The Top 10 ScienceNOWs of 2011

David is the Online News Editor of Science.

Top 10 ScienceNOWs of 2010


  • At the end of every year, we here at ScienceNOW take a look back at some of our favorite and most popular stories of the past twelve months. Here are our top 10, including our most popular story of all time. Be sure to also check out our year in photos. Enjoy the selection, and Happy Holidays!


  • Scientists Play World's Oldest Commercial Record

    Researchers have played what may be the first record intended for sale to the general public. Check out the audio clip to hear a haunting voice singing "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star"—a recording made 123 years ago.


  • How Humans Got Spineless Penises and Big Brains

    Some questions you probably didn't even think to ask. Like, why does the human penis lack spines? This study has the answer, and it gives clues to the evolution of our big brains as well.


  • The Physics of Wine Swirling

    Here's one you can impress your friends with at a cocktail party: As you swirl your merlot, tell your companions that physicists have figured out the forces at play when we slosh our wine. And if you spill your drink, take comfort in the fact that the scientists have figured out why that happens, too.


  • Carnivorous Plant Feasts on Bat Dung

    The Raffles' pitcher plant has evolved into a curious object: a toilet for bats. The carnivorous plant is bad at catching insects, so it has developed a narrow pitcher that bats sleep in—and which they also use as a bathroom, leaving nutritious excrement behind.


  • Hubble Confirms Nature of Mysterious Green Blob

    In 2007, a Dutch school teacher spotted something strange in the night sky: a glowing green smudge of light approximately 650 million light-years away. The object, which became known as Hanny's Voorwerp, is one of the most mysterious in the universe. Scientists say they may have finally figured out what it is.


  • Diver Snaps First Photo of Fish Using Tools

    Humans and chimps use tools, sure. But fish? Yes, say researchers, who, after analyzing a video shot by a professional diver, have concluded that the blackspot tuskfish uses a rock as a tool to smash up clams. Not everyone agrees, including some of our readers. Check out the spirited discussion in the comments section.


  • Sex-Crazed Astrologer Was a Stellar Records Keeper

    The headline alone is one of our favorites of the year. But dig deeper and you'll discover the fascinating story of a 17th century astrologer who has provided modern-day researchers with the most extensive set of medical records from his era.


  • Convince Your Friends You're a Genius With Two Cans and Some Sand

    Feel free to try this one at home. Take two tin cans, one with the top removed and the other with both ends cut out to form a tube, and shove them into sand, top first. Surprisingly, the can with the closed bottom sinks faster as your push it, the opposite of what happens in water. Now physicists know why.


  • Sex After a Field Trip Yields Scientific First

    After returning from a field trip to Senegal, a biologist appears to have transmitted the Zika virus to his wife by having sex with her. If true, the researcher inadvertently wrote virological history, providing the first documented case of sexual transmission of an insect-borne disease.


  • 'Vocal Fry' Creeping Into U.S. Speech

    Perhaps it was the Britney Spears reference. Or maybe we just highlighted a curious phenomenon that people couldn't quite put their finger on. Either way, this article about low, creaky vibrations sneaking into the conversations of U.S. women really struck a nerve. It's our most popular story of all time.

Posted in Scientific Community