Paging Dr. Obama

Maddie Stone on io9/Gizmodo reports on the annual “top 100” most popular scientific articles (by volume of discussion in the news and on social media) as listed by the scholarly analytics tracker Altimetric, where the #1 entry is United States and Health Care Reform: Progress to Date and Next Steps, written by President Barack Obama.  The article was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) and, while not peer-reviewed in the traditional sense, was fact-checked for accuracy before being published.  It is his second publication in JAMA, following a commentary piece written during his first campaign in October 2008, introducing the Affordable Care Act (aka “Obamacare”).

Whatever it was, it was not easy ...

Whatever it was, it was not easy …

It was a year for health themes, as Ms. Stone notes that the #2 article involved the incidence of medical error as a leading cause of death.  So Mr. Obama’s writing was well-timed, even if his successor may not be amenable to his advice on next steps (though his comments on the difficulty of enacting changes in a period of ‘hyperpartisanship’ will likely prove true for Mr. Trump, as well).

Otherwise, our science was pointed sky-ward, with the #3 article covering the discovery of gravity waves and the #4 article looking at the evidence for the “missing” giant Planet 9, lurking perhaps on the outskirts of our solar system.

Preparing for the "Grand Finale", Cassini-Huygens takes a ride 'round the rings. Image: NASA/JPL

Preparing for the “Grand Finale”, Cassini-Huygens takes a ride ’round the rings.
Image: NASA/JPL

Some of that cosmic science is likely to leak into 2017, too, as George Dvorsky reports (also on io9/Gizmodo) that we will have a passing of the orbiter torch, so to speak, when the Saturn probe Cassini-Huygens runs out of fuel and, after buzzing the rings, is sent into Saturn’s atmosphere for disposal to prevent any contamination of its (possibly) life-bearing moons.  Meanwhile, Juno has taken up orbit around Jupiter, not far above the cloud tops, so some spectacular images of Jupiter’s bands should be streaming Earth-ward fairly soon.

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