Discover March/April 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

2 min.
costa rica 9-day tour $1295

+ tax, fees. USD It’s Caravan’s Costa Rica Natural Paradise! 2020 is Your Year to Go. Call Now for Choice Dates. You are invited to Costa Rica on a fully guided tour with Caravan. Includes all hotels, all meals, and all activities. Pura Vida! caravan Day 1 San José, Costa Rica Welcome to the “rich coast,” friendly land of democracy and natural beauty. Caravan provides airport transfers. Day 2 Sarchi, Coffee Plantation Visit the artisan village of Sarchi. Shop for colorful handicrafts and see traditional oxcart painting, considered the national symbol of Costa Rica. Then, tour a coffee plantation. Visit a butterfly garden. Day 3 Wildlife Rescue, Fortuna Visit a wildlife rescue center where injured animals are rehabilitated for release back into the wild. Continue to Fortuna in the San Carlos Valley for a two night stay. Day 4…

1 min.
a study in relief

Humans have used it for centuries, to knock down nausea, to mitigate worry and anxiety, or just to feel that euphoric buzz. Now the Western medical establishment is finally getting more traction to explore how marijuana operates in the body — and how it might really heal. Researchers today have a little more leeway than in years past to study just what happens in the brain when chemicals called cannabinoids are introduced. Our bodies have their own cannabinoid system, which produces chemicals and is stocked with receptors that are primed to turn on or off specific activities in cells. One researcher in Germany has studied some of those receptors for decades, and in this issue’s cover story, we take you to his lab at the University of Bonn. He leads a team…

3 min.

PRINT FEEDBACK Banking Alternatives? (“Save the Microbes,” July/Aug. 2019) Having been a frequent traveler in India, I am acutely aware that different diets require different gut microbes — not surprising that “when people move to a new country, they begin to lose their native microbes.” The human gut is apparently quite adaptable. This seems to raise the question of whether gut microbes can indeed be lost, or if switching to a different diet will result in the microbes specific to that diet appearing. Before setting up a costly “bank” to save the microbes, it would seem that data on whether changing to a primitive diet — and water supply — results in that diet’s microbes appearing is in order. Eons of anecdotal evidence of people moving between regional diets suggests they do. Jerome SchmidSeneca,…

1 min.
the crux

DRAGON DEFENSE This masklike armor, shown in a vivid false-color scan, encases the head of a Komodo dragon, the largest lizard in the world. When researchers scanned the creature’s skull, they found a network of smaller bones called osteoderms studding its skin — a covering comparable to a chain mail suit. But since these massive lizards are at the top of the food chain, why do they need protection? Turns out, adult Komodo dragons likely use this armor to shield themselves from other Komodo dragons. And these protective bones may continue to grow as they age — proof that some species get tougher as they get older.…

3 min.
carbon-cutting cuds

EVERY MORNING, Breanna Roque goes out to the barn to feed the cows. But this isn’t your typical farm; it’s a laboratory, and Roque is a graduate researcher at the University of California, Davis. She’s been spending her time among the bovines to see if she can tweak their diets so they burp less. The cows’ special diet includes small portions of a red seaweed called Asparagopsis armata. It contains a compound called bromoform, which inhibits the action of an enzyme that produces methane during the cows’ digestion. Less methane means less burping. And, on a global scale, less burping could mean slowing down climate change. LOOK TO THE COWS The EPA estimates that methane from livestock, especially cows and other ruminants (cud-chewers) like sheep, makes up almost one-third of agricultural emissions in…

2 min.
out of the dark

YOUR LOCAL NATURAL HISTORY MUSEUM probably displays its most impressive fossils front and center, ready to awe visitors. But some museums also house troves of other remains, filed away in drawers, that could reveal helpful details about their eras of origin. Usually, there’s no scientific literature describing these fossils, and only museum workers have access to them. Researchers call these unstudied items “dark data.” In an effort funded by the National Science Foundation, paleontologist Peter Roopnarine, a curator of invertebrate zoology and geology at the California Academy of Sciences, and his colleagues across the country are trying to bring that dark data into the light. For nearly the past decade, they have worked to catalog those forgotten fossils with full digital records. Highlighting the need for such a project, in a recent…