How It Works

How It Works No. 124

Welcome to How It Works, the magazine that explains everything you never knew you wanted to know about the world we live in. Loaded with fully illustrated guides and expert knowledge, and with sections dedicated to science, technology, transportation, space, history and the environment, no subject is too big or small for How It Works to explain.

United Kingdom
Future Publishing Ltd
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13 Issues

in this issue

1 min.

“You can see the patient’s internal structures mapped onto their body”Robot surgeons, page 22 Wherever there’s a marriage of amazing technologies, the result is often greater than the sum of its parts. You might only ever encounter virtual and augmented reality features in your smartphone or on a games console, but it’s set to be the standard for surgeries of the future. Step into a surgeon’s shoes on page 22 and find out how robots, VR and AR are revolutionising hospitals. On page 70, we delve into a pet subject of my own: how prehistoric animals, long-extinct, have been so immaculately preserved in Siberian ice, peat bogs and sticky tar pits around the world. Ever wondered what NASA’s Mission Control does exactly? Turn to page 40 to find out. This issue…

1 min.
meet the team…

James Production Editor Discover the ingenious methods astronomers use to see into deep space and spot objects billions of light years away, on page 36. Scott Staff Writer From frozen wastelands to sun-drenched sands: discover more about Earth’s deserts and how they formed on page 50. Baljeet Research Editor Light doesn’t always travel in a straight line, and when it bends it can create amazing rainbows and mirages. Find out how on page 32. Duncan Senior Art Editor The Tiger tank was a terrifying sight on the battlefields of WWII. Turn to page 80 to find out what made this machine so fearsome.…

1 min.
meet this issue’s experts…

James Horton Former HIW member James is a biochemist and biotechnologist. He is currently doing a PhD in machine learning and evolutionary theory. Jo Stass Writer and editor Jo is particularly interested in the natural world and learning about the latest in technological innovations. Jodie Tyley The former Editor of HIW and All About History has tackled many topics in her career, from science fiction to science fact, and Henry VIII to honey badgers. Jonathan O’Callaghan With a background in astrophysics and a love of the mysteries of the cosmos, Jonathan enjoys delving into the wonders of space. Laura Mears Biomedical scientist Laura escaped the lab to write about science and is now working towards her PhD in computational evolution. Stephen Ashby Stephen is a writer and editor with video games and computer tech expertise. He is endlessly intrigued by Earth…

1 min.
jupiter marble

On 12 February this year, NASA’s Juno spacecraft made a close pass of the largest planet in the Solar System. The craft’s JunoCam, a mounted visible-light camera that takes photos in strips as the spacecraft spins, took a series of snaps over the course of an hour, between 26,900 and 95,400 kilometres above the tops of Jupiter’s clouds. This image of the Great Red Spot and Jupiter’s southern hemisphere, dubbed ‘Jupiter Marble’, was put together using three of JunoCam’s images by citizen scientist Kevin M. Gill.…

1 min.
tiny living pest control

This is a rust mite (Aceria anthocoptes) on a plant sample, magnified 1,400 times under an electron microscope. This little living bug is around 60 micrometres long, too small even for the sharpest human eyes to detect. Rust mites were only discovered just over 100 years ago but have since been observed feeding on the invasive plant species Canada Thistle (Cirsium arvense), and have been recognised as a natural pest control method. This plant is native to Europe but is considered a weed when it spreads on other continents.…

2 min.
is earth a ‘galactic zoo’?

Why hasn’t Earth received any messages from extraterrestrials yet? One possibility is because we’re unwitting inhabitants in a so-called 'galactic zoo'. This was one of the scenarios a group of international researchers explored at a meeting organised by the non-profit organisation Messaging Extraterrestrial Intelligence (METI) last month. The gathering, which took place at the Cité des Sciences et de l'Industrie museum in Paris, brought together around 60 scientists who've researched the possibility of communication with hypothetical intelligent extraterrestrials. They debated 'The Great Silence' – why aliens haven’t contacted us – exploring one possibility known as the 'zoo hypothesis'. First proposed in the 1970s, it describes Earth as a planet that is already under observation by 'galactic zookeepers' who are deliberately concealing themselves from human detection and have agreed to treat Earth…