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Discover April 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.

Country:
United States
Language:
English
Publisher:
Kalmbach Publishing Co. - Magazines
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10 Issues

IN THIS ISSUE

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buried in the past

We tend to reflect on our sense of place by looking to the recent past. For example, as a kid living out West, I couldn’t escape the story and path of Lewis and Clark — we can picture them navigating the familiar Missouri River valleys and winding over Rocky Mountain passes, establishing the trail for many routes of today. It’s one thing to reach back a couple of centuries, but the mind’s eye has trouble when we’re talking about over 70 million years ago. Whole continents and seas look nothing like our topography now. Arid landscapes hide once-tropical environments. Mountain ranges that tower over us were mere foothills then. In this issue’s cover story, we take you to such a place. Discover Digital Editor Eric Betz accompanied paleontologists as they headed into the…

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inbox

PRINT FEEDBACK Buggin’ Out (“A New Animal Farm,” July/August 2018) Loved your July/August issue, but one statement has me reeling. In “A New Animal Farm,” Carl Engelking states, “As Earth’s population increases by billions in the coming decades …” Egad! Are we humans really so clueless that we can’t eventually control our own dangerous population growth in order to save this unique planet and avoid eating bugs? Unbelievable and totally scary. Nancy SeftonPoulsbo, Wash. Fast Changes (“Alzheimer’s Under Attack,” December 2018) The suggestion that lifestyle changes can prevent, delay or treat Alzheimer’s is exciting. The sidebar titled “The Bredesen Protocol” provides startling commentary on North American culture and feels the need to prescribe fasting to someone — that’s to say, not eating for certain periods of time. Many of the other recommendations describe a healthier lifestyle that…

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a code for colony health

A queen ant and her nurses sport unique QR code labels as part of a study to observe how an ant colony defends itself against pathogens. European researchers observed thousands of tagged ants, photographing them every half-second to precisely document the social interaction among the different kinds in the colony. “I personally tagged 4,400 ants,” says biologist Nathalie Stroeymeyt of the University of Lausanne in Switzerland. She anesthetized each ant with carbon dioxide before placing a drop of glue onto the insect’s thorax to hold the tag in place. “At top speed, this takes me about one minute per ant,” she adds, “so this represented over 75 hours of work.”…

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fermilab’s ghost hunt

SEVENTY-THOUSAND TONS of liquid argon, trillions of particles moving at nearly the speed of light, an abandoned mine-turned-lab a mile underground, over 1,000 scientists and more than a billion dollars — all to catch what optimistic calculations suggest will be a single particle each day. It’s a staggering amount of effort, but a search for some of the most elusive particles in the universe may just be worth it. The objects in question are neutrinos, often called ghost particles. They’re far more present than the nickname suggests, though. Trillions pass through you every second — you just never notice. They’re so lightweight, their odds of interacting with other particles are enormously slim; it takes extraordinarily sensitive equipment to even detect them. But that evasiveness makes neutrinos a tempting quarry for physicists. “There are more…

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fighting ebola

Green-colored strands of Ebola virus swarm a blue Vero cell in this color-enhanced image from a scanning electron microscope. One of the most common mammalian cell lines used in virology research, Vero cells ultimately come from African green monkey kidney cells developed in 1962. Today, international research groups are using the cells to develop a vaccine against the virus. More than 11,000 people with Ebola died during the 2014–2016 outbreak in West Africa; a clinical vaccine trial in the Democratic Republic of Congo, announced in November, is underway.…

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take a deep breath

AS A CELL BIOLOGIST, Sundar Balasubramanian never forgot his rural southern Indian roots, or the traditional practices his uncle, the village healer, exposed him to. Today, as a researcher and assistant professor at the Medical University of South Carolina, Balasubramanian has turned his focus back to those roots — specifically, to pranayama, a deep-breathing relaxation technique. He’s showing that this ancient yoga practice is about more than relaxing — it can change us at the cellular level. Q What made you examine this technique through a cellular biology lens? A In 2005, I noticed while I was practicing pranayama, I was producing so much saliva that I was almost drooling. I wondered why and what the overall impact of that was. This led me and my team to study whether increased saliva…

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