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National Geographic Magazine

National Geographic Magazine June 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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find the truth and print it

When I was a child in Ann Arbor, Michigan, my parents used to load my sister and me into the car and drive to my grandparents’ house near Detroit. My grandparents were immigrants from Russia and Poland. They spoke broken, heavily accented English with a lot of Yiddish sprinkled in. My grandfather was a pugnacious, up-by-his-bootstraps businessman who didn’t get past fifth grade. But what he lacked in education he made up for in certainty. He won every argument, big or small, by trotting out what he called the “Actual Facts,” usually at top volume. After each visit, on the drive home, my sister and I would snicker about my grandfather’s Actual Facts—a ridiculous, redundant phrase. We knew that facts were facts. Period. In a newsroom where I worked 35 years ago, our motto…


Order prints of select National Geographic photos online at NationalGeographicArt.com. DAILY DOZEN EDITOR’S PICK Each day online we feature the 12 best photos submitted to our Your Shot community. This is one of our favorites. Albert Dros Leusden, Netherlands Dros loves to shoot in Asia, but he knew photographing from one of the highest residential towers in Busan, South Korea, wouldn’t be easy. He negotiated with officials for months to get permission. Then one night he was escorted to the roof with his fish-eye lens and pointed the camera down. #NGM ADVANCES ASSIGNMENT We asked to see images of progress—of advances that transform your community, your region, or the entire world. Aya Okawa El Cerrito, California Okawa was flying in a small plane near Rio Vista, California, at what’s known as the golden hour, the end-of-day twilight when an ordinary…

coloring outside the lines

Bam! Thwak! Pow! Diverse superheroes are giving old stereotypes a beating. As comic book and graphic novel sales in North America cracked one billion dollars in 2015, nontraditional characters—racial and cultural minorities, women, LGBT figures—are becoming major players. Some heroes in this inclusive pantheon are new. But well-known characters and brands are also getting a makeover: Marvel now has a black Spider-Man and a female Thor; Archie Comics’ multiracial character Harper is disabled; DC’s Wonder Woman recently officiated at a lesbian wedding. Industry analyst Milton Griepp says once marginalized groups started appearing regularly in mainstream comics about 10 years ago. The rise of manga, with its heavily female readership, and the recent superhero films of Hollywood have been catalysts for the change, he says. So have shifts in popular culture, laws, and…

baby steps

Imagine if autism could be diagnosed before a baby is born. Rather than finding out around the child’s third birthday, when developmental issues usually become noticeable, parents would get a head start on grasping the condition— and doctors would have an opportunity to strategize care in advance. Diagnosis in utero is on the far horizon, says pediatric neuroscientist Moriah Thomason, whose research aims to solve some of the mysteries of the fetal brain. At Detroit’s Wayne State University, she and her team use MRI technology to check the growth of a fetus’s brain and map the neural connectivity within it, creating a groundbreaking snapshot of how well the organ is functioning. They focus on cases where there’s danger of premature birth, Thomason says, because “we know that preterm children are at higher…

finger painting

To appreciate a painting, we’re taught to look for color, composition, and light. But how can a painting be savored by someone who’s blind? Through touch, the one thing gallery placards tell you not to do. John Olson, a former photographer, and his team render paintings into fully textured 3-D models, like this version of Vincent van Gogh’s “Portrait of Dr. Gachet.” The tactile paintings work as a way to reveal art to the blind because we don’t see with just our eyes: We see with our brains. Research in the field of neuroplasticity— the brain’s adaptability—shows that the visual cortex is stimulated by touch. Blind people perceive shapes with their existing senses, aprocess that broadly mimics that of sighted people, says Ella Striem-Amit, a Harvard neuroscientist. Luc Gandarias, who’s now 13,…

holo bones

In 2014 radiology professor Mark Griswold was looking for a new way to teach anatomy. Running a cadaver lab can be expensive, and corpses offer surprisingly limited views into the body. In the midst of his search, he was invited to Microsoft’s top secret testing facility. He expected to be shown a virtual reality headset, a potentially useful tool for teaching. Instead technicians outfitted him with something even more groundbreaking: a mixed reality headset, called HoloLens, the first self-contained computer that allows users to see holograms amid their surroundings. When Griswold put on the headset, he was transported to a mountain on the surface of Mars. Standing beside him was a NASA scientist. They chatted and even made eye contact, but the scientist was a hologram—a real person beamed in from…