Discover May 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.
in search of flow

I’ve been thinking about flow states lately. That’s when you’re so focused, so enveloped in a pursuit, that you forget about time, where you are, what day it is. You are completely in the zone, whether it’s improvising on piano, writing a short story or swimming a mile of laps at the local pool. But how do you achieve this state in the midst of intense digital distraction? The question’s been on my mind thanks to Contributing Editor Kenneth Miller’s feature on our society’s nonstop digital highway of details and its effect on our brains. As humans, we have evolved to seek out more and more information, to satisfy our curiosity. We’re also wired to want to belong and not miss out. We know software designers tap into these motivations to keep…

2 min.
print feedback

Another Woman on the Moon (“The Women in the Moon,” November 2019) I was disappointed that my distant relative, Mary Adela Blagg, was not included in your article, since she had a lot to do with the naming of lunar features. Blagg (1858-1944) was a British mathematician and astronomer who published two books on lunar features and suggested lunar nomenclature guidelines still in use today. She was one of the first five women named as Fellows of the Royal Astronomical Society. And oh, by the way, Blagg Crater is named for her. Mike BlaggBrownwood, Texas Defining Failure (“10 Experiments That Changed Everything,” November 2019) Experiments don’t “fail” if they give negative results. Experiments fail only if they are not conducted properly or something goes wrong with the protocol. The purpose of an experiment is to find…

1 min.
multimedia feedback

Signs in Space Russian startup StartRocket has proposed using grids of tiny satellites to project ads from low-Earth orbit, essentially creating billboards on the night sky. Their Orbital Display concept was criticized by dark-sky advocates and astronomers, among others, but PepsiCo Inc. found the idea compelling enough to partner with StartRocket for “an exploratory test for stratosphere advertisements.” We asked our Facebook followers: “Would you buy products or services from a company that used outer-space billboards?” 11% YES 89% NO Natascha Heller: Billboards in space are a waste of resources and money. Eventually, the billboards will break and become more of the expensive, useless trash we have surrounding Earth. Michelle Hillieri: If you want my money, do social good — help the poor and disenfranchised, make your company green — THEN I’ll consider you before another…

1 min.
picky pairs

It turns out Freud got the Oedipus complex backward — at least for strawberry poison dart frogs. These brightly colored amphibians come in just about every shade of the rainbow. Their shocking hues were long believed to serve only as a warning to predators of their toxicity, but researchers recently observed that females among multicolored populations in Panama tend to pick mates that bear the same colors as their mothers. The scientists believe that, because of this picky partnering, the amphibians could one day evolve into separate, color-coded species.…

1 min.
brews from a cave grave

THE FIRST BEER WAS FOR THE DEAD. That’s according to a 2018 study of stone vessels from Raqefet Cave in Israel, a 13,000-year-old graveyard containing roughly 30 burials of the Natufian culture. On three limestone mortars, archaeologists found wear and tear and plant molecules, interpreted as evidence of alcohol production. Given the cemetery setting, researchers propose grog was made during funerary rituals in the cave, as an offering to the dearly departed and refreshment for the living. Raqefet’s beer would predate farming in the Near East by as much as 2,000 years — and booze production, globally, by some 4,000 years. But other archaeologists say the site was dry, and the vessels carved into stones and the cave floor were used to bake bread. Science Smackdown asks: Were they brewing or baking?…

1 min.
the claim

The beer hypothesis, published in the Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports, comes from Raqefet excavators, based at Israel’s University of Haifa, and Stanford University scientists, who conducted microscopic analyses. In previous research, they made experimental brews the ancient way, to see how the process altered artifacts. Some telltale signs were then identified on Raqefet stones: A roughly 10-inch diameter mortar, carved directly into the cave floor, had micro-scratches — probably from a wooden pestle — and starch with damage indicative of mashing, heating and fermenting, all steps in alcohol production. Two funnel-shaped stones had traces of cereals, legumes and flax, interpreted as evidence that they were once lined with woven baskets and used to store grains and other beer ingredients. Lead author Li Liu thinks Natufians also made bread, but…