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Science Illustrated Issue 79

Science Illustrated delivers natural science, break through discoveries and an understanding of the world for the entire family. Packed with stunning photography and in-depth editorial it’s a visually spectacular gateway to the world looking into the beginning of life to distant objects in the universe.

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8 Issues

in this issue

1 min
subscribe today for your chance to win a gardening pack from gardena

5 packs each worth over $2,969 to be won! Complete your gardening kit with these fantastic products from GARDENA SILENO ROBOTIC LAWNMOWER The SILENO Robotic Lawnmower mows your lawn without human effort. It’s a true modern-day lawn-maintenance hero! Time is precious, so do what you love while the SILENO Robotic Lawnmower takes care of your lawn. COMBISYSTEM GARDEN TOOLS The GARDENA combisystem range has a gardening tool for every job around the house, whether it’s cultivating, planting, raking, sweeping, digging or cleaning. All attachments fit perfectly on a single handle and can be stored away neatly on the combisystem tool rack. WATERING Balanced watering is essential to ensure your plants and lawn stay green and healthy. GARDENA has everything you need for effortless, leak-free watering. Your garden will thank you. CUTTING On any given day, somewhere in the garden…

1 min

RAGWORM Metre-long ‘King Ragworm’ feeds on rotting whales The ‘King Ragworm’ (Alitta virens) can grow to more than a metre in length; a Russian photographer captured this example in the Russian White Sea. Despite its name, the worm’s life is not very regal. It resides in the darkness of the deep sea, in burrows lined with its own mucus, or feeding on the bones of dead whales and fish that have sunk to the bottom. Although called the ‘King’, it is not the biggest of its kind. The bristle-worm Eunice aphroditois can grow up to three metres long. Photo // Alexander Semenov ARTWORK Science meets art in ‘Quantum Memories 2020’ artwork The gigantic, ever-changing immersive multimedia artwork envisaged on the right will be a centrepiece for the National Gallery of Victoria’s ‘NGV Triennial 2020’, which opens…

10 min
best home identified for first martian colonists

SPACE Scientists and science-fiction writers have long suggested that the safest place to build a base on Mars might be in lava tunnels created by volcanoes that are now extinct. Unlike Earth, Mars does not have a magnetic field that protects against radiation. So anyone going to live on Mars will require some other protection, and according to scientists from the Center for Planetary Science in the US, the solution could be to go underground. Lava tunnels are a possibility – as depicted in Ron Howard’s 2016 sci-fi/doc series ‘Mars’. Scientists have scrutinised close-up images of Mars and have found evidence that partly collapsed tunnels exist near several extinct volcanoes. But the very best location would be in areas of the Red Planet already less affected by radiation. In this regard scientists…

2 min
sweaty solar panels

TECHNOLOGY Engineers across the world are searching for ways to improve the efficiency of solar panels. As new materials and designs are tested, any efficiency improvement – even a few percent – is announced as a breakthrough. Most solar panels convert only around 20% of solar energy into power, and that’s measuring them in laboratory conditions. The vast majority of solar energy turns into heat, and solar panels function less efficiently when they are overheated. So while desert regions might otherwise seem obvious locations for the construction of solar power stations, desert temperatures can be a problem, with the panels heating to more than 40°C, when their energy generation is already affected at just 25°C. Scientists from the Hong Kong Polytechnic University have now introduced an ingenious idea that can help the…

2 min
mars was once a ringed planet – and its rings will return

ASTRONOMY An effort to explain the path of one of the moons of Mars has led to a surprising conclusion: Mars has a past in which various moons formed and disintegrated. During some period, the Red Planet must have had rings like Saturn – and it probably will develop rings again in the future. Scientists from Purdue University and the SETI Institute in the US have created separate computer models to find out why the outermost moon, Deimos, has a path that slants two degrees away from Mars’ equatorial plane. The most likely explanation is that at some point the moon was influenced by the gravity of a bigger moon, around 20 times heavier than Phobos, which slowly migrated outwards. And that could only happen if the bigger moon itself was…

2 min
teaching humans to hibernate

MEDICINE The idea of making astronauts hibernate on long space missions often appears in science fiction, but now it is one step closer to reality. Scientists from the University of Tsukuba in Japan have made mice and rats hibernate, even though they do not do so naturally. Several mammals can reduce their bodily functions during months in which food is scarce – bears, hedgehogs, and bats all do so, as do a few primates such as lemurs. They all lower their body temperature and cardiac rhythm so that their bodies consume a minimum amount of energy. The Japanese scientists made mice do the same thing by activating specific cells, known as Q neurons, in the hypothalamus brain centre which controls a series of basic bodily functions. The body temperature of the…