Hidden Genome Treasures: The stretches of "junk DNA" that lie within genomes proved this year to be far more important than previously thought. This DNA, found between genes and between a gene's protein-coding regions, turns out to be essential for helping genes turn on at the right time and in the right place.
Pulsar Pair:Astrophysicists discovered the first known pair of pulsars, spinning neutron stars that shoot out jets of radiation. Further studies of these whirling objects may provide the most stringent examination yet of Einstein's general theory of relativity.
Plant and Animal Diversity Declines: Disturbing news about the decline of species diversity rolled in from large studies this year that surveyed amphibians, butterflies, plants and birds. Not only is species richness decreasing, additional evidence suggests that climate change is altering the natural history of many different areas.
Water, Not Just on Mars: While evidence of an ancient, wet Mars grabbed the spotlight in 2004, advances in our understanding of water itself flowed freely as well. If they hold up, new results on the structure and chemical behavior of water could reshape fields from chemistry to atmospheric sciences.
Medicines for the World's Poor: "Public-private partnerships" emerged as a formidable force in 2004, affecting the way medicines are developed and delivered to developing countries. Joint ventures by foundations, rich countries, academics, pharmaceutical companies and other groups were behind several prominent initiatives this year, including a malaria vaccine trial and efforts to provide anti-HIV drugs.
Genes in a Drop of Water: In 2004, researchers hit on a new way to identify life forms too small and remote to see with the naked eye. They collected water
Contact: Jessica Lawrence-Hurt
American Association for the Advancement of Science