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National Geographic Magazine

National Geographic Magazine April 2017

The latest news in science, exploration, and culture will open your eyes to the world’s many wonders. Get a National Geographic digital magazine subscription today and experience the same high-quality articles and breathtaking photography contained in the print edit.

United States
National Geographic Society
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our social media mission

At National Geographic, we want to be part of the conversation. We do that by creating stories for our magazines and nationalgeographic.com that are timely, memorable, and important. Our recent coverage of the refugee crisis, the gender revolution, and climate change are examples of meeting that objective. But today, to be in conversation with the widest possible audience, we need to be a player on social media as well. We’re proud that for most of the past two years, National Geographic has ranked number one among brands on social media in the United States. With more than 2.6 billion social engagements, we’re right up there with the NFL, the NBA, and Victoria’s Secret. Our largest publishing platforms, outside of our own properties, are Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Snapchat. We approach each differently, customizing…

playing the part of genius

His acting roles have ranged from Captain Barbossa in the Pirates of the Caribbean movies to George VI’s speech therapist in The King’s Speech. But Geoffrey Rush, 65, says that portraying Albert Einstein in the television series Genius is “what actors call a great part. For a sexagenarian character actor, they don’t come along every day.” How was Einstein unlike most of us? In preparing for the role, I found the most fantastic, pithy expression, from the philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer: “Talent hits a target no one else can hit. Genius hits a target no one else can see.” That’s absolutely a description of Einstein’s mind, because he overturned hundreds of years of scientific orthodoxies about gravity, light, space, time. Another aspect of being seen as a genius is endurance. He was still…

garbage swell

Outdoor photographer Zak Noyle has seen his share of marine debris, but he was shocked by what he discovered on an assignment in a remote spot off the coast of Java. There to cover Indonesian surfer Dede Suryana (right) in 2012, Noyle found himself literally swimming in a sea of garbage. “It was overwhelming,” he recalls. “I really thought we were going to see a dead body in the water.” Roughly eight million tons of plastic enters the ocean every year. That’s according to a 2015 report, which also identified where the bulk of this trash originates. At the top of the list: China, the Philippines, and Indonesia. Sightings of junk-filled waters are common—and not only in Southeast Asia, says marine biologist Nicholas Mallos, who runs the Ocean Conservancy’s Trash Free Seas…

fish for thought

Hundreds of millions of people worldwide would lack their prime source of protein without freshwater fish. Yet the lakes and river systems that supply them are often overlooked by policymakers, who focus sustainability efforts instead on ocean species. Marine fisheries tend to be commercial operations, while freshwater fishing is almost exclusively a means of subsistence. “Most freshwater fish catches don’t enter the global trade economy, so they draw less interest,” says University of Wisconsin–Madison zoologist Peter McIntyre. McIntyre recently conducted a global analysis of riverine fisheries—and the threats they face—and determined there is an urgent need to safeguard these regions. He and his team found that 90 percent of the global freshwater catch comes from ecosystems that are stressed by “above average” pollution, dambuilding, and invasive species. Nowhere are these challenges more potentially…

freshwater at the source

Most people don’t have the opportunity to swim in aquifers, but National Geographic Young Explorer Jennifer Adler regularly takes the plunge in hopes of promoting a new “water ethic,” an enlightened mind-set about the different sources and uses of water. She chiefly studies—and swims in— the Floridan aquifer, a body that supplies more than 90 percent of Florida’s drinking water. After her dives she brings photos, videos, and a 360-degree virtual underwater tour to nearby schools with lessons about water conservation and efficiency. Kids can be particularly curious about where water comes from, and urging kids to use less water is often an easier sell than persuading adults to go easy on their lawns. What do children see in her images of underwater caves with almost no light or marine life? “Often…

troubled waters

The map above is essentially an x-ray of the ocean, and the colors show where it’s feeling the most impact from human activity. The darker the area, the more stressed the waters are by fishing, shipping, the destabilizing effects of climate change, or all three. Such a map is rare. The vastness and depth of the ocean make it notoriously difficult to study. But in 2008 a team of researchers used satellite images and modeling software to make a complete portrait of human effects on the ocean. Five years later they did it again, capturing a comprehensive view of an ocean in transition. Among the revelations: Two-thirds of the ocean shows increased strain from human-related factors, such as fishing and climate change. And more than three-quarters of coastal waters suffer from…