While other sites jumped on the Higgs bandwagon due to a formal conference in July, Science 2.0 readers were well ahead, and the Higgs discovery was instead among our most popular topics of 2011 (along with taking down faster than light neutrinos) because we don't have to wait for press releases. By the time the Higgs announcement arrived, everyone here already knew about it and a 2.5 sigma signal announcement from the Tevatron before the LHC announcement was the most popular piece on the topic. Don't think 2.5 sigma was enough? Well, no, but many other fields of science are delighted with that kind of confidence. Still, the Higgs announcement tripped up a lot of science journalists who were off doing time travel or whatever with it and we were immune to that nonsense.
Health issues were big too. People were fascinated to know if That Squid On Your Plate Could Inseminate Your Mouth and people who latched on to gluten as a dietary fad were enraged at an article debunking the idea that it causes autism or weight gain and asking nicely for food fashionistas to stop diminishing people with actual celiac disease by pretending to have it. A takedown of fructose was also in the running and we were early in taking down the claim by French activists that genetically modified maize caused tumors in rats.
Some regular science articles did make the most popular cut. What Is Entropy? slashed through the metaphors and got into the nuts and bolts of a clear quantitative definition. Our annual explanation of why it may seem like there are more earthquakes was also well received.
What was the top article of the year? People love to think about Doomsday and an April Fool's joke on Nibiru led the pack. So if you spend your time agonizing over the perfect metaphor, next time just include a bubble that floats on water.
Hey, we said most popular this year, not most scientific. That is why The 5 Best Dogs For Attracting Women made it into our most popular list despite not being anything anyone outside the social sciences would count as science at all.