Popular Science Winter 2020

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United States
Camden Media Inc.
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4 Numeri

in questo numero

2 min
where we go from here

IN JAPAN, THERE’S Amethod of repairing shattered pottery called kintsugi, in which artisans rejoin shards with gold-laced epoxy. Once the repair is complete, the shimmering veins not only increase the value of the mended object, they also hold on to the beauty of its past life as it continues anew. Kintsugi builds on the philosophy of wabi-sabi, a belief that the aesthetic flaws of age—things like rust, breakage, and discoloration—enhance an object’s overall splendor. Legend holds that the technique arose in the 15th century, when a shogun was displeased with a first attempt at fixing his favorite tea bowl. Conventional practices had clumsily joined the broken pieces with staples, so he instructed craftsmen to find a more elegant solution. Something that elevated the piece rather than degraded it. In many ways, life…

1 min

1. Meera Subramanian • While on a semester at sea in college, Meera Subramanian was appalled that the ship’s waste ended up in the ocean. That revelation led her to tell stories about our stewardship of the planet. On page 102, she assesses the aftermath of some of our worst environmental disasters, exploring how human beings have the power to help nature heal. 2. Megan I. Gannon • A double major in English and art history helped prepare Megan Gannon for a career reporting on archeology. She typically writes short pieces about the discovery of old bones, but loves the chance to research the topic in depth. On page 60, she details a Black community’s struggle to protect the ground where their enslaved ancestors lie. 3. Marryam Moma • After moving to the US from…

2 min
in remission

FOR MUCH OF THE 20TH CENTURY, cancer was an unspeakable diagnosis. Doctors often wouldn’t tell patients about their illness because they generally couldn’t treat it, and they considered it unethical to take away a person’s hope. The equation began to shift when Richard Nixon signed the National Cancer Act in 1971, authorizing hundreds of millions of dollars in research funding. Today, while the overall number of cases is increasing (we live longer and are less likely to die from other diseases), biologists and oncologists have made some incredible strides. New screening techniques, genomic sequencing, and tactics like immunotherapy and stem cell treatments have saved lives. There’s still work ahead—Black men in particular are more likely to die from many major cancers than their white counterparts—but zooming in on a selection…

1 min
hungry hungry hippos

IN 1981, NOTORIOUS drug lord Pablo Escobar imported four hippos from Africa to his estate near Medellín, Colombia. After his death in 1993, the herd meandered into the nearby Magdalena River. Ecologists estimate there are now 65 to 80 swimming around, and that number could reach 800 by 2050. Introducing new species often causes environmental mishaps. Toads released to eat crop-loving beetles took over Australia, and ivy brought to the New World for decoration has toppled native trees. But some ecologists think these hippos may have happened upon a valuable role: 100,000 years ago, semiaquatic hoofed mammals roamed South America, and Escobar’s pets may be filling the niche they left behind. Here are four ways they’re shaping their environment. A/Forging paths At a whopping 3,500 pounds each, hippos’ bodies are able to create…

1 min
fermented delights

NO MATTER WHO YOU ARE OR where you live, you’ve almost certainly eaten something fermented. Humans have been processing food this way for at least 10,000 years in cuisines on every populated continent. Microbes like bacteria and fungi flourish when feeding off carbohydrates, turning sugars into a wealth of new chemicals like the carbon dioxide in breads, ethanol in alcoholic drinks, and lactic acid in dairy. The resulting foods have qualities ideal for human sustenance: prolonged shelf life, better digestibility, and enriched nutritional and flavor profiles. The buffet below represents just a sampling of the treats our species brines, brews, cures, and cultures around the world.…

1 min
pedal pushers

AMSTERDAM WAS ONCE JUST as car-clogged as any other major city. But in 1995, bikers began to outnumber drivers. Copenhagen reached that same milestone in 2016. Like other modern pedaling paradises, they invested hundreds of millions in making roads safe and convenient for two-wheelers. Introducing bike sharing has encouraged an influx of casual riders, and installing infrastructure like protected, designated cycle lanes has helped prevent crashes. This chart breaks down the five major factors that have gotten—and kept—gears turning in the top 10 velophile havens around the world. One surprising finding? Weather isn’t everything. As daily cyclists in snowy Bern and rainy Antwerp will happily attest, pedaling is an excellent way to keep warm. KEY EVENTS Whether city has no-car days • popularity of bike-related events SHARING Number of bicycle sharing or rental stations • number…