Infectious diseases hardly ever disappear from the headlines — swine flu is only the last in a long list containing SARS, bird flu, HIV, and childhood diseases like mumps, measles and rubella. If it's not the disease itself that hits the news, then it's the vaccines with their potential side effects. It can be hard to tell the difference between scare mongering and responsible reporting,
because media coverage rarely provides a look behind the scenes. So how do scientists reach the conclusions they do?
The year 2009 was International Year of Astronomy, and to celebrate, we asked you what you'd most like to know about your Universe in a series of online polls. You came up with seven questions, which we put to world-leading astronomers and cosmologists. Find their answers in seven articles, as well as some podcasts.