Hot science topics of 2011

This month’s Leaders Letter provides several resources that list the top science stories of 2011—ranging from monthly highlights to high tech inventions. What was your favorite topic? What story caught your attention and made you go hmmmmm—now that is something to think about?
While I can’t say I have a favorite topic, there were several stories that did catch my attention. The first being the tsunami following the earthquakes in Japan. I had been in Japan several years ago and have several friends there so the story first caught my attention from the personal perspective where I was worried about friends as well as having an interest in where the epicenter was, the resulting damage to the nuclear plants and of course the devastation and suffering the earthquakes caused. What made the tsunami an interest was the fact that it was predicted to hit the San Francisco Bay area during the NSTA Conference there—this itself was exciting since after all we are science educators and any type of science engages us. It was however also interesting to hear the number of friends say—I can’t believe (insert name of family member here) called me at 4:00 a.m. this morning to tell me to stay away from the bay. My mother was included in this activity all the way from the east coast.  I guess it holds true that many of us want to “see science happen” and it was perhaps good fortune that the tsunami was less destructive than originally predicted as well as hitting a good distance north of our location.
I think the other story that was bittersweet for me was the last launch of the shuttle Atlantis.  It brought the end of an era of space travel one step closer. If I ever had a chance to go into space, I would (so perhaps the warning about staying away from the tsunami by mother is fair) and hearing that Atlantis was now permanently grounded made me wonder how that pursuit be it mine or others would continue in the future.
Which story caught your attention?

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