National Geographic Magazine September 2018

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United States
National Geographic Society
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12 Números

en este número

5 min.
an extraordinary assignment

ADREA SCHNEIDER’S HEART went to a woman in her 60s. Her liver went to a 66-year-old man. Her right lung was given to a 51-year-old woman, the left to a woman age 62. Her kidneys and corneas were donated. Her uterus was used for medical research on infertility. Her face went to Katie Stubblefield. This is a story about that face—a gift from a young woman who died, to a 21-year-old woman who would become the youngest face transplant recipient in American history. It is a story about breakthrough science and the doctors, nurses, and surgeons who created a medical miracle. It is a story about perhaps the most distinctive part of our body and the very nature of human identity. It is a story of second chances. The story starts with two tragedies.…

2 min.
the backstory

HEAT AND SWIRLS OF DUST above the cracked earth of northwestern Nevada make any sign of life look like a mirage. In the fall of 2016, photographer Robert Ormerod turned off the road and onto the dried lake bed of the Black Rock Desert in search of a rocket launch. On the horizon he could make out a hazy row of RVs—those of the attendees of a famed amateur-rocketry convention. Since 1991 the Federal Aviation Administration has granted the Tripoli Rocketry Association permission to shoot rockets up to 492,000 feet (93 miles) in the air for the event. It’s one of the few times when high-altitude rockets can be safely and legally launched, so 100 to 200 hobbyists gather annually to test their creations. Tripoli calls the event “a venue for…

6 min.
bacteria strike back

IT’S A RISKY WORLD, as we know, but all the more risky because some of the risks keep evolving. Ebola virus and the influenzas can adapt. ISIS can change tactics; Kim Jong Un can do turnarounds. And now experts warn that we have entered the “post-antibiotic era,” during which increasing numbers of people—in the hundreds of thousands—will suffer and die each year from infection by forms of bacteria that were once easily controlled with antibiotics. The World Health Organization considers antibiotic resistance one of the biggest threats of the 21st century. The World Economic Forum calls it a “potential disaster” for human health and the global economy. Just one such microbial threat, multidrug-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, caused more than 11,000 deaths in the United States in 2011 alone, and that one plus…

1 min.
bugs vs. anti-bugs: an arms race

Penicillin was discovered in 1928 and developed for medical use in the early 1940s as a potent weapon against Staphylococcus of various sorts. But by 1955, penicillin-resistant strains of staph were turning up, especially in hospitals, from Sydney to Seattle. Methicillin, introduced in 1959, was especially useful against the penicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus. But by 1972 methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus had appeared in England, the United States, Poland, Ethiopia, India, and Vietnam. Vancomycin, introduced in 1972, was named for its capacity to vanquish even bugs that resisted earlier drugs. But by the late 1980s vancomycin resistance had shown up in Enterococcus bacteria in the form of a gene called vanA, and within another decade vanA had jumped sideways across genus boundaries from Enterococcus into staph, including Staphylococcus aureus. By 1996 there were vancomycin-resistant staph…

1 min.
where ancient whales roamed

Tagging and monitoring whales can reveal their extensive migration routes, but not how far—or whether—their ancestors roamed five million years ago. UC Berkeley researcher Larry Taylor knew that present-day barnacle shells take up differently weighted oxygen atoms from bodies of water. That creates a record of the oceans they’ve been in as passengers on whales. To see if barnacles had the same properties long ago, Taylor hunted down fossils that lived on early humpback whales, and bingo: They did. He hopes to shed light on prehistoric whales’ movements, as well as on the evolution of the oceans.…

1 min.
netting a win for the oceans

The Great Pacific Garbage Patch contains at least 88,000 tons of plastic—and almost half of it is fishing nets. A company called Bureo is trying to solve the ocean’s plastic problem by recycling nets into skateboards, surfboard fins, and sunglasses. At facilities in California and Chile, Bureo processes nets into pellets, then applies pressure and heat as the pellets are injected into molds—one win in the war on plastic pollution. PHOTOS: MASA USHIODA, WATERFRAME/BIOSPHOTO (WHALE); CHRISTA NEU, LEHIGH UNIVERSITY (SKATEBOARD); MARK THIESSEN, NGM STAFF…