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Discover March 2019

Discover Magazine will amaze you, enlighten you, and open your eyes to the awe and wonder of science and technology. Discover reveals secrets, solves mysteries, and debunks old myths. Discover shares new findings and shows you what makes our universe tick.

United States
Kalmbach Publishing Co. - Magazines
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SPECIAL: Get 40% OFF with code: LOVE40 - Web purchases only
10 Issues

In this issue

1 min.
remains of our day

What will we leave behind, after this millennium’s civilizations fade away? I had this notion rolling around in my brain on the way to work this morning, as I threaded the car through a ridiculously overbuilt highway interchange. We’ve got the infrastructure; we’ve got our churches, city halls and museums; and we have our homes and apartment buildings, some smack up against forests and others hanging along our coastlines. But as fire and water eventually scorch and swallow them up, our tracks will start to disappear. Our lives could sink into mystery just as those of the Maya, a vast civilization that thrived more than 1,000 years ago and has since disappeared. Now the jungles of Guatemala are beginning to spill their stories. Assistant Editor Nathaniel Scharping was along for some of the detective…

2 min.

PRINT FEEDBACK Junk in the Trunk (“A Sprite-ly Spacecraft,” November 2018) The development of a new micro satellite called Sprite is interesting, but there is a down side to this technology that was not addressed in the article. Launching them in multiples of 100 increases the very real problem of orbital debris, also known as space junk. According to NASA, there are about half a million objects in orbit that are larger than a marble. If the micro satellite trend catches on, it could mean thousands of new micro bullets in orbit. Collisions of orbital debris increase geometrically, and the problem could reach a point where the chance of damage to functioning satellites will be high. Even Hollywood has picked up on this issue in the release of Gravity in 2013. I hope this…

1 min.
on shaky ice

Greenland’s vast Helheim Glacier sprawls before oceanographer David Holland (left) and safety officer Brian Rougeux as they repair a solar panel array last summer. The setup powers a nearby seismometer that detects “icequakes” and helps researchers learn how the ice fractures. It’s part of a land-, sea- and air-based program led by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, dubbed Oceans Melting Greenland. The effort will help scientists better understand the effect of rapidly warming deep ocean currents and how they melt Greenland’s coastal ice from below.…

4 min.
nasa’s powerful plan

WANT TO START A SPACE COLONY? Even if you don’t, space agencies across the globe do. Whether it’s a moon base now, à la the Trump administration’s plans for NASA, or a Mars landing later, such a colony will need a lot of power. And given the possibility of light-obscuring dust storms on the Red Planet and the moon seeing an uneven amount of sunlight, solar panels may not cut it. But don’t worry — Los Alamos National Lab has a plan. It hinges on nuclear power, which, at its most basic, consists of harnessing energy from radioactive elements. Often, this energy comes from a process called fission, when a neutron rams through an atom’s nucleus, splitting it. A nuclear reactor houses this chaos and uses the resulting heat to generate power. Now,…

1 min.

THINK OF THE RHIZOSPHERE as a plant’s biochemical footprint: It’s the region of soil immediately surrounding the roots, typically extending out about 1 millimeter in all directions. But the rhizosphere’s exact dimensions can vary by species and even climate, reflecting the roots’ activity. As they soak up water and nutrients from the surrounding earth, the roots also secrete compounds such as amino acids and sugars into this active zone. Microorganisms living within the rhizosphere feed off those secretions, and in exchange, provide the plant with additional nourishment.…

1 min.
dry your tears

Tears often leave our faces feeling (and tasting) salty, but a closer look reveals the intricate patterns they can leave behind. Norm Barker, director of pathology photography at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, focused his microscope on a human teardrop, using a lighting technique to enhance contrast. Barker saw that as it started to dry, the salt and other substances in the teardrop bunched together and crystallized in these intricate, snowflakelike shapes. The picture ranked among the top 10 in the 2018 Nikon Small World Photomicrography Competition.…