Your Guide to the Year in Science: 2008

Jellyfish invasions, Internet auctions, god particles: Read about the year's biggest science stories before they happen. Bonus: How to decipher geeky jargon and when to buy a DeLorean


The Year Ahead: SPRING

Microsoft will reach a milestone when the number of computers running Windows will reach one billion worldwide.--Kate PickertCourtesy: Microsoft

The Year Ahead: SUMMER

A European firm, Plastic Logic, will open the first factory in the world to mass-produce plastic digital displays, a key component of flexible e-book readers.--Kate PickertCourtesy: Plastic Logic Limited

Notables of '08: THREATENED ANIMAL

The Polar Bear
The U.S. Fish and and Wildlife Service will decide this month whether to give polar bears protection under the Endangered Species Act. The U.S. Geological Survey recently announced that, with the continued melting of Arctic ice and loss of habitat, two thirds of the world's polar bears could be gone in 50 years.--Kate Pickert
Alastair Rae

Notables of '08: LANDING STRIP

Spaceport America
Virgin Galactic will be the anchor tenant in the country's first purpose-built space-vehicle launch and landing pad. Construction will start this year on the facility in southern New Mexico.--Kate Pickert
Courtesy: Spaceport America

The Year Ahead: SEPTEMBER

Similar to the Nobel Prize, the Kavli Foundation, based in Oxnard, California, will begin awarding $1-million biennial prizes to scientists working in astrophysics, nanoscience and neuroscience.--Kate PickertCourtesy: Enzo Finger/Kavli Foundation

The Year Ahead: SUMMER

The Korea Superconducting Tokamak Advanced Research project will begin generating plasmas as hot as 18 million degrees Fahrenheit to produce energy from fusion. If KSTAR's tests are successful, it will provide valuable data to the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER), a multi-decade fusion-reactor project that will use the same technology.--Kate PickertMichel Maccagnan


Boeing's fuel-efficient 787 Dreamliner will enter the commercial airline market--if it doesn't get delayed again. More than 700 jets have already been pre-ordered.--Kate PickertCourtesy: Boeing Company

The Year Ahead: OCTOBER

Computer-game creator and Space Adventures board member Richard Garriott will be the sixth cosmic tourist the company sends into space. Garriott, whose father is astronaut Owen K. Garriott, has said he may take the first-ever civilian space walk. Ticket price: $45 million.--Kate PickertCourtesy: Steve Boxall

The Year Ahead: END OF 2008

New York City's subway system, the largest in the nation, will start to install cellphone antennas in six stations throughout the city. The full project is scheduled to last six years and will eventually wire all 277 underground subway stations at a reported cost of around $150 million.--Kate PickertAbby Seiff

The Year Ahead: JULY

Regulations passed in 2006 will go into full effect, forcing New York City food vendors to eliminate artificial trans fats from their food. Banned ingredients will include margarine and partially hydrogenated vegetable oil.--Kate PickertiStockphoto


Three Gorges Dam
The Chinese government announced that up to four million more people will be displaced to protect them from further landslides caused by the dam. In addition, the newly tame flow of the Yangtze River is creating a major buildup of pollutants in the reservoir and algae blooms downstream.--Kate Pickert
Courtesy: NASA


Your Brain
At least one tech company will release hardware that lets users control games with the aid of a headset that reads brain waves.--Kate Pickert
Courtesy: Emotiv Systems

Notables of '08: VEHICLE

Tesla's Electric Roadster
Tesla says it will produce about 600 all-electric sports cars this year. The vehicles will cost around $100,000, have a range of 245 miles, and do 0âa'¬60 in less than four seconds.--Kate Pickert
John B. Carnett

The Year Ahead: JULY

The European Space Agency will launch the Planck satellite, a craft designed to refine our estimate of the age of the universe and see if it underwent a brief period of faster-than-light inflation immediately after the big bang.--Kate PickertCourtesy: ESA-AOES Medialab

The Year Ahead: SPRING

The Web-ready airplane flies this year, as Alaska Airlines will start tests of satellite-linked onboard Wi-Fi. American Airlines and Virgin America will follow suit with a system of antennas that bounce signals to cellular phone towers on the ground.--Kate PickertCourtesy: Alaska Airlines

The Year Ahead: AUGUST

NASA will undertake a $900-million mission to repair the Hubble Space Telescope. Hubble will get new gyroscopes, batteries, a camera, and a grapple interface that an Orion spaceship will use when it eventually comes to safely deorbit the satellite.-Kate PickertCourtesy: NASA

Notables of '08: BIOFUEL

Forget corn. This year, new facilities in Iowa and California will begin producing energy from methane given off by livestock manure.--Kate Pickert

The Year Ahead: APRIL

India will launch Chandrayaan-1, its first unmanned spacecraft designed to orbit the moon. The orbiter will conduct research on the moon's makeup and create a 3-D atlas of its surface.--Kate PickertCourtesy: Brunel University

The Year Ahead: JANUARY

Smart USA will sell models in the U.S. for the first time. Consumers will be able to choose among a convertible and two coupes, starting at $11,590. More than 30,000 Americans have paid to reserve one of the pint-size vehicles.--Kate PickertCourtesy: Smart USA

The Year Ahead: JANUARY

Washington State will implement a voluntary program to implant radio-frequency ID (RFID) chips in driver's licenses to speed border crossings. Border agents will electronically retrieve identification and citizenship information from people as they drive up to crossings between Washington and Canada.--Kate PickertCourtesy: Digimarc

The Year Ahead: WINTER

The One Laptop Per Child project will be distributing laptops to children in South America, Southeast Asia and Africa. The "green" machines cost around $200 each and can be recharged with an AC adapter, solar power, a handcrank, a pull-cord and a foot pedal.--Kate PickertCourtesy Mike McGregor

The Year Ahead: WINTER

The DeLorean returns. Former DeLorean mechanic and restorer Stephen Wynne plans to sell two of the gull-wing cars a month, each made of approximately 90 percent original unused parts. A newly constructed DeLorean will start at $57,500.--Kate PickertGrenex