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Best science stories of 2013

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Contrail over buildings
In this photo provided by Chelyabinsk.ru, a meteor contrail is seen over Chelyabinsk on Friday, Feb. 15, 2013. The meteor caused sharp explosions and injured hundreds people, including many hurt by broken glass.
Yekaterina Pustynnikova/AP

Science journalist Maggie Koerth-Baker joins The Daily Circuit to look back at the biggest science stories of 2013. She'll make some predictions about major science developments to come in 2014. 


• U.S. Sequestration: A Body Blow to Science
U.S. researchers shuddered on March 1, 2013, when the sweeping federal budget cuts known as the sequester went into effect. Born amid congressional failure to strike a budget deal, sequestration forced the slashing of $85 billion in government spending for the remainder of the fiscal year — and with it, a cascade of cuts to research funding. (Scientific American)

• The universe might be a hologram
Reported in Nature magazine, scientists said they had uncovered "compelling evidence" that the universe was one huge projection. Two days after publishing the original article, Nature noted that over a million people had read the report. (International Business Times)

• Functioning Organs Made From Stem Cells
Researchers around the world are using stem cells to grow the precursors to replacement tissues and organs. 2013 saw impressive breakthroughs in a couple of these research projects. In Japan, cell biologists reprogrammed skin cells into stem cells, from which they generated functional mini livers called liver buds. (Discover magazine)

• It's Official: Toxic Flame Retardants No Longer Required in Furniture
A typical sofa now hits the market with two to three pounds of chemicals that can cause cancer and reproductive problems. Starting in January, 2014, a new flame retardant standard will take effect, eliminating the need for furniture makers to inject the chemicals into upholstered chairs, sofas, and other items. (KQED)