Our Most Popular Tech Stories of 2013

Baby names, Van Gogh, a high-speed chase, and other memorable stories from the last year.
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Traffic is a strange beast. The stories we do about cyborg telemarketing, legal scholarship, spambots, opera, NSA spying, nuclear weapons, virtual worms, and crying in space all do well, but none of them made our top 10 list for the year. 

That's because the competition is stiff. The numbers are big. All the stories on this list got more than 230 thousand readers. 42 other stories had more than 100,000 readers, but these days, making the top 10 list nearly requires hitting on Facebook or Reddit. 

And with no further ado, The 2013 List (here's 2012): 

10. It Wasn't Sunil Tripathi: The Anatomy of a Misinformation DisasterHow a terrible misidentification of two people with no connection to the Boston bombing spread so far, so fast

9. NORAD Tracks Santa's Path on Christmas Eve Because of a TypoIn December 1955, a Sears ad misprinted a phone number—the North Pole's.

8. The Geography of Happiness, According to 10 Million TweetsThe happiest city in America is Napa, California -- and the saddest all swear too much.

7. What Van Gogh's Famous Self-Portrait Looks Like as a PhotographIn a word: creepy. In another word: beautiful.

6. Congratulations, Ohio! You Are the Sweariest State in the UnionPhone-call data track the distribution of courtesy (and the lack of it) over recorded conversations. We'd thought better of you, Buckeyes.

5. English Has a New Preposition, Because Internet. Linguists are recognizing the delightful evolution of the word "because."  

4. IBM's Watson Memorized the Entire 'Urban Dictionary,' Then His Overlords Had to Delete ItYou don't even want to know, they should have explained.

3. This Guy Reinvented the Wheel ... by Turning It Into a CubeWhat's better at being a wheel than ... a wheel?

2. A Wondrous GIF Shows the Most Popular Baby Names for Girls Since 1960Social Security Administration data visualized in the most lovely way imaginable

1. This Guy's Car Got Stuck at 125mph—for an HourA real-world screening of Speed ended with a small miracle of bureaucratic coordination.

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Alexis C. Madrigal

Alexis Madrigal is the deputy editor of TheAtlantic.com. He's the author of Powering the Dream: The History and Promise of Green Technology. More

The New York Observer has called Madrigal "for all intents and purposes, the perfect modern reporter." He co-founded Longshot magazine, a high-speed media experiment that garnered attention from The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and the BBC. While at Wired.com, he built Wired Science into one of the most popular blogs in the world. The site was nominated for best magazine blog by the MPA and best science website in the 2009 Webby Awards. He also co-founded Haiti ReWired, a groundbreaking community dedicated to the discussion of technology, infrastructure, and the future of Haiti.

He's spoken at Stanford, CalTech, Berkeley, SXSW, E3, and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, and his writing was anthologized in Best Technology Writing 2010 (Yale University Press).

Madrigal is a visiting scholar at the University of California at Berkeley's Office for the History of Science and Technology. Born in Mexico City, he grew up in the exurbs north of Portland, Oregon, and now lives in Oakland.

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