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How It WorksHow It Works

How It Works No. 123

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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“It’s been converting mass into energy for over 4 billion years” Power of the Sun, page 22 If you ask me what the most exciting technological advancement of this century will be, then I would have to answer fusion power. Though the tokamak was invented in the atomic era of the 20th century, creating a fusion reactor that’s stable and efficient enough has always seemed tantalisingly out of our reach. We’re getting close though, and the potential of successfully harnessing the same power that allows a star to generate almost incalculable amounts of energy will be a game-changer for planet Earth. Imagine being able to replace dozens of fossil fuel stations and nuclear fission reactors with a single fusion power station, generating enormous amounts of cheap energy that produces zero greenhouse…

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meet the team…

James Production Editor The world’s ancient monuments are often under threat, but the technology we explore on page 42 can help us save and restore them. Scott Staff Writer Not every animal is susceptible to the bite of a deadly snake. Discover how some animals are immune to venom on page 48. Baljeet Research Editor If you thought the weather on Earth was bad, see what the rest of the Solar System has to contend with on page 32. Duncan Senior Art Editor We look at just a few of the many inventions the Victorians made on page 78. It’s incredible how many we still use today. FOLLOW US… How It Works magazine @HowItWorksmag…

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1 million tons of sludge

Australia’s Great Barrier Reef is one of the seven natural wonders of the world, comprised of over 3,000 individual coral reef systems, home to an incredible range of marine life, and is the only living thing that’s visible from space. Unfortunately, the Great Barrier Reef is under threat from climate change, as well as the crown-of-thorns starfish that feeds on the coral itself. More recently, a loophole in Australian law means that a nearby port will be licensed to dump 1 million tons of toxic sludge onto the reef.…

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deadly radiation’s pretty flower

In a secret US facility, a NACA (National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics) physicist studies the effects of alpha rays from radioactive polonium in a cloud chamber – a sealed container holding saturated vapour. The deadly blast of alpha particles creates a flower pattern at the centre of the cloud chamber. Until the early 1960s, scientists were focused on creating safe nuclear propulsion for use in future aircraft, before the programme was abandoned. In 1958 NACA became NASA and the US began to focus on travelling beyond the sphere of our own planet.…

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watching weather from space

High above the atmosphere, the International Space Station’s latest experiment observes an orange airglow curving around the sphere of Earth. NASA has also greenlit the Atmospheric Waves Experiment (AWE), a mission slated for August 2022 that will attach to the outside of the ISS and observe the space weather system around our planet. It will investigate how the interaction between Earth’s weather systems and solar wind affects the upper atmosphere and can interfere with satellite communications.…

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12-year-old builds fusion reactor

A12-year-old child from Tennessee created a successful nuclear reaction in his family’s playroom in January 2018, according The Guardian. That makes him the youngest known person to have done so. The Open Source Fusor Research Consortium (a group of nuclear hobbyists) recognised Jackson Oswalt’s achievement on 2 February, according to a report by commercial appeal, a USA Today affiliate. Oswalt, now 14, built a machine that generates a plasma in which nuclear fusion occurs – which doesn't involve splitting an atom, but rather crushing atoms together to form heavier ones. So to answer the obvious question: yes, nuclear reactions are things you can do at home. Live Science has reported previously on nuclear startups that have started as hobbyist projects. And there are more people who make reactors purely for the…