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How It WorksHow It Works

How It Works No. 122

Welcome to How It Works, the magazine that explains everything you never knew you wanted to know about the world we live in. Loaded with fully illustrated guides and expert knowledge, and with sections dedicated to science, technology, transportation, space, history and the environment, no subject is too big or small for How It Works to explain.

United Kingdom
Future Publishing Ltd
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13 Issues


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In 2014, Mars had a very close call with a comet called Siding Spring. If it had impacted the Red Planet, this vast ball of rock and ice would have released energy equivalent to thousands – if not millions – of Hiroshima atomic bombs. On Earth, we’ve never observed a close call with an interplanetary leviathan of this magnitude in recorded history, though there’s plenty of evidence of even bigger impacts across our world in the form of ancient craters that date back billions of years. These massive meteorites weren’t just responsible for destruction; some of them cleared the way for new life and ultimately the evolution of humankind. On page 22, read about these ancient impacts, the cataclysmic events they caused, the technology we use to detect and track…

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meet the team…

Charlie G Production Editor I hate the cold, so I can only admire the brave souls on page 74 who raced to the poles. On a less icy note, this is my last issue of HIW. Bye! Baljeet Research Editor A crater discovered below the Hiawatha Glacier is the first to be found under an ice sheet. Find out more about it on page 22. Charlie E Staff Writer How – and why – do scientists make exact copies of living individuals in the lab? Find out in our cloning feature on page 56. Scott Staff Writer Madidi National Park is one of the world’s most diverse environments. Dare you explore this beautiful but deadly paradise on page 36? Duncan Senior Art Editor It’s incredible to think how much goes into making our money. Find out just how your loose change and plastic notes…

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manta ray’s krill buffet

It’s dinner time for this manta ray as it looms out of the depths to feed upon a vast shoal of krill and plankton. Krill are tiny shrimp-like crustaceans found in oceans worldwide and form the staple diet for many larger ocean-dwelling animals. They are a key prey animal and have a biomass of nearly 400 million tons in Antarctica’s Southern Ocean alone. As the oceans have warmed with climate change some species of krill have retreated south, which will have a negative impact further up the food chain in the long term.…

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the 1-trillion-star galaxy

Around 55 million lightyears from Earth, in the Coma Berenices constellation, is Messier 100, a well-defined spiral galaxy that’s 167,000 lightyears wide, roughly 1.5 times the size of the Milky Way. Messier 100 was discovered in 1781, and was one of the first objects that the Hubble Space Telescope focused on when it launched in 1990. Since then, servicing missions and upgrades have vastly improved the quality of Hubble’s imagery. This is the most recent photo of the galaxy, taken by Hubble’s Wide Field Camera 3.…

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king tut’s tomb finally restored

Conservationists have finally completed a decade-long restoration of the tomb of King Tutankhamun in Egypt. The project – carried out by the Los Angeles-based Getty Conservation Institute (GCI) and the Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities – involved stabilising the wall paintings that decorated the 3,000-year-old tomb, as well as adding features like new barriers and a new ventilation system that would reduce damage to the site in the future. “Conservation and preservation is important for the future and for this heritage and this great civilisation to live forever,” Zahi Hawass, an Egyptologist and the former minister of State for Antiquities in Egypt, said in a statement. Tutankhamun was born during Egypt’s New Kingdom in around 1341 BCE. Sometimes called the boy king, he began his rule at the age of nine and died…

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extreme microbes found inside ocean crystals

Buried hundreds of feet under the ocean floor in the Sea of Japan, where bone-chilling temperatures and intense pressure discourage most forms of life, there live some very hardy microbes. Their deep-sea secret? They hunker down in pockets inside tiny mineral grains, which are then sealed into deep-sea crystals. Scientists discovered the crystal-encased microbes during an expedition to Joetsu Basin to sample gas hydrates – crystalline solids of gas and water that form in the ocean under high pressure and intense cold. They presented their findings in December at the annual conference of the American Geophysical Union (AGU). After the researchers examined massive hydrates collected from the seafloor off Japan’s western coast, they found that some of the hydrates contained tiny grains of a mineral called dolomite. Dark spots in the dolomite…