Science & Environment

Science: Best long reads of 2016 (part one)

There have been plenty of interesting stories behind the news headlines this year.

Here's a festive selection of the best science and environment long reads of 2016.

Are fitbands the future of genetic research? By Kat Arney

Image copyright Thinkstock
Image caption The data from wristbands could save lives, but are there risks associated with the technology?

Data from personal bio-monitoring devices such as fitbands and smart watches, when combined with genetic information, could be a powerful tool in medical research. But what will all this tell us about ourselves?

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What would Trump's wall mean for wildlife? By Jonathan Sullivan

Image copyright Science Photo Library

Free movement between the US and Mexico - the hottest of topics during the 2016 US presidential campaign - is not just a human issue. What would a clampdown mean for animals that live near the border?

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The Mercury 13: Women with the right stuff. By Sue Nelson

Image copyright NASA

In the early 1960s, 13 women undertook secret tests at Nasa to see if they could become astronauts. Were it not for rules which prevented them from flying missions, the first woman in space could have been an American.

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Cheetah running for its survival. By David Shukman


Pitiful scenes of cheetah cubs lying emaciated and bewildered highlight one of the cruellest but least-publicised examples of illegal wildlife trafficking. The trade exacts a terrible toll on the fastest land animal, which now faces a serious threat to its survival.

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Where should we look for alien life? By Paul Rincon

Image copyright ESO / M. Kornmesser

The number of potentially habitable worlds discovered orbiting other stars goes up every year. But some evidence suggests the most common types of star in the galaxy might be hostile to biology as we know it. So how do astronomers decide whether a planet is hospitable to life?

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Solving Malawi's power crisis. By Matt McGrath

Image copyright SolarAid

The amount of electricity per person in sub-Saharan Africa is lower today (excluding South Africa) than it was 30 years ago. In Malawi, the situation is dire, with just 1% of people in rural areas connected to the grid. Could small-scale solar-powered lamps make a difference?

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Global warming and the race for the White House. By David Shukman.

The two candidates in the race for the White House this year offered starkly different visions on global warming. BBC Science Editor David Shukman went to the swing state of Ohio to see how this was playing out.

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