2014 Year in Review: Science, Health, and Technology

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      Our year-in-review special looks back at the wacky, weird, and wondrous stories of 2014.

      Thanks, but it’s Just water weight
      According to NASA’s Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment, severe droughts across California in 2014 caused the state to lose so much mass that it caused a small shift in the Earth’s gravity. This finding was supported in September when the European Space Agency found that melting ice in Antarctica was also causing that region’s gravity to weaken slightly.

      Fight, club
      A study from the University of Utah suggests that modern men’s faces evolved to be punched. Modern medical records show that the bones most frequently broken in hand-to-hand fights are the same bones that grew in the faces of Australopithecus afarensis, an early human relative, in a manner that would protect the eyes.

      Waddling to oblivion
      “Parts of the world are, quite literally, eating themselves to death.”—Dr. Margaret Chan, the World Health Organization’s director-general, on the issue of global obesity at the agency’s annual meeting in Geneva. Researchers found this year that more than two billion people worldwide are overweight or obese, with the U.S. having 13 percent of the globe’s fat population

      10 years after
      “It’s beyond words.”—Matt Taylor, project scientist with the historic Rosetta mission, after the European Space Agency spacecraft’s Philae lander touched down on Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko on November 12 after a 10-year journey. The Rosetta space probe will continue to orbit and map the comet into 2015

      Name that pathogen
      More than 100 people fell ill after eating a meal at the Baltimore Convention Center during a summit on food safety, including members of the federal Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

      Future bankrupt
      A Vancouver research and development company, Cannabis Technologies Inc., announced that it has received permission from Ottawa to develop marijuana-derived eyedrops to treat glaucoma so people don’t have to smoke their medicine. President and CEO Craig Schneider said the formulation won’t get patients high.

      Nagged to death
      In a study of almost 10,000 people, Danish researchers found that men who were nagged by their partners—defined as men who had constant demands and worries placed on them—were 2.5 times more likely to die within 10 years than men in less stressful relationships.

      Meesa love yousa, yousa love meesa
      The 70-million-year-old fossil skeleton of a new dinosaur, Deinocheirus mirificus, was uncovered in Mongolia. It was five metres tall and 10 metres long, weighed seven tonnes, and, according to University of Maryland dino expert Thomas Holtz Jr., “It’s pretty goofy,” with some people describing it as a cross between TV dinosaur Barney and Jar Jar Binks from Star Wars.