven for the best minds in particle physics and the envy of the world. Delays in future space missions and the disappearance of venture capital, however, are a reminder that science can also be at the mercy of troubled economic times.

Here are the biggest science stories of the year, as we saw them.

<!-- Start of Brightcove Experience --> <object id="flashObj" classid="clsid:d27cdb6e-ae6d-11cf-96b8-444553540000" codebase="http://fpdownload.macromedia.com/pub/shockwave/cabs/flash/swflash.cab#version=8,0,0,0" width="574" height="475"> <param name="allowScriptAccess" value="always" /> <param name="movie" value="http://mstories.vo.llnwd.net/o1/federated/shell.swf?storeID=bcmeta&expID=1a2f7cfe-5de6-4a37-8cef-16c04630687a&flashID=flashObj&proxyURL=http://dp.storymaker-se.com/DaliDataProxy/x.aspx" /> <param name="quality" value="high" /> <param name="bgcolor" value="#FFFFFF" /> <embed name="flashObj" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" pluginspage="http://www.macromedia.com/go/getflashplayer" src="http://mstories.vo.llnwd.net/o1/federated/shell.swf?storeID=bcmeta&expID=1a2f7cfe-5de6-4a37-8cef-16c04630687a&flashID=flashObj&proxyURL=http://dp.storymaker-se.com/DaliDataProxy/x.aspx" width="574" height="475" allowScriptAccess="always" quality="high" bgcolor= "#FFFFFF" />< BR> </object><!-- End of Brightcove Experience -->

[/CUSTOM]