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Science IllustratedScience Illustrated

Science Illustrated Issue 62

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


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per ingens flamma ad astra

Yeah okay that’s pretty terrible Latin, but it’s meant to be a play on the old air force motto “per ardua ad astra”, or “through adversity to the stars”. In this case, it’s through a huge flame. Meh, the Romans didn’t have rockets, I did my best. Please send complaints to the email below - but only in Latin.Anyway, the point here is that the age of the big lifters may be dawning anew. Space-X tested its Falcon Heavy this year, a test that ended with a truly spectacular synchronised dual-booster landing, and that’s the little one in the new generation. Our feature starting on page 24 details the lineup, but of particular interest is NASA’s Space Launch System (below, left).Following the cancellation of the Constellation program and the Ares…

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things we learned in this issue

+ There are many ways to MAKE YOURSELF GLOW in the Animal Kingdom, some weirder than others.+ We might see BIPLANES RETURN to our skies, if we want to travel at hypersonic speeds.+ If you’ve ever seen BALL LIGHTNING then at last science admits you weren’t hallucinating!+ The quest for ETERNAL LIFE is still ongoing, but would you take immortality if it was offered?+ New medical devices literally SMELL YOU FOR DISEASE and could save your life. ■…

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suns are born in the sky’s brightest star factory

Thousands of new stars form in a haze of gas and dust known as the Tarantula Nebula. Thanks to the Paranal observatory in Chile, astronomers have taken the sharpest picture ever of the nebula. Tarantula is 600 light years wide and the brightest star formation region seen from Earth. High-energy radiation from the new-born stars forces hydrogen atoms in the gases to give off electrons, giving the gas a reddish glow. The light from the nebula shows the conditions required for a star to form. ■…

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rare plant paints river bed blood red

The Columbian Caño Cristales river is also known as the River of Five Colours. Green plants, black rocks, yellow sand, and the reflection of the sky cause the permanent hues, whereas the Macarenia clavigeras river plant’s red colours dominate the 100-km-long river from July to December. The plant requires special conditions to bloom, such as both a dry and a wet period, and subsequently a specific water level. So, the phenomenon is only observed in Caño Cristales.(OLIVIER GRUNEWALD) ■…

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first conference for australia's new space agency

SPACE RACEAustralia finally got a proper space agency in July 2018, and now a conference in Western Australia will start to explore how the agency will play a role in the future.In partnership with the University of Western Australia and the international policy think-tank Perth USAsia, the In The Zone conference will discuss Australia's role in space. The focus will especially be on our regional partners in the Indo-Pacfic and how we can work together in space.Topics of discussion will include improving the Earth observation systems and platforms available in our region (that means satellites) as well as "preserving the space environment". This is about space junk and how Australia can play a role in cleaning up near-Earth orbit for future space missions. ■…

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three gene 'flaws' made our brains grow

EVOLUTIONIn 14 million years, the human brain has grown from about 0.5 kg in our earliest ancestors to 1.4 kg, probably thanks to three newly-identified genes.Californian scientists spotted the genes, when they studied how many nerve cells a macaque produces in its brain. They cultivated the animals’ brain tissue in the lab, particularly focusing on NOTCH genes, which influence the development of stem cells in embryos. The scientists discovered that humans have three active NOTCH genes on chromosome 1, which do not exist in macaques nor in our closest relatives, chimps and gorillas, i.e. the three genes are unique for humans. So, scientists can reconstruct our evolutionary history.The first gene emerged as a partial copy of a gene on chromosome 1 some 14 million years ago, before humans parted from the other apes.…