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National Geographic Magazine September 2019

The latest news in science, exploration, and culture will open your eyes to the world’s many wonders. Get a National Geographic digital magazine subscription today and experience the same high-quality articles and breathtaking photography contained in the print edit.

United States
National Geographic Society
$6.63(Incl. tax)
$25.20(Incl. tax)
12 Issues

in this issue

1 min
what’s coming

NAT GEO WILD Reforming the toughest canines on Dog: Impossible The most aggressive, dangerous, and misunderstood canines—the ones that most trainers won’t touch—are the dogs that Matt Beisner (above) takes on. Since transforming his own bad behaviors, Beisner says, he has dedicated his life to helping owners learn how to handle their dogs, as well as to rescuing and rehabilitating animals that others turn away. The six-episode series Dog: Impossible premieres September 8 at 10/9c on Nat Geo WILD. BOOKS A new Atlas of the World to explore The 11th edition of this classic reflects the state of the world today with authoritative maps, data-driven graphics, and much more. It’s available October 1 wherever books are sold and at shopng.com/books. TELEVISION Plunge back into Life Below Zero Back for a 12th season: Life Below Zero, the saga of…

2 min
the state of the arctic

AS SOIL A COUPLE OF FEET DEEP GOES FROM FROZEN TO MUSH, THE RELEASE OF CARBON COULD PUSH CLIMATE CHANGE TO A TIPPING POINT. IN THE SPRING of 2018, my husband and I went to the Arctic on a National Geographic expedition. We’d never been before and were struck by the scale of its rugged beauty, the white-blue glaciers glinting in the midnight sun, and the abundant wildlife. I’ll never forget seeing an enormous walrus face down a young polar bear (which wisely decided to move along). I also won’t forget the ship’s captain, Leif Skog, announcing that we had traveled farther north than this expedition ever had before. We knew that was saying something—Skog had been navigating polar waters for four decades. How amazing, we initially thought. And then, of course, the…

1 min
what the tide brings in


1 min
the backstory

BEACHES ACROSS THE PLANET share many characteristics: sand, water, ocean breezes—and plastic. At Floyd Bennett Field in Brooklyn, New York, the coastal area where artist Barry Rosenthal goes collecting, trash piles up fast and in layers, as if at an archaeological site. Plastics will indeed be the artifacts of our era, particularly in oceans, where the material invades ecosystems and floats around the world. More than five trillion pieces of plastic already fill the seas, with some nine million tons added each year. Rosenthal observed how bottles, toys, and food wrappers fade, wear out, yet never disappear. He started building and photographing sculptures of ocean trash to illustrate the problem of marine pollution. Eventually he began to gather the detritus to use as his art materials, cleaning a small section of the…

7 min
why you like what you like

THE DISCOVERIES OF TODAY THAT WILL DEFINE THE WORLD OF TOMORROW THERE MAY BE NOTHING more self-defining than our tastes. Whether in food, wine, romantic partners, or political candidates, our tastes represent our identity. So it made sense to me that my likes and dislikes were formed through careful deliberation and rational decision-making—that is, through choices where I wielded some control. Then I became acquainted with Toxoplasma gondii. In my research at the Indiana University School of Medicine, I observed how the single-celled T. gondii parasite can change the behavior of the host it infects. It can make rats unafraid of cats, and some studies show that it may cause personality changes (such as increased anxiety) in humans. These studies made me wonder if there are other things happening under our radar that…

1 min
are you really just a pile of genes?

Technically, yes. But embedded within your genome, there are many potential versions of you. The person you see in the mirror is just one of them, fished out by the unique things you’ve been exposed to since conception. The new science of epigenetics is the study of how chemical changes made to DNA, or proteins that interact with DNA, can affect gene activity. DNA can be modified by environmental factors in ways that can profoundly affect development and behavior. Recently, it’s also been shown that the microbes in your body—aka your microbiome—can be a significant environmental factor that affects myriad behaviors, from overeating to depression. In sum, we are our genes—but our genes cannot be evaluated outside the context of our environment. Genes are the piano keys, but the environment…