Cellular reprogramming, opened a new field of biology almost overnight and holds out hope of life-saving medical advances, said deputy news editor Robert Coontz.
The other nine scientific achievements of 2008 are:
Exoplanets: For the first time this year, astronomers directly observed planets orbiting other stars, using special telescope techniques to distinguish the planets, faint light from the stars and bright glare.
Expanding the catalog of cancer genes: By sequencing genes from various cancer cells, including pancreatic cancer and glioblastoma, two of the deadliest cancers, researchers turned up dozens of mutations that remove the brakes on cell division and send the cell down the path to cancer.
New mystery materials: In 2008, researchers created a stir by discovering a whole second family of high-temperature superconductors, consisting of iron compounds instead of copper-and-oxygen-compounds.
Watching proteins at work: Biochemists encountered major surprises this year as they watched proteins bind to their targets, switch a cell�s metabolic state and contribute to a tissues properties.
Toward renewable energy on demand: This year, researchers found a promising new tool for storing excess electricity generated from part-time sources like wind and solar power, in the form of a cobalt-phosphorus catalyst.
The video embryo: In 2008, researchers observed in unprecedented detail the dance of cells in a developing embryo, recording and analyzing movies that trace the movements of the roughly 16,000 cells that make up the zebrafish embryo by the end of its first day of development.
Good fat, illuminated: In a study that may offer new approaches to treating obesity, scientists discovered that they could morph good brown fat, which burns bad white fat to generate heat for the body, into muscle and vice versa.
Calculating the weight of the World: Physicists now have the calculations in hand to show that the standard model, which describes most of the visible universe� particles and their interactions, accurately predicts how much mass protons and neutrons have.
Faster, cheaper genome sequencing: Researchers reported a flurry of genome sequences this year from woolly mammoths to human cancer patients - aided by a variety of sequencing technologies that are much speedier and cheaper than the ones used to sequence the first human genome.