Science Illustrated

Science Illustrated Dec-12

Science Illustrated is an upbeat, visually spectacular gateway to cutting-edge science, which covers a tremendous range of subjects: from paleontology to space exploration, and medical breakthroughs to the latest environmental insights. Science Illustrated aims to report on the world of science in a way that's dynamic, engaging and accessible for all.

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United States
Bonnier Corporation

en este número

2 min.
25 probes have visited venus

Probes have been visiting Venus since the earliest days of the Space Age. In fact, Venus was the first planet to be visited by a probe. The Russians launched a probe toward Venus in 1961, but it was the U.S. probe Mariner 2 that took the first measurements. However, approaching Venus presents major challenges. The sunlight is almost twice as strong as it is on Earth, so it is necessary to cool the craft to prevent its instruments from being destroyed by the heat. And the problems intensify when astronomers attempt to land their instruments on the surface. The atmosphere is dense and filled with carbon dioxide, a combination that generates a greenhouse effect and can create surface temperatures of up to 900 degrees F. Additionally, the pressure is 90 times…

1 min.
different world map

The Earth rotates around its own axis once every 24 hours — and we should be grateful for that. If the planet rotated more slowly, the climate, oceans and weather would be affected in some very unpleasant ways. The slower rotation would result in greater differences between daytime and nighttime temperatures. No one can say at what point this would make the Earth uninhabitable, but a day that lasts as long as a week would create extremely hot days and cold nights, and would result in the tropics becoming a hostile environment for most life-forms. A slower rotation would also cause other changes, such as a weaker magnetic field and the formation of new oceans and landmasses. Weather systems would change radically, as would ocean currents, which would likely cause considerable climate…

1 min.
meet the relatives

Recent findings are casting further doubt on the idea that Homo sapiens has been the sole human species on Earth since the Neanderthals died out. Australian and Chinese scientists have unearthed the remains of a previously unknown prehistoric people who dwelled in caves in southwest China as recently as 11,500 years ago. The bones and skulls of the four individuals do not resemble anything seen before, but feature an odd range of modern, primitive and unique traits, such as large eyebrow ridges, broad cheekbones and a thick skull, some of which are also observed in modern humans who lived hundreds of thousands of years ago. Their brains were small, but the frontal lobe, which plays a role in personality and behavior, was similar to a modern human's, while the back…

1 min.
percentage of world population

One way in which the United States may not want to lead the world is in obesity rates, but North Americans now constitute a third of all obese people. An international team of scientists studying data from the World Health Organization (WHO) has concluded that the world's adults weigh a total of 321 million tons — 3.92 million of which consist of excess fat. Although North Americans only account for 6 percent of the world's population, they carry almost 1.33 million tons of excess fat, indicated by a body mass index (BMI) higher than 30. Asians comprise 61 percent of the world's population, but account for just 13 percent of all obesity. Asia 61% North America 6% Europe 13% Africa 12% Latin America 8% Oceania 1% Percentage of Human Excess Fat (BMI > 30) Oceania 1% Asia 13% Latin America…

1 min.
mercury facts

With its sun-hugging orbit and surface temperatures that exceed 752 degrees F, Mercury seems an unlikely place to find ice — but it just might have some. Even the hottest known planet has some cool spots, namely in craters near the poles that lie in permanent shadow. If a NASA theory is correct, those areas might be cold enough to hold ice. In the 1990s, Earth-based telescopes detected areas near the planet's poles that are highly reflective, just as ice is. New images from the Messenger probe indicate that the reflective areas closely match the locations of the always-dark craters. The researchers, from the Applied Physics Laboratory at Johns Hopkins University, won't declare that the reflectivity is caused by ice until they have more corroborating evidence, but they plan to continue…

9 min.
the first supersonic human

It's a venture that began as a balloon voyage, turned into a mission from the edge of space, and then ended as a parachute jump. When Austrian sky diver Felix Baumgartner stepped out of his capsule on Oct. 14, wearing nothing but a spacesuit, he fell more than 24 miles, breaking the sound barrier — and, perhaps, new ground in making space travel safer. Science Illustrated goes behind the scenes of Baumgartner's first test jump — and looks at the technology that made his daring feat possible. As the altimeter reaches 71,615 feet, Felix Baumgartner opens the hatch of his small space capsule. He steps out onto a small landing, holding on to the railings on each side. Beneath him, Earth's radiant blue arc curves toward the horizon. As a base…