Science Announces Top Ten Research Advances Of 1998

December 18, 1998

Washington D.C. - In the 18 December 1998 issue, the editors of Science will announce their picks for the year's ten most important advances in science research. Heading the list is the accelerating universe, the discovery that galaxies of the cosmos are flying apart at ever faster speeds. Each year Science selects those advances from the past twelve months that have profoundly changed the practice or interpretation of science or its implications for society.

In the top research advance of 1998, the accelerating universe, two international teams of astronomers provided a glimpse into the destiny of the universe when they looked at distant stars and found that they were rushing apart at an accelerating rate. Scientists discovered decades ago that the universe has been expanding since the Big Bang. But whether the gravitational pull between galaxies could slow-and ultimately reverse-that expansion has been unknown. This year's discovery showed that the expansion of the universe is in fact speeding up. This implies that gravity is no match for the force that is pushing the universe outwards in all directions and that the expansion may continue, perhaps indefinitely.

The force propelling the expansion is still a mystery, but a leading candidate is a mysterious and pervasive energy in the universe called the cosmological constant - which Albert Einstein conceived of but later deemed his "biggest blunder." This year's top research advance may validate Einstein's first instincts; the energy of the cosmological constant could be providing the repulsive force necessary to propel the increasingly rapid expansion of the universe.

As the world's leading peer-reviewed general science journal, Science is uniquely suited to draw from a diverse array of scientific fields in order to compile the most authoritative list of the year's scientific accomplishments.

The other advances are as follows. Except for the first runner up, all other runners up are in no particular order:

This year's annual "Breakthrough of the Year" section is the tenth since Science inaugurated the feature. The ten research advances were chosen by the editors, led by Editor-in-Chief Floyd E. Bloom, M.D. of Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, CA. Bloom writes about the "Breakthrough of the Year" report in the 18 December issue's editorial, which is available upon request.

A draft of the "Breakthrough of the Year" section is available, under embargo, from the AAAS News & Information Office. The editorial by Dr. Bloom will be available Friday, 11 December. The cover of the 18 December issue of Science relates to the "Breakthrough of the Year" section and will be available Friday, 11 December.

For more information about the "Breakthrough of the Year" section, please contact Elizabeth Culotta, Contributing News Editor, at 330-678-7700 (phone) or eculotta@compuserve.com (email).

For more information regarding the top research advance of 1998, the Accelerating Universe, please contact: Saul Perlmutter, Team Leader, Supernova Cosmology Project, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory at 510-486-5203 (work phone) or 510-841-7285 (home phone), or saul@lbl.gov (email); and Brian Schmidt, team leader, High-z Supernova Search Team, Mt. Stromlo and Siding Spring Observatory, Australia, (EST+16 hours), at 61-2-6279-8042 (phone), 61-2-6249-0233 (fax), or brian@mso.anu.edu.au. More contact information, including contacts in Europe and Latin America, is available upon request from the AAAS News & Information office.

For copies of the "Breakthrough of the Year" section or the editorial, please email scipak@aaas.org, call 202-326-6440 or fax the form below to 202-789-0455. For cover art, please contact Heather Singmaster at 202-326-6414 (phone), or hsingmas@aaas.org (email).

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American Association for the Advancement of Science

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