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National Geographic Magazine February 2020

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 TV Living Life Below Zero on an isolated Alaska island Inhabiting a beautiful but unforgiving landscape known for its punishing weather, the residents of a remote town on Prince of Wales Island, Alaska, make do without roads, law enforcement, or government. To survive, they must rely on natural resources, their community, and themselves. See how they manage in the series Life Below Zero: Port Protection. It premieres February 18 at 9/8c on National Geographic. NAT GEO WILD Make house calls with Heartland Docs Rural Nebraska raises the crops and animals at the heart of the U.S. food chain. Ben and Erin Schroeder, spouses and veterinarians, brave obstacles to care for those animals. Heartland Docs, DVM premieres January 25 at 10/9c on Nat Geo WILD. NAT GEO LIVE Designed by Nature with Kakani Katija Attend Nat Geo…

2 min
who gets to judge what’s beautiful?

WHEN I WAS YOUNG, what my friends and I considered pretty was everything I was not: Tall. Stick-straight blond hair. Blue eyes. We wanted to look like Peggy Lipton from the TV show The Mod Squad. Or a 1960s Barbie, with her yellow ponytail and absurdly unattainable figure. But every day, the mirror provided a reflection of how I, and so many others, failed to attain that ideal. As writer Robin Givhan puts it in “Redefining Beauty,” her story in this issue, “For generations, beauty required a slender build but with a generous bosom and a narrow waist. The jawline was to be defined, the cheekbones high and sharp. The nose angular. The lips full but not distractingly so. The eyes, ideally blue or green, large and bright. Hair was to…

1 min
flowers that stay fresh

2 min
the backstory

INSTEAD OF GIVING his wife flowers for her birthday, as he did most years, contemporary photographer Abelardo Morell decided to choose something that would last longer. Say, a photograph of flowers. The Cuban-born, Boston-based photographer started with a still life of a mixed bouquet. He took a photo, then rearranged the flowers and took another photo. He repeated that 20 times, then layered the images together. Still lifes of flowers are a classic subject for photographers. But Morell is well-known for another distinctive photographic approach: camera obscura, a technique that captures inverted views projected through a pinhole onto a surface in a darkened room. So he saw this very different pursuit, a project he called Flowers for Lisa, as a chance to stretch his creativity as well as to devise gifts for…

6 min
black inventors: a broader view

EACH FEBRUARY, IN OBSERVANCE of Black History Month in the United States, we revisit the stories of notable African Americans. Lists of these prominent individuals and their contributions serve as powerful testimonials to black ingenuity. And within this impressive group, African-American scientists and inventors hold a special place. They are a particular interest of mine, as a scholar studying the intersection of African-American history and the history of science. They also were exceptional in their time. Succeeding in science and technology in 19th- and 20th-century America despite the long odds imposed by racial oppression, black inventors represented the epitome of intellectual achievement. By the early 19th century, James Forten of Philadelphia is believed to have invented a device that improved sailing and was running his own prosperous sailmaking business. He used his…

1 min
mothers of inventions

IN THE EARLY 1900S, two African-American women inventors with both science and business acumen—Madam C.J. Walker and Annie Turnbo Malone—developed products that made them fortunes. Though their rags-to-riches stories are similar, one name is widely recognized and the other is nearly forgotten. Both were born to formerly enslaved parents. Both got their start in St. Louis, catering to underserved consumers. Skilled in chemistry, Annie Turnbo was in her 30s when she started experimenting with hair products, which led to a hair and scalp formula gentler than other products black women had been using. Sold door-to-door, her products were a hit; she expanded production, opened a school for black cosmetology, and franchised sales in other countries. She married and became known as Annie Turnbo Malone. Sara Breedlove, a widow who had experimented with…