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Discover January/February 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
Read More
10 Issues

In this issue

4 min.
but when driving, these sunglasses may save your life!

To some, sunglasses are a fashion accessory… Drivers’ Alert: Driving in fall and winter can expose you to the most dangerous glare… do you know how to protect yourself? In the fall and winter, the sun is lower in the sky so it rises and sets at peak travel periods. During the early morning and afternoon rush hours many drivers find themselves temporarily blinded while driving directly into the glare of the sun. Deadly accidents are regularly caused by such blinding glare with danger arising from reflected light off another vehicle or snowy and icy pavement. Yet, motorists struggle on despite being blinded by the sun’s glare that can cause countless accidents every year. Not all sunglasses are created equal. Protecting your eyes is serious business. With all the fancy fashion frames out there…

1 min.
a year, with context

We’ve all seen it. One week a headline will tout the health benefits of, say, drinking a little red wine each day. Give it a few months, and we’ll all groan as we catch another headline that declares a daily glass of wine is a no-go. What those fleeting headlines lack is context. How does that one study that’s grabbing all the coverage today really fit into the greater landscape, as researchers strive to answer questions? That’s the thinking behind The State of Science — our take on the year’s biggest discoveries. Because we grouped scientific findings by field, you’ll have a chance to sink in and see where each story fits in the larger space of inquiry. We hope to give you a sense of the state of each field, through…

1 min.
print feedback

Underneath It All (“The Sleeping Giant,” September 2018) Discover’s photos and schematics are spectacular! The Crux, which showed Antarctica minus the ice layers, satisfied my lifelong desire to see what’s under all that ice. Please do one for the Arctic next. Carole JoslinSunrise, Fla. Make the Call (“Pyramid Dreams,” September 2018) I’ve loved reading your articles about the lost pyramids of Bosnia. I don’t understand why the European Association of Archaeologists wouldn’t want to prove Sam Osmanagich wrong and put this idea to rest once and for all. It could easily be done. Just have an archaeology doctoral candidate do his thesis on these pyramids. They could use ground-penetrating radar to discover if it’s just a hill, or maybe a temple built by the Romans, or the lost tomb of Alexander the Great. I challenge the…

1 min.
multimedia feedback

In the search for a new planetary home, there’s an important question that experts need to ask: What’s the maximum gravity we could survive? In a recent online story titled exactly that, writer Michael Allen covered a study on the topic. Based on the researchers’ calculations, we could manage on a planet whose gravity is about three or four times that of Earth’s — but only if we train like elite athletes first. Here’s what some readers had to say on DiscoverMagazine.com. Artor Of course, standing upright in 2G is enough to make most people pass out, as all their blood runs to their feet. Some industrial-strength compression stockings would help, but only a little. hisxmark How much a fully developed athlete could endure does not shed much light on how an embryo or…

1 min.
the crux

DEADLY COMBINATION In September, a 6.7-magnitude earthquake struck Japan’s northernmost main island, Hokkaido, including the town of Atsuma. It couldn’t have come at a worse time. Only days before, Typhoon Jebi had soaked the area, where the soil has a loosely structured layer of volcanic ash. The intense precipitation increased the water pressure within the soil, which can trigger landslides, according to Kyoji Sassa, a Kyoto University expert in soil mechanics. Another trigger? Shear stress — the parallel stress applied to a surface — caused by earthquakes. Atsuma experienced both, causing this catastrophic collapse in a matter of hours. The devastation visible throughout this image stretched for several square miles. According to Japan’s Fire and Disaster Management Agency, 41 people died; 36 were in Atsuma.…

4 min.
cataloging life

ON AN INTERCONTINENTAL FLIGHT several years ago, Harris Lewin decided to find the common ancestor of all complex life on Earth, from slime molds to his fellow passengers. As a professor of evolution and ecology at the University of California, Davis, Lewin knew what he’d have to do to travel back billions of years in evolutionary time and study this enigmatic progenitor: generate a DNA sequence for every species alive today. It would be a worldwide equivalent of the Human Genome Project (HGP), which fully mapped the DNA of our species in 2003. Lewin took out a pencil to calculate the cost. “I couldn’t believe the number,” he recalls. At $3 billion, the estimate was well within the price range of today’s moonshot science, and considerably less, adjusted for inflation, than…