Discover January/February 2020

Discover Magazine will amaze you, enlighten you, and open your eyes to the awe and wonder of science and technology. Discover reveals secrets, solves mysteries, and debunks old myths. Discover shares new findings and shows you what makes our universe tick.

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United States
Kalmbach Publishing Co. - Magazines
USD 24.99
8 Números

en este número

1 min.
your curiosity fix

It starts in the early spring, as the snow begins to leave for good. Discover editors huddle every couple of weeks to talk over the hot science news and hash out which stories will be the top finds of the year. This year, by April, we figured we had our No. 1 contender: Astronomers, for the first time, had an image of a black hole. And it wasn’t like this was a black hole right in our neighborhood; it was 55 million light-years away. Getting this shot meant you needed a telescope the size of the planet — which is exactly what they used. Discoveries like these keep us curious, and it’s why we take the time to assess the broadest possible range of research over many months. Because it’s thrilling to…

5 min.
1 humanity’s first look at a black hole

This spring, astronomers revealed the first image ever taken of a black hole, bringing a decades-long effort to a dramatic conclusion. The image offers humanity its first glimpse of the gas and debris that swirl around the object’s event horizon, the point beyond which material disappears forever. A staple of science fiction has finally become visibly real. “We are delighted to be able to report to you today that we have seen what we thought was unseeable,” said Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) founding director Shep Doeleman when he announced the finding in April. The team of scientists made their announcement simultaneously in seven different countries, accompanied by a series of scientific papers published at the same time in The Astrophysical Journal Letters. The subject of the photo session was a nearby galaxy,…

5 min.
2 gene therapy gets clinical

After years of ethical debates and breakthroughs in the lab, CRISPR has finally made its way to clinical trials. Researchers are now looking at whether the DNA-editing tool, as well as more conventional gene therapies, can effectively treat a wide array of heritable disorders and even cancers. “There’s been a convergence of the science getting better, the manufacturing getting much better, and money being available for these kinds of studies,” says Cynthia Dunbar, a senior investigator at the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. “It’s truly come of age.” CRISPR-ING OUT DISEASE CRISPR — formally known as CRISPR-Cas9 — has been touted as an improvement over conventional gene therapy because of its potential precision. CRISPR (clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats) is a genetic code that, contained in a strand of RNA and…

6 min.
3 race for the moon

Israel Shoots for the Moon The lunar lander Beresheet made history this year, though not exactly how its creators intended. Israeli nonprofit SpaceIL, teaming up with state-owned defense company Israel Aerospace Industries, built and operated the craft. SpaceIL was founded for one main purpose: getting to the moon. It was a response to Google’s Lunar XPRIZE, which in 2007 promised $20 million to a company that could land gently on the moon and complete a small series of tasks. No team had claimed the prize by the time it expired, after repeated extensions, in 2018. The Beresheet mission continued anyway, launching Feb. 22 on a Falcon 9 rocket made by U.S. company SpaceX. It entered lunar orbit on April 4, making it the first privately funded spacecraft — and Israel the seventh…

2 min.
4 a million species in danger

One million species face extinction, more than ever before in human history, according to a U.N. report released in May. And humanity is responsible. The Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) based the assessment on some 15,000 sources that consider the causes and consequences of environmental changes over the past 50 years. The findings are stark. The authors found that about 25 percent of the world’s plants and animals are vulnerable to extinction. These include over a third of marine mammals and more than 40 percent of amphibians. Even domesticated animals are at risk: Over 9 percent of domesticated mammal breeds used for food and agriculture already may have been lost. This rapid decline of the natural world endangers global food security and quality of life. For instance, an estimated…

3 min.
5 decoding the denisovans

Since 2008, when their fragmentary fossils first turned up in a Siberian cave, the Denisovans have been the most mysterious branch of the human family tree. The archaic humans, like Neanderthals, lived at the same time as early Homo sapiens but have been extinct for tens of thousands of years. For nearly a decade, we’ve known Denisovans from only one site, which yielded just a shard of finger bone and a few teeth from four individuals — and ancient DNA extracted from the scant remains. In 2019, however, a series of discoveries revealed our evolutionary kin in greater detail than ever, answering some questions but also presenting new mysteries. One thing is clear: The Denisovans were much more complex than we thought, occupying diverse and sometimes extreme environments spread over much of…