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National Geographic Magazine

National Geographic Magazine September 2013

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.

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National Geographic Society
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sea change

We are accustomed to hearing about catastrophes that change life in an instant—an earthquake, a fire, an explosion. But there is a catastrophe that is playing out in slow motion, measured out over the course of years, decades, and centuries. And it’s happening now. The culprit is not so much nature as ourselves. our catastrophe has to do with dependence on fossil fuels, which has sparked a chain of events that has warmed the atmosphere and oceans and melted glaciers and continental ice sheets, and consequently raised sea levels. One estimate says that by 2070 the coastal flooding that will result from this rise may affect nearly 150 million people living in port cities. “We have irreversibly committed future generations to a hotter world and rising seas,” says author tim Folger in…

clues to a long life

While filled with interesting anecdotes, the story of the search for life-extending genes is based on a naive technological optimism. It misses the profound question of how we can better meet the increasing challenges to public health around the world. Many of the basic tools that have extended average life spans are seriously at risk. The director-general of the World Health Organization, Margaret Chan, warned that “a post-antibiotic era means, in effect, an end to modern medicine as we know it.” These are the types of issues on which funding, research, and policy need to be focused. KEN DAHLBERG Kalamazoo, Michigan The table of contents listing asks, “You want to live to 120? And stay healthy?” I want to live to 120, even if I don’t stay healthy. Good health is better than…

held captive

My team was studying the bird species of the Himalaya when ten people with machine guns entered our camp and said, “You’re coming with us.” We usually work 11,000 feet up in the mountains, but we had dropped down to monitor the birds living at the lower elevations. At 8,000 feet there’s a road. If we’d been higher up, they wouldn’t have found us. The Indian Army was everywhere— it was the early ’90s and the region was in the middle of an insurgency. Our captors were Kashmiri rebels. They marched us toward the nearest village and put us on a small bus. EXPERTISE Ornithologist LOCATION Kashmir To keep covert, our captors kept changing our transport. They pistolwhipped a rickshaw driver for not giving up his vehicle quickly enough, took us about 15 miles, then commandeered…

your shot

This page features two photographs: one chosen by our editors and one chosen by our readers via online voting. For more information, go to yourshot.nationalgeographic.com. EDITORS’ CHOICE Alexei Aliyev Nizhniy Tagil, Russia When Alexei Aliyev’s family came back from a neighbor’s birthday party, they discovered that a turkey had escaped from their farm. After his mother went to retrieve it, Aliyev stopped her so he could take a photo in front of their house. “Photograph quickly,” she told him. “He is very heavy!” READERS’ CHOICE Jeff Rose Batesville, Arkansas On his way to photograph waterfalls on the Ozark Plateau, Rose passed a pair of male elk—one young, one older—sharing a quiet moment, a rarity among males that often spar with each other. Immediately after Rose took this photo, the bull stood and walked off. Best in Show Nearly…

slugger’s dilemma

Major leaguers broke 1,697 baseball bats between July and September 2012. It’s not surprising, given what the skinny piece of wood has to withstand. When a 90-plus-mile-an-hour pitch makes contact, it exerts about 8,000 pounds of force, and vibrations ripple across the bat. If the ball hits a weak spot, the wood may break. Ash generally holds up. Today, though, more players, many out of superstition or bat feel, prefer maple bats, which constitute 64 percent of all sales. But maple’s grain—shaped into a bat—can make the wood weaker. Scientists are studying broken major league bats to improve maple bats’ stamina and develop regulations to avoid multiple-piece breaks to prevent injury. Inside pitches are the culprit about two-thirds of the time, catching the bat at its thinnest. “If batters could always…

explorers quiz

EXPLORE This quiz is the fifth of seven to run in 2013 to celebrate National Geographic’s 125th anniversary. The next quiz will appear in October. WOMEN AND DISCOVERY For centuries female explorers got to pursue their ambitions only in disguise or against fierce resistance. If they somehow succeeded, society often ignored them or, worse, treated them as superwomen, because that was a way, Egyptian feminist Huda Shaarawi wrote, “to avoid recognizing the capabilities of all women.” With that in mind, this quiz celebrates ordinary women doing extraordinary things.…