Best Science Pics of 2011
A monster bluefin tuna sold for a record $396,000 in the year's first auction at the world's biggest fish market in Tokyo back in January amid intense pre-dawn bidding. The 342-kilogram (752-pound) fish -- caught off Japan's northern island of Hokkaido -- fetched a winning bid of 32.49 million yen ($396,000). It was the highest such bid yet, topping the previous record of 20.02 million yen ($240,000) paid for a bluefin tuna in 2001.
Read the full story: Giant Bluefin Tuna Sells for Record Price: Big Pic
Seeing a partial solar eclipse is spectacular enough. But ace astrophotographer Thierry Legault found a way to make one partial solar eclipse even more memorable. He traveled to Oman and with split-second timing, he captured a view that will be hard to forget. In a brief moment, with the moon blocking a section of the sun's disk, Legault opened his camera shutter for a mere 1/5000th of a second, capturing the International Space Station (ISS) as it crossed the face of the sun.
Read the full story: Spectacular Space Station Solar Eclipse Transit: Big Pic
Early in the year, the Internet went crazy over a cross-eyed opossum in Germany. Heidi the opossum became an Internet sensation and currently has almost 340,000 "Likes" on her Facebook page. The animal, thought to be two and a half years old at the time, was abandoned outside an animal shelter in North Carolina. With sister Naira, Heidi was sent to the Leipzig zoo in eastern Germany.
Read the full story: Cross-Eyed Opossum an Internet Sensation: Big Pic
Brazil released rare photographs of an uncontacted Amazonian tribe to bring attention to the plight of indigenous people who, rights groups say, are faced with possible annihilation. The astonishing images were taken by Brazil's National Indian Foundation (FUNAI). FUNAI says there are 67 tribes in Brazil that do not have sustained contact with the outside world. Some are often referred to as "uncontacted" tribes even though they have some kind of limited contact.
Read the full story: Uncontacted Amazonian Tribe Spotted in Rare Photos: Big Pics
Guinness World Records
Standing at 7 feet, 3 inches from nose to tail and weighing in at 245 pounds, this gargantuan dog is not just your average Great Dane. It's the "Greatest" Dane. George, owned by David Nasser, weighs about 100 pounds more than the average Great Dane.
Read the full story: Great Dane Claims World's Tallest Dog Title: Big Pic
NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics
After NASA's MESSENGER spacecraft went into orbit around Mercury on March 17, the much-anticipated first photo from the hottest planet was beamed back to Earth. This is a historic photograph of the solar system's innermost planet. It was the first time a spacecraft has ever orbited the crater-riddled world.
Read the full story: History Made: MESSENGER Orbital Photograph of Mercury: Big Pic
Nerve cells could be threaded into semiconductor tubes, paving the way to brain-computer interfaces. The technology could lead to tricks for studying nervous system diseases or testing the effects of potential drugs. Such a system may even bring researchers closer to artificial limbs or other prosthetic devices.
Read the full story: Computer Chips Wired With Nerve Cells
East Antarctica's ice-covered Lake Untersee is home to mounds of stromatolites -- bacteria that is some of Earth's earliest life forms. They may be thousands of years old. The mounds are similar to fossil formations of early life on Earth.
Read the full story: Antarctic Lake Hides Bizarre Ecosystem
Finding one of the most elusive animals on the planet takes patience, determination and a keen eye. When biologists finally spotted one, this is what stared back at them. The eye of the largest invertebrate, the giant squid, measures up to 10 inches in diameter, about the size of a dinner plate.
Read the full story: Giant Squid Eye ... in a Jar: Big Pic
The U.S. government, acting on the orders of Congress, formally removed the gray wolf in the Rocky Mountain region from the endangered species list. This means states now manage control of the animals and hunting resumed in some states. However, gray wolves in Wyoming remain under federal management until the state has a management plan.
Read the full story: Gray Wolf Removed From Endangered Species List
Although Space Shuttle Endeavour had only just blasted off, shuttle Atlantis was undergoing preparations for its final voyage (STS-135). On its way to NASA's Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) where the shuttle made its final preparations for launch, a satellite snapped a photo from orbit. To make the event even more poignant, the Atlantis launch was the final mission for NASA's 30-year-old shuttle program.
Read the full story: Shuttle Atlantis 'Rollover' Spied by Orbiting Satellite: Big Pic
These cuddly lion cubs made their debut on May 19, 2011, at the Hagenbeck Zoo in Hamburg, Germany. The litter included two male cubs, Batou and Bandele, and two female cubs, Naledi and Sakina. The Internet can now retire the practice of posting cat photos, because these are the cutest you'll ever see.
Read the full story: Baby Lion Cubs Make Debut: Big Pic
Artists have painted it, but it's never been seen in actual photos from another spacecraft: the sight of a space shuttle berthed at the International Space Station. This view of shuttle Endeavour, taken by Italian astronaut Paulo Nespoli from aboard a Russian Soyuz capsule on May 23, is the culmination of 36 space shuttle missions to build the outpost over the past 12 years.
Read the full story and see more images: Historic Pairing: Shuttle Docked to the ISS: Big Pic
New Zealand's Department of Conservation/Rich
An Emperor penguin was found wandering a beach in New Zealand in June. The penguin underwent three rounds of surgery after falling ill at a New Zealand zoo. Conservationists released the penguin in the Southern Ocean on Sept. 4 to make the 1,900-mile swim home to Antarctica.
Read the full story: Lost Penguin Facing Long Swim Home and here: Did 'Happy Feet' Penguin Become Happy Meal?
A thick plume of ash from the erupting Puyehue volcano in the Andes shifted direction into Chile. But first, it spewed volcanic dust over parts of Argentina and forced a major border crossing point to close due to low visibility. Northwesterly winds pushed the giant column of ash from the Chilean volcano, located 540 miles south of the capital Santiago near the border with Argentina, into Chile's Lago Ranco area.
Read the full story and see more amazing images: Chile Volcano Puyehue: Big Pics
Britney Wehrle was walking with a friend on a sunny, warm day when she was struck by lightning, even though the sky above her was clear and blue. The only two safe places to be during a thunderstorm are in a car or in an enclosed house that has electricity and plumbing. Bolts of lightning can travel as far as 25 miles or more. Lightning kills an average of 55 people in the United States each year.
Read the full story: When Lightning Strikes Out of a Blue Sky
NASA, ESA, and M. Livio and the Hubble 20th A
On July 4, the Hubble Space Telescope celebrated its latest milestone: one million scientific observations. Unfortunately, we can't "see" this landmark observation as a typically picturesque Hubble photograph since it was the interpretation of an analysis of a distant exoplanet's atmosphere.
See the collection of images: Hubble Logs Millionth Observation: Photos
Ralph Mangelsdorff and Ralph Simon
A vine beckons bat pollinators by emitting a strong acoustic echo that helps the bats find their nectar. The shape of the leaf creates echoes so it stands out to the echolocating bats. The structure halves the time it takes bats to find the food source and therefore pollinate the vines.
Read the full story: Hear My Nectar! Dish-Shaped Leaves Attract Bats
NASA unveiled the first close-up image of the asteroid Vesta, the second-largest body in the main asteroid belt located between Mars and Jupiter, and the new home of the orbiting Dawn space probe. "I haven't seen anything like that before," lead scientist Chris Russell told reporters. "This is not a uniform body; different things were happening at different regions of the surface. That indicates to me that the interior was very active."
Read the full story: Asteroid Vesta Close Up: Photo
University of Illinois
This ultrathin device can stick to skin like a temporary tattoo and is powerful enough to read brain signals. Sticky silicon-based electronics could be used for painless diagnostics, communication, neonatal care, physical therapy and gaming.
Read the full story: Electronic Tattoo Grafts Gadgets to Skin
When magnetic activity on the sun runs on high gear, skywatchers around the world are treated to some exceptionally energetic aurorae -- and the same goes for the skywatchers in orbit!
Read the full story: Space Station Watches Technicolor Aurora Erupt: Big Pic
NASA Solar Dynamics Observatory
The image above shows the conditions of the quiet corona and upper transition region of the sun, as taken by the NASA Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO)'s AIA instrument at 171 Angstrom.
Read the full story and see more devilish pictures: Devilish Solar Activity: Big Pics
With hurricanes, floods, massive thunderstorms, heat waves and wildfires, we might be inclined to believe that the weather on Earth is sometimes less than hospitable to the life that inhabits it. But compared to other planets, stars and other bodies in the cosmos, the weather on Earth is downright mild.
Read the full story and see the weather pictures: Extreme Space Weather: Photos
Rorivaldo de Camargo
NanoArt is a glimpse into an unbelievably tiny world that only a small number of scientists have viewed. For the average person, the realm of nanotechnology -- that is, structures smaller than a billionth of a meter -- is as remote and inaccessible as the moon. The images are either natural or created, but they're all captured and enhanced to make them as beautiful as possible.
Read the full story and see the impossibly small pictures: Extraordinary Beauty of the NanoArt World: Photos
The Whale and Dolphin People Project
Dolphins are cute. Whales are appealing. Together, the two are irresistible. This picture showed up on the Facebook page for The Whale and Dolphin People Project, an unconventional group that aims to be "a game-changer campaign to stop the killing of whales and dolphins by changing their status from animal to people."
Read the full story: Whale and Dolphin Games
Maler der Grabkammer der Nefertari
Board games likely originated and disseminated from Egypt and the Fertile Crescent regions at around 3500 B.C., according to a study published in the journal Antiquity. From there, they spread around the Mediterranean before reaching the Roman Empire and what is now Europe. In this image, the ancient Egyptian game Senet is depicted. See the slideshow: The Board Game's Beginnings: Photos SCIENCE CHANNEL: Best SCI Videos of 2011