The 12 most popular articles of 2009

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London, Dec 29 (ANI): 2009 may have been a year of recession and climate change worries, but a new list shows that people were also concerned with how to decode ancient languages and the nature of female ejaculation.

According to New Scientist, here are the 12 most popular articles of 2009:

1. Space storm alert: 90 seconds from catastrophe

Normal storms are bad enough, but a solar storm could be really disastrous. The fiercest release balls of plasma from the sun's surface, and if one of them was to hit the Earth's magnetic field our power grids would be wiped out, our modern technological society would be shut down overnight, and it would take months or even years to repair the damage - during which time millions of people would die.

2. Our world may be a giant hologram

It may sound absurd, but there is plenty of theoretical physics that strongly suggests the entire universe is an enormous cosmic hologram, man. The idea has floated around for years, but now there is real evidence. A German experiment looking for gravitational waves has picked up some inexplicable noise, and it could be a clue to the underlying nature of the cosmos.

3. 13 more things that don't make sense

Way back in 2005 we published 13 things that don't make sense. But the mysteries just kept on coming, so this year we went back to the subject and published 13 more.

4. Clever fools: Why a high IQ doesn't mean you're smart

George W. Bush has an IQ well above average, but even his admirers have a low opinion of his intellect. And he's not alone: many apparently "smart" people act foolishly a lot of the time. To understand this, we have to go beyond IQ, to RQ - a test of people's rationality.

5. 'Vampire' discovered in mass grave

A skeleton was exhumed from a grave in Venice with a brick in its mouth. To most people this would seem inexplicable, but to experts in the folk beliefs of the Middle Ages it sends a clear message: the people who buried this woman thought she was a vampire who would spread plague.

6. Decoding antiquity: Eight scripts that still can't be read

Throughout history, civilisations have invented hundreds of writing systems, but most have fallen into disuse. These dead scripts tantalise us: we know that they're writing, but what do they say? This feature took a tour of the world's undeciphered scripts, and it outperformed the female ejaculation feature (above), which was published in the same week. Readers, take a bow: you are all clearly very high-minded.

7. Porn in the USA: Conservatives are biggest consumers

A survey of receipts from an adult entertainment provider found little variation in porn use between the US states, but there was a slight trend for Republican-voting states to buy more. However, many readers pointed out a flaw: the study could not identify the individuals buying the porn, so it was not clear which inhabitants of the red states were buying the extra porn.

8. Everything you always wanted to know about female ejaculation

There is plenty of evidence that some women can ejaculate during orgasm. Evolutionary biologist Sharon Moalem took readers through the science and considered what the mysterious fluid might be for.

9. Seven things that don't make sense about gravity

From everyday mysteries to more abstract ones: what exactly is gravity, why does it only pull and never push, and could we find a way to counter it? Gravity may keep our feet firmly on the ground, but when it comes to our understanding of it, we're still drifting.

10. Ten mysteries of you

We take them for granted, but there are plenty of aspects of humanity that seem to defy explanation. Why do we blush when it gives away that we're lying, why do we make art and what on earth are teenagers for? This feature tried to get to the bottom of all these questions.

11. Human sex from the inside out

From the sublime and profound to the, well, less philosophically challenging. In this experiment, a courageous couple had it off in an MRI scanner. The images were knitted together to make a video, which to our surprise was rather popular.

12. Seven questions that keep physicists up at night

At a physics festival in Canada in October, leaders in the field spent 10 days pondering the biggest questions about the universe.

During a panel discussion, they were all asked to answer one simple question: "What keeps you awake at night?" Apparently they all sleep very soundly, but nevertheless they have seven big conundrums on their minds. (ANI)

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