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Most Popular Articles, 2016

Jan 2, 2017

In compiling a top-10 list of the year’s most popular articles on American Scientist, we decided to look at what you—our readers—have been searching for, not only among our most recent issues but in our archives as well. So here are the most popular articles on our website for 2016.


The Latest on Homo naledi

A recent addition to the human family tree doesn't fit in clearly yet. (July–August 2016 by John Hawks)


Filaments of Light

Pulsed terawatt lasers create some surprising effects when shone through the air—including the channeling of light.
(March-April 2006 by Jérôme Kasparian)


Rethinking the Fall of Easter Island

New evidence points to an alternative explanation for a civilization’s collapse. (September–October 2006 by Terry Hunt)


An Exact Value for Avogadro’s Number

Untangling this constant from Le Gran K could provide a new definition of the gram.
(November–December 2014 by Ronald Fox and Theodore Hill)


The First Discovery of DNA

Few remember the man who discovered the “molecule of life” three-quarters of a century before Watson and Crick revealed its structure.
(July–August 2008 by Ralf Dahm)



These ambling, eight-legged microscopic “bears of the moss” are cute, ubiquitous, all but indestructible, and a model organism for teaching science.
(September–October 2011 by William R. Miller)


Fire in Microgravity

In space, flames don’t extinguish under the same low-oxygen conditions that would put them out on Earth, setting the stage for dangerous flare-ups.
(January–February 2016 by Indrek S. Wichman, Sandra L. Olson, Fletcher J. Miller, and Ashwin Hariharan)


Sunshine on a Cloudy Day

At one time or another, most of us have proved empirically, and painfully, the old mother’s tale that it’s possible to get sunburned on a cloudy day.
(May–June 2006 by David Schoonmaker)


The Science of Scientific Writing

If the reader is to grasp what the writer means, the writer must understand what the reader needs.
(November–December 1990 by George Gopen and Judith Swan)


Why Is Human Childbirth So Painful?

Having babies isn’t easy—and the standard explanation may be wrong.
(November–December 2013 by Pat Shipman)

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