Here’s a rundown of the most read, most popular, most awesome articles on the web. Take a look at what you missed the first time around or check up on an old favorite to see the conversation in the comments. Keep checking out the Lead at and follow us on Twitter @ecnonline for our most up-to-date articles.

Has global cooling begun? Artic ice caps grow by 60% in a year
By Jason Lomberg, Technical Editor
The Artic ice cap grew by nearly a million square miles from 2012 to 2013, an increase of 60% year over year, according to a report in the Daily Mail. The information comes in stark contradiction to preceding reports claiming the Artic summers would be “ice-free by 2013.” After an unusually cool summer—the coolest since 2009, which is the opposite of predictions made by some in the scientific community. According to the Daily Mail, it could be compared with the cooling period between 1965 and 1975 wherein scientists were convinced there would be another ice age.

It’s a shock: Life on Earth may have come from out of this world
By Eurekalert
After a team of international scientists shock compressed an icy mixture—whose composition was similar to a comet—they discovered they created a number of amino acids, leading the group to believe that a prediction from scientist Nir Goldman was correct. Research established that icy comets crashing into earth billions of years ago created a number of life-creating reactions. The theory is that the comets supplied the materials and the impact provided the energy.


Watch a sniper rifle obliterate an iPhone 5S
By Jason Lomberg, Technical Editor
What happens when you shoot a brand-new iPhone 5s with a Barrett M82A1 .50 sniper rifle? You no longer have a working phone. The phone actually withstood the initial shot pretty well—except for the bullet hole—with the phone sitting vertically. When the phone is turned on its side with the base facing the gun, the whole thing explodes. It’s worth a look.

Why Apple’s iPhone 5s fingerprint scanner is the dumbest feature
By Kasey Panetta, Managing Editor
One of the big features Apple is pushing—besides the new A7 platform—is that it has a fingerprint scanner for security. I don’t want to point out the obvious, but fingerprint scanners are rarely worth the potential trouble they cause. I mean, honestly, can you REALLY not be bothered to type in your four number/letter password? Is it THAT tiresome for you? Answer: No. It is not a big deal.


Photos of the day: Scientists create form of matter that behaves like a lightsaber
By Eurekalert!
A team from Harvard has succeeded in doing the impossible by getting photons to bind together to form molecules, which had previously been just a theoretical idea. Though it was thought that photons won’t interact, the team pumped rubidium atoms into a vacuum chamber, cooled the cloud to just above absolute zero and fired single photons into the cloud. Presto, lightsabers!


Hackers find weaknesses in car computer systems
By Tom Krisher, AP Auto Writer
A number of electronic vulnerabilities in cars were displayed by hackers trying to call attention to holes in the security systems of increasingly computerized automobiles. Hackers claim that they are able to slam on the brakes, jerk the steering wheel, and shut down the engine from a computer. They can’t, however, do any of this remotely yet. The computers have to be plugged into the car’s system and it took the experts months to crack the codes. It’s not an immediate threat, but it could be a growing danger.


Ohio tried to put a good face on its unsettling new surveillance practice
By Chris Warner, Executive Editor
Police in Ohio are using technology with the ability to match a person’s photo with their license photo or mug shot. It’s a slippery security slope. The program went live in June and was announced in August with conversations regarding whether it should be called a “test” and how to present the program to an increasingly skeptical public.

Widespread license plate scanning presents an open road for abuse
By Chris Warner, Executive Editor
The ACLU is reporting that law enforcement agencies are using license plate scanners in investigations and for other official business. Critics are concerned about how the information of innocent people is being used and if this is an effective way of catching criminals.


Fusion, anyone?
By Eurekalert
We’re not quite at fusion yet, but we’re definitely on the way. A team from the National Ignition Facility, in conjunction with the Department of Energy’s Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory have recently discovered that though one big challenge stands in the way of nuclear fusion, most of the other challenges have been figured out over the past couple of years.

Lego releases female in STEM career…and she’s no “Lady Scientist”
By Jason Lomberg, Technical Editor
In yet another story about gender stereotyped toys for kids, Lego has released a female scientist called, “Professor C. Bodin.” Bodin is interesting because she lacks the stereotypical “feminine” markers for toys like pink clothes, a shopping addition, high heels, or a short skirt. Maybe we’re turning the bend with children’s toys? This was a first for Lego, so maybe other companies aren’t far behind.