Discover May 2021

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


cycles of change

One of my first summer jobs in the early ’80s was as a trash collector — well, assistant trash collector, helping my uncle (the collector-in-chief) on his Friday morning run through our little town. We started at dawn and finished around lunchtime, and during those hours, we solved the world’s problems and shared opinions on the day’s news. One morning, after collecting rubbish from a neighbor who was evidently disposing of a lifetime collection of beer cans and plastic bottles, I shared something that I had read recently about a community that just started a curbside recycling program, one of the first in the nation. With all the wisdom of my 14 years, I proclaimed this to be an enlightened program that would save the world if it enjoyed widespread…


ON A COLLISION COURSE (“Is the Universe Infinite?”, Dec 2020) In the article is this statement: “Soon they learned the universe was expanding, too, with galaxies retreating from each other at ever-accelerating speeds.” If this is correct, there can be no collisions between galaxies. But then how does one explain spiral galaxies, the origins of which are explained by the collision of two or more galaxies? James AdieEnterprise, Ala. Author Eric Betz responds: For brevity’s sake, we omitted a detail pertinent to your question. Galaxies in general are retreating from each other, or red-shifted. This was first established observationally by Vesto Slipher and Edwin Hubble, and it’s been confirmed by repeated observations over the past century. However, from our local perspective, a handful of galaxies, like Andromeda, are actually blue-shifted, or moving closer to us.…

the latest news and notes

DAMSELS AND DRAGONS Below those bug eyes, hidden behind the leaf, are four pairs of wings that you might mistake for those of dragonflies. Damselflies belong to the same taxonomic order, but are smaller and slimmer than dragonflies. You can tell them apart by how they hold their wings at rest — damsels can fold their four wings along their body, while dragons hold them flat like a moth. There are around 2,600 known damselfly species; in September, researchers from the National Centre for Biological Sciences and the Zoological Survey of India added three more. The new arrivals were found in India’s biodiverse Western Ghats mountain range.…

what is time?

In 1826, time took a strange turn in New Haven, Connecticut. According to historian Michael O’Malley, over several months, a new clock installed atop Town Hall ran slow and then fast in comparison with the clock that had set the local standard time for decades, at nearby Yale College. After cursing the clockmaker, the citizens discovered that both clocks were accurate, but each kept time according to a different principle: The old clock at Yale had complicated gearwork that varied in speed with the seasons to emulate the time indicated on a sundial, which shifts with Earth’s annual orbital wobble. The more modern timepiece turned at a steady rate, like my wall clock does today. Time defies easy definition. Early fifth-century philosopher St. Augustine of Hippo famously wrote that he knew…

marmot school

Hiking across Vancouver Island’s Mount Washington, marmot keeper Jordyn Alger is perplexed. “I’ve never not seen a marmot on a walk here before,” she says. Despite her radio-tracking equipment, she’s come up short this hot July afternoon. But as Alger speaks, as if to reward her optimism, a tagged wild marmot appears on a log, eyeing us. The consistency of her sightings reveals an exceptionally effective program of rehabilitation, bringing critically endangered Vancouver Island marmots (Marmota vancouverensis) back from near extinction. The species is distinguished from the other five North American marmot species — and 14 more worldwide — by its dark brown fur. Landscape changes, often linked to trees encroaching on their preferred open spaces, on Vancouver Island throughout the 20th century fragmented the marmots’ mountain habitat, leaving populations isolated.…

urban oasis

Anyone can build a tiny habitat amidst the sea of green that is our lawns. Whether it’s a strip of right-of-way outside your urban apartment, your manicured suburban lawn or many mowed acres surrounding your house in the countryside, we’ve all got a little sod we could consider giving back to nature. Researchers have been learning more and more about declines in native pollinators, all while finding out the ways mowed, watered, fertilized and herbicided lawns can negatively affect the environment. That’s why University of Central Florida entomologist Barbara Sharanowski teamed up with ecologist Nash Turley to create the Lawn to Wildflowers program. They’ve developed an app to coach users on how to turn any patch of lawn into native wildflower habitat; it will also collect valuable data. Discover spoke…