breakthrough of the Year 2016

© Rich Frishman

© Rich Frishman

Each year, after much debate, Science’s editors and writers choose a significant development as the Breakthrough of the Year, along with nine runners-up. This year, the debate over the top choice—the first detection of gravitational waves—was brief: The achievement fulfilled a 100-year-old prediction, opened up a potential new branch of astronomy, and was a stunning technological accomplishment.  Below are links to descriptions of the breakthrough and runners-up, along with a video, an editorial, and the results of an online “people’s choice” poll.  Rounding out the package are four “areas to watch” that we predict will be in the news in 2017, a “scorecard” of how well last year’s predictions held up, and a look back at three “breakdowns of the year” that set back or threatened the scientific enterprise. —Science News Staff