Progress This Year Wasn't Just in Hardware but in Understanding the Urgency of Key Issues. The "breakthrough" in this case is not just hardware; it's a growing understanding of the urgency in solving these critical problems.
The year 2008 closes with two enormous scientific and technological challenges unresolved: How to create renewable and benign sources of energy and how to lessen the damage we're doing to the global climate system.
Those twin issues are the "greatest challenge facing modern science," according to Nobel laureate Steven Chu, the gifted physicist who has been nominated to head the Department of Energy. He will be at the center of the effort to deal with these vexing problems, and his nomination signals a new day in that effort.
Clearly, those two issues dominated the world of science during 2008, a year that also saw much progress in fields as diverse as genetic engineering, the imaging of new planets outside our solar system and the maturing of social media that has altered everything from how we meet people to financing a costly and victorious campaign for the presidency of the United States. It's difficult to pick a single scientific achievement that stands out above all others because science, as a whole, doesn't work that way.
Here's ABC News list of the top 10.
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