Posted: 31 Dec 2009 12:05 PM PST
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With so many incredible scientific advances and discoveries this year, Wired Science had a tough time choosing which 10 were the biggest. So, we went withthe onesthat stood out for us. From the amazing collective power of jellyfish, to a new human ancestor, to a cancer-detecting breathalyzer test, these stories made our list of kick-ass science in 2009.
No. 10 Element 114 Confirmed
In a cyclotron at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, a beam of calcium atoms slammed into a plutonium target, producing a pair of element 114 atoms for the second time in human history. Years earlier, a Russian team made similar claims, but their accomplishment remained in doubt.
It turns out that the Russians were right. But their results were somewhat disappointing. Each atom lasted for only tenths of a second. An older generation of scientists had hoped that humanity would someday find a way to make extremely heavy elements that last a long time. That search continues.
Image: The backside of the 88-inch cyclotron at Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory./LBNL
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