Discover November 2020

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
8 期号


we’re exploring that gut feeling

You are what you eat. How many of us have heard this phrase, rolled our eyes, said “yeah, yeah,” and moved on? Yet it’s a beautifully simple saying that cuts straight to the point: What you put into your body has a direct effect on your overall health. I was curious about the origin of the saying, which we’ve heard in the U.S. for much of the 20th century. The idiom’s original version first appeared in 1825 in a famed French book about food, by Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin. He was a lawyer and judge, as well as a celebrated food writer. His original line, translated into English: “Tell me what you eat and I will tell you what you are.” At that time, Brillat-Savarin was commenting on the connection between food, society…

awesome connections

(“Awe-Struck,” “A Universe of Galaxies” and “Welcome to the Neighborhood,” June 2020) The June 2020 issue’s juxtaposition of “Awe-Struck” with the two articles on galaxies is an amazing example, intentional or not, of one article demonstrating the unrelated one before it. You can’t get more awe-inspiring than the universe, and this section on galaxies did a beautiful job of presenting galaxies in a way that puts a lot of stuff into perspective. As I read the articles, I kept thinking back to our small place in all of that. — Joel Amromin, Chatsworth, Calif. MINING RIGHTS (“Out of Our Mines,” June 2020) I love Discover! However, I was disturbed by the article “Out of Our Mines.” While I am all for reclaiming those essential elements from tailings, waste dumps, ocean water, et cetera, I…

the latest news and notes

MAN VS. MANGROVES These trees love beachfront views. Mangroves live in the salty shallow waters between land and sea across thousands of miles of the world’s coastlines — at least, for now. High carbon emissions are causing sea levels to rise, and soon mangroves won’t be able to stay above water. Earlier this year, researchers estimated that once the annual rate of sea level rise reaches just a quarter of an inch, mangroves will begin to drown. Without changes to emissions, these forests of the ocean will be in grave danger by 2050. And if they lose their homes, they may not be the only ones. The tropical trees protect coastal land and the people who live there from natural disasters like tsunamis, by reducing storm surges and flooding.…

white-cheeked gibbon

BARELY 10 YEARS AGO, the plight of the northern white-cheeked gibbon looked dire. The gibbon’s territory had once spanned old-growth rainforests across China, Laos and Vietnam, but decades of habitat loss and hunting had left only a few dozen isolated communities. By 2013, the gibbon was declared effectively extinct in China — and today, no one knows how many are left in Laos. A few secluded reserves in Vietnam now appear to be the gibbon’s holdout. Just 127 animals remained in 2011 in one of the country’s last strongholds for the species — Xuan Lien Nature Reserve and the adjacent forests — according to La Quang Trung, a primate expert with the Center for Nature Conservation and Development in Hanoi. But things might be turning around for the gibbon. Since last year,…

seeing sunspots

Spurts of hot gas (seen in bright yellow, above) highlight the sun’s active areas — basically, the parts with particularly strong magnetic fields. Photographed by NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory, these areas of magnetic activity are involved in the emission of solar wind, streams of charged particles flowing from the sun, as well as more extreme plasma bursts called coronal mass ejections. When these particles, sent into space at speeds up to 1,800 miles per second, collide with Earth’s atmosphere, they can manifest as the dazzling aurora borealis, also known as the Northern Lights.…

the wandering stars that pass by our solar system

EVERY 50,000 years or so, a nomadic star passes near our solar system. Most brush by without incident. But, every once in a while, one comes a bit closer to home. The most famous of these stellar interlopers is called Scholz’s Star. This small binary star system (two stars in orbit together) was first spotted in 2013. Its orbital path indicates that, about 70,000 years ago, it passed through the Oort Cloud, the extended sphere of icy bodies that surrounds our solar system. We now know that these kinds of encounters happen far more often than once expected, thanks to a European Space Agency spacecraft called Gaia. Gaia was built to map the precise locations and movements of over a billion stars, and has alerted astronomers to hundreds of close encounters past…