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Discover December 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

2 min.
what’s so cute?

I remember, as a 7-year-old in the 1970s, playing in my room for hours with a foldout Holly Hobbie gazebo made of heavy bookboard. The small doll was so cute, in her patchwork dress and bonnet, hanging out in the various watercolor worlds that spilled from the white gazebo in the middle. But then along came Hello Kitty. The classic, simple line drawing of her oversized head, button nose and wide-set round black eyes exemplified cute. In my 9-year-old brain, Hello Kitty ruled, and I cherished the pencils, notepaper, stickers and especially a wee vinyl bag. Forty years later, Hello Kitty and her cute parade endure — my 7-year-old niece is a big fan. She’s drawn to the character, and many others like her, for likely the same reasons I was. There’s…

1 min.

BECKY LANG Editor In Chief DAN BISHOP Design Director EDITORIAL GEMMA TARLACH Senior Editor BILL ANDREWS Senior Associate Editor ELISA R. NECKAR Production Editor ANNA GROVES Associate Editor JENNIFER WALTER Assistant Editor MCLEAN BENNETT Copy Editor HAILEY MCLAUGHLIN Editorial Assistant Contributing Editors TIM FOLGER, JONATHON KEATS, LINDA MARSA, KENNETH MILLER, STEVE NADIS, COREY S. POWELL, JULIE REHMEYER, STEVE VOLK, PAMELA WEINTRAUB, DARLENE CAVALIER (special projects) ART ALISON MACKEY Associate Art Director DISCOVERMAGAZINE.COM ERIC BETZ Digital Editor NATHANIEL SCHARPING Associate Editor MEGAN SCHMIDT Digital Content Coordinator Bloggers ERIK KLEMETTI, NEUROSKEPTIC, COREY S. POWELL, SCISTARTER, TOM YULSMAN Contributors BRIDGET ALEX, KOREY HAYNES ADVERTISING SCOTT REDMOND Advertising Sales Director 888 558 1544, ext. 533 sredmond@kalmbach.com Rummel Media Connections KRISTI RUMMEL Consulting and Media Sales 608 435 6220 kristi@rummelmedia.com MELANIE DECARLI Marketing Architect BOB RATTNER Research DARYL PAGEL Advertising Services KALMBACH MEDIA DAN HICKEY Chief Executive Officer CHRISTINE METCALF Senior Vice President, Finance NICOLE MCGUIRE Senior Vice President, Consumer Marketing STEPHEN C. GEORGE Vice President, Content BRIAN J.…

4 min.
complex topic, complex reactions

In order for gun violence to be treated as a public health issue, robust data on gun ownership and ammunition purchases need to be collected and made accessible to researchers and policymakers. But creating such a national registry is prohibited by federal law. This lack of a comprehensive, searchable database has been a primary obstacle to research on firearm control. The solution, however, may already be available in the form of blockchain technology. By applying the same privacy techniques used by cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin and Monero, a blockchain-based registry would provide lawful owners secure anonymity while making available to public health researchers the valuable data necessary to develop evidence-based policies. Thomas Heston Spokane, Wash. Instead of the CDC studying only gun violence, perhaps it should consider studying violence of all kinds, including…

1 min.
the crux

LIMITED LIONS Life in La La Land hasn’t been glamorous for mountain lions — Los Angeles traffic is literally killing them. And if things don’t change, some of the local big cat populations could go extinct within 50 years, according to a recent study in the journal Ecological Applications. Freeways and urban sprawl prevent two groups of Southern California mountain lions, which live in the mountains on opposite sides of L.A., from mating. Isolated, the clusters have inbred, greatly decreasing genetic diversity. But there’s hope: State engineers, funded by conservation nonprofits, will soon link the territories by building wildlife bridges across two L.A.-area multilane highways. If the efforts work, other large carnivore conservation projects could follow statewide.…

4 min.
reef rescue

AS REPORTS OF CORAL REEF die-offs rolled in year after year, marine biologist Raquel Peixoto couldn’t help but feel inundated. Mass reef bleaching events were already five times more common by 2016 than they’d been in the 1980s — a pace that has continued with ocean warming trends, which only exacerbate the die-offs. That’s a big problem for the larger ocean ecosystem, since coral reefs support thousands of fish and invertebrate species — more than any other undersea environment. With images of corals’ dead white skeletons haunting her, Peixoto started brainstorming solutions. “Trying to do something,” she says, “makes me less depressed.” At some point, a thought occurred to her. What would happen if she dosed threatened reefs with “coral probiotics” — strains of beneficial bacteria known to support coral health? In…

1 min.

EVER CAUGHT A GLIMPSE of the man in the moon? Then you’ve experienced pareidolia — the tendency to perceive patterns where there are none. Faces are the most common shape people see, likely because mugs matter so much in our social species. But the phenomenon, pronounced “parr-i-DOH-lee-uh,” goes beyond faces. We humans can spot just about any shape in nearly anything: Maybe you see a deformed version of your state in your latte foam, or perhaps those clouds are two dinosaurs duking it out. Pareidolia even extends to auditory stimuli, when people misinterpret arbitrary sounds and noises as something meaningful, like voices or music.…