Top Science Longreads of 2014

Ed Yong in Not Exactly Rocket Science:

Ed_Yong_Not_Exactly_Rocket_Every year, I pick my favourite science features—or ‘longreads’, as they have been rebranded as—from the previous 12 months. It’s always hard. Despite much hand-wringing about how the internet is killing journalism/reading/attention/civilisation, I see a constant stream of great long pieces, written by writers who are at the top of their game, and published by organisations willing to pay well. So, without further ado, here are my favourite dozen from the year, and a dozen more runners-up. In no particular order:

1) One of a Kind, by Seth Mnookin, for The New Yorker. A magnificently told, and often heartbreaking, story about a family trying to solve their son’s unique genetic mystery.

“That fall, Bertrand was rushed to the emergency room after suffering a series of life-threatening seizures. When the technicians tried to start an I.V., they found Bertrand’s veins so scarred from months of blood draws that they were unable to insert a needle. Later that evening, when Cristina was alone with Matt, she broke down in tears. “What have we done to our child?” she said. “How many things can we put him through?” As one obscure genetic condition after another was ruled out, the Mights began to wonder whether they would ever learn the cause of their son’s agony. What if Bertrand was suffering from a disorder that was not just extremely rare but entirely unknown to science?”

2) How “Titanic” is helping a South Pacific tribe understand why their island is disappearing, by Brooke Jarvis, for Matter. In this beautiful, moving piece, Jarvis meets the people most affected by climate change.

“A large, brown bone washed against my calf. At first I thought it belonged to some sort of marine mammal, maybe a dugong, and picked it up. But then I saw what was clearly a human jaw, five teeth still embedded in the bone, in the water next to me. I stared at the bone in my hand, shocked to realize that I was gripping a person’s femur. Once I started to see them, it seemed there were bones everywhere. Vertebrae swirled around my feet.”

More here.