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Top 10 stories from Science Node

Below are the top five articles that Science Node has ever published. If you missed the first part of this series, click here to see the other half of the top 10.

5. Understanding chemical communication in ant societies

We tend to think of humans as being superior to the rest of the animal kingdom. While it’s true that ants never created a spacecraft that could bring them to the moon, they also don’t dump billions of tons of CO2 into the air every year. Maybe we could learn something from our six-legged friends. <strong>Ants</strong> — such as the Japanese carpenter ant pictured here —rely heavily on pheromones to communicate. Image courtesy Harum.koh, Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0).

Something we have learned from ants is that they have a unique way of communicating. Certain colonies can have as many as 306 million worker ants, and making sure everyone is pulling in the same direction is obviously important.

In this article, we follow some researchers who studied the communicative efforts of carpenter ants. By extracting RNA from the bugs’ antennas and plugging the data into a supercomputer, the scientists found eleven different chemosensory proteins that might help explain how the ants communicate.

4. Dangers of space travel

There has been a renewed optimism about space travel in recent years, especially as people begin to dream of a manned mission to Mars. While we’re obviously decades away from that, there are some known risks that we should start thinking about.

<strong>Spy station.</strong> Planned during the Cold War 1960s, the Manned Orbiting Laboratory (MOL) would have spied on the Soviet Union. Scientists recently re-examined the health risks its astronauts might have faced. Conceptual drawing courtesy NASA.

One particular issue – radiation exposure – was the topic of this particular reprinted article. By studying a planned mission in 1963, the researchers found that the crew would have been susceptible to high exposures of cosmic radiation and solar particle events.

Hopefully, this kind of research can begin to prepare us for the long amounts of time in a ship necessary for long-term space travel.

3. A brief history of the internet

This article is something of a joke here at Science Node. It’s not that this article is bad – in fact, it’s an extremely well written piece about the early days of the internet.

No, the issue here is that this was our most viewed article for nearly three years. No matter what we wrote, nothing seemed able to knock this one from the top spot.

<strong>The history of the internet</strong> is longer and more complicated than you may think. Courtesy Arturo Contreras

And in all honestly, this article reigned supreme for so long because it’s so interesting! We all use the internet, but many people don’t know that its original purpose was to keep the US military in contact with itself following a nuclear attack.

From ARPAnet to the transmission control protocol to the Mosaic web browser, we did our best to capture the most important early moments of this revolutionary technology.

2. A brief history of the smartphone

Remember how A brief history of the internet stayed at the top spot for nearly three years? This was the article to first knock it down a notch, which is interesting because it only came out a year and a half later. While it took some time to build views, our discussion of the history of the cellphone was our most viewed article — for a time.

The accepted birthday for the cellular telephone is April 3, 1973. This is when Motorola employee Martin Cooper called Bell Labs in New Jersey with the Motorola DynaTAC 8000x.

<strong>The smartphone's journey isn’t over.</strong> The increased bandwidth of 5G networks heralds a technological revolution, promising real-time telemedicine, on-demand virtual and augmented reality, and sleekly integrated smart cities. Courtesy IntelFreePress. (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Of course, the technology needed some tweaking and it wasn’t until March 13, 1984 that the DynaTAC 8000x was put up for sale for $3,995. With a ten-hour charge for thirty minutes of talk time, it’s pretty clear why it took another decade or two for cellphones to become devices the average person could own.

1. The 5 fastest supercomputers in the world

It is certainly strange to add a listicle to the top spot in a listicle, but this constantly updated index of the most impressive HPC machines in the world is one of our prouder achievements.   

Science Node was originally created to discuss powerful computational architectures, and there’s no better way to frame a particular machine’s abilities than to compare it to its competition.

TOP500, the organization that officially ranks these kinds of computers, puts out a list every six months detailing improvements to existing machines and the achievements of new ones. The LINPACK Benchmark basically tracks a computer’s ability to solve a dense system of linear equations. The faster it can do this, the higher the score.

<strong>The world’s fastest supercomputer, Fugaku,</strong> boasts several architectural innovations that may pave the way for even greater performance. Courtesy RIKEN.

Currently, Fugaku is the reigning champ. A Japanese computer created by RIKEN, Fugaku has 7.6 million cores and a LINPACK score of 442 petaFLOPS. For reference of how incredible this is, the second-prize winner — the US supercomputer Summit out of Oak Ridge National Labs — tops out at 148.6 petaFLOPS.

We tried to lay out each machine’s origin story and abilities in its section within the article. If viewership metrics mean anything, we think we did a pretty good job of that. This particular article has received nearly 135,000 views since 2018, and it's consistently one of our top performing articles every year.

In a sense, this list perfectly encapsulates what we were trying to do here at Science Node. The information is straightforward and direct, but we were also able to insert some personality and flair into it.

That’s what Science Node was all about.

We want to give you insightful information without putting you to sleep. We tackled complex topics, but we never forgot about the human aspect of every story. We tried our hardest to give you all the knowledge we could about important science stories, but we also wanted to make you smile.

Getting the science right is vital, but we never wanted to sacrifice the fun and beauty of the natural world. If any of these articles made you laugh, think, or both at the same time, we can consider this a job well done.

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