Best of the Best of 2020 Lists – Science Edition

2020 was one heck of a year. Record wildfires, nationwide protests against violence and systemic racism, divisive political battles, and a global pandemic dominated the new cycles and changed our lives. This year also contained its share of amazing discoveries, herculean breakthroughs, and promising inventions that remind me of our collective capabilities and give me hope for 2021 and beyond. Many of these were scientific and many are highlighted in several of the “Best of 2020” lists that come out this time of year. Rather than reinvent the wheel here are ten of my favorite compilation lists that celebrate the science of 2020.

1 – Time Magazine’s The Best Inventions of 2020 is a list of 100 new innovations that came out of 2020. It’s long but it’s also broken down into subheadings and includes everything from biodegradable grills to a new Nintendo game to more accessible water purification to mRNA vaccines.  

2 – Scientific America’s 2020’s Top Ten Tech Innovations is a podcast and article produced with the collaborative help of the World Economic Forum. It highlights inventions from medicine, engineering, environmental science, and chemistry.

3 – National Geographic’s 10 Awesome Science Discoveries You May Have Missed in 2020 is a fast read that highlights discoveries in the fields of paleontology, astronomy, epidemiology, and marine ecology that might not have made it onto your daily news feed.

4 – Nature’s Ten People who Helped Shape Science in 2020 is one of my favorite posts so far this year with ten in-depth profiles of the people behind the science headlines. Not only does it introduce and applaud some amazing scientists, doctors, directors, and politicians, it also provides a glimpse into the struggles, difficult decisions, and daily work involved.

5 – The New Daily Big Science: The 10 People Behind the Most Significant Science Stories of 2020 is a cliff notes version of the above. It’s more like a movie’s closing credits than an article but it still gives credit where credit is due.

6 – Nature’s The Best Science Images of 2020 is a highly scrollable compilation picked out by the magazine’s editors. It includes pictures illustrating new technologies and discoveries as well as pictures that are beautifully illustrate important science events of this year. 

7 – National Geographic’s The Best Science Pictures of 2020 is another compilation of stunning science images from an organization known for its visual prowess. 

8 – Nikon’s Small World in Motion is an annual contest that “showcases the beauty and complexity of life as seen through the light microscope”. This page show the top five winning videos and provides a link to other honorable mentions.  

9 and 10 – The Smithsonian’s The Ten Best Science Books of 2020 and Science Friday’s Best Science Books of 2020 are two lists that makes me almost look forward to a winter spent socially distancing and inside with one of these popular science books.

A photo of the crew from MOSAiC (Multidisciplinary Drifting Observatory for the Study of Arctic Climate), one of Nature’s 2020 Best Science Photos. Credit: Alfred-Wegener Institut/Lianna Nixon, University of Colorado Boulder (CC-BY 4.0)