But first, let me start by explaining that as the year comes to an end I start eagerly awaiting the annual "best of" lists that inevitably turn up in magazines and on the Internet. This December, which also marks the end of a decade, sort of, promises even more wide-ranging reminders of how sh***ty the Bush era was. I mean I lived through the 2000 election once, and now I know I'm gonna have to again.
Websites at least can add some science to their annual news roundups. For instance, in summing up the year in pictures, National Geographic did not rely on the news or artistic judgment of editors, but on the number of hits various pictures received online. You can see the results here, but I will sum up for you. The five most viewed stories on the website this year were:
5. "Iceland Volcano Pictures: Lightning Adds Flash to Ash"
|Italian photographer and scientist Marco Fulle shot this image|
4. "Strange New Species found off Greenland"
|A new species of shark, Photo courtesy Greenland Institute of Natural Resources|
3. "Stunning Photos from a 10-Year Sea Census"
|Mr. Blobby photo courtesy Kerryn Parkingson, NORFANZ|
2.. "Fish With Hands Identified"
|The spotted handfish. Photo courtesy CSIRO|
At any rate, before we proceed, let's access. Aside from the flashy pictures of volcanos in Greenland, the other top stories so far all essentially have to do with sea creatures. Weird, unsettling sea creatures. Let's face it, we love to look at 'em and think about the scary things down there. Likewise with the volcano, when you come to think of it: Images of fire and ash must, I think, trigger some deep-rooted notion of hell, at least as hell has been depicted in about a thousand years' worth of art and literature. Which brings me to the number-one most clicked-on Geographic news story:
1. "Sinhold Pierces Guatamala"
|The Guatemala Sinkhole, photo courtesy Paulo Raquec|
|The tube-noseed fruit bat. Photo courtesy Piotr Naskrecki, Conservation International|