1. Massive earthquake rattles Haiti on Jan. 12
(Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)
— Eryn Brown, Los Angeles Times
2. Congress passes, and Obama signs into law, sweeping legislation to reform the healthcare industry
(Alex Brandon / Associated Press)
3. FDA announces that cigarette packages will have to carry large and graphic warnings
(Evan Vucci / Associated Press)
4. Progress made in preventing HIV transmission
(Jewel Samad / AFP/Getty Images)
5. Outbreak of pertussis cases in infants and older adults
(Robyn Beck / AFP/Getty Images)
6. Strange goings-on in the bacterial world
(Evan Hurd / AFP/Getty Images)
Bacteria are back in the news in December when a NASA news release sets the blogosphere abuzz with (false) rumors that the agency has discovered alien life. In fact, a group of scientists funded by NASA has found a strange bacterium in California’s Mono Lake capable of eating arsenic instead of phosphorus. But even that report, scientists soon complain, may have been overhyped.
7. Iceland’s Eyjafjallajökull volcano erupts and erupts and erupts, disrupting air travel
(Jon Gustafsson / Associated Press)
8. People start taking concussions — also known as traumatic brain injury — more seriously
(Winslow Townson / Associated Press)
Meanwhile, on the playing field, the National Football League changes its concussion policy, expanding the list of symptoms that requires players to be sidelined to include headache, confusion and more.
The league also throws its support behind legislation that would keep student athletes who get head injuries off the field for the remainder of the game and require them to get a doctor’s OK before they play again.
9. Large Hadron Collider finally begins doing experiments to find elusive subatomic particles
(Martial Trezzini / EPA)
Ultimately, it will mimic conditions immediately after the Big Bang and, hopefully, let scientists observe subatomic particles that have been predicted to exist but have not yet been seen. Worries that the experiments would spawn a black hole prove to be unfounded.
10. Obesity drugs largely strike out at the FDA
(Tannen Maury / EPA)
The agency offers only lukewarm approval for a third drug, called Contrave. In the meantime, drug-maker Abbott Laboratories pulls Meridia from store shelves in October after the appetite suppressant is linked to higher risks of heart attacks and strokes. The trend frustrates many doctors working with the nearly 34% of U.S. adults who are obese.
Bacteria, cigarette packages, healthcare reform, an unpronounceable volcano in Iceland that covered practically all of Europe with a cloud of potentially airplane-crippling ash: Here’s our pick for the top 10 science health and science stories of 2010.— The L.A. Times health team