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iD Ideas Discoveries November 2017

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+++ EARTH?S OLDEST METEORITE +++ CAN YOU DROWN IN SPACE? +++ THE ORIGIN OF THE DARKNET +++
YELLOWSTONE:
Here Lies a Ticking
Time Bomb That
Could Wipe Out
Nearly Half the U.S.
ATTACK OF
THE KILLER
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SQUIRREL
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Don?t Be Fooled:
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reader feedback
You talk , we listen! Here?s what you had to say about previous issues
of iD. Thanks for your feedback and suggestions. Keep ?em coming.
questions@ideasanddiscoveries.com
www.facebook.com/ideasanddiscoveries
Letters to the editor may be edited for clarity and length.
ART OF CONCERN
I first discovered your
brilliant magazine in
October 2016. One of
the cover stories entitled
?My Last Selfie? caught
my eye. After reading the
article, I was so moved
by it that I wrote a song entitled ?I Climbed the Heights.?
I posted the original song on YouTube in the hopes that
young people would be encouraged to think about their
actions while taking selfies. I want to thank iD for your
unique topics that truly impact your readers. I believe
your magazine is an inspiration. My desire is that your
article and my song will save lives.
[Link: http://bit.ly/climbedtheheightssong ]
Eve Wick, author of Through Me to You
Thank you for taking the matter to heart and producing this
thoughtful song with such positive intentions. We?re pleased
our article inspired it, and we commend you for encouraging
people to be conscientious when engaging in such behavior.
BETRAYAL IS IN THE EYE OF THE BEHOLDER
This is the ?rst time we?re commenting on one of our own
stories, the cover feature of the September 2017 issue,
?The Greatest Traitors of World History.? This subject is
particularly intriguing because knowing the deeper context
that surrounds a historical event really brings that history to
life so that it can be felt profoundly in the here and now. In
these historic scenarios and in our own daily lives, we are
faced with choice points, when we must decide to continue
along a certain path with certain attendant realities or to
diverge into a new reality. Often the choice to switch sides is
extremely dif?cult and fraught, and accompanied by much
soul-wrenching anguish. We had the opportunity to witness
an event that really drove this point home. At the HOPE X
(Hackers On Planet Earth) conference in 2014, the main event
was a talk featuring Edward Snowden and Daniel Ellsberg
(of the Pentagon Papers fame). Snowden was piped in
from Russia while Ellsberg was in the room. Both men are
controversial ?gures who evoke strong sentiments and
exemplify the subjective dichotomy of traitor versus patriot.
Whatever your view of their deeds, their dialog is fascinating.
The talk can be seen here: http://bit.ly/snowdenvsellsberg
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contents
COVER
STORY
Appearances can be deceptive: Though they might seem
vulnerable, squirrels are seasoned strategists that even
come equipped with a secret weapon.
PAGE 10
COVER
STORY
Nov 2017
4
When major players go head to head on the world stage,
the consequences of these epic matchups reverberate
throughout history.
PAGE 16
COVER
STORY
Why do we eat what we eat? How much control do we
have over the decisions we make about food? Are there
simple strategies to pare pounds?
PAGE 36
Once accused of making people dumber, now it?s clear
modern-day video games can actually boost cognitive
function in measurable ways.
PAGE 54
Robots can execute a variety of tasks, but what happens
when the function they have been instructed to ful?ll
is to execute a human?
PAGE 66
Smart as a fox? How about a boar? You might not expect
it but wild boars are quite clever, and they also have a
pronounced sense of personal liberty.
PAGE 70
ideasanddiscoveries.com
?An
investment in
knowledge pays the
best interest .?
?Benjamin Franklin
To our readers:
COVER
STORY
In this issue we delve beyond that which is readily apparent to behold the deeper
nature of things: From the supervolcano that slumbers beneath the natural splendor
of Yellowstone National Park and the surprising intelligence displayed by animals
to eating traps lurking just below the threshold of our awareness, a hospital that has
literally gone underground, and a telescope that will gaze farther into space than
has ever been possible?wherever you look, there?s much more than meets the eye!
NATURE
10 I Have Big Plans!
Squirrels square off against formidable foes
28 The Day the U.S. Could Lose 20 States
When will America?s largest natural paradise explode?
70 Why Wild Boars Are Just Plain Smart
How boars outsmart traps to remain wild and free
HISTORY
16 The Greatest Duels of World History
A sleeping giant slumbers beneath America?s northwest.
When it wakes, the catastrophic result could devastate
almost half of the nation.
PAGE 28
Historic matchups of epic proportions
BODY & MIND
36 The Psychology of Eating
How to avoid the pitfalls of partaking
54 Which Games Make People Smarter?
Why gaming makes our brains bigger and better
CURRENT EVENTS
60 The Hospital Under the Earth
Striving to save lives in a subterranean bunker
TECHNOLOGY
66 The Robot That Kills People
Technology from the front lines may be coming to a town near you
SPACE
74 Can This Telescope See the Birth of the Universe?
What it takes to build and deploy Earth?s most expensive measuring device
IN EVERY ISSUE
In war-ravaged Syria, even hospitals are being bombed.
The doctors are dead or gone. But help is still at hand,
thanks to a retreat to the underground.
PAGE 60
6 A Photo and Its Story
Fascinating pictures and the story behind them
46 Questions & Answers
Marvels that can change our perception of the world
COVER
STORY
82 What Counts in the End
School Bus for the Jungle Children
Cover stories marked in red
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COVER PHOTOS: Westend61/Getty Images (2); Jakob Fridholm/Getty Images; Kris Timk
David Marsden/Getty Images; Peter Adams/Getty Images; NASA; PR (2).
How far out into the cosmos will Earth?s most advanced
space telescope be able to peer? In late 2018, we will
begin to ?nd out?
PAGE 74
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A photo and its story
SHARP EYES
MIRACLE LUNGS
Above all else, it?s his lung capacity
that makes Kilian Jornet the perfect
mountain runner: His VO2 max score,
which indicates his maximum oxygen
intake rate, is 90 ml/kg/min?a level
only a few Olympic athletes can match.
SUPERHERO LEGS
Strong legs are a must for
mountain runners: ?Many
runners fail because they
lack the muscle mass for
the steep slopes,? explains
Jornet. However, one?s legs
should also not be too thick
because then ?the muscles
become a burden.?
N ov 2017
6
ideasanddiscoveries.com
Jornet?s visual perception
is so powerful that he can
analyze the terrain in front
of him very quickly. ?I don?t
look at where I?m treading,
I look 150 feet ahead,? says
the extreme athlete.
THE TOUGHEST
IN THE WORLD
Kilian Jornet doesn?t climb up mountains?
he runs up them. Whether it?s Mont Blanc
or Aconcagua, he pulverizes every record.
Finally he confronts his greatest challenge:
Mount Everest?
A photo and its story
STEADY STEP
The most important tool
for the Everest record:
special footwear with
spikes for a secure grip.
N ov 2017
8
ideasanddiscoveries.com
At temperatures
that can fall below
-20?F, clothing has
to keep you warm
but it should not
slow you down.
NO BALLAST
Oxygen canisters, Sherpas,
and a whole lot of ?xed ropes:
What alpine climbers regard
as survival-critical equipment
Jornet sees as ballast that will
slow down his speed record.
MURDEROUS TRAINING
To stay fit for his superhuman
feats of strength and endurance,
Kilian Jornet trains for more than
1,000 hours per year on average.
He covers around 9,500 miles in
addition to 350 vertical miles.
PHOTOS: PR (4); Fotolia (2); Shutterstock (2); Wikipedia (2).
?ber of his body is screaming for
a break, but Kilian Jornet simply
keeps on running. He cannot stop
concentrating for even a second,
because any wrong step on the
steep mountain slopes could be
fatal. Meanwhile he is also alone
because his partner, who began at
the foot of the mountain with him,
has long since given up. When the
29-year-old pro endurance athlete
from Spain ?nally comes to a halt,
he turns around and takes in the
incredible view of Mont Blanc?
the giant that he will have run up
and down in 4 hours, 57 minutes.
It?s a new, spectacular record.
Kilian Jornet is considered the
toughest mountain runner on the
planet. With minimal equipment,
he scales the highest mountains
and smashes records. This past
May, Jornet took on the challenge
of racing up the most dangerous
of all mountains?Mount Everest.
This ascent is a life-threatening
undertaking even for experienced
mountaineers. (His ?rst effort last
September was halted by adverse
weather.) But Jornet goes one step
further: He does it without oxygen
canisters and ?xed ropes and still
conquers the Himalayan colossus
in one go without stopping, setting
a new record for such an ascent. ?I
must grapple with the mountains
to understand them,? says Jornet.
It?s fair to say his life depends on it.
RUNNING GEAR
MORTAL DANGER
Kilian Jornet needs the adrenaline rush that
his daring mountain runs provide. But in 2012
his ski mountaineering partner was dragged
down by an avalanche in the Mont Blanc area
and killed. ?After that, the fear of death was
much more palpable,? says Jornet.
THE RECORD
SMASHER
Regular marathons are a
walk in the park for Kilian
Jornet: He prefers to take
on enormous challenges
like the 165-mile Tahoe
Rim Trail, which is one of
the world?s most arduous
ultramarathons. He ran
for 38 hours, 32 minutes
without stopping (except
for two sleep breaks that
took less than 2 hours).
Jornet smashed the TRT
record?by over 7 hours.
MONT BLANC
In 2012 Jornet traversed
the 15,780-foot-long
Innominata Ridge on
Mont Blanc in just
8 hours, 42 minutes.
MONT BLANC
In 2013, he made it
up and down Mont
Blanc in 4 hours,
57 minutes via a
different route.
MATTERHORN
Get to the top and straight down again: In 2013
Jornet conquered the 14,692-foot-high mountain
in only 2 hours, 52 minutes.
ELBRUS
In 2013 Jornet
failed to climb the
18,510-foot-high
mountain because
of bad weather?
not his physical
condition.
DENALI
It took Jornet 11 hours,
48 minutes to scale the
20,310-foot-high peak
in 2014. He beat the old
speed record by 5 hours.
ACONCAGUA
In December 2014 Jornet covered
the 22,841 feet up and down the
mountain in 12 hours, 49 minutes.
EVEREST
The biggest challenge:
In May 2017 Jornet
summited the 29,029foot colossus after an
unsuccessful attempt
in September 2016.
It took 26 hours to
climb 11,429 feet
from the base
camp without
oxygen or
ropes?
a new
record.
Nature
N ov 2017
10
ideasanddiscoveries.com
I HAVE
BIG PLANS!
A pensive squirrel?is this an exceptional creature?
Not at all! If you think the rodents are intellectually
well, skittish, you?re mistaken. They use ingenious
strategies to defy even the most daunting enemies,
and they?re equipped with a surprising secret weapon.
EVER-VIGILANT
STRATEGIST
Sciurus vulgaris is what biologists call the
Eurasian squirrel, which is distinguished from
its relatives in America and the Caucasus by
its red coloring. Nobody can say precisely how
many of the agile rodents are actually scurrying
around Europe?s forests and cities, because
squirrels exemplify the term ?crisis-proof.?
As long as there are trees and food, no one can
besiege them?they?re far too vigilant for that.
The eyes on the sides of their heads ensure an
excellent all-around view, which is indispensable
for estimating the distances between branches
on their routes through various treetops or for
sizing up developing situations.
TION
ADDITION AL QUALIFICA ressive
imp
Squirrels are immune to an
that of
number of poisons, including in that
tox
a
e
duc
pro
ch
whi
es,
yew tre
ual toxins.
consists of 20 distinct individ
HIGH-FLYER
In order to land safely on the next
branch, squirrels touch down on all
four paws at the same time, which
ensures a particularly good grip.
They have four long toes on their
front paws and ?ve on their hind
paws, with sharp claws that enable
them to climb even smooth tree
trunks comfortably. And thanks to
the swiveling capability of the ankle
joints of their hind paws, they can
change direction in an instant and
execute amazing acrobatic maneuvers
as they react to the challenges they
encounter in their environment.
RUDDER
At 8 inches, a squirrel?s tail is almost as
long as the animal itself. It is the ideal
balancing aid and the perfect rudder
while airborne. That?s how a squirrel can
correct its ?ight path if it has misjudged
it the ?rst time round. The practical
appendage, which serves a number of
other purposes beyond ?ight control,
also gives the rodent its scienti?c name:
Sciurus is derived from the Greek words
for ?shadow? and ?tail.?
REAR-WHEEL DRIVE
FLIRT TRAP
You can tell a lot about male squirrels
from their jump?especially during the
mating season. If he has to make use of
his tail as a makeshift parachute, then
the treetop stormer is exposed as an
unseasoned juvenile or a frail old-timer.
Neither is particularly attractive to the
discerning females that are watching
from the nearby trees?and probably
secretly awarding style points.
A long run-up and strong hind-leg muscles
allow squirrels to propel their weight of 10 to
12 ounces into the air. This ?ease? of takeoff
is also the reason they?re able to withstand
falls from a height of up to 65 feet unharmed.
As autumn approaches their little legs also aid
them in burying about 260 pine cones?per day!
Despite their extraordinary leaping abilities, no
type of squirrel is able to ?y?not even ?ying
squirrels, which use membranes of skin along
the sides of their bodies to glide long distances.
ideasanddiscoveries.com
13
N ov 2017
GREAT AT
HEARING?
REMEMBERING,
NOT SO MUCH
PHOTOS: DPA/Picture-Alliance; HGM-Press; Ingo Arndt/Naturepl; Getty Images; PR.
These conspicuous tufts of hair
protect a squirrel?s delicate sense
of hearing, which can register the
approach of weasels, martens,
and their ilk from afar. Thanks to
their extremely sensitive noses,
squirrels can even detect nuts
buried up to 1 foot deep in snow
or loose soil. That comes in handy
because the bushy-tailed rodents
end up remembering the locations
of fewer than half of their carefully
collected stockpiles of nuts. But
what?s a good memory compared
with the squirrels? innate, ingenious
escape and defense capabilities?
That?s right?totally secondary!
W
hen you don?t weigh much more than
two sticks of butter and have a lot of
enemies to contend with, you?ll need
to have a ?erce weapon?if possible,
something with big barbs or that squirts poison.
Squirrels have?a tail. A thick ?uffy one that sure
doesn?t look like it could make anyone take ?ight.
But it is effective?because squirrels are actually
endowed with one of the world?s best implements.
This has been borne out by a statistic that shows
squirrels can meet their end in dozens of ways,
but only rarely via the actions of another animal.
?It really doesn?t make much sense,? says Aaron
Rundus, a behavioral biologist at the University
of California, Davis. ?After all, some of the best
predators aim for the little rodents?among them
pine martens, which are able to climb at least as
well. Also wildcats, weasels, and birds of prey.?
Rundus began researching and observing hawks
and witnessed the birds becoming so confused
and disoriented while in pursuit of a squirrel that
they collided with trees because their prey raced
up the tree?s trunk so quickly in spiral pathways
that the birds? brains could no longer follow the
movements. Rundus has also observed martens
recklessly plunging out of the treetops because
they?d dived headlong after a squirrel, which can
fall from a substantial height without sustaining
any injuries?in marked contrast to the martens.
The conjecture of scientists has been con?rmed
in experiments: A squirrel?s tail can serve as an
umbrella, a sun parasol, and an electric blanket,
but it is also much, much more.
As a rudder, the tail enables twists and turns
that are among the fastest and most precise in
the animal kingdom. When it?s ?uffed up it breaks
falls of several yards like a parachute and serves
as a wing during jumps that catapult the squirrel
across distances of up to 15 feet. A human would
have to jump 115 feet to achieve the equivalent.
And, incredibly, the tail even scares off snakes:
When a squirrel is in danger, its tail enables blood
?ow in the body to surge to such an extent that
signi?cantly more infrared radiation is emitted.
To snakes that possess a pit organ they appear
to be superior competitors, geared up for battle.
And that?s certainly applicable: Plenty of hawks
and martens could attest to it?
CHILL-OUT ZONE
Squirrels ?nd shelter and tranquility in nests called
dreys that are made of branches and leaves or in tree
cavities that have been abandoned by birds. The trick:
After a few days, the leaves in the structure start to
fester and work like an electric blanket. But there?s a
downside: This makes the drey smell unpleasant and
often leads to parasite infestation. That?s why squirrels
build up to eight nests and move around among them.
ideasanddiscoveries.com
15
N ov 2017
History
HITLER V
DEADLY POWER
ARANOIA
A
dolf Hitler is certain: Only Joseph
Stalin could thwart his plans now.
The leader of the German Reich is
incessantly pacing back and forth
at the Berghof, his retreat in the Bavarian
Alps. In order to successfully attack Poland,
Hitler needs the Soviet dictator on his side,
so in 1939 he offers Stalin half of Poland as
part of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact. Some
1,200 miles away at the Kremlin, Stalin has
been repeatedly reading Hitler?s Mein Kampf
with its messages about the superiority of
the Aryan race, the destruction of the Jews?
and the evils of Bolshevism, the movement
on which the Soviet Union was founded. By
this time Stalin has already murdered millions
of his own people, and he senses the same
deadly potential in Hitler?the Nazi leader is
THE GREA
WORLD
N ov 2017
16
ideasanddiscoveries.com
S. STALIN
a mirror image of his own inhumanity. The non-aggression
pact is signed but it never develops into a true alliance.
It is simply an acknowledgement of the mutual fear that
motivates the agreement. It holds for just two years before
the desire of the one to attack the other grows too great.
Hitler moves ?rst, ordering the invasion of Russia in 1941.
The result is the most brutal duel in world history, a series
of military battles that drown Europe in a sea of blood.
Mad despots like Hitler can leave a devastating legacy,
even when they act on their own?but here two paranoid
tyrants set an escalation in motion that shook the very
foundations of civilization. Their fear of both foreign and
domestic enemies was re?ected in oppression at home?
they responded to every conceivable threat with violence.
The terror against internal and external enemies increased
until the time came to turn against the greatest nemesis:
a former ally. The two leaders? spiral of delusions would
result in more than 25 million Soviet deaths on and off
the battle?eld, while the comparable ?gure for Germany
comes to more than 7 million. In the end, Stalin emerges
victorious. Many historians reluctantly consider him the
lesser evil, if only because the Germans are believed to
have killed 11 to 12 million civilians while the total for the
Stalin period is ?only? between 6 and 9 million.
TEST DUELS OF
HISTORY
They collide on the battle?eld, ?ght it out in the political arena, or pull the strings behind the scenes.
When two powerful people go head to head, it can fundamentally change the course of history?
THE DEATH OF THE GRAND ARM蒃
In October of 1812, Napoleon orders the retreat
from Russia. Of approximately 500,000 soldiers,
fewer than 20,000 return home.
NAPOLEON VS. KUTUZOV
THE ADVENT OF
ASYMMETRIC WARFARE
T
he water of the Berezina River
is bitterly cold, with ice floes as
large as 6 feet floating along in
the current. The French troops
have stripped down to their underwear
and now stand in the water up to their
chests as they ram the pilings for a
makeshift bridge into the muddy earth.
One after another, the bridge builders
collapse from exhaustion and the cold,
and their lifeless bodies are pulled from
the Berezina. They knew from the start
that this assignment was likely a death
sentence, but doing nothing would be
even worse: It would mean the death
of 75,000 men?all that is left now of
Napoleon?s Grande Arm閑 of around
half a million. Of the 400 troops who?d
entered the water, only 20 come back
out alive. This is the dramatic final act
of the greatest military duel of the early
19th century?
On the night of June 24 in 1812, the
French emperor Napoleon Bonaparte
crosses the Neman River to launch his
invasion of Russia with approximately
500,000 men. His main opponent will
be Mikhail Kutuzov, who was appointed
the commander in chief of the Imperial
Russian Army in response to the attack.
At first glance, this is an uneven match:
The previously undefeated Napoleon
has roughly six times as many soldiers
as Kutuzov does, and they are more
experienced and motivated and better
equipped. And the old veteran Kutuzov
had been removed from his command
several years earlier after a falling out
with Tsar Alexander I, but the pressure
of public opinion forced Alexander to
reinstate him. This is Kutuzov?s greatest
advantage: He has nothing to lose.
The two generals? earliest encounter
almost ends in a victory for Napoleon:
Though French losses were high at the
Battle of Borodino that took place on
September 7, 1812, Kutuzov was forced
to retreat, thereby allowing Napoleon
to enter Moscow. The tsar was furious:
He wanted Kutuzov to follow the rules
of traditional warfare and confront the
French general in open battle. However,
Kutuzov knew this method would never
work. He devised a plan that would be
hailed by military historians as brilliant,
though at the time he was accused of
cowardice and dishonorable conduct.
1. INVASION OF RUSSIA
This historical graph shows the size of Napoleon?s army during the course
of the Russian Campaign in relation to its location. In the beginning, the
force consisted of 422,000 men. The beige strip shows how the army had
shrunk on the march to Moscow. (1 millimeter represents 10,000 men.)
The black strip shows the retreat. In the end (6), only 10,000 came home.
2. TROOP DISTRIBUTION
Napoleon divided his forces while
in Vilnius, which is now the capital
of Lithuania. He sent 60,000 men to
Polotsk. Only 30,000 of them would
rejoin the retreating army (3).
4. OCCUPATION OF MOSCOW
Napoleon was faced with heavy
losses and numerous desertions.
By the time he occupied Moscow,
his army had dwindled to just
100,000 men.
4
1
2
6
Instead of exposing himself by openly
confronting the French Army, he?d wear
down Napoleon?s retreating troops with
a series of targeted attacks.
But first Kutuzov evacuates Moscow.
When Napoleon arrives, there is no one
there to negotiate a Russian surrender.
With the relentless Russian winter fast
approaching and his troops unprepared
for it, Napoleon orders them to retreat
on October 13, 1812. Moscow?s foreign
residents, including many women and
children, were in fear of reprisals once
the tsar?s army returned, so they joined
the French retreat?and ultimately paid
for the decision with their lives.
Heavily laden with the spoils of war
and with emaciated cows and sheep
in tow, the Grande Arm閑 moved very
slowly. Before the retreat even began,
disease and desertion had shrunk the
army to some 100,000 men?a number
that would soon be much smaller?
Kutuzov?s strategy was to wait and
launch surprise attacks before quickly
disappearing. Again and again he?d hit
the retreating French Army as the men
made their way, freezing and starving,
toward the frontier. This strategy would
3
5
5. THE BATTLE OF BEREZINA
The Grand Arm閑 continued to lose men during the
retreat (black strip). The massacre at the crossing
over the Berezina River claimed many more lives.
be copied later on in guerrilla warfare:
Fidel Castro in the Cuban Revolution
(1953?1959), the Viet Cong during the
Vietnam War with the U.S. (1955?1975),
and the Mujahideen fighters in the war
against the Soviet Union in Afghanistan
(1979?1989), to name some examples.
Clearly Kutuzov had altered the rules
of engagement, and Napoleon knows
he could no longer win. The Russians
ambush his soldiers again and again.
By the time the French finally reach the
Berezina, only 75,000 men are left.
Intending to crush the Grande Arm閑
at the river and win the duel, Kutuzov
?Napoleon?s career resembled a
duel?his opponent was
the whole of Europe.?
JOSEPH CONRAD, WRITER
positions his troops at the most likely
crossing points. Aware of the situation,
Napoleon draws up a plan to cross the
river on his own bridges. Surrender is
out of the question for the emperor, so
he puts his soldiers? lives on the line?
and many of them would be lost.
When the Russians find out about
Napoleon?s plans, Kutuzov orders his
units to advance immediately. In a race
against the clock, the Russian artillery
begins their bombardment just as the
French are starting to cross the water.
Determined to save his fighting men
first, Napoleon forces back the women
and children. In their panic, they jump
into the ice-cold river, mothers holding
newborn babies above their heads and
begging that their children be saved.
Many get pulled under or are crushed
by the ice floes. In the end, only 10,000
members of the original Grande Arm閑
cross the Neman River to return home.
Napoleon will never recover politically.
In 1814, an alliance between Russia,
Prussia, and Austria ends his rule and
restores the old order that had existed
before the French Revolution. Were all
Napoleon?s efforts to introduce modern
reforms in vain? No, although European
nations would continue to struggle for
decades before securing their modern
constitutions. Perhaps Napoleon had
indeed helped them. But in doing so,
he left swaths of the continent strewn
with trails of corpses.
ideasanddiscoveries.com
19
N ov 2017
LIFE INSURANCE
Shortly after Edward Snowden
went underground in 2013, he
gave an interview from his hiding
place. Reason: If the world didn?t
know who he was, he feared that
something might happen to him.
SNOWDEN
A SUPERPOWER?S
FEAR OF THE TRUTH
T
he telephone is ringing? A
wide-eyed Edward Snowden
glances nervously around his
Hong Kong hotel room. The
former IT subcontractor for the U.S.
National Security Agency doesn?t
need to pick up the phone to know
who?s calling. He knows they have
found him?and they?re coming for
him. He hurriedly packs up his few
belongings and makes his escape.
VS.
NSA
It?s June 10, 2013, and three weeks
earlier Edward Snowden had stolen
an estimated 1.7 million top-secret
?les on the NSA?s illegal surveillance
programs?any intelligence agency
on Earth would kill for this treasure
trove. But Snowden is not interested
in selling the information or giving it
to a hostile government. He wants to
make it available to the public. Thus
he has challenged one of the biggest
intel agencies of the most powerful
nation in the world to a duel?one he
knows he essentially cannot win. It
may be the most uneven matchup in
history, and Snowden?s only chance
at survival depends on maintaining
distance between himself and his
powerful opponent?to avoid a direct
showdown. A few hours after ?eeing
from his hotel room, Snowden enters
a run-down house on the outskirts
of Hong Kong. This area is home to
poor people, many without papers
or a future. But he knows this is also
the last place the NSA would look for
him?a hiding place where the mighty
U.S. intelligence agency doesn?t have
any eyes or ears. Here in the slums
of Hong Kong there are scarcely any
mobile phones or computers, and no
security cameras or police patrols.
LUTHER
THE BATTLE FOR
GOD?S FAVOR
T
It?s Snowden?s plan B?which no one
could anticipate. The slum-dwellers
understand his mission and have the
courage to help him. No one betrays
him, despite the price on his head.
The NSA?s public enemy no. 1 slips
through their ?ngers?even though
the NSA can monitor the entire globe
with satellites and huge server farms,
listen in to any mobile phone in real
time, read every email, and tap into
any phone camera around the world.
Snowden has nothing but his wits?
and the 1.7 million classi?ed ?les he
has meanwhile put in a safe place.
He doesn?t dump them on WikiLeaks;
he allows investigative journalists to
publish them little by little. As a life
insurance policy, he sets up a ?dead
man?s switch? to automatically reveal
the whole truth if anything happens
to him. After two weeks of hiding out
in the slums, Snowden makes it to
Moscow?and is granted asylum.
?Why Moscow?? he is often asked.
It is one of the few places the NSA
would have a hard time getting him.
he two men could hardly have
been more different: The first,
Giovanni de' Medici, became
one of the most powerful men
in the world when he was elected pope
in 1513. Only the Holy Roman Emperor
Charles V could hold a candle to this
Florentine cardinal. After the election
Giovanni became known as Leo X, and
he lived up to his name?he was a lion
who believed himself to be on a mission
for the Lord to expand the earthly power
of the Church by every possible means.
He would squander a fortune on lavish
buildings and the extravagant pomp
and circumstance of the Roman Curia.
At 37, his age when he is elected pope,
Leo is already so fat that two servants
must lift him out of bed each morning.
Meanwhile the second man, Martin
Luther, views this pope as the Antichrist
in the Vatican and regards Rome as a
hotbed of sin. However Leo X is simply
amused by his adversary: a gaunt friar
with a loud mouth from a barbarian land
to the north. Ordinarily such behavior
would result in condemnation for heresy
and excommunication from the Church.
But Martin Luther manages to endure
and create a schism in Christianity that
to this day has still not been overcome.
For Luther is the luminary of a new and
vibrant age: Portuguese and Spanish
ships are bringing treasure back from
exotic lands, the printing press lets new
VS.
LEO X
ideas spread out across the continent?
and Luther is liberating people?s souls
by helping them see no priest is needed
for them to acquire a heavenly blessing.
The ticket to paradise is living a life that
is pleasing to God, not an indulgence
that?s sold by one of the pope?s minions.
It was a clash of two systems of belief:
that of the medieval world with nobility
and clergy who resist human progress
on the one hand, and a new era in which
God?s grace is available to all believers
on the other. Without Martin Luther, the
Enlightenment, the Industrial Revolution,
and the rise of the middle class would
be rather difficult to imagine. Germany
might never have become the economic
superpower it is today; instead, it could
have been bogged down in a backward
medieval philosophy that discourages
human progress. Furthermore, thanks
to his translation of the Bible Luther also
left a rich literary legacy that ultimately
gave us the modern German language.
When Leo X died in 1521, he left behind
political unrest and religious turmoil?
and so much debt that nothing remained
to even buy new candles for his funeral.
GOD?S TENTH LION
Pope Leo X depleted the papal treasury and
turned the Vatican into an amusement park,
thereby precipitating the Reformation.
ideasanddiscoveries.com
21
N ov 2017
FORMAT WAR
Thomas Edison stopped at nothing
in his mission to power the United
States with ?his? DC rather than
AC electricity. The duel between
the competing systems to become
the future ?format? of electricity
can be seen as a forerunner of the
cutthroat competition of today.
EDISON
THE INVENTION
OF PREDATORY
CAPITALISM
I
t takes approximately eight minutes
to execute William Kemmler in the
first-ever use of the electric chair.
The thrumming power surges are
audible as an initial attempt is made
at 1,000 volts, followed by a second
attempt at 2,000 volts. The room grows
full of the sickening stench of burning
flesh as several nauseated spectators
try to leave but are not allowed to exit.
Kemmler?s execution at New York?s
Auburn Prison on August 6, 1890, was
the climax of the current war in the U.S.
It was a duel between two determined
geniuses seeking to settle the question
of whether America should be served by
electricity that flows in one direction or
VS.
TESLA
two?direct current (DC) or alternating
current (AC). DC, says Thomas Edison:
The inventor, successful businessman,
and American hero had been lighting
up U.S. cities with generator-powered
bulbs since the 1880s. AC, says Nikola
Tesla, a brilliant Serbian engineer and
inventor whom Edison initially thought
was na飗e before recognizing Tesla as
a competitor who posed a threat to his
own projects. Tesla arrives in New York
in 1884 with just four cents to his name,
but he manages to sell his alternatingcurrent system to entrepreneur George
Westinghouse the following year. The
advantage of AC over DC: Edison?s
plants could not deliver electricity to
customers living more than a mile away
and were thus suitable only for serving
the high-density populations of cities.
On the other hand, AC electricity could
be transmitted over great distances at
higher voltages that could be stepped
down near the point of consumption.
However, the actual merits of the two
competing ideas were only secondary
considerations in the war of currents?
the primary concern was the extremely
lucrative deal for electrifying America.
In this first struggle in history over the
implementation of a scientific standard,
the winner would emerge as a global
player, and the loser would simply lose.
As a celebrated inventor, Edison uses
his reputation as leverage to damage
?Without Tesla?s work, the wheels
of industry would cease to turn,
our electric cars and trains would
stop, our towns would be dark.?
BERNARD ARTHUR BEHREND,
ELECTRICAL ENGINEER
his opponent?s reputation. He colludes
with electrical engineer Harold Brown
to kill stray dogs and old horses on a
stage with alternating current after first
?demonstrating? the harmlessness of
DC. (Later on an elephant named Topsy
is electrocuted in a public spectacle.)
Edison, who is actually an opponent of
capital punishment, helps to produce
the world?s first electric chair, which of
course runs on Tesla?s AC generator.
Although the technique is hailed as the
humane alternative to hanging, William
Kemmler?s electrocution was actually
intended to be a cruel demonstration
of the dangers of AC current.
If Edison won the war of the currents,
our cities today would be full of scores
of generating stations. But in the end,
Tesla and Westinghouse carried the
day. After a tough bidding war, they got
the contract to light the 1893 World?s
Fair in Chicago. Nothing like it had ever
been seen before, and the sea of more
than 100,000 glowing lamps convinced
even their most diehard skeptics.
EVIDENCE
Nikola Tesla applied for more than 700 patents.
To further the implementation of his ideas, he
didn?t shy away from manipulation: This image
is a double exposure that Tesla used to prove
the safety of ?his? alternating current.
ideasanddiscoveries.com
23
N ov 2017
MUHAMMAD
THE CRADLE OF ISLAM
P
alm huts, sandstorms, and searing
heat: In AD 600, the town of Mecca
was little more than an oasis on a
caravan trade route?a far cry from
its current status as the sacred center of
a world religion, the place that more than
1 billion Muslims face when they pray ?ve
times a day. But it was here way back in
the early seventh century that 40-year-old
Muhammad suddenly had a vision telling
him that he was the messenger of God
(Arabic: Allah). Muhammad?s recitations of
Allah?s holy words are not looked upon
favorably in his community: By worshipping
Allah and turning his back on the many
gods of the Quraysh tribe that controlled
Mecca, he loses the community?s support
and protection. Abu Jahl, a very powerful
member of the Quraysh, heads the league
that is opposed to Muhammad (who would
subsequently be banished from Mecca).
This was a duel between the old pantheon
of gods and the one Allah, and at ?rst Allah
was on the losing end: Warned of a plot to
VS.
ABU
assassinate him, in 622 the father of Islam
?ees with his followers to the neighboring
town of Medina. Muhammad trains them
to ?ght and begins attacking the caravans
of his enemies. In March 624, during a holy
month when all ?ghting is prohibited, he
decides to attack a caravan returning to
Mecca. Abu Jahl had assembled a force
to defend it, which ?ghts Muhammad and
his followers near a place called Badr.
Despite having nearly three times as many
?ghters, the Meccans lose the battle and
Abu Jahl is killed. The Quran recounts the
event as an example of divine intervention,
but most historians credit Muhammad?s
strategic talent. In any event, the victory
serves as a signal for many more followers
to join the new religion. If Muhammad had
been defeated, it is possible no one would
know about him today. The Battle of Badr
is the ?rst step in an unprecedented march
of expansion. Under the banner of Islam,
Arab culture spreads across Europe in the
following centuries and becomes dominant
in large portions of Asia and Africa. And to
this day, Muslims all bow in prayer toward
the former desert village of Mecca?
MECCA
The village that
would become
a metropolis:
Every year,
some 2 million
Muslims make
a pilgrimage to
the Ka'bah in
Mecca (below),
considered by
Muslims to be
the holiest site
on the planet.
Non-Muslims
are forbidden to
enter the city.
VS.
A MAN OF WORDS
Marcus Tullius Cicero used
the power of language to
challenge Julius Caesar.
IC
ng back now.
0 in 49 BC, the
crossing the
pouring rain.
r, the ?sword
s way home.
urning as the
uered Gaul?
0 elite troops
her conquest
pponent: the
has stripped
mand.
ater, Caesar
at every army
ow at him. At
, he declares
uo (dictator in
abolishes the
ever, the end
he beginning
decided not
n the halls of
ere Caesar is
Tullius Cicero,
nd orator. It?s
philosopher
CAESAR
is the most popular politician in Rome.
Caesar makes some clumsy attempts
at flattery to win over the literary giant,
but Cicero declares Caesar a tyrant
before the Senate. Cicero also makes
known his criticism of the erection of
new monuments to Caesar, which are
intended to curry the people?s favor.
Against this highly intelligent orator,
Caesar doesn?t stand a chance.
In this duel to disarm the opponent
rather than kill him, Caesar needs to
get Cicero on his side in order to gain
the support of the citizens of Rome.
?The death of this tyrant
illustrates the deadly effects of
popular hatred.? ?CICERO
Cicero wants to protect the Republic,
which he knows will not be possible
as long as Julius Caesar is in power.
But the orator does not realize how
powerful his words really are?
On the Ides of March (March 15) in
44 BC, Caesar is assassinated in the
Theater of Pompey in Rome. Around
60 senators are involved in the attack,
stabbing the ruler 23 times. Cicero?s
greatest fears all start to materialize.
Rome is plunged into chaos and, as
series of would-be despots grapple
power, the Roman Republic dies
d gets replaced by a triumvirate.
ro is captured and killed in 43 BC,
of 300 senators to be murdered.
utilated body is displayed in the
an Forum?a warning to those
dare to speak out against the
w rulers. In the end the victory
he triumvirate was a disaster
Rome. Decadence and the
aders? inability to innovate
uld lead to the collapse of
Roman Empire?and at
ame time open the door
e Dark Ages in Europe.
ideasanddiscoveries.com
25
N ov 2017
SALADIN
VS.
THE ART OF DIPLOMACY
R
ichard the Lionheart rides into the
fray, launching a general charge
that overwhelms Saladin?s army
at Arsuf and in?icts heavy losses.
Wave after wave of Sultan Saladin?s Saracen
warriors bounces off the bulwark of British
shields and lances. It?s September 7, 1191,
and the English king has been ?ghting his
way toward Jerusalem since landing on the
coast of Acre in July in order to liberate the
Holy Land from the grasp of the ?in?dels.?
This is a duel between two giants of the
battle?eld?neither of whom appears able
to gain the upper hand. Richard?s army is
outnumbered, but the Christian knights are
the more heavily armored and disciplined
?ghters. The Saracens attack repeatedly
in an attempt to force Richard?s troops to
break their defensive formation, but the
army holds fast. Richard intends to wait
until the opposing army is fully engaged at
close range and their horses are starting
to get tired. But when some of his knights
begin to break ranks early, the Lionheart
orders a general counterattack that repels
the enemy?s forces. A cautious leader,
Richard breaks off his attack, then
regroups before charging a second
and a third time. Saladin?s army,
according to one contemporary
chronicler, is ?dispersed into the
hills in all directions.? Shaken
by Richard?s success, Saladin
steers clear of further direct
confrontation. As for Richard,
his victory makes it possible
for him to occupy the city of
Joppa, but although he is to
lead his forces several times to
within a few miles of Jerusalem,
he never gets to occupy the city?
the primary aim of the Third Crusade.
A year later, Richard and Saladin sign
THE LION
the Treaty of Jaffa, which grants Christian
pilgrims free access to the holy city and
leaves Acre and a strip of the coast
in the hands of the Europeans. The
agreement is intended to last for
three years and for a short time
Christians and Muslims seem
to live peacefully side by side.
Could the peace have lasted?
Cultural exchange between
the two religions might have
managed to nip the ensuing
spiral of hatred, bloodshed,
and barbarism in the bud.
Even among the crusaders,
intense quarrels break out
between contingents. Then
in 1198, newly elected Pope
Innocent III begins beating
the drum for a new crusade,
yet another in a long series
of wars that would continue
for decades to come.
DRIVING A HARD BARGAIN
The duel between Sultan Saladin and King Richard
the Lionheart continued at the negotiating table.
Richard even considered marrying off his sister
to Saladin?s brother to ensure long-term peace.
VS.
THE EMERGENCE OF
A WORLD POWER
I
t was the moment the United States
lost its international innocence?
On April 25, 1898, the U.S. declares
war on Spain and prepares to send
its forces into combat beyond its own
shores for the first time. In the months
to follow, American forces conquer the
Spanish colonies in Cuba, Puerto Rico,
and Guam and crush the independence
movement in the Philippines, a struggle
that cost an estimated 200,000 civilian
lives. But what could have lead to this
paradigm shift in U.S. foreign policy?
The foundation for America?s foray into
imperialism was laid 18 months earlier:
On election day, November 3, of 1896,
the voters had to choose between two
very different presidential candidates?
and this was also a duel between the
two men?s competing worldviews.
MCKINLEY
The Republican candidate, William
McKinley, was known as a proponent
of American empire; for him it was clear
that if America is to survive, new sales
markets must be tapped. On the other
hand, his challenger, William Jennings
Bryan, was widely known for being an
?outspoken anti-imperialist,? according
to film director Oliver Stone. McKinley
won the duel and realized his dream.
?Before the U.S. could stake its
claim to foreign markets and
natural resources, it needed
bases around the world.?
PETER KUZNICK, HISTORIAN
?For the first time, U.S. soldiers went
to go fight overseas. And, for the first
time, America was to acquire territory
beyond its shores?the former colony
itself becoming colonialist,? writes the
historian and journalist Stanley Karnow.
But America?s string of conquests had
REVENGE
Four years after their
initial duel in 1896,
McKinley and Bryan
would encounter each
other again as they
vied once more for
the presidency in
1900. McKinley (left)
represented the war
against Spain as
a humanitarian
intervention, and he
defeated Bryan even
more easily the
second time. Vice
President Theodore
Roosevelt (right)
became president
when McKinley was
assassinated in 1901.
ideasanddiscoveries.com
27
PHOTOS: Alamy (2); DPA; Getty Images (5); Wikipedia; PR (2). ILLUSTRATIONS: Napoleon Gem鋖de von Adolph Northen, Druck erh鋖tlich bei King & McGaw, www.kindandmcgaw.com; C.F. Minard.
BRYAN
only just begun. This was merely the
start of violent interference in the affairs
of other countries. A few years later, in
1903 the U.S. government engineers
Panama?s secession from Colombia
and then reaches an agreement with
the new republic to acquire exclusive
control of the Panama Canal Zone. The
U.S. influence in the world dramatically
increases in the years that follow.
However, what would have happened
if Bryan ended up becoming the 25th
U.S. president rather than McKinley?
?If there be one principle more deeply
rooted than any other in the mind of
every American, it is that we should
have nothing to do with conquest,? said
Bryan, quoting Thomas Jefferson, in a
campaign speech in 1896. Bryan was
an advocate of abandoning all plans
for global power and making the U.S.
a primarily agrarian country. Historians
believe America may well have become
a modern industrial nation regardless,
but most likely not a world power.
McKinley?s efforts to establish a U.S.
empire prove to be his undoing. In 1901
he is assassinated by anarchist Leon
Czolgosz, who believed the president
committed war crimes in the Philippines
and was an enemy of the people.
N ov 2017
Nature
WASHINGTON
NORTH DAKOTA
MONTANA
MINNESOTA
YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK
OREGON
SOUTH DAKOTA
IDAHO
WYOMING
IOWA
NEBRASKA
NEVADA
UTAH
KANSAS
COLORADO
OKLAHOMA
ARIZONA
NEW MEXICO
DEATH ZONE
?If the Yellowstone supervolcano
were to erupt, the strength of the
eruption could tear the guts out
of the USA. Instead of 50 states,
we?d only have 30,? warns Michio
Kaku, a theoretical physicist and
professor at the City College of
New York. The death zone would
have a diameter of over 500 miles
and the whole region would be
covered for years by a layer of ash
up to 10 feet thick.
N ov 2017
28
ideasanddiscoveries.com
TEXAS
PRIMARY ASH ZONE
During a category VEI-8 eruption (the highest possible
value), all life in the so-called ?primary ash zone?? an
up to 600-mile circle around the death zone?would be
destroyed, and the ash layer would be up to 3 feet thick.
The intense heat would make houses collapse and roads
melt, and millions of acres of forest would be obliterated.
Experts predict there would be up to 100,000 deaths here.
When will the largest natural paradise in America explode?
SECONDARY ASH ZONE
MICHIGAN
Even at a distance of over 1,000 miles
away from the eruption site, more than
a dozen states would be buried under
a 4-inch-thick layer of ash. Around
50 million people would have to leave
their homes, and the land wouldn?t be
habitable for years. A crop failure in
America?s breadbasket, the Midwest,
would lead to extensive shortages, with
damages amounting to nearly $500 billion.
WISCONSIN
ILLINOIS
MISSOURI
ARKANSAS
In Yellowstone National Park tick
most dangerous time bomb on the pl
But geologists have now discovered
the chamber of the supervolcano is
one part of a much larger doorway to h
and if an eruption occurs, it could c
half of America with a thick blanket of a
THE DAY
THE U.S.
COULD
LOSE 20
STATES
AMERICA?S POWDER KEG
LOOKS SPECTACULAR
FROM ABOVE!
4BILLION
YEARS
Microorganisms called archaea have
settled in the various temperature
zones of the sulfurous springs (the
hottest part is in the middle), making
the hot springs glow in all the colors of
the rainbow. The tiny thermal spring
inhabitants are the pioneers of Earth?s
history: These ancient single-celled
extremophiles got their start 4 billion
years ago, when there was neither
oxygen nor dry land on the planet.
N ov 2017
30
ideasanddiscoveries.com
ONE PARK,
2,000
LITERS
OF WATER
Thanks to the pressure from the subterranean
magma chambers, roughly 2,000 liters of water
are pressed through the surface of the Grand
Prismatic Spring every minute. A clear view, like
the one in this photo, is rare because the pool is
usually covered by a dense shroud of steam.
160
FEET
DEEP
The Grand Prismatic Spring is in the
heart of Yellowstone National Park.
The basin of the largest hot spring
in the U.S. is around 260 feet in
diameter and nearly 160 feet deep.
The water has passed through the
underground magma chambers
of the Yellowstone supervolcano,
where it is heated to 160?F.
10,000
HOT SPOTS
Yellowstone is the oldest national park
in the United States (founded in 1872),
spanning 3,471 square miles in the northwest
of the nation, mainly in the state of Wyoming.
From north to south, it covers 63 miles and it
stretches out for 54 miles from east to west.
Yellowstone National Park sits atop one of the
largest magma chamber systems in the world
(see graphic on page 32). Over thousands of
years, this system has given rise to more than
10,000 hot springs. These thermal springs and
geysers provide us proof that the underground
supervolcano is still active. The last eruption,
which created a 40-mile-wide and 25-mile-long
crater, took place around 640,000 years ago.
Researchers are now warning: The next megaeruption could occur as soon as sometime this
century?or even this year. That?s because this
powder keg is ?lled to the brim with magma?
MOVING CRUST
The crust of the North American Plate slides 2.5 centimeters
to the southwest every year. The hot spot that forms above
the mantle diapir?an area where material rises from deep
strata? always remains in the same location.
CRATER COUNTRY
SALT LAKE CITY, UT
mantel
diapir
Cooled lava is a clue that the national
park lies atop several ancient craters.
Heat and escaping gases are further
evidence of volcanic processes taking
place beneath Earth?s surface.
16 million years ago: The heat of the diapir
caused Earth?s crust to melt. The result was
the ?rst great volcanic eruption.
Picabo
10.3 million
Pocatello, ID
Big Bend Ridge Caldera
2.1 million
Yellowstone
Lake
Yellowstone Caldera
0.64 million
our Creek
Dome
Mallard Lake
Dome
YELLOWSTONE
NATIONAL PARK
12 million years ago: More craters formed.
Because Earth?s surface migrates, they now
lie partly in Nevada.
THE FIRST CHAMBER
In the previously known upper chamber
located 3 to 10 miles underneath the
surface of Yellowstone National Park
there bubbles enough magma to ?ll the
Grand Canyon 2.5 times.
2.1 million years ago: The Huckleberry Ridge
eruption formed the Big Bend Ridge Caldera.
It also spewed forth 600 cubic miles of ash.
THE FIRST MAGMA
CHAMBER
1,400癋
THE SECOND CHAMBER
With the aid of high-tech seismographs,
researchers found a second previously
unknown megachamber at a depth of
10 to 40 miles. It?s 4.5 times bigger
than the upper chamber and feeds it
with millions of tons of magma.
THE SECOND MAGMA
CHAMBER
1,800癋
THE MAGMA DIAPIR
The magma originates down near the
Earth?s outer core (see right) and rises
toward the surface. There a so-called
hot spot forms, which is heated by the
magma as though by a Bunsen burner.
I
t can?t possibly be true. Victor Tsai checks the data
again and again?but everything appears to be right.
For months now the California Institute of Technology
geophysicist has been scanning the subsurface of
Yellowstone National Park with a seismograph in an effort
to find out more about the magma chambers underneath
the largest supervolcano on Earth. And that?s precisely
what he?s done. The frightening results show that there?s
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MAGMA VENT
2,200癋
a nearly 1,500?F chamber pulsating under the park, which
is only the tip of an even more powerful magma system
(see graphic above). And it could explode at any time?
AND THEY THOUGHT JUST ONE CHAMBER
WAS THE PROBLEM!
Yellowstone National Park is considered to be the green
lungs and wild heart of America?and now, thanks to the
NAME OF CALDERA
AGE IN YEARS
dt
13.8 million
TIME BOMB
Bruneau-Jarbidge
12.5 million
YELLOWSTONE
Twin Falls
8.6?10 million
Yellowstone National Park is located in the northwest United States.
Beneath its green meadows and forests lurks one of the biggest time
bombs on Earth. For a long time scientists believed that the gigantic
magma diapir under the volcano was supplying just one chamber? until an
astonishing discovery was made?
CHAIN OF EVIDENCE
Heise
4.3?6 million
Traces of past eruptions can
still be found above the diapir
in a 460-mile stretch along
the Snake River Plain.
THE VOLCANO?S
ENERGY SOURCE
According to previous estimates, the Yellowstone
magma diapir is located 560 miles underground.
But the most recent ?ndings reveal that it actually
extends down to Earth?s outer core.
Yellowstone National Park
crust
Depth
0 mi
40 mi
Bozeman, MT
600 mi
mantle
1,800 mi
nort
h
outer
core
600 mi
3,100 mi
crus
t
25
mi
inner
core
3,900 mi
man
tle
discovery made by Victor Tsai, it has come to be known
as an enormous ticking time bomb too. For a long time,
researchers assumed that the national park, which has
an average elevation of 8,000 feet, was perched on top
of a 2,400-cubic-mile magma chamber that is located
up to 10 miles beneath the ground surface. But the new
seismological studies show that the chamber has a kind
of big brother?a 4.5 times bigger brother, to be precise.
It lies under the first chamber at a depth of 10 to 40 miles
and is fed directly from Earth?s mantle by a magma vent.
The extent of the Yellowstone supervolcano first became
clear when geologist Robert Christiansen discovered the
crater (caldera) on NASA satellite images: It?s a gigantic
depression at least 40 miles long and 25 miles wide?a
silent witness to the last time Yellowstone?s supervolcano
erupted. Scientific calculations have finally revealed that
>
THE SECOND GRAND CANYON
The so-called ?Grand Canyon of the
Yellowstone? is 25 miles long, up to
1,200 feet deep, and 4,000 feet wide.
It was formed toward the end of the
last ice age?about 12,000 years ago.
would bury several Western states, and thousands of
cubic miles of lava and ash would be flung up into the
stratosphere by an explosive force equivalent to several
thousand atomic bombs. Experts predict that the sky
would be dark for years. Crops would fail, and the world
would remain in a state of emergency. ?Yellowstone is
a sleeping Godzilla. When it wakes up, if it does indeed
achieve a VEI-8 eruption, it could
tear the guts out of the USA. At
that point, instead of 50 states,
we?d only have 30,? says physicist
Michio Kaku. A ?supereruption?
occurs every 700,000 years; but
if you?re thinking, ?No problem?
that?s 60,000 years away,? you?re
dead wrong. Scientists admit that
Yellowstone?s supervolcano is an
incredibly unpredictable monster.
?The discovery of the
second chamber tells us
one thing above all else:
The next eruption will be
much more violent than we
had previously thought.?
VICTOR TSAI,
geophysicist at the California
Institute of Technology
roughly 640,000 years ago, one
of the biggest volcanic eruptions
in the history of Earth took place.
THE VOLCANO?S BREATH
In fact, for several years there have been more and more
signs that the Yellowstone supervolcano is not extinct?
it?s only just waking up. Measurements have shown that
the center of the crater has risen 20 inches in 50 years,
only to sink down again in a very short amount of time.
Since 2004 portions of the Yellowstone Plateau volcanic
field have been rising again at a rate of 3 inches per year.
It?s the fastest increase since records started being kept.
The reasoning of the geologists: Gases and magma are
spreading over a large area, melting more and more rock
and thereby prompting the entire
region to move up and down like
the chest of a sleeping dragon.
There are numerous apocalyptic
theories about what will happen
when the fiend actually awakens.
But no one knows for sure.
However, this much has been
clear since the discovery of the
MICHIO KAKU,
second chamber: If Yellowstone?s
theoretical physicist and
best-selling author
volcano does erupt someday the
?Yellowstone is a sleeping
Godzilla. When it wakes up,
instead of 50 states,
we?d only have 30.?
ground will literally explode, and
it will launch at least 5,000 times
more fiery mass into the air than
an ordinary volcano would. Lava
avalanches as hot as 2,200?F
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34
ideasanddiscoveries.com
ASPHALT ROWDIES
There are more than 4,000 bison in Yellowstone
National Park. In winter the herds move from the
higher areas to the lowlands in order to ?nd more
pastures. The 1,500-pound cattle end up crossing
streets and regularly cause traf?c jams?such as
this one on Highway 89 in Gardiner, Montana.
It may wake up earlier?perhaps
even 60,000 years earlier?
HOW AN INFERNO TURNS
INTO A NATURAL PARADISE
Nevertheless, as dramatic as the
prediction might sound, a megaeruption is very important for the
THE BIG EAT
climate, but also by the world that lies under the ground,?
Yellowstone environment. For a long time, researchers
explains geologist Robert Christiansen. The proof: The
only regarded a supervolcano eruption as a destructive
last eruption catapulted millions
force of nature that transforms a
of tons of lava miles into the air
fertile landscape into a desolate
and blanketed the region with a
and lifeless desert of ash.
thick layer of ash for many years.
That may be true in the short
Today, more than 2,000 species
term, but in the long term the fire
of plants grow in the park?s valleys
and ash will convert the region
and forests. Beavers build dams,
into a verdant hot spot of nature.
lynxes and pumas prowl through
This has occurred in Yellowstone
the woods, and scores of bison
National Park. Following the last
and deer graze in the meadows.
eruption, which at first destroyed
Only geysers that shoot hot water
the meadows and trees, fertile
under high pressure 300 feet into
soils that could retain moisture
ROBERT CHRISTIANSEN,
the air provide any indication of
formed from the mineral-rich ash.
geologist and Yellowstone expert
the blistering red hell simmering
The result: Soon the seeds of the
under the terrain of Yellowstone.
burned trees started to sprout in
But for how much longer?
the rich soil, new animal and plant
species settled, and there was an
UP-TO-DATE INFO ON THE STATUS OF VOLCANOES
emergence of an unprecedented amount of vegetation.
https://volcanoes.usgs.gov/vhp/updates.html
?The fascinating nature that we see is not only created by
?The fascinating
nature that we see is not
only created by climate,
but also by the world
that lies under
the ground.?
@
PHOTOS: Peter Adams/Getty Images; Charlie Hamilton/NGS (3); PR. ILLUSTRATION: NGS.
Grizzlies are opportunists?they devour everything, from berries
and insects to fish and big game, such as this bison calf. But the
bears of Yellowstone National Park must not only defend their kills
from other bears but also from wolves, pumas, and scavengers
(pictured here: common ravens).
Body & Mind
THE PSYCHOLOGY
OF EATING
OR: WHAT REALLY MAKES US FAT
Forget everything you thought you knew about nutrition?recent studies show:
It?s not really what or how much we eat, but rather where and when, and even
which plate we use can largely determine whether we will put on weight or not.
ew
e tricks.
The good news : We can change
ideasanddiscoveries.com
37
N ov 2017
WE MAKE
AROUND 250
FOOD DECISIONS
EVERY DAY,
MOST OF THEM
THE RESULT OF
MANIPULATION
WE DON?T EVEN
NOTICE.
Brian Wansink ,
director of the Cornell
University Food and
Brand Lab
J
ust a quick glance is all that Brian Wansink needs.
His experienced eye can tell in a mere matter of
seconds where the invisible fatteners are lurking
at home or in the office cafeteria. The astonishing
part: The Cornell University psychologist is not interested
in what we eat or how much we consume. He only needs
to conduct a brief inspection of the surroundings to say
who will tip the scales more at the end of a meal and who
will have eaten the right amount. But how does that work?
??IT ?S
EASIER TO CHANGE OUR ENVIRONMENT
THAN TO REVERSE THE POLARITY OF THE BRAIN??
After more than 25 years of research and hundreds of
studies, the 57-year-old consumer psychologist says he
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ideasanddiscoveries.com
has discovered a number of secret psychological factors
that he?s convinced have played a major role in the rise
of obesity?but they?re largely being ignored. ?We make
around 250 decisions a day about our food intake,? says
Wansink. ?Fries or a salad? Small or large? Lick the plate
or save the leftovers? The amazing thing is, in most cases
we are misled by thousands of subliminal triggers that
we hardly notice.? So you won?t find Wansink dishing out
the usual diet tips: ?We tend to focus on the food rather
than the environment,? he says. ?We are usually far too
concerned about eating less of this or more of that, or
with sticking to some grueling fad diet or fitness plan.?
His finding: Even the smartest, most disciplined calorie
counters can be manipulated by their surroundings just
CHECKLIST FOR
GOOD DIETARY HABITS
EATIN
TRAPSG
If you want to identify the fattening agents that are hiding in your
home and do something about them, simply check ?yes? or ?no?
on the questionnaire below that was developed by Brain Wansink.
If at least 7 questions are a ?yes,? you?re on the right track!
QUESTIONS
1) Do you serve salad or vegetables
before the main meal?
Yes
No
2) Do you plate the food at the
stove or countertop instead of
at the table?
Yes
No
3) Is the diameter of your plates
smaller than 9 or 10 inches?
Yes
No
4) Do you turn off the TV and
come sit at the table when it?s
time to eat?
Yes
No
Yes
No
6) Do you always keep your
kitchen countertops tidy and
your utensils neatly arranged?
Yes
No
7) Do you slice fruit and vegetables
in advance and keep them in clearly
visible positions in your fridge?
Yes
No
Yes
No
Yes
No
5) Are there no more than two
cans of soft drinks in your fridge
at any one time?
as easily as the rest of us. But it doesn?t have
to be that way: Recent studies have shown
that even a few small lifestyle changes are
sufficient to keep us from falling into these
traps. Wansink has put together a checklist
that can help us to turn the tables and trick
our psyche so we can lose rather than gain
weight. His most important advice: ?Don?t
listen to your stomach in deciding when you
are full?it can lie.? On the following pages
iD presents the three danger zones of eating
(the home, the supermarket, and restaurants)
and reveals which threats lurk therein and
the tricks you can use to avoid them.
8) Do you have at least 6 portions
of protein-containing food (eggs,
yogurt, tofu, etc.) in your fridge?
9) Do you keep your snacks and
sweets in a kitchen cupboard
that?s hard to reach?
WHAT YOUR HOME
HAS TO DO WITH HUNGER
DANGER ZONE 1: THE HOME
A
ccording to the Cornell
consumer psychologist
Brian Wansink, homes
are full of eating traps
and covert fatteners. In
fact, even the mere color of a plate
is enough to manipulate our eating
habits. In an experiment, subjects
were invited to take pretzels from
three dishes?red, white, and blue.
The interesting result: Few people
took any pretzels from the red dish.
?Red is a warning color that tends
to signal danger,? says nutritional
psychologist Christoph Klotter. Yet
another surprising color effect: At
Cornell University, Wansink invited
50 subjects to a meal of pasta and
asked them whether they?d prefer
a tomato or a cream sauce on their
noodles. As part of the experiment
the food was served on either a red
or a white plate. The striking result:
When the color of the food matched
the color of the plate, the diners ate
18% more. Wansink?s explanation:
?Pasta, rice, and potatoes are rich
in starch. Because they lack color,
we tend to eat too much of these
calorie bombs. But darker plates
contrast with the color of the food,
making it look like there?s more of
it and thereby providing a clever
weight-loss strategy.? As a rule, try
to avoid too many different colors
at once. If you have a bowl of candy
in 7 different hues, you?ll eat much
less than if there were 10. ?If there
are lots of different colors, we want
to taste, smell, and eat all of them.
We reach for more when diversity
abounds.? Up to 70% more?
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Another pitfall that can easily be
avoided involves visibility of food.
Wansink paid a visit to 230 homes
in Syracuse, New York, and found
that those who were keeping their
breakfast cereal out on the kitchen
counter weighed 20 pounds more
on average than people who kept
their cereal stashed in a cupboard.
In addition, our media consumption
and sleeping habits can also have
a significant impact on our weight.
Various studies have demonstrated
that people who don?t get enough
sleep are more prone to obesity,
diabetes, and high blood pressure.
For example, if you sleep less than
five hours per night, it takes longer
for elevated blood sugar levels to
return to normal. Interestingly, the
same applies to people who sleep
more than eight hours a night.
You should also turn off your TV
or computer while you?re eating?
as confirmed by the results of an
experiment by psychologist Jeffrey
Brunstrom: Half of the participants
ate while playing a computer game,
while the other half concentrated
solely on their food intake. Result:
Those who were distracted during
their meal ended up eating twice
as many cookies 30 minutes later.
But not every program affects our
eating behavior in the same way.
For example, viewers will consume
up to 98% more snacks and about
240 more calories while watching
an action film than while watching
a talk show. The quantity varies with
the degree of distraction produced
by the respective program.
THE BIGGER THE PLATE,
THE GREATER THE HUNGER
The size of dishes and cutlery
plays an important role in calorie
intake: For example, regardless
of the size of the portion, people
eat up to 22% less when food is
served on a 10-inch plate rather
than on a 12-inch plate. Similarly,
if you use a tablespoon instead
of a ladle to serve up a second
helping, you?ll take 14% less.
THE LESS YOU COOK,
THE MORE YOU EAT
THE LOUDER IT IS,
THE FATTER WE GET
?People who regularly prepare their
meals at home have a lower intake
of carbohydrates, sugar, and fat
than those who cook infrequently
or who don?t cook at all,? explains
nutrition researcher Julia Wolfson.
In a study, she found that people
who cook for themselves only once
a week at most ingest an average
of 2,300 calories per day. But those
who cook six times a week ingest
2,150 calories per day on average.
Construction and aviation noises,
loud music and blaring TV sets?
a study at Sweden?s Karolinska
Institute revealed a correlation
between waist size and noise
exposure: A 10-decibel increase
in the noise level to which one is
regularly exposed equates to a
waist-circumference expansion
of 1 cm on average due to higher
levels of stress hormones, esp.
cortisol, in response to the noise.
THE MORE ACCESSIBLE THE
FOOD, THE HUNGRIER WE FEEL
Accessibility plays a crucial role in
eating behavior: The closer food is to
us, the more dif?cult it is to resist it.
Psychologist Brian Wansink suggests
serving up food at the stove or counter
instead of at the table. Because we
have to get up to get another helping,
we?re more mindful about ?lling up our
plate again so we eat up to 19% less.
THE LONGER THE AISLE,
THE MORE WE?LL PICK UP
Studies have shown that the
long rows of shelves you have
to pass as you make your way
to the checkout counter can
tempt you to buy more products
than you actually wanted. And:
The more food you take home
with you, the more you?ll eat.
THE LOWER, THE BETTER
Items that are placed at eye level will catch our
attention ?rst, so that?s where the supermarkets
position the products from the most expensive
brands. The real bargains are about 4 feet lower.
That?s where the supermarkets put the cheaper
versions of branded products?which may well
have been manufactured by the same factory.
Various studies have shown that looking down
can save you a lot of money.
WHY WE LOSE OUR HEADS
IN THE SUPERMARKET
DANGER ZONE 2 : SUPERMARKET
E
THE SLOWER WE ARE,
THE MORE WE BUY
From the moment we ?rst enter a
supermarket, we are confronted
by obstacles in the form of islands
and hanging displays. And without
realizing it, we start going slower.
The stands of fruit and vegetables
tend to slow us down even further,
enticing us with all the aromas of
a fresh market. But why so many
obstacles in the entrance area?
Studies show the longer we linger
in the supermarket, the more items
we?ll notice?and purchase.
liminating eating traps at
home is only the first step.
After all, what?s the point
of establishing an optimal
environment in the home
if the next trip to the supermarket
could undermine all those efforts?
?Everyone knows that old saying,
?Never go shopping on an empty
stomach,?? says Brian Wansink.
?However, the fact of the matter is
that a craving for food can strike
at any time, regardless of whether
you?re full or hungry.? His tip: To be
on the safe side, you should always
chew a piece of mint-flavored gum
while you?re shopping for groceries.
Studies have shown that the minty
freshness cools down our desires,
making it more difficult to imagine
the crunchiness of potato chips or
the velvety texture of ice cream.
Amazingly, a stick of gum is enough
to reduce the amount of junk food
we purchase by 7%.
However, that doesn?t put an end
to all the other temptations that a
supermarket dangles in front of us.
The brand logos we glimpse have
an enormous effect on our psyche
and therefore, on our behavior?
far more than you might suspect.
In an experiment, Sanford DeVoe
of the University of Toronto Rotman
School of Management seated his
study subjects in front of a monitor.
Some of the subjects were shown
the logos of fast-food chains for a
few milliseconds?just long enough
for the subjects to perceive them
subconsciously. When DeVoe later
gave the subjects a reading test,
those exposed to the logos read
much more quickly and frantically
than subjects in the control group.
DeVoe made a similar discovery in
a subsequent test: Rapid exposure
to the logos made the participants
more likely to buy time-saving food
and less patient in their economic
decisions. Evidently fast food can
prompt a feeling of time pressure
in us as well as intensify the need
for rapid gratification.
We enter the third major danger
zone whenever we are facing an
unfamiliar food environment like a
restaurant, caf�, or?worst of all?
an all-you-can-eat buffet. We can?t
prepare ourselves in advance for
such temptations, so we?re at their
mercy. Wansink?s research shows
how much food you?re going to eat
is decided in the first few seconds
of entering a dining establishment.
Even choosing where you?ll sit can
have profound consequences?
i
WHY DO WE OFTEN
BUY TOO MUCH?
Shopping carts can play a pivotal
role in our purchasing?and thus
eating?behavior. Nowadays they
are much bigger than they used
to be, and the bottom of the cart
is often slightly inclined. Some of
our items may roll back and out of
our field of view, making us feel
like there?s less in the cart. Some
carts are even fitted with special
wheels so the cart can be pushed
easily as the load grows heavier.
This way the customer does not
notice how much is being bought.
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43
N ov 2017
WHERE YOU EAT THE MOST
WHILE IN A RESTAURANT
DANGER ZONE 3 : RESTAURANTS
PHOTOS: Getty Images (9); PR.
T
he question sounds a
bit ridiculous: Are there
really ?unhealthy? areas
to be seated when you
go to a restaurant? Yes.
Tests have shown that people who
sit by a window tend to order much
healthier food, while those who sit
in the dark corners tend to prefer
fattier and more calorie-laden fare.
?The darker it is in a room, the less
visible the food is?which means
we feel less guilty because no one
can see how much we are eating,?
reveals Brian Wansink. Meanwhile,
people seated on bar stools order
more salads and fewer desserts.
The explanation: Because we can
neither stretch out nor slump over,
we exhibit better posture, and that
influences what we order. But there
are other factors that can dissuade
us from ordering too much food:
For example, if the menu includes
nutritional information, on average
diners order 100 fewer calories?
a difference of up to 20%. ?When
you?re reading a menu, you feel as
though you can order anything you
like,? says Wansink with a grin.
?But in reality, you?re being subtly
influenced.? Even the music that?s
playing in the background exerts
an effect on the choices we make.
Researchers at the University of
Arkansas found that people ate
more while listening to jazz, but
the food did not seem to taste as
good when hip-hop was playing.
Neither rock nor classical music,
on the other hand, seems to have
a sizable impact on eating habits.
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ideasanddiscoveries.com
It also makes a big difference
whether we eat alone or with other
people. ?We observe the amount
of food that others in our vicinity
order and adjust our consumption
accordingly,? explains behavioral
scientist Brent McFerran. The size
of other people?s servings acts as
a kind of anchor for us and helps
us get our bearings. Researchers
at Southern Illinois University have
found that study participants ate
31.6% more pasta and 43.5% less
salad when they sat at a table with
an obese individual. ?The goal of
eating healthy gets thwarted when
an overweight person is present,?
says psychologist Mitsuru Shimizu.
Furthermore, it turns out that the
speed at which food gets eaten is
also contagious: In an experiment,
each study participant was given
cookies to eat before being joined
by a second person who had been
told by Brian Wansink how fast to
eat. The faster the second person
ate, the faster the first participant
became. Another remarkable facet
of situational influence: The food
we choose can also depend on the
gender of the other people seated
at the same table. Meredith Young,
a cognitive researcher at Canada?s
McMaster University, monitored
the eating habits of 469 people in
the university cafeteria. She found
that women in the company of men
often opted for low-calorie meals.
On the other hand, however, men?s
choice of food did not seem to be
influenced at all by the presence
of a female dining companion.
THE DARKER THE SURROUNDINGS,
THE UNHEALTHIER THE FOOD
Diners seated farthest from windows and
doors order less salad and are 73% more
likely to order a dessert. ?The darker it
is in a room, the less visible the food is,
which means we feel less guilty because
no one can see how much we are eating,?
explains psychologist Brian Wansink.
THE BIGGER THE GROUP,
THE BIGGER THE PORTIONS
THE CLOSER THE BUFFET,
THE PLUMPER THE DINER
Studies have shown that overweight
people tend to choose a table close
to the buffet in an all-you-can-eat
restaurant?they are three times
more likely to sit within clear sight
of the food than slimmer people are.
And slimmer diners often sit at the
table with their back to the food.
As the number of people at the table
increases, so too does the size of
the meal? up to almost twice as
large as a normal portion. Studies
show that when we?re in a group of
people, we eat up to 44% more than
usual. The eating behavior of other
diners plays an important role: If the
people around us are eating a lot,
we will too. But if they put less on
their plates, we?ll hold back as well.
THE WIDER THE GLASS,
THE MORE WE?LL DRINK
If you are given a wide glass instead of a
sleek tall one, you will drink 19% more on
average. Bartenders even ?ll a glass up to
32% more when the glass is wide and ?at.
Reason: The human brain perceives vertical
questions
Ask a simple question, get a simple answer? Think again! Scientists often have to work meticulously to come up with explanations
for basic processes?and sometimes they inadvertently discover marvels that can change our perception of the world.
THE THRILL
The railing that separates
visitors from the abyss is
only about 3 feet high.
RECORD ROCK
The highest cave in the
world is hiding in the
Tianmen Mountain in
central China.
LONG WAY DOWN
A collapse of the skywalk
would mean a deadly plunge
of 4,600 feet.
&answers
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WOULD YOU
A 6-centimeter-thick piece of glass underfoot
is what?s preventing a fatal fall into the depths.
At 4,600 feet above sea level, a new glass walkway
winds its way around a monumental spire of karst
rock in Zhangjiajie National Forest Park in China.
The Coiling Dragon Cliff skywalk, which is just over
5 feet wide, opened last August and offers visitors
spectacular views of the surrounding mountains.
The narrow trail runs 330 feet to the top of the rock.
The ?oor consists of three layers of safety glass,
and it was designed specially for the skywalk. For
not only must it withstand the weight of several
thousand visitors each day, it also has to hold up in
the face of strong high-altitude winds. The skywalk
must close during snow and storms because they
pose a safety risk. But this isn?t the only spectacular
attraction at the Zhangjiajie National Forest Park.
There is also the longest glass bridge in the world.
China is home to a number of glass skywalks and
bridges, but a problem has been documented with
one of them. In 2015 the Yuntai Mountain skywalk
had to close just two weeks after it opened due to
cracks in the glass ?oor?at an altitude of 3,500 feet.
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questions&answers
CAN THIS
BIG DRILL
SING?
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She?s 55 feet tall, 325 feet long, and she
weighs 7,700 tons?her name is Bertha,
the largest tunnel-boring machine in the
world. Bertha was used to carve out a
1.7-mile-long motorway underneath the
West Coast city of Seattle. Bertha ate
her way through 33 feet of rock per day,
all the while playing a distinctive tune
through loudspeakers. The monster drill
?sings? for a simple reason: It lets the
workers in the tunnel know that the borer
is operating so they can get to safety in
time to avoid being hit by flying debris.
Just because the 25,000-horsepower
engines are running, that doesn?t mean
Bertha is actually drilling. But when the
melody is playing, everyone knows that
Bertha?s going to be cutting through the
hard rock with her strong steel blades to
create another stretch of tunnel, which
is then reinforced with concrete rings.
The boring began on July 30, 2013, and
after several time-consuming setbacks
the breakthrough came on April 4, 2017.
If everything proceeds on schedule, the
road should open to traffic in early 2019.
CAN BEES PREDICT
AN EARTHQUAKE?
FLIGHT
TRACKER
Every 92 minutes
the satellite tag
informs the ISS
about the bee?s
new position.
The International Space Station (ISS)
orbits Earth at an altitude of 250 miles.
The scientists stationed there study solar
activity, magnetic ?elds?and soon, the
birds and the bees, too. The ?Big Data?
project known as ICARUS is set to begin
on the ISS by the end of 2017: Thousands
of ?ying animals will be equipped with
sensors so they can be observed from
space. Tiny high-performance radio chips
will provide a position report to the ISS.
Researchers hope to draw conclusions
about the prediction of natural disasters
by analyzing the movement pro?les of the
animals. Many species are able to sense
earthquakes or volcanic eruptions before
they occur. Our own advance warning time
for earthquakes is still inadequate. But a
timely warning from ?ying animals means
protective measures can be implemented
hours before the catastrophe strikes.
WHO INVENTED THE
HOW FAR DID THE
OLDEST METEORITE
ON EARTH TRAVEL?
For 16 years researchers were confronted with a mystery:
Where did the meteorite that crashed into Canada?s Tagish
Lake come from? Thanks to modern simulations, it?s now
clear that it came from the Kuiper belt, nearly 4 billion miles
from the Sun. That makes it the most well-traveled chunk
of asteroid to ever reach the Earth?and the oldest: It was
created during a planetary collision 4.5 billion years ago.
DARKNET?
Using a so-called Tor browser, the anonymous areas of the Internet
become accessible to everyone. But hardly anyone knows that the
darknet, which is often used by criminals, was invented by the U.S.
military. As a secure and anonymous form of online communication,
the network was meant to protect America against espionage. In
the 1990s, the darknet was developed by the U.S. Naval Research
Laboratory. In the early 2000s the open-source project was named
?Tor,? and it was passed on to nonpro?t organizations in 2007. The
government still pours millions of dollars per year into the project
because the military and intelligence agencies still use the darknet.
questions&answers
FOOD
11 pounds of bread, pasta,
and potatoes are squirreled
away for each person.
3,000,000
?preppers? live in the U.S.
They prepare their shelters,
equipment, weapons, and
supplies before a major
emergency situation
strikes.
WHAT DO YOU
NEED TO SURVIVE
FOR 10 DAYS?
For the first time since the end of the Cold War, Germany?s
government is advising citizens to keep a reserve of food
and water in the house for use in a national emergency.
This ?panic buying? is meant to ensure the population can
survive for 10 days after a disaster by eating their rations.
The food has to last for a long time without refrigeration;
for example, the advisory calls for 4.5 pounds of fish and
meat per person?the equivalent of a big tin of sausages.
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LIQUIDS
7 gallons of water to be
used for drinking and
cooking are stocked up
for each person.
CANNED GOODS
For 10 days, 8 pounds
of canned fruit and
12 pounds of canned
vegetables per person
are recommended.
10
THE
LOUDEST SOUNDS
1 320 decibels
The eruption of Indonesia?s Mount
Tambora in 1815 produced a sound so
loud, it remains unrivaled in history.
2 204 decibels
The launch of the Saturn V carrier
rocket is still the loudest sound to
ever be recorded by NASA.
3 182 decibels
The Hyperspike HS-60, built in the
USA, is the most powerful acoustic
hailing device in the world.
4 174 decibels
Sperm whales use echolocation to
orientate themselves in the sea. The
sound waves travel great distances.
5 140 decibels
On the deck of an aircraft carrier, the
sound of the ship?s engines mixes
with the startup sounds of the jets.
6 120 decibels
Scientists have discovered that a
screaming baby can be louder than
a chainsaw (110 decibels).
7 120 decibels
Like all sounds, the volume of a crack
of thunder decreases as distance from
the point of origin increases.
Why did the last
mammoth die?
Recent research reveals that some mammoth populations
survived the last ice age and lived on islands around the
time the pyramids were being built in Egypt. The melting of
the glaciers and the rising sea levels ?ooded the land bridge
between Asia and North America, which means that some
populations got stranded on islands in the northern Paci?c.
Scientists discovered that the proboscideans died of thirst
there. The higher the sea levels rose, the smaller the islands?
land surface became. This led to scarcity of fresh water and
sustained drought. Thus the woolly giants? fate was sealed.
8 110 decibels
Rock concerts can lead to lasting
hearing damage if attendees don?t
wear earplugs.
9 100 decibels
If you regularly use a jackhammer,
it can harm your ears?even if you
wear protection.
10 90 decibels
On heavily traveled streets in large
cities, the background noise can be
as loud as 90 decibels.
questions&answers
How does
a dust
storm
arise
on the
Moon?
A single coronal mass ejection from
the Sun can strip up to 220 tons of
material (about 10 dump truck loads)
from the surface of the Moon.
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Researchers have observed
dust storms on the Moon
time and again. But how do
they arise? The Moon has
a very minimal atmosphere
and thus there is no wind.
The answer lies in the solar
wind, the stream of charged
particles such as hydrogen
or helium ions emitted by
the Sun. When this stream
strikes the Moon?s surface,
tiny fragments of rock are
liberated from the ground.
NASA planetary scientist
Timothy Stubbs elaborates:
?The day side of the Moon
is positively charged, while
the night side is negatively
charged; so where the day
side meets the night side,
the electrostatically charged
dust is pushed across the
boundary.? The end result is
dust storms that can move
at 500 mph?faster than the
strongest winds on Earth.
He?d been ?oating 250 miles above the
ocean?and yet Luca Parmitano almost
drowned in July 2013. He was just minutes
from death. Because of the extreme heat
created by the solar radiation, spacesuits
are kept cool with a system of water lines.
But something went awry in Parmitano?s
suit: Instead of the water being pumped
through the entire suit, it ?owed into the
helmet instead. Due to the microgravity,
the water formed a huge bubble that rolled
over Parmitano?s ears, eyes, and nose and
remained there. Barely able to see or hear,
the astronaut had to feel his way back to
the safety of the airlock?he made it just
before the water in his helmet reached his
mouth. NASA subsequently suspended
spacewalks, except for emergencies, until
the defect in the suit was discovered.
CAN YOU DROWN IN SPACE?
Can plants
die of cancer?
Viruses, bacteria, parasites:
They can all cause cancer in
plants. But ?the big C? is not
a serious illness for flora per
se. The reasons: 1. Cancer
can?t metastasize in plants
because there is no bloodstream, and each cell is held
firmly in place by its cell wall.
A tumor could develop, but
it would stay confined to a
particular area and the rest
of the organism would keep
functioning normally. 2. The
vital organs and tissues of a
plant can be regenerated.
Brainteaser
What does a soap bubble know about hurricanes?
Hurricanes move extremely quickly and can change direction suddenly.
Even the best experts have trouble making accurate hurricane forecasts.
But the humble soap bubble may be able to change all that. According to
French scientists, heating half a soap bubble from below generates flowing
vortex patterns that are similar to those of Earth?s atmosphere. In the future,
bubbles could help us make calculations to determine: 1. wind speed, since
a bubble?s rotation affects flow velocity; 2. intensity and duration of a storm,
as bubbles can help us analyze how storms accelerate and when they peak.
The solution will appear in the next issue, on stands November 10, 2017.
Look at the face of a conventional analog clock. Now imagine that both of the clock?s hands are no longer there (but all of
the numbers still occupy their respective positions). The task: Position two lines across the clock?s face in such a way that
the face is divided into three segments and the sum of the numbers in each segment is the same.
Solution from the September 2017 issue: Max need only throw a couple of burning matches into the bottle before placing the hard-boiled egg on the neck of the bottle. The egg
resting against the neck closes the bottle airtight. After the matches have combusted and the air in the bottle cools down, a vacuum is generated that pulls the egg into the bottle.
PHOTOS: DPA (2); SPL; NASA (2); Shutterstock; Getty Images (3); PR. ILLUSTRATIONS: iStock (8), Shutterstock; Bauer Stock.
Body & Mind
BRAIN-BOOSTER VIDEO GAMES
WHIC
GAME
MAKE
PEOPL
SMAR
Do computer games make our brains mor
Thus far the answer has been a cautious
neuroscientists. Now new studies show: T
can even cause certain regions of the brai
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TECHNOLOGICAL MARVEL
Virtual reality (VR) is now being
used in many different ?elds,
from the entertainment and
advertising industries to
the military. VR goggles are
also becoming increasingly
important for neuroscientists.
PREFRONTAL CORTEX
This brain area manages our
self-control and determines
how we?ll react in unfamiliar
situations. Empathy and the
willingness to cooperate also
arise in this area.
HIPPOCAMPUS
In terms of evolution, this is one
of the oldest structures of the
human brain. Among its other
tasks, it controls the transfer
of memory contents from shortterm to long-term memory.
PARIETAL LOBE
One of the four lobes of the
cerebrum and sensory data
center. It is responsible for
our spatial perception and
the ability to read and count.
GRAY MATTER
Because gray matter is an
essential component of the
central nervous system it is
therefore involved in every
brain process. It?s especially
important for determination
and strategic planning.
HOW DO I TRAIN MY BRAIN?
The brain?s functionality can be compared with that of the
muscles. If certain regions of the brain are trained, their
capacity and ef?ciency also increase. But how can you actually
train your hippocampus? With action games, for example. Those
who regularly play video games challenge their brain and therefore
improve their reaction time, memory, and spatial awareness. The
more dif?cult the game, the more brainpower will be required and
the more effective the training in the brain will be. But it?s crucial
to ?nd the right balance. The same applies to brain training and
muscle training: Constant stress is better than sporadic overuse.
PLAYER VS. NONPLAYER
University of Rochester brain researchers Shawn Green and
Daphne Bavelier wanted to ?nd out if it?s possible to train the
brain by playing video games. To do so, they gathered a number of
test subjects who had little to no experience playing video games
and divided them into two groups. The ?rst group had to regularly
HOW PRECISE IS MY PERCEPTION?
Subjects were tested to determine how well they perceive contrasts.
First they were asked to focus their gaze on the center of a test screen.
A neutral image was displayed, with test patterns fading in and out of
it at irregular intervals. The contrast values of the patterns continued
to diminish; then subjects were asked about each pattern?s orientation.
Focus Point
Neutral Image
Test Pattern 1
+
+
play action games over a period of several weeks, while the second
group just adhered to their usual daily routine. After only a few days,
it became clear that video games have a positive impact on the brain.
Even more amazing: This favorable effect was still detectable months
after the experiment (see below).
HOW DEVELOPED IS MY SPATIAL THINKING?
The spatial imagination of the subjects was examined by having them
mentally rotate a three-dimensional object in their heads. At the outset
the test subjects were presented with the initial position of an object.
They then had to search through a series of rotated objects and select
the one that corresponds with the original object in the initial position.
Initial Position
Object A
Correct
alignment
Correct
rotation
20
0.2
+
Neutral Image
Test Pattern 2
+
Action games
Control group
Object B
+
Neutral Image
0.1
Object C
Object D
Object E
10
+
0
+
0
+
After
two
days
B
ullets are flying through the
air as Shawn sprints toward
a bunker. His objective is to
secure a strategic flag point.
Then an ear-splitting explosion tears
a crater into the ground next to him.
He?s achieved the mission objective
and just has to hold on for a few more
seconds? Suddenly he is shot in an
ambush! The screen goes black and
Shawn furiously hits the keyboard?
a sniper unexpectedly shot him in the
head. He may have lost his virtual life,
but his brain has just grown.
COMPUTER GAMERS HAVE
BIGGER BRAINS
Shawn Green works at the University
of Wisconsin?Madison, and he is a
After
?ve
months
passionate player of Team Fortress
Classic?a first-person shooter video
game in which players must steal a
flag from an opposing team and bring
it back to their own base.
Flashback: At the end of the 1990s,
a research project is launched at the
University of Rochester to investigate
the unknown capabilities of the brain.
Brain researcher Shawn Green works
with his colleague Daphne Bavelier
to develop a computer-based test for
measuring a person?s mental abilities
(see boxes above). Shawn assesses
the functionality of the test by taking
it himself, but he doubts the results?
he has simply done too well. He tries
the test with a group of subjects and
is astonished: Analysis reveals that
After
two
days
After
?ve
months
the subjects who did particularly well
regularly played computer games.
This result would fundamentally alter
the two scientists? research work.
Today, most recent studies show
that regularly playing video games
can prompt the growth of the gray
matter in our brains. The technical
term for this is neuroplasticity. Even
an hour of gaming per day is enough
to give rise to a sustained increase
in the brain?s capacity to perform. In
particular, the prefrontal cortex and
the hippocampus love video games.
They are responsible for memory and
the so-called executive functions of
the brain?and so they determine our
ability to plan strategically as well as
our self-control and sense of purpose.
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Video games demonstrably boost
our cognitive abilities. Through the
various game mechanisms different areas
of the brain can be trained.
React more quickly
ACTION GAMES:
TEAM FORTRESS,
OVERWATCH, DOOM,
GRAND THEFT AUTO V,
COUNTER-STRIKE
You are surrounded
by enemies and have
only milliseconds
to select the right
weapon, aim, and
pull the trigger.
Be more ?exible
REAL-TIME
STRATEGIES:
STARCRAFT II,
DAWN OF WAR III,
TOTAL WAR SERIES
Your forces need
orders; at the same
time, your supply
chain has broken
down and new troops
must be recruited.
Enhance spatial thinking
To open a locked
door, use mirrors to
PORTAL 2, THE
redirect lasers or
TALOS PRINCIPLE,
place space-bending
FEZ
portals in strategic
positions to proceed.
3-D PUZZLES:
Improve cooperation
PROSOCIAL
GAMES:
STARDEW VALLEY,
ANIMAL CROSSING
Even the most
diligent farmers
cannot survive
unless they start
working with others.
Through video games, these brain
areas can be trained just like muscles.
However, which areas get developed
depends on which games are played.
Action games improve reaction time,
while prosocial games can heighten
a person?s willingness to cooperate.
Playing real-time strategy games can
improve a person?s ability to multitask,
and solving 3-D puzzles can enhance
spatial perception (see sidebar at left).
If you enjoy challenging yourself, you
can train your brain in a particularly
appropriate way. Generally speaking,
the more challenging a game is, the
greater the learning success will be.
SMART VIA SHOTS TO THE HEAD
Action games are especially good for
training the brain. Players must learn
to identify a pile of pixels as a friend
or a foe in mere fractions of a second.
That enhances reaction time as well
as an eye for detail. Moreover, these
games often conform to the principle
of easy to learn, but hard to master:
The game is quickly understood but
remains challenging, which further
aids the learning process because
there are always small rewards and
partial successes to motivate players.
Prosocial games have a completely
different approach. They present the
player with problems that can only be
solved in a peaceful way; for example,
settling a dispute or cooperating with
other characters. Such games appeal
to the same brain areas that determine
our willingness to work together and
to empathize in the real world. The
prefrontal cortex particularly benefits
from prosocial games. On the other
hand, in real-time strategy games a
player might be a general who must
lead a massive army into battle while
at the same time taking care of the
economics behind the war machine
and supplying the troops with food.
This hones multitasking and boosts
cognitive flexibility?along with the
ability to react fast to new situations.
But if you want to train your sense of
spatial imagination, your best bet is
a 3-D puzzle. Playfully juggling 3-D
objects challenges the parietal lobe.
Among other things, this brain region
is responsible for spatial perception
and memory. Psychologist and Team
Fortress player Shawn Green seeks
to make targeted use of how the brain
reacts while playing games. Together
with his colleague Daphne Bavelier,
he is working on a game designed to
heal patients with brain damage.
CAN COMPUTER GAMES
CURE PARALYSIS?
The intense effort is written all over
Ray?s face, as, inch by inch, he lifts
up his right arm. On a screen in front
of him a plane is moving at the same
time?thanks to motion sensors, Ray
is able to steer the aircraft through
an obstacle course. After a while, he
runs out of energy and his arm falls.
He smiles because, until today, he
could never keep the plane in the air.
Ray Thompson is 32 years old; three
years ago he suffered a stroke that
paralyzed the entire right side of his
body. Now he is relearning how to
control his body using video games.
While he plays the games, impulses
are sent to the neurons in his brain.
If the signals cannot be processed
because the corresponding cells are
damaged, other regions of the brain
attempt to take over these functions.
The more frequently this process
takes place, the more the cells adapt
to their new job. Ideally, the healthy
regions of the brain will completely
take over the functions of damaged
cells. Virtual reality could boost these
effects so much in the future that some
researchers are already talking about
a revolution in neuromedicine?
DOES VIRTUAL REALITY
OFFER A MIRACLE CURE?
A U.S. soldier named Sam Brown sits
in an armored vehicle in Afghanistan.
PHOTOS: PR (6); Neuroscope Lab; SPL. ILLUSTRATION: Bavelier, Green, Pouget, Schrater/Dept. of Psychology and Education Science/University of Geneva.
THESE VIDEO GAMES ARE
REAL BRAIN BOOSTERS
VIDEO-GAME VISIONARY
?PLAYERS CAN
PROCESS VISUAL
INFORMATION
MORE QUICKLY
AND CAN TRACK
30 PERCENT MORE
OBJECTS THAN
NONPLAYERS.?
Daphne Bavelier has been studying
how digital games affect the human
brain for more than 15 years.
psychology professor, University of Geneva
It?s a normal patrol?but in just a few
seconds, his life will change forever.
An improvised explosive device (IED)
along the road suddenly detonates,
and the violent explosion throws the
vehicle onto its side. Brown sustains
Daphne Bavelier,
severe burns all over his body and
undergoes an immediate emergency
operation. But weeks after the attack,
he?s still suffering from such intensely
overpowering pain that the doctors
propose an experimental therapy?
GROWING
STRONGER
Video games stimulate
neuronal growth and
connectivity in certain
regions of the brain.
Gaming particularly
increases the volume
of gray matter.
Modern VR goggles immerse users
almost completely in a virtual world.
The astonishing part is that the visual
stimuli also set off a chain reaction of
other sensory impressions. This is the
attribute that Sam Brown?s doctors
want to make use of. With the help of
VR goggles, they send their patient
off to an artificial landscape of ice?
and something incredible happens:
His pain subsides. The artificial snow
produced a feeling of cold in his brain,
causing the pain to be supplanted.
VR goggles have other therapeutic
applications as well, such as in the
treatment of phobias. For instance,
acrophobia (the fear of heights) can
be alleviated by regular virtual reality
sessions. VR goggles also enhance
the learning effect produced by video
games, thereby turning even ordinary
games into real brain boosters.
Neuroscientists are increasingly
interested in the possibilities of virtual
reality and new potential applications
are being discovered almost every
day. But for now, this much is certain:
The future of VR has only just begun.
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Current Events
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a
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ha s not o
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t r o y ed . B
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in the roc
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CAMOUFLAGED LIFESAVER
The only entrance to the Central Cave Hospital
(top photo) located in the northern portion of
the province of Hama is a small opening in the
rock face. A van that?s been converted into an
ambulance is stationed in front of the clinic; a
vehicle with a blue light would be too dangerous.
H
assan al-Araj is running late.
The last cardiologist in the
contested province of Hama
in central Syria scurries up
from the basement of the hospital,
because he must continue his work
in yet another improvised facility. He
pauses at a charred lump of concrete
that was once a doorstep. He listens.
The doctor?s senses are sharp as he
cautiously directs his gaze upward.
The fact that Araj remains faithful to
his Hippocratic Oath and continues
to treat all of the injured?including
rebels?has made him a traitor in the
eyes of the dictator Bashar Hafez alAssad and his troops. In fractions of
a second, Araj weighs the situation.
It?s shortly after noon and the sky
above the battered region is as blue
and peaceful as it was before the five
years of civil war, when the province
was better known for its pistachios.
The calm is enticing, and haste wins
out over caution inside Araj?s head:
Instead of checking via radio to make
sure the sky really is clear, as he has
hundreds of times before, he runs to
a van and drives off. Seconds later,
a rocket explodes near him. Later on
a rescue team finds only body parts
and a torn doctor?s coat?
HOW MANY DOCTORS HAVE
BEEN KILLED IN SYRIA?
Is it coincidence? A tragic mistake?
Ahmad al-Dbis doesn?t think so: ?He
was a target,? says the pharmacist,
who?d been one of Araj?s colleagues.
?The hospital?s location is well known.
Anyone walking around there is either
injured or a member of the staff.? In
fact, the nonprofit group Physicians
for Human Rights has documented
more than 360 attacks on hospitals
that have violated international law,
and more than 700 doctors have lost
their lives. More than 90% of these
were attributed to Assad?s troops,
while Russian planes have launched
at least 16 air strikes. This perfidious
war is not only being waged against
people, but also against knowledge:
medical knowledge, which can heal
children as well as wounded rebels.
The past year was the bloodiest yet:
On average, an explosive device goes
off in or near a hospital every 72 hours.
THE HEROES? RISK
Because many of the physicians also treat rebels, they are
classified as legitimate targets of war by government forces.
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HOW DO YOU MAKE A
HOSPITAL BOMBPROOF?
?Not a day goes by that the doors
aren?t blown open at least twice by
the blast wave of a bomb. Everything
is completely covered in dust?the
operating room, the intensive care
unit?everywhere, and it is terrible,?
says Chalid al-Halabi. He?s a surgeon
in Aleppo, a major city north of Hama
that has been fought over for four
years. The bomb blasts have driven
the emergency stations deeper and
deeper into the ground?into cellars,
bunkers, and even shafts. Instead of
bringing together various specialists,
hospitals have now disintegrated into
smaller units that are spread out over
entire city districts. This minimizes
the risk of an attack causing the loss
of a lot of personnel and equipment
in one fell swoop.
Somewhere in a well-concealed
location between Idlib and the city of
Hama, the retreat to the underground
has reached an extreme: At the end
of 2015, the ?Central Cave Hospital?
opened there?nearly 60 feet under
the surface of the earth. Care is free
for most of the 1,500 people who are
treated here each month. When you
stand on the partially tiled floors, it?s
easy to believe that you?re in a normal
hospital. Only the curved ceiling and
dark air shafts containing cables give
away the true character of the place.
It?s a bunker of medicine: ?They can
bomb here as much as they want,?
says physician Mohammad Yasser
Tabbaa. ?The building might shake,
but it will not collapse.?
For one year engineers dug along
a natural cave to build the hospital,
which cost half a million dollars.
Organizations for international aid
helped to finance the facility and pay
the monthly upkeep costs, which total
just $50,000. ?But it is still incredibly
difficult to move any money to Syria,?
says fundraiser Matthew Chrastek.
>
SYRIA IS CURRENTLY
THE MOST DANGEROUS
PLACE ON THE PLANET
FOR CHILDREN.
GENEVI萔E BOUTIN,
HUMANITARIAN RELIEF COORDINATOR FOR UNICEF
HANGING BY A THREAD
In a secret location in Douma is
perhaps the last baby station in
the city. The few incubators here
were salvaged from destroyed
hospitals. Since spare parts are
not available, the machines are
gradually falling apart.
REMOTE RESCUER
British doctor David Nott had been working as an
emergency physician in Syria since the start of
the civil war. Today he?s part of an international
team of doctors who provide medical training or
guidance in carrying out surgical procedures to
Syrian laymen via the Internet from abroad.
CAN SKYPE TURN ANYONE
INTO A SURGEON?
It?s a good deal for the government
soldiers: To finance their $100 barrel
bombs?nothing more than oil drums
filled with explosives, bits of metal,
and a detonator, which are flung into
the harmless residential zones from
helicopters?they need a constant
HOW DO I PERFORM
AN OPERATION BY
USING WHATSAPP?
The ?rst webcams were installed in
Syrian hospitals four years ago. Since
then, nurses, paramedics, and even
medical laymen have been trained from
abroad in how to carry out emergency
operations?by way of video chat, over
the phone or even, in some cases, via
WhatsApp. Doctors around the world
are on call at all times. The Internet
connection comes from a satellite. The
tasks of the connected doctor not only
include giving instructions as to where
and how deep to position a scalpel, for
example, but also assessing which of
the suffering patients can be treated?
and which can no longer be saved.
?supply? of medical material. From
a military point of view, barrel bombs
are largely worthless because they
can?t be used in a targeted manner:
If used at the front, the risk of hitting
one?s own troops is much too great.
If a person gets within 1,000 feet of
one of these diabolical devices when
it goes off, the doctors will be faced
with an almost impossible task: The
splinters dispersed by the blast wave
shred lungs, shatter limbs, and cover
wounds with a layer of concrete dust.
?Every day people are coming to the
hospital in such a mutilated state that
you wouldn?t know whether you were
looking at the front or the back,? says
David Nott, a British doctor who was
an emergency physician in Syria.
Nott and his colleagues often wear
a GoPro camera on their head during
surgeries in order to produce training
videos for aspiring surgeons. Since
95% of the medical personnel who?d
worked in Aleppo before the outbreak
of the civil war have been locked up
or killed or have managed to flee, it?s
no longer possible to train new staff.
At present, many unskilled surgeons
follow the instructions of doctors in
the U.S. or Canada via apps such as
Skype, Viber, and WhatsApp.
HOW MUCH TIME DOES A
PARAMEDIC HAVE TO REACH
A WOUNDED PERSON?
?At first there were only 10 people in
the hospital,? recalls Modar Shekho
of the time he?d suddenly gone from
ordinary nurse to surgical assistant.
?The surgeon was standing beside
a bomb victim in a puddle of blood,
and he shouted, ?Come here and help
me dry the wounds.? I had to get out
because I was about to throw up?
I sat down, collected myself, and ran
back in to help. Since then my body
has become accustomed to it.?
Five years and half a million deaths
later, the Central Cave Hospital plays
a central role in the awful routine of
NOT A DAY GOES
BY THAT THE
DOORS AREN?T
BLOWN OPEN
AT LEAST TWICE
BY THE BLAST
WAVE OF A
BOMB.
CHALID AL-HALABI,
SURGEON IN ALEPPO
war: Bombs strike and camouflaged
ambulances try to reach the victims
as fast as possible. Assad?s troops
will often bomb a target twice within
20 minutes to try to catch the rescue
workers who come running to help.
This despicable tactic is known as a
?double tap.? In the hospitals?which
are often located on narrow streets
to make it difficult for helicopters to
follow the wounded?the ?incoming?
victims are put into three categories:
A ?green? can still run, ?yellows? can
survive for four hours without help,
and ?reds? require immediate care.
All of this is taking place in the midst
of bomb blasts, screams, and panic.
Neurosurgeon Rami Kalazi recalls
20 strikes on one hospital in just two
years, eight of which resulted in the
hospital having to close because all
of the equipment shut down: ?We?re
used to being targets. Araj knew the
risks involved?but he still carried on.
Before his death he?d said, ?I?d rather
a rocket gets me than to be tortured
in prison for just 15 minutes???
ideasanddiscoveries.com
65
PHOTOS: Reuters (3); DDP (2).
Besides the difficulty of the logistics,
each transaction immediately draws
an accusation of financing terrorists.
Furthermore, Central Cave Hospital
requires tons of medications every
month?and these can often only be
supplied by the enemy, for example
in Barzeh, one of the suburbs of the
Syrian capital of Damascus. In this
relatively neutral zone the medical
teams obtain much-needed supplies
around the clock. Assad?s troops are
tolerating this trading with the enemy
because they will collect 20% of the
value of the goods as a ?toll.?
N ov 2017
Technology
ROBOT
THAT KILLS PEOPLE
The Dallas Police Department has copied a successful concept from the U.S. military?
the targeted elimination of an adversary through the use of a machine?
WAR OF TECHNOLOGY
Around 10,000 drones and
12,000 ground robots?such as
the one pictured here aboard the
USS George Washington aircraft
carrier?are in the service of the
U.S. military. In the future, the
robots could also be used to kill on
American soil: The Dallas Police
Department has set a precedent?
?
O
h, how I hate white people,
especially white cops!? The
man who?s shouting this has
just shot five police officers
with an assault rifle and injured nine
others. Micah Xavier Johnson has
entrenched himself on the second
floor of a beige brick building at El
Centro College in the heart of Dallas.
The Army veteran is just 30 feet from
the special forces unit of the police.
He has fired more than 200 shots at
the police from this floor alone. Just
before 2.30 P.M., David Brown, chief
of police in Dallas at the time, makes
a far-reaching decision. For the first
time in American history, he orders
an extrajudicial killing by the police
that is carried out via remote control.
He has broken a taboo, because the
situation can be read in another way:
It is the first drone attack against a
U.S. citizen on American soil?
THE FIRST TERMINATOR
IN THE USA
Preparations take just 15 minutes.
Then the Andros Mark V-A1 begins
rumbling toward its target at 3 miles
per hour. Normally the $175,000 robot
actually saves lives, as it is designed
to defuse bombs. But now Andros is
going to take a life instead: There?s
1 pound of C-4 explosive attached
to its 5.5-foot-long gripper arm.
The effect of the military explosive
material can be controlled to move
in a specific direction. Johnson sees
Andros coming toward him and fires
several times at the armored robot,
but C-4 requires a special detonator
to explode. The material can?t be set
off by gunfire or fire or being struck.
The robot stops at the wall in front
of Johnson, positions its gripper arm,
and ignites the C-4. The detonation
wave spreads out at 27,560 feet per
second and shatters the large wall.
Johnson is killed instantly. However,
it was anything but a suicide mission
for the 790-pound Andros: ?Only its
gripper arm was slightly damaged,?
ideasanddiscoveries.com
67
>
N ov 2017
Micah X. Johnson is beside himself:
?How many of you did I get? Come over
here? I want more,? bellows the Army
veteran who?d served in Afghanistan,
now ensconced in a hiding place. After
two hours of negotiations, the police
decide to deploy a robot (see image
below) to bring an explosive charge to
Johnson?s vicinity. ?This is a variant of
a drone strike,?
says Ryan Calo,
a legal expert a
the University of
Washington: It?s
the first remotecontrol killing of
a suspect in the
United States.
CAMERA
GRIPPER ARM
(EXTENDABLE)
CRANE
ENGINE
SPECIAL
WHEELS FOR
CLIMBING STAIRS
N ov 2017
68
ideasanddiscoveries.com
?THERE
WAS NO
ALTERNATIVE
IN THIS
CASE.?
DAVID BROWN, FORMER
POLICE CHIEF OF DALLAS
says Chief Brown. ?We can continue
to use it for appropriate operations.?
At this time there is neither a legal
basis nor a precedent for making use
of the robot for such an application.
?We didn?t see any other way. All of
the other options would have put the
police at risk,? explains Brown. But
is that the case? Andros could?ve set
off a stun grenade or been equipped
with a gun. To date, police have not
disclosed any information as to why
they chose to kill. The official reason:
The details of the operation are ?not
n the public interest,? which sounds
akin to statements about U.S. drone
strikes in Pakistan or Afghanistan?
ROM AFGHANISTAN TO
THE STREETS OF AMERICA
n fact, police departments in the U.S.
are increasingly copying the military.
They?ve taken about 100,000 machine
guns and nearly 1,000 armored cars
from Army stocks. They?re also using
vehicles that were built for patrolling
the streets of Baghdad or Kabul rather
than those of Chicago or New Orleans.
According to data from the American
Civil Liberties Union, police carry out
roughly 100 paramilitary-style raids
per day in the U.S., mostly against
criminal gangs involved in the drug
trade but even against people who
are perpetrating credit card fraud,
for example. So what happens if one
day tens of thousands of robots and
drones render the military obsolete?
They?re too valuable to not be used.
North Dakota has permitted the use
of armed police drones since 2015,
but only with non-lethal weapons like
Tasers and tear gas?for now?
PHOTOS: Imago; DPA (2); Laif; Getty Images.
?A VARIANT OF A
DRONE STRIKE?
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Nature
WHY WILD
BOARS ARE
JUST PLAIN
SMART
Wild boars are nobody?s fools: They love
having the freedom to go anywhere and
eat anything and constantly multiply in
packs across big portions of the planet.
They are a force to be reckoned with
and simply can?t be stopped. And why?
Because they?re willin and able!
WILD BOAR:
(Sus scrofa)
SIZE:
Adults have a shoulder
height of 20 to 40 inches
WEIGHT:
Adults can weigh
100 to 200 pounds
HABITAT:
Boars have adapted to
a variety of habitats.
It helps that they?re
consummate omnivores,
which allows them to take
advantage of a multitude
of food sources.
ideasanddiscoveries.com
71
N ov 2017
A CLAN WITH A PLAN
There?s no particular breeding season for wild boars: A sow
gives birth to at least 12 piglets per year, which means the
population can increase unimpeded. And Sus scrofa never
ceases to amaze researchers: The animals apparently have
an inner magnetic sense and prefer to orient themselves
along a north-south axis while eating and resting.
I
?
t was significantly bigger than I
expected.? ?When it rammed me
with its tusks, it felt like someone
had thrust a dagger through my
leg.? ?When you hear the growling,
it?s already too late.? ?When it raced
toward me, I thought, ?I?m done for!??
These quotes aren?t from daring big
game hunters who were confronted
by hungry big cats or riled-up rhinos.
These are statements from farmers
living in the southern United States
who know how to handle wild horses
and stampeding cattle?as well as
a Winchester hunting rifle. But what
lurks in the impenetrable thickets of
Texas, Tennessee, and North Carolina
seems resistant to being taken down
with conventional hunting weaponry.
That?s because these opponents are
unbelievably clever and irrepressibly
strong and have long been galloping
away from human control: wild boars.
These dark-hued bristled beasts that
rumble across the landscape in packs
with their cute little piglets in tow are
more than a mere facet of rural life.
And boars have a knack for breeding,
even under adverse conditions. They
don?t even wait for a suitable habitat
that will accommodate the unchecked
expansion of their population?they
simply occupy the one that?s there.
There are approximately 5 million
wild boars in the U.S., and they tend
to leave swaths of ravaged terrain in
their wake. Many wild boars have left
the woods to devastate crop fields
and patrol through towns. However,
Sus scrofa and its relatives have long
since become a global phenomenon.
They are now living in places they?ve
never occupied before or places they
haven?t inhabited for centuries. Why?
?Once they have the freedom, pigs
tend to go wild a lot faster than other
domesticated animals,? says Jack
Mayer, a zoologist at the Savannah
River National Laboratory in South
Carolina. Take the U.S., for example:
The first pigs on North American soil
were introduced by Spanish settlers
and quickly broke loose?centuries
later, many tens of thousands of their
descendants are still inhabiting the
forests and swamps of Florida.
The early settlers of the Western
world kept their pigs half wild. They
only drove the sows back together
for the slaughter?which meant that
some of these unattended animals
must have escaped in the meantime.
During the 19th and 20th centuries,
countless European wild boars that
were introduced to America to be
hunted for sport also contributed to
1
2
WE DON?T FALL
INTO TRAPS!
PHOTOS: Nicolas Tarragoni, Christian Steinboeck/500px (2); New York State Dept. of Environment.
3
this population?s growth. This soon
gave rise to a very resilient and robust
type of pig?the so-called razorback,
named for the ridge of hair that sticks
up and runs along the pigs? backs.
In hunting circles they are reverently
called ?ultimate survivors.? Although
the exact number of wild boars in the
world today is not known, one thing
is certain: They occupy nearly every
type of terrain. And they?re also quite
adept at steering clear of humans.
Even large-scale hunting campaigns,
complete with snipers in helicopters,
have been in vain. Boars simply dash
off into the next tuft of undergrowth
at a top speed of 30 miles per hour.
Can they be ambushed? Not likely.
They can be active at night or during
the day, depending on their needs,
they are smarter than dogs, and they
vanish at the first whiff of a human.
Boars cause an estimated $1.5 billion worth of damage per year
in the U.S. alone. They are able to avoid even the most elaborate
wireless, solar-powered, and Internet-connected traps because
they can sniff out humans. Footage taken during the night with
camera traps shows that one pig will break off from the pack to
investigate the trap to see how it works and avoid it in the future.
Furthermore, sows even teach avoidance strategies to their young.
Thus humans must always develop new and ever-more advanced
trapping technologies in order to keep up with these clever swine.
Once they have
the freedom,
pigs tend to go wild
a lot faster than
other domesticated
animals.?
JACK MAYER
zoologist at the Savannah River National
Laboratory in South Carolina
They even fare better than chimps
on IQ tests; they extricate themselves
from every maze and are able to move
a cursor on a screen by manipulating
a joystick with their snout. A fence?
Oh please! A wild boar can jump over
a barrier or make its own way through.
A study in South Carolina found that
it takes 29 hours on average to lure
a single wild pig into a trap. As if that
weren?t enough, some of the animals
can grow to previously unimaginable
dimensions. ?Hogzilla? was a male
boar hybrid that was shot in Georgia
in 2004. Its weight was estimated to
be 800 pounds and it was said to be
12 feet long from its snout to the tip
of its tail. In hindsight, those numbers
have probably been exaggerated by
around 200 pounds and 3 feet or so.
But reports and photographs of giant
dead pigs are becoming ever-more
common. ?Most of these situations
involve escaped pigs,? says Mayer.
These are animals that were grown
unnaturally large in order to be eaten,
and all they want is what generations
before them have already achieved:
to heed the call of the wild?and to
become part of it. A very large part?
ideasanddiscoveries.com
73
N ov 2017
LAB
JAMES WEBB SPACE TELESCOPE
Can This
Telescope
See the
Birth of the
Universe?
It costs about $10 billion and is nearly as big as a Boeing 737? engineers are currently
constructing the most powerful space telescope in the world. The focus of its research?
The ?rst galaxies, the universe before there were stars? and the origin of life?
N ov 2017
74
ideasanddiscoveries.com
HOW MUCH
COLD CAN
A SUPERMIRROR
WITHSTAND?
In the ?Chamber of
Horrors? at NASA?s
Goddard Space Flight
Center, engineers cool
down the large mirror
segments of the new
telescope to ?450癋.
Here experts test the
light metal beryllium
and the gold coating
to make sure they can
endure such extreme
temperatures.
LAB
PRIMARY MIRROR
CAMERAS AND
SENSORS
ROCKET
PROPULSION
The telescope will
be launched into
space aboard an
Ariane 5 rocket.
SOLAR
MODULE
ANTENNA
STEERING
SEGMENT
1 MILLION
MILES
away from Earth is
where the telescope
will be orbiting the
Sun. Once it reaches
this distant area, the
unfolding process
will begin.
RADIATION
PROTECTION
The ?ve layers of the
telescope?s Sunshield
take about two days to
unfold into their ?nal
functional form.
SUNSHIELD
Once unfolded, the layers
of the Sunshield will keep
the telescope protected
from external sources of
light and heat that would
interfere with its work.
James Webb
Telescope:
The Real
Transformer
SECONDARY
MIRROR
A
SUNSHIELD
STAR
TRACKERS
IN POSITION
The primary mirror
aligns its wings. The
antenna is pointed
toward Earth.
s large as a tennis court and as tall as a
four-story building: A device as massive
as the James Webb Space Telescope has
never before been shuttled into space.
But in order to be able to transport the most expensive
measuring device on Earth to the universe at large, the
space engineers had to come up with new techniques:
The telescope is constructed in such a way that it can
be folded to ?t inside an Ariane 5 rocket. It?s only after
30 days out in space, 1 million miles away from Earth,
that the telescope will be ejected from the rocket. At
that point it will undergo one of the most impressive
transformations possible for a technological device
(see the illustration at left). Even some of the mirror
segments can be folded. The telescope?s protective
Sunshield is made of tear-proof, heat-resistant Kapton
and measures 2,840 square feet when it?s fully opened.
It keeps the telescope cool and protects the infrared
sensors that gaze into space from the heat of the Sun.
By using a tiny captured glimmer of light astronomers
hope to investigate the chemical composition of stars.
Starting in October 2018 the telescope will peer into
the mysteries of the universe for a minimum of 5 years.
It probably won?t last too much longer than 10 years?
but that would still be three to ?ve times longer than
most of its predecessors were able to hold out.
SCAFFOLDING
The three arms that
support the secondary
mirror are extended.
A comparison of two space telescopes
Height in feet
18
15
James Webb
primary
mirror
12
9
Hubble
primary
mirror
6
3
0
ideasanddiscoveries.com
77
N ov 2017
LAB
G
igantic gas clouds
are swirling through
the young universe.
As they get near one
another they collide
and form dense vortices. More
and more gas gets pulled in by
the enormous suction effect?
it is the birth of the first galaxy.
?To date, we were only able to
guess how all this happened.
But soon we will be able to see
this magic process in precise
detail,? reveals John Mather, a
senior project scientist for the
James Webb Space Telescope
(JWST). ?We will also see how
planetary systems are formed.
Perhaps we will even discover
new life-forms.? The telescope
will provide us with a glimpse
into the great mysteries of the
universe?a much deeper look
than we have ever had before.
In October of 2018 the world?s
most expensive highly complex
measuring device will begin its
mission?but first it must pass
several tests?
This new ?eye? of astronomy
has three main components: a
21-foot-wide mirror, an infrared
sensor array, and an extremely
sensitive camera. ?Thanks to
this technology, the telescope
will be able to capture light that
is especially old, light that first
emanated billions of years ago
and has been traveling through
the universe ever since then,?
explains Amber Straughn, one
of the deputy project scientists
of the JWST. ?It is the first light
to be emitted in the universe.?
So the very earliest point in time
that should be captured by the
telescope is the point at which
light began to radiate in space.
N ov 2017
78
ideasanddiscoveries.com
Prior to this point there was
only an incredibly dense fog of
fast-moving electrons, which
would eventually bind to atomic
nuclei as the universe cooled.
This liberated the light particles
that were ensnared in the fog.
?If we could get a photograph
of that moment, when the thick
fog was clearing up within the
briefest period of time and the
cosmos became transparent,
it would be a sensation,? says
Carlos Frenk, a cosmologist at
Durham University. ?The image
would show a brief yet dazzling
explosion of light as sextillions
of photons burst forth from their
cage.? This first cosmic firework
also contains information about
the very origin of the universe.
For this light had its start in the
first second after the Big Bang.
?To this day, we know nothing
about the specific processes
involved in the creation of the
cosmos. Even the tiniest clues
could help us get to the bottom
of the mystery,? explains Frenk.
By investigating the spectrum
of light, researchers could also
ascertain the early universe?s
chemical composition, among
many other things.
HOW DO YOU
SIMULATE
OUTER SPACE?
In order to be able to catch a
glimpse of the universe?s most
distant past, the James Webb
Telescope must first be sent out
into space: 1 million miles away
from Earth?over four times as
far as the Moon?where it will
unfold. It will float stably there,
held steady by the gravitational
pulls of the Earth and the Sun.
?Unpredictable
problems?
They are to be
expected.?
HOW
LIGHT IS
A LIGHT
METAL?
The mirror of
the James Webb
Telescope is
3 times bigger
than that of its
predecessor,
but it?s still
lighter despite
the increase in
size: It weighs
just 1,554 pounds
(the Hubble?s
weighs in at
1,825 pounds)
because it was
constructed of
beryllium instead
of glass. This
light metal is ?rst
pulverized before
being pressed,
polished, and
?nally coated
with gold to
optimize the
mirrors for
infrared light.
In this distant environment, the
prevailing conditions include a
temperature that falls as low as
?455癋 and the weightlessness
of microgravity. Such conditions
present significant challenges
for the telescope?s technology.
For this reason the engineers
test portions of the telescope
in the ?Chamber of Horrors??
which is the nickname given to
the space stimulator at NASA?s
Goddard Space Flight Center
in Greenbelt, Maryland.
A number of the telescope?s
instruments have braved the
conditions in the superfreezer
for 116 days. Because of the
extreme cooling past ?430癋
that occurs in the vacuum of
space, unfolding mechanisms
can get stuck and the lubricant
may not function properly. And
the weightless conditions can
draw moisture out of the carrier
framework?s support structure,
which then freezes on the lens
of the camera. Another problem
is that the mirror could become
warped as a result of the cold.
>
HOW BIG
IS THE
UNIVERSE?
About 90 feet high and
55 feet wide: These are
the dimensions of the
space stimulator at the
Johnson Space Center
in Houston (photo).
Here the technicians
imitate the conditions
in space: A vacuum
and extreme cold can
be generated in this
Chamber A with the
push of a button. So
the technology isn?t
contaminated by the
tiniest dust particles,
all technicians must
wear protective suits.
LAB
A LONG
LOOK
INTO
THE
PAST
A
s soon as the James
Webb Telescope is
ready for use, it will
become humanity?s
sharpest eye?astronomers will
even be able to look through the
cosmic dust. How? The high-tech
device will capture infrared light
that has been traveling through the
universe for 13.6 billion years. This
will enable researchers to observe
how the stars and entire planetary
systems were formed. They?re also
hoping to be able to unlock some
of the secrets of the Big Bang.
HUBBLE
JAMES WEBB
MODERN
UNIVERSE
To minimize this effect as much
as possible, the engineers built
the mirror using beryllium?an
extremely light yet very robust
metal. Despite this ingenious
construction, the mirror will still
undergo some contortion, and
that must be planned for. ?In
essence, we have to build the
telescope incorrectly at room
N ov 2017
80
ideasanddiscoveries.com
temperature so it will function
correctly at low temperatures,?
says engineer Paul Geithner.
And once the megatelescope
heads into outer space for the
first time, the engineers will not
have an influence on its destiny:
In contrast with the Hubble, the
biggest space telescope at the
current time, the James Webb
Telescope will be too far away
for an astronaut to be sent out
to fix any mechanisms on site.
?So everything has to function
in space because no repairs or
improvements can be made out
there,? says engineer Jonathan
Gardner. But if all goes well, the
telescope will revolutionize our
view of the universe?
PHOTOS: NASA (5).
13.8
Dark Ages
?We?ll be able
to see light that
has been traveling
through space for
13.6 billion years.?
Big
Bang
A primary mirror
that?s 21 feet in
diameter and
highly sensitive
light detectors
make it possible
to see a soccer
ball in razor-sharp
detail from up to
350 miles away.
cosmic
background
radiation
first
stars
first
galaxies
.95
.3
.0004
(~400,000
years)
0
Age of the universe in billions of years
WHAT DOES THE
BIRTH OF A STAR
LOOK LIKE?
Does life exist outside of our
solar system? How do black
holes grow? And what takes
place when galaxies collide?
Previously researchers were
only able to develop theories
about such questions, but the
HOW
SHARP
IS THE
SHARPEST
EYE?
new telescope ought to deliver
facts and evidence. Thanks to
its size alone it registers more
light than Hubble does and can
perceive infrared light that has
been traversing the universe
for 13.6 billion years. This allows
astrophysicists to get a glimpse
into the era when the first stars
formed. While Hubble is known
for images of stars that die in
explosions, the images that are
yet to be captured by the JWST
will deliver an unprecedented
view of the birth of stars. ?We?ll
see a firework made of millions
upon millions of sparks of light,?
says cosmologist Carlos Frenk.
What?s more: The new megatelescope will be much more
precise than its predecessor
and will be able to identify very
small distant celestial bodies
that would otherwise remain
hidden from the astronomers.
?Soon we?ll discover new small
rocky planets and be capable
of immediately determining if
life would be possible on them.
That?s because we will also be
able to analyze the gases of a
celestial body using the JWST
to look for markers of organic
matter,? explains astrophysicist
Amber Straughn. ?One primary
objective is the search for new
forms of life, but in the captured
light we can also detect traces
of oxygen and methane in the
vastness of the universe, which
may provide us with information
about the origin of life.?
HOME PAGE OF THE JWST
@
https://www.jwst.nasa.gov
What really counts in the end?
FOR THE JUNGLE CHILDREN
Why it sometimes takes a little push to get a good education?
PHOTO: Animal Press.
E
very morning shortly after sunrise, Tom
the gamekeeper shuttles eight preschool
children about a mile to their classroom.
That way it?s guaranteed they?ll arrive on
time?if only they didn?t keep climbing
out of the wheelbarrow. Joss climbs out
again and again because she wants to investigate a
very special leaf, an extremely fascinating branch, or
an absolutely sensational beetle. Rocky and Gordon,
who can never be more than 6 feet away from each
other, play their game of ?red furball,? which involves
holding onto each other and rolling into a nearby bush.
And Minnie, the youngest of the bunch at 10 months of
age, looks up at Tom with her big, imploring eyes and
stretches out her arms. He cannot resist: ?Of course
it?s too high for you. I?ll pick you up.?
Wheelbarrows play a very special role in Ketapang,
a small town on the island of Borneo. First, they make
life much easier for the employees of the International
Animal Rescue. Remember: Young orangutans are no
different than humans when learning to walk; after a
maximum of eight steps, they?ll plop down onto their
bottoms or imitate a sack of potatoes when they are
holding a human?s hand. Second, wheelbarrows cart
more than 100 ?schoolchildren? a little bit closer to an
independent life each morning. That?s because every
young orangutan who arrives here?many of them as
babies?has been separated from its mother, either
because she was killed by hunters or the youngsters
were caught by traders and illegally sold off to private
owners. No one teaches these young great apes what
their mothers usually would in the ?rst eight years of
their lives: to climb quickly and safely so the treetops
become an obvious place to retreat, to eat the fruits
and leaves that are nutritious and not poisonous, and
to learn how to assess dangers. Orangutans acquire
knowledge by observing and imitating. One of their
most important lessons in the school?s small climbing
park is to learn to trust the strength of a vine and lift
themselves off the ground and slowly venture upward
using the gripping ability of their hands and feet. In the
more advanced classes, older orangutans collect their
own food, create a place to sleep in a tree, and even
stay the night up there. ?You immediately notice how
proud they are when they?ve done something new,?
says Tom. Why should orangutan kids be any different
from ours? After all, the animals share 97% of our
genome and experts con?rm that their young behave
in a way that?s almost identical to how human children
behave. To turn an orangutan back into an orangutan,
80 wheelbarrows are worn out in Ketapang each year.
New equipment is sorely needed, according to Tom:
?There?s nothing worse than pushing a heap of ?dgety
primate kids through the jungle on a flat tire.?
ideasanddiscoveries.com
83
N ov 2017
?The quality of their watches is equal
to many that can go for ten
times the price or more.?
? Jeff from
McKinney, TX
?Blue face
watches are
on the discerning
gentleman?s
?watch list?.?
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Stone Cold Fox
So good-looking...heads will turn. So unbelievably-priced...jaws will drop.
E
very once in a while a timepiece comes along that?s so incredibly
good looking, masterfully equipped and jaw-droppingly priced,
that it stops us stone cold. A watch that can take you seamlessly from
the 18th hole to the board room. A watch that blurs the line
betweens sports watch and dress watch. We?re talking the Blue Stone
Chronograph, and it sits at the top of the discerning gentleman?s
watch list.
Striking in appearance and fully equipped with features, this is a
watch of substance. The Blue Stone merges the durability of steel
with the precision of crystal movement that?s accurate to 0.2 seconds
a day. Both an analog and digital watch, the Blue Stone keeps time
with pinpoint accuracy in two time zones.
The watch?s handsome steel blue dial seamlessly blends an analog
watch face with a stylish digital display. It?s a stopwatch, calendar,
and alarm. Plus, the Blue Stone resists water up to 30 meters, making
it up for water adventures.
A watch with these features would easily cost you thousands if you
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people are.
And slimmer diners often sit at the
table with their back to the food.
As the number of people at the table
increases, so too does the size of
the meal? up to almost twice as
large as a normal portion. Studies
show that when we?re in a group of
people, we eat up to 44% more than
usual. The eating behavior of other
diners plays an important role: If the
people around us are eating a lot,
we will too. But if they put less on
their plates, we?ll hold back as well.
THE WIDER THE GLASS,
THE MORE WE?LL DRINK
If you are given a wide glass instead of a
sleek tall one, you will drink 19% more on
average. Bartenders even ?ll a glass up to
32% more when the glass is wide and ?at.
Reason: The human brain perceives vertical
questions
Ask a simple question, get a simple answer? Think again! Scientists often have to work meticulously to come up with explanations
for basic processes?and sometimes they inadvertently discover marvels that can change our perception of the world.
THE THRILL
The railing that separates
visitors from the abyss is
only about 3 feet high.
RECORD ROCK
The highest cave in the
world is hiding in the
Tianmen Mountain in
central China.
LONG WAY DOWN
A collapse of the skywalk
would mean a deadly plunge
of 4,600 feet.
&answers
RTS?
FOR OUR TEAM OF EXPE
N
TIO
ES
QU
A
VE
HA
U
DO YO
Just send us an email!
overies.com
questions@ideasanddisc
WOULD YOU
A 6-centimeter-thick piece of glass underfoot
is what?s preventing a fatal fall into the depths.
At 4,600 feet above sea level, a new glass walkway
winds its way around a monumental spire of karst
rock in Zhangjiajie National Forest Park in China.
The Coiling Dragon Cliff skywalk, which is just over
5 feet wide, opened last August and offers visitors
spectacular views of the surrounding mountains.
The narrow trail runs 330 feet to the top of the rock.
The ?oor consists of three layers of safety glass,
and it was designed specially for the skywalk. For
not only must it withstand the weight of several
thousand visitors each day, it also has to hold up in
the face of strong high-altitude winds. The skywalk
must close during snow and storms because they
pose a safety risk. But this isn?t the only spectacular
attraction at the Zhangjiajie National Forest Park.
There is also the longest glass bridge in the world.
China is home to a number of glass skywalks and
bridges, but a problem has been documented with
one of them. In 2015 the Yuntai Mountain skywalk
had to close just two weeks after it opened due to
cracks in the glass ?oor?at an altitude of 3,500 feet.
ideasanddiscoveries.com
47
N ov 2017
questions&answers
CAN THIS
BIG DRILL
SING?
N ov 2017
48
ideasanddiscoveries.com
She?s 55 feet tall, 325 feet long, and she
weighs 7,700 tons?her name is Bertha,
the largest tunnel-boring machine in the
world. Bertha was used to carve out a
1.7-mile-long motorway underneath the
West Coast city of Seattle. Bertha ate
her way through 33 feet of rock per day,
all the while playing a distinctive tune
through loudspeakers. The monster drill
?sings? for a simple reason: It lets the
workers in the tunnel know that the borer
is operating so they can get to safety in
time to avoid being hit by flying debris.
Just because the 25,000-horsepower
engines are running, that doesn?t mean
Bertha is actually drilling. But when the
melody is playing, everyone knows that
Bertha?s going to be cutting through the
hard rock with her strong steel blades to
create another stretch of tunnel, which
is then reinforced with concrete rings.
The boring began on July 30, 2013, and
after several time-consuming setbacks
the breakthrough came on April 4, 2017.
If everything proceeds on schedule, the
road should open to traffic in early 2019.
CAN BEES PREDICT
AN EARTHQUAKE?
FLIGHT
TRACKER
Every 92 minutes
the satellite tag
informs the ISS
about the bee?s
new position.
The International Space Station (ISS)
orbits Earth at an altitude of 250 miles.
The scientists stationed there study solar
activity, magnetic ?elds?and soon, the
birds and the bees, too. The ?Big Data?
project known as ICARUS is set to begin
on the ISS by the end of 2017: Thousands
of ?ying animals will be equipped with
sensors so they can be observed from
space. Tiny high-performance radio chips
will provide a position report to the ISS.
Researchers hope to draw conclusions
about the prediction of natural disasters
by analyzing the movement pro?les of the
animals. Many species are able to sense
earthquakes or volcanic eruptions before
they occur. Our own advance warning time
for earthquakes is still inadequate. But a
timely warning from ?ying animals means
protective measures can be implemented
hours before the catastrophe strikes.
WHO INVENTED THE
HOW FAR DID THE
OLDEST METEORITE
ON EARTH TRAVEL?
For 16 years researchers were confronted with a mystery:
Where did the meteorite that crashed into Canada?s Tagish
Lake come from? Thanks to modern simulations, it?s now
clear that it came from the Kuiper belt, nearly 4 billion miles
from the Sun. That makes it the most well-traveled chunk
of asteroid to ever reach the Earth?and the oldest: It was
created during a planetary collision 4.5 billion years ago.
DARKNET?
Using a so-called Tor browser, the anonymous areas of the Internet
become accessible to everyone. But hardly anyone knows that the
darknet, which is often used by criminals, was invented by the U.S.
military. As a secure and anonymous form of online communication,
the network was meant to protect America against espionage. In
the 1990s, the darknet was developed by the U.S. Naval Research
Laboratory. In the early 2000s the open-source project was named
?Tor,? and it was passed on to nonpro?t organizations in 2007. The
government still pours millions of dollars per year into the project
because the military and intelligence agencies still use the darknet.
questions&answers
FOOD
11 pounds of bread, pasta,
and potatoes are squirreled
away for each person.
3,000,000
?preppers? live in the U.S.
They prepare their shelters,
equipment, weapons, and
supplies before a major
emergency situation
strikes.
WHAT DO YOU
NEED TO SURVIVE
FOR 10 DAYS?
For the first time since the end of the Cold War, Germany?s
government is advising citizens to keep a reserve of food
and water in the house for use in a national emergency.
This ?panic buying? is meant to ensure the population can
survive for 10 days after a disaster by eating their rations.
The food has to last for a long time without refrigeration;
for example, the advisory calls for 4.5 pounds of fish and
meat per person?the equivalent of a big tin of sausages.
N ov 2017
50
ideasanddiscoveries.com
LIQUIDS
7 gallons of water to be
used for drinking and
cooking are stocked up
for each person.
CANNED GOODS
For 10 days, 8 pounds
of canned fruit and
12 pounds of canned
vegetables per person
are recommended.
10
THE
LOUDEST SOUNDS
1 320 decibels
The eruption of Indonesia?s Mount
Tambora in 1815 produced a sound so
loud, it remains unrivaled in history.
2 204 decibels
The launch of the Saturn V carrier
rocket is still the loudest sound to
ever be recorded by NASA.
3 182 decibels
The Hyperspike HS-60, built in the
USA, is the most powerful acoustic
hailing device in the world.
4 174 decibels
Sperm whales use echolocation to
orientate themselves in the sea. The
sound waves travel great distances.
5 140 decibels
On the deck of an aircraft carrier, the
sound of the ship?s engines mixes
with the startup sounds of the jets.
6 120 decibels
Scientists have discovered that a
screaming baby can be louder than
a chainsaw (110 decibels).
7 120 decibels
Like all sounds, the volume of a crack
of thunder decreases as distance from
the point of origin increases.
Why did the last
mammoth die?
Recent research reveals that some mammoth populations
survived the last ice age and lived on islands around the
time the pyramids were being built in Egypt. The melting of
the glaciers and the rising sea levels ?ooded the land bridge
between Asia and North America, which means that some
populations got stranded on islands in the northern Paci?c.
Scientists discovered that the proboscideans died of thirst
there. The higher the sea levels rose, the smaller the islands?
land surface became. This led to scarcity of fresh water and
sustained drought. Thus the woolly giants? fate was sealed.
8 110 decibels
Rock concerts can lead to lasting
hearing damage if attendees don?t
wear earplugs.
9 100 decibels
If you regularly use a jackhammer,
it can harm your ears?even if you
wear protection.
10 90 decibels
On heavily traveled streets in large
cities, the background noise can be
as loud as 90 decibels.
questions&answers
How does
a dust
storm
arise
on the
Moon?
A single coronal mass ejection from
the Sun can strip up to 220 tons of
material (about 10 dump truck loads)
from the surface of the Moon.
N ov 2017
52
ideasanddiscoveries.com
Researchers have observed
dust storms on the Moon
time and again. But how do
they arise? The Moon has
a very minimal atmosphere
and thus there is no wind.
The answer lies in the solar
wind, the stream of charged
particles such as hydrogen
or helium ions emitted by
the Sun. When this stream
strikes the Moon?s surface,
tiny fragments of rock are
liberated from the ground.
NASA planetary scientist
Timothy Stubbs elaborates:
?The day side of the Moon
is positively charged, while
the night side is negatively
charged; so where the day
side meets the night side,
the electrostatically charged
dust is pushed across the
boundary.? The end result is
dust storms that can move
at 500 mph?faster than the
strongest winds on Earth.
He?d been ?oating 250 miles above the
ocean?and yet Luca Parmitano almost
drowned in July 2013. He was just minutes
from death. Because of the extreme heat
created by the solar radiation, spacesuits
are kept cool with a system of water lines.
But something went awry in Parmitano?s
suit: Instead of the water being pumped
through the entire suit, it ?owed into the
helmet instead. Due to the microgravity,
the water formed a huge bubble that rolled
over Parmitano?s ears, eyes, and nose and
remained there. Barely able to see or hear,
the astronaut had to feel his way back to
the safety of the airlock?he made it just
before the water in his helmet reached his
mouth. NASA subsequently suspended
spacewalks, except for emergencies, until
the defect in the suit was discovered.
CAN YOU DROWN IN SPACE?
Can plants
die of cancer?
Viruses, bacteria, parasites:
They can all cause cancer in
plants. But ?the big C? is not
a serious illness for flora per
se. The reasons: 1. Cancer
can?t metastasize in plants
because there is no bloodstream, and each cell is held
firmly in place by its cell wall.
A tumor could develop, but
it would stay confined to a
particular area and the rest
of the organism would keep
functioning normally. 2. The
vital organs and tissues of a
plant can be regenerated.
Brainteaser
What does a soap bubble know about hurricanes?
Hurricanes move extremely quickly and can change direction suddenly.
Even the best experts have trouble making accurate hurricane forecasts.
But the humble soap bubble may be able to change all that. According to
French scientists, heating half a soap bubble from below generates flowing
vortex patterns that are similar to those of Earth?s atmosphere. In the future,
bubbles could help us make calculations to determine: 1. wind speed, since
a bubble?s rotation affects flow velocity; 2. intensity and duration of a storm,
as bubbles can help us analyze how storms accelerate and when they peak.
The solution will appear in the next issue, on stands November 10, 2017.
Look at the face of a conventional analog clock. Now imagine that both of the clock?s hands are no longer there (but all of
the numbers still occupy their respective positions). The task: Position two lines across the clock?s face in such a way that
the face is divided into three segments and the sum of the numbers in each segment is the same.
Solution from the September 2017 issue: Max need only throw a couple of burning matches into the bottle before placing the hard-boiled egg on the neck of the bottle. The egg
resting against the neck closes the bottle airtight. After the matches have combusted and the air in the bottle cools down, a vacuum is generated that pulls the egg into the bottle.
PHOTOS: DPA (2); SPL; NASA (2); Shutterstock; Getty Images (3); PR. ILLUSTRATIONS: iStock (8), Shutterstock; Bauer Stock.
Body & Mind
BRAIN-BOOSTER VIDEO GAMES
WHIC
GAME
MAKE
PEOPL
SMAR
Do computer games make our brains mor
Thus far the answer has been a cautious
neuroscientists. Now new studies show: T
can even cause certain regions of the brai
N ov 2017
54
ideasanddiscoveries.com
TECHNOLOGICAL MARVEL
Virtual reality (VR) is now being
used in many different ?elds,
from the entertainment and
advertising industries to
the military. VR goggles are
also becoming increasingly
important for neuroscientists.
PREFRONTAL CORTEX
This brain area manages our
self-control and determines
how we?ll react in unfamiliar
situations. Empathy and the
willingness to cooperate also
arise in this area.
HIPPOCAMPUS
In terms of evolution, this is one
of the oldest structures of the
human brain. Among its other
tasks, it controls the transfer
of memory contents from shortterm to long-term memory.
PARIETAL LOBE
One of the four lobes of the
cerebrum and sensory data
center. It is responsible for
our spatial perception and
the ability to read and count.
GRAY MATTER
Because gray matter is an
essential component of the
central nervous system it is
therefore involved in every
brain process. It?s especially
important for determination
and strategic planning.
HOW DO I TRAIN MY BRAIN?
The brain?s functionality can be compared with that of the
muscles. If certain regions of the brain are trained, their
capacity and ef?ciency also increase. But how can you actually
train your hippocampus? With action games, for example. Those
who regularly play video games challenge their brain and therefore
improve their reaction time, memory, and spatial awareness. The
more dif?cult the game, the more brainpower will be required and
the more effective the training in the brain will be. But it?s crucial
to ?nd the right balance. The same applies to brain training and
muscle training: Constant stress is better than sporadic overuse.
PLAYER VS. NONPLAYER
University of Rochester brain researchers Shawn Green and
Daphne Bavelier wanted to ?nd out if it?s possible to train the
brain by playing video games. To do so, they gathered a number of
test subjects who had little to no experience playing video games
and divided them into two groups. The ?rst group had to regularly
HOW PRECISE IS MY PERCEPTION?
Subjects were tested to determine how well they perceive contrasts.
First they were asked to focus their gaze on the center of a test screen.
A neutral image was displayed, with test patterns fading in and out of
it at irregular intervals. The contrast values of the patterns continued
to diminish; then subjects were asked about each pattern?s orientation.
Focus Point
Neutral Image
Test Pattern 1
+
+
play action games over a period of several weeks, while the second
group just adhered to their usual daily routine. After only a few days,
it became clear that video games have a positive impact on the brain.
Even more amazing: This favorable effect was still detectable months
after the experiment (see below).
HOW DEVELOPED IS MY SPATIAL THINKING?
The spatial imagination of the subjects was examined by having them
mentally rotate a three-dimensional object in their heads. At the outset
the test subjects were presented with the initial position of an object.
They then had to search through a series of rotated objects and select
the one that corresponds with the original object in the initial position.
Initial Position
Object A
Correct
alignment
Correct
rotation
20
0.2
+
Neutral Image
Test Pattern 2
+
Action games
Control group
Object B
+
Neutral Image
0.1
Object C
Object D
Object E
10
+
0
+
0
+
After
two
days
B
ullets are flying through the
air as Shawn sprints toward
a bunker. His objective is to
secure a strategic flag point.
Then an ear-splitting explosion tears
a crater into the ground next to him.
He?s achieved the mission objective
and just has to hold on for a few more
seconds? Suddenly he is shot in an
ambush! The screen goes black and
Shawn furiously hits the keyboard?
a sniper unexpectedly shot him in the
head. He may have lost his virtual life,
but his brain has just grown.
COMPUTER GAMERS HAVE
BIGGER BRAINS
Shawn Green works at the University
of Wisconsin?Madison, and he is a
After
?ve
months
passionate player of Team Fortress
Classic?a first-person shooter video
game in which players must steal a
flag from an opposing team and bring
it back to their own base.
Flashback: At the end of the 1990s,
a research project is launched at the
University of Rochester to investigate
the unknown capabilities of the brain.
Brain researcher Shawn Green works
with his colleague Daphne Bavelier
to develop a computer-based test for
measuring a person?s mental abilities
(see boxes above). Shawn assesses
the functionality of the test by taking
it himself, but he doubts the results?
he has simply done too well. He tries
the test with a group of subjects and
is astonished: Analysis reveals that
After
two
days
After
?ve
months
the subjects who did particularly well
regularly played computer games.
This result would fundamentally alter
the two scientists? research work.
Today, most recent studies show
that regularly playing video games
can prompt the growth of the gray
matter in our brains. The technical
term for this is neuroplasticity. Even
an hour of gaming per day is enough
to give rise to a sustained increase
in the brain?s capacity to perform. In
particular, the prefrontal cortex and
the hippocampus love video games.
They are responsible for memory and
the so-called executive functions of
the brain?and so they determine our
ability to plan strategically as well as
our self-control and sense of purpose.
ideasanddiscoveries.com
57
>
N ov 2017
Video games demonstrably boost
our cognitive abilities. Through the
various game mechanisms different areas
of the brain can be trained.
React more quickly
ACTION GAMES:
TEAM FORTRESS,
OVERWATCH, DOOM,
GRAND THEFT AUTO V,
COUNTER-STRIKE
You are surrounded
by enemies and have
only milliseconds
to select the right
weapon, aim, and
pull the trigger.
Be more ?exible
REAL-TIME
STRATEGIES:
STARCRAFT II,
DAWN OF WAR III,
TOTAL WAR SERIES
Your forces need
orders; at the same
time, your supply
chain has broken
down and new troops
must be recruited.
Enhance spatial thinking
To open a locked
door, use mirrors to
PORTAL 2, THE
redirect lasers or
TALOS PRINCIPLE,
place space-bending
FEZ
portals in strategic
positions to proceed.
3-D PUZZLES:
Improve cooperation
PROSOCIAL
GAMES:
STARDEW VALLEY,
ANIMAL CROSSING
Even the most
diligent farmers
cannot survive
unless they start
working with others.
Through video games, these brain
areas can be trained just like muscles.
However, which areas get developed
depends on which games are played.
Action games improve reaction time,
while prosocial games can heighten
a person?s willingness to cooperate.
Playing real-time strategy games can
improve a person?s ability to multitask,
and solving 3-D puzzles can enhance
spatial perception (see sidebar at left).
If you enjoy challenging yourself, you
can train your brain in a particularly
appropriate way. Generally speaking,
the more challenging a game is, the
greater the learning success will be.
SMART VIA SHOTS TO THE HEAD
Action games are especially good for
training the brain. Players must learn
to identify a pile of pixels as a friend
or a foe in mere fractions of a second.
That enhances reaction time as well
as an eye for detail. Moreover, these
games often conform to the principle
of easy to learn, but hard to master:
The game is quickly understood but
remains challenging, which further
aids the learning process because
there are always small rewards and
partial successes to motivate players.
Prosocial games have a completely
different approach. They present the
player with problems that can only be
solved in a peaceful way; for example,
settling a dispute or cooperating with
other characters. Such games appeal
to the same brain areas that determine
our willingness to work together and
to empathize in the real world. The
prefrontal cortex particularly benefits
from prosocial games. On the other
hand, in real-time strategy games a
player might be a general who must
lead a massive army into battle while
at the same time taking care of the
economics behind the war machine
and supplying the troops with food.
This hones multitasking and boosts
cognitive flexibility?along with the
ability to react fast to new situations.
But if you want to train your sense of
spatial imagination, your best bet is
a 3-D puzzle. Playfully juggling 3-D
objects challenges the parietal lobe.
Among other things, this brain region
is responsible for spatial perception
and memory. Psychologist and Team
Fortress player Shawn Green seeks
to make targeted use of how the brain
reacts while playing games. Together
with his colleague Daphne Bavelier,
he is working on a game designed to
heal patients with brain damage.
CAN COMPUTER GAMES
CURE PARALYSIS?
The intense effort is written all over
Ray?s face, as, inch by inch, he lifts
up his right arm. On a screen in front
of him a plane is moving at the same
time?thanks to motion sensors, Ray
is able to steer the aircraft through
an obstacle course. After a while, he
runs out of energy and his arm falls.
He smiles because, until today, he
could never keep the plane in the air.
Ray Thompson is 32 years old; three
years ago he suffered a stroke that
paralyzed the entire right side of his
body. Now he is relearning how to
control his body using video games.
While he plays the games, impulses
are sent to the neurons in his brain.
If the signals cannot be processed
because the corresponding cells are
damaged, other regions of the brain
attempt to take over these functions.
The more frequently this process
takes place, the more the cells adapt
to their new job. Ideally, the healthy
regions of the brain will completely
take over the functions of damaged
cells. Virtual reality could boost these
effects so much in the future that some
researchers are already talking about
a revolution in neuromedicine?
DOES VIRTUAL REALITY
OFFER A MIRACLE CURE?
A U.S. soldier named Sam Brown sits
in an armored vehicle in Afghanistan.
PHOTOS: PR (6); Neuroscope Lab; SPL. ILLUSTRATION: Bavelier, Green, Pouget, Schrater/Dept. of Psychology and Education Science/University of Geneva.
THESE VIDEO GAMES ARE
REAL BRAIN BOOSTERS
VIDEO-GAME VISIONARY
?PLAYERS CAN
PROCESS VISUAL
INFORMATION
MORE QUICKLY
AND CAN TRACK
30 PERCENT MORE
OBJECTS THAN
NONPLAYERS.?
Daphne Bavelier has been studying
how digital games affect the human
brain for more than 15 years.
psychology professor, University of Geneva
It?s a normal patrol?but in just a few
seconds, his life will change forever.
An improvised explosive device (IED)
along the road suddenly detonates,
and the violent explosion throws the
vehicle onto its side. Brown sustains
Daphne Bavelier,
severe burns all over his body and
undergoes an immediate emergency
operation. But weeks after the attack,
he?s still suffering from such intensely
overpowering pain that the doctors
propose an experimental therapy?
GROWING
STRONGER
Video games stimulate
neuronal growth and
connectivity in certain
regions of the brain.
Gaming particularly
increases the volume
of gray matter.
Modern VR goggles immerse users
almost completely in a virtual world.
The astonishing part is that the visual
stimuli also set off a chain reaction of
other sensory impressions. This is the
attribute that Sam Brown?s doctors
want to make use of. With the help of
VR goggles, they send their patient
off to an artificial landscape of ice?
and something incredible happens:
His pain subsides. The artificial snow
produced a feeling of cold in his brain,
causing the pain to be supplanted.
VR goggles have other therapeutic
applications as well, such as in the
treatment of phobias. For instance,
acrophobia (the fear of heights) can
be alleviated by regular virtual reality
sessions. VR goggles also enhance
the learning effect produced by video
games, thereby turning even ordinary
games into real brain boosters.
Neuroscientists are increasingly
interested in the possibilities of virtual
reality and new potential applications
are being discovered almost every
day. But for now, this much is certain:
The future of VR has only just begun.
ideasanddiscoveries.com
59
N ov 2017
Current Events
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n
a
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ha s not o
e
ut h
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t r o y ed . B
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e
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ntain, 60
in a mou
N ov 2017
60
ideasanddiscoveries.com
CAMOUFLAGED LIFESAVER
The only entrance to the Central Cave Hospital
(top photo) located in the northern portion of
the province of Hama is a small opening in the
rock face. A van that?s been converted into an
ambulance is stationed in front of the clinic; a
vehicle with a blue light would be too dangerous.
H
assan al-Araj is running late.
The last cardiologist in the
contested province of Hama
in central Syria scurries up
from the basement of the hospital,
because he must continue his work
in yet another improvised facility. He
pauses at a charred lump of concrete
that was once a doorstep. He listens.
The doctor?s senses are sharp as he
cautiously directs his gaze upward.
The fact that Araj remains faithful to
his Hippocratic Oath and continues
to treat all of the injured?including
rebels?has made him a traitor in the
eyes of the dictator Bashar Hafez alAssad and his troops. In fractions of
a second, Araj weighs the situation.
It?s shortly after noon and the sky
above the battered region is as blue
and peaceful as it was before the five
years of civil war, when the province
was better known for its pistachios.
The calm is enticing, and haste wins
out over caution inside Araj?s head:
Instead of checking via radio to make
sure the sky really is clear, as he has
hundreds of times before, he runs to
a van and drives off. Seconds later,
a rocket explodes near him. Later on
a rescue team finds only body parts
and a torn doctor?s coat?
HOW MANY DOCTORS HAVE
BEEN KILLED IN SYRIA?
Is it coincidence? A tragic mistake?
Ahmad al-Dbis doesn?t think so: ?He
was a target,? says the pharmacist,
who?d been one of Araj?s colleagues.
?The hospital?s location is well known.
Anyone walking around there is either
injured or a member of the staff.? In
fact, the nonprofit group Physicians
for Human Rights has documented
more than 360 attacks on hospitals
that have violated international law,
and more than 700 doctors have lost
their lives. More than 90% of these
were attributed to Assad?s troops,
while Russian planes have launched
at least 16 air strikes. This perfidious
war is not only being waged against
people, but also against knowledge:
medical knowledge, which can heal
children as well as wounded rebels.
The past year was the bloodiest yet:
On average, an explosive device goes
off in or near a hospital every 72 hours.
THE HEROES? RISK
Because many of the physicians also treat rebels, they are
classified as legitimate targets of war by government forces.
N ov 2017
62
ideasanddiscoveries.com
HOW DO YOU MAKE A
HOSPITAL BOMBPROOF?
?Not a day goes by that the doors
aren?t blown open at least twice by
the blast wave of a bomb. Everything
is completely covered in dust?the
operating room, the intensive care
unit?everywhere, and it is terrible,?
says Chalid al-Halabi. He?s a surgeon
in Aleppo, a major city north of Hama
that has been fought over for four
years. The bomb blasts have driven
the emergency stations deeper and
deeper into the ground?into cellars,
bunkers, and even shafts. Instead of
bringing together various specialists,
hospitals have now disintegrated into
smaller units that are spread out over
entire city districts. This minimizes
the risk of an attack causing the loss
of a lot of personnel and equipment
in one fell swoop.
Somewhere in a well-concealed
location between Idlib and the city of
Hama, the retreat to the underground
has reached an extreme: At the end
of 2015, the ?Central Cave Hospital?
opened there?nearly 60 feet under
the surface of the earth. Care is free
for most of the 1,500 people who are
treated here each month. When you
stand on the partially tiled floors, it?s
easy to believe that you?re in a normal
hospital. Only the curved ceiling and
dark air shafts containing cables give
away the true character of the place.
It?s a bunker of medicine: ?They can
bomb here as much as they want,?
says physician Mohammad Yasser
Tabbaa. ?The building might shake,
but it will not collapse.?
For one year engineers dug along
a natural cave to build the hospital,
which cost half a million dollars.
Organizations for international aid
helped to finance the facility and pay
the monthly upkeep costs, which total
just $50,000. ?But it is still incredibly
difficult to move any money to Syria,?
says fundraiser Matthew Chrastek.
>
SYRIA IS CURRENTLY
THE MOST DANGEROUS
PLACE ON THE PLANET
FOR CHILDREN.
GENEVI萔E BOUTIN,
HUMANITARIAN RELIEF COORDINATOR FOR UNICEF
HANGING BY A THREAD
In a secret location in Douma is
perhaps the last baby station in
the city. The few incubators here
were salvaged from destroyed
hospitals. Since spare parts are
not available, the machines are
gradually falling apart.
REMOTE RESCUER
British doctor David Nott had been working as an
emergency physician in Syria since the start of
the civil war. Today he?s part of an international
team of doctors who provide medical training or
guidance in carrying out surgical procedures to
Syrian laymen via the Internet from abroad.
CAN SKYPE TURN ANYONE
INTO A SURGEON?
It?s a good deal for the government
soldiers: To finance their $100 barrel
bombs?nothing more than oil drums
filled with explosives, bits of metal,
and a detonator, which are flung into
the harmless residential zones from
helicopters?they need a constant
HOW DO I PERFORM
AN OPERATION BY
USING WHATSAPP?
The ?rst webcams were installed in
Syrian hospitals four years ago. Since
then, nurses, paramedics, and even
medical laymen have been trained from
abroad in how to carry out emergency
operations?by way of video chat, over
the phone or even, in some cases, via
WhatsApp. Doctors around the world
are on call at all times. The Internet
connection comes from a satellite. The
tasks of the connected doctor not only
include giving instructions as to where
and how deep to position a scalpel, for
example, but also assessing which of
the suffering patients can be treated?
and which can no longer be saved.
?supply? of medical material. From
a military point of view, barrel bombs
are largely worthless because they
can?t be used in a targeted manner:
If used at the front, the risk of hitting
one?s own troops is much too great.
If a person gets within 1,000 feet of
one of these diabolical devices when
it goes off, the doctors will be faced
with an almost impossible task: The
splinters dispersed by the blast wave
shred lungs, shatter limbs, and cover
wounds with a layer of concrete dust.
?Every day people are coming to the
hospital in such a mutilated state that
you wouldn?t know whether you were
looking at the front or the back,? says
David Nott, a British doctor who was
an emergency physician in Syria.
Nott and his colleagues often wear
a GoPro camera on their head during
surgeries in order to produce training
videos for aspiring surgeons. Since
95% of the medical personnel who?d
worked in Aleppo before the outbreak
of the civil war have been locked up
or killed or have managed to flee, it?s
no longer possible to train new staff.
At present, many unskilled surgeons
follow the instructions of doctors in
the U.S. or Canada via apps such as
Skype, Viber, and WhatsApp.
HOW MUCH TIME DOES A
PARAMEDIC HAVE TO REACH
A WOUNDED PERSON?
?At first there were only 10 people in
the hospital,? recalls Modar Shekho
of the time he?d suddenly gone from
ordinary nurse to surgical assistant.
?The surgeon was standing beside
a bomb victim in a puddle of blood,
and he shouted, ?Come here and help
me dry the wounds.? I had to get out
because I was about to throw up?
I sat down, collected myself, and ran
back in to help. Since then my body
has become accustomed to it.?
Five years and half a million deaths
later, the Central Cave Hospital plays
a central role in the awful routine of
NOT A DAY GOES
BY THAT THE
DOORS AREN?T
BLOWN OPEN
AT LEAST TWICE
BY THE BLAST
WAVE OF A
BOMB.
CHALID AL-HALABI,
SURGEON IN ALEPPO
war: Bombs strike and camouflaged
ambulances try to reach the victims
as fast as possible. Assad?s troops
will often bomb a target twice within
20 minutes to try to catch the rescue
workers who come running to help.
This despicable tactic is known as a
?double tap.? In the hospitals?which
are often located on narrow streets
to make it difficult for helicopters to
follow the wounded?the ?incoming?
victims are put into three categories:
A ?green? can still run, ?yellows? can
survive for four hours without help,
and ?reds? require immediate care.
All of this is taking place in the midst
of bomb blasts, screams, and panic.
Neurosurgeon Rami Kalazi recalls
20 strikes on one hospital in just two
years, eight of which resulted in the
hospital having to close because all
of the equipment shut down: ?We?re
used to being targets. Araj knew the
risks involved?but he still carried on.
Before his death he?d said, ?I?d rather
a rocket gets me than to be tortured
in prison for just 15 minutes???
ideasanddiscoveries.com
65
PHOTOS: Reuters (3); DDP (2).
Besides the difficulty of the logistics,
each transaction immediately draws
an accusation of financing terrorists.
Furthermore, Central Cave Hospital
requires tons of medications every
month?and these can often only be
supplied by the enemy, for example
in Barzeh, one of the suburbs of the
Syrian capital of Damascus. In this
relatively neutral zone the medical
teams obtain much-needed supplies
around the clock. Assad?s troops are
tolerating this trading with the enemy
because they will collect 20% of the
value of the goods as a ?toll.?
N ov 2017
Technology
ROBOT
THAT KILLS PEOPLE
The Dallas Police Department has copied a successful concept from the U.S. military?
the targeted elimination of an adversary through the use of a machine?
WAR OF TECHNOLOGY
Around 10,000 drones and
12,000 ground robots?such as
the one pictured here aboard the
USS George Washington aircraft
carrier?are in the service of the
U.S. military. In the future, the
robots could also be used to kill on
American soil: The Dallas Police
Department has set a precedent?
?
O
h, how I hate white people,
especially white cops!? The
man who?s shouting this has
just shot five police officers
with an assault rifle and injured nine
others. Micah Xavier Johnson has
entrenched himself on the second
floor of a beige brick building at El
Centro College in the heart of Dallas.
The Army veteran is just 30 feet from
the special forces unit of the police.
He has fired more than 200 shots at
the police from this floor alone. Just
before 2.30 P.M., David Brown, chief
of police in Dallas at the time, makes
a far-reaching decision. For the first
time in American history, he orders
an extrajudicial killing by the police
that is carried out via remote control.
He has broken a taboo, because the
situation can be read in another way:
It is the first drone attack against a
U.S. citizen on American soil?
THE FIRST TERMINATOR
IN THE USA
Preparations take just 15 minutes.
Then the Andros Mark V-A1 begins
rumbling toward its target at 3 miles
per hour. Normally the $175,000 robot
actually saves lives, as it is designed
to defuse bombs. But now Andros is
going to take a life instead: There?s
1 pound of C-4 explosive attached
to its 5.5-foot-long gripper arm.
The effect of the military explosive
material can be controlled to move
in a specific direction. Johnson sees
Andros coming toward him and fires
several times at the armored robot,
but C-4 requires a special detonator
to explode. The material can?t be set
off by gunfire or fire or being struck.
The robot stops at the wall in front
of Johnson, positions its gripper arm,
and ignites the C-4. The detonation
wave spreads out at 27,560 feet per
second and shatters the large wall.
Johnson is killed instantly. However,
it was anything but a suicide mission
for the 790-pound Andros: ?Only its
gripper arm was slightly damaged,?
ideasanddiscoveries.com
67
>
N ov 2017
Micah X. Johnson is beside himself:
?How many of you did I get? Come over
here? I want more,? bellows the Army
veteran who?d served in Afghanistan,
now ensconced in a hiding place. After
two hours of negotiations, the police
decide to deploy a robot (see image
below) to bring an explosive charge to
Johnson?s vicinity. ?This is a variant of
a drone strike,?
says Ryan Calo,
a legal expert a
the University of
Washington: It?s
the first remotecontrol killing of
a suspect in the
United States.
CAMERA
GRIPPER ARM
(EXTENDABLE)
CRANE
ENGINE
SPECIAL
WHEELS FOR
CLIMBING STAIRS
N ov 2017
68
ideasanddiscoveries.com
?THERE
WAS NO
ALTERNATIVE
IN THIS
CASE.?
DAVID BROWN, FORMER
POLICE CHIEF OF DALLAS
says Chief Brown. ?We can continue
to use it for appropriate operations.?
At this time there is neither a legal
basis nor a precedent for making use
of the robot for such an application.
?We didn?t see any other way. All of
the other options would have put the
police at risk,? explains Brown. But
is that the case? Andros could?ve set
off a stun grenade or been equipped
with a gun. To date, police have not
disclosed any information as to why
they chose to kill. The official reason:
The details of the operation are ?not
n the public interest,? which sounds
akin to statements about U.S. drone
strikes in Pakistan or Afghanistan?
ROM AFGHANISTAN TO
THE STREETS OF AMERICA
n fact, police departments in the U.S.
are increasingly copying the military.
They?ve taken about 100,000 machine
guns and nearly 1,000 armored cars
from Army stocks. They?re also using
vehicles that were built for patrolling
the streets of Baghdad or Kabul rather
than those of Chicago or New Orleans.
According to data from the American
Civil Liberties Union, police carry out
roughly 100 paramilitary-style raids
per day in the U.S., mostly against
criminal gangs involved in the drug
trade but even against people who
are perpetrating credit card fraud,
for example. So what happens if one
day tens of thousands of robots and
drones render the military obsolete?
They?re too valuable to not be used.
North Dakota has permitted the use
of armed police drones since 2015,
but only with non-lethal weapons like
Tasers and tear gas?for now?
PHOTOS: Imago; DPA (2); Laif; Getty Images.
?A VARIANT OF A
DRONE STRIKE?
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Nature
WHY WILD
BOARS ARE
JUST PLAIN
SMART
Wild boars are nobody?s fools: They love
having the freedom to go anywhere and
eat anything and constantly multiply in
packs across big portions of the planet.
They are a force to be reckoned with
and simply can?t be stopped. And why?
Because they?re willin and able!
WILD BOAR:
(Sus scrofa)
SIZE:
Adults have a shoulder
height of 20 to 40 inches
WEIGHT:
Adults can weigh
100 to 200 pounds
HABITAT:
Boars have adapted to
a variety of habitats.
It helps that they?re
consummate omnivores,
which allows them to take
advantage of a multitude
of food sources.
ideasanddiscoveries.com
71
N ov 2017
A CLAN WITH A PLAN
There?s no particular breeding season for wild boars: A sow
gives birth to at least 12 piglets per year, which means the
population can increase unimpeded. And Sus scrofa never
ceases to amaze researchers: The animals apparently have
an inner magnetic sense and prefer to orient themselves
along a north-south axis while eating and resting.
I
?
t was significantly bigger than I
expected.? ?When it rammed me
with its tusks, it felt like someone
had thrust a dagger through my
leg.? ?When you hear the growling,
it?s already too late.? ?When it raced
toward me, I thought, ?I?m done for!??
These quotes aren?t from daring big
game hunters who were confronted
by hungry big cats or riled-up rhinos.
These are statements from farmers
living in the southern United States
who know how to handle wild horses
and stampeding cattle?as well as
a Winchester hunting rifle. But what
lurks in the impenetrable thickets of
Texas, Tennessee, and North Carolina
seems resistant to being taken down
with conventional hunting weaponry.
That?s because these opponents are
unbelievably clever and irrepressibly
strong and have long been galloping
away from human control: wild boars.
These dark-hued bristled beasts that
rumble across the landscape in packs
with their cute little piglets in tow are
more than a mere facet of rural life.
And boars have a knack for breeding,
even under adverse conditions. They
don?t even wait for a suitable habitat
that will accommodate the unchecked
expansion of their population?they
simply occupy the one that?s there.
There are approximately 5 million
wild boars in the U.S., and they tend
to leave swaths of ravaged terrain in
their wake. Many wild boars have left
the woods to devastate crop fields
and patrol through towns. However,
Sus scrofa and its relatives have long
since become a global phenomenon.
They are now living in places they?ve
never occupied before or places they
haven?t inhabited for centuries. Why?
?Once they have the freedom, pigs
tend to go wild a lot faster than other
domesticated animals,? says Jack
Mayer, a zoologist at the Savannah
River National Laboratory in South
Carolina. Take the U.S., for example:
The first pigs on North American soil
were introduced by Spanish settlers
and quickly broke loose?centuries
later, many tens of thousands of their
descendants are still inhabiting the
forests and swamps of Florida.
The early settlers of the Western
world kept their pigs half wild. They
only drove the sows back together
for the slaughter?which meant that
some of these unattended animals
must have escaped in the meantime.
During the 19th and 20th centuries,
countless European wild boars that
were introduced to America to be
hunted for sport also contributed to
1
2
WE DON?T FALL
INTO TRAPS!
PHOTOS: Nicolas Tarragoni, Christian Steinboeck/500px (2); New York State Dept. of Environment.
3
this population?s growth. This soon
gave rise to a very resilient and robust
type of pig?the so-called razorback,
named for the ridge of hair that sticks
up and runs along the pigs? backs.
In hunting circles they are reverently
called ?ultimate survivors.? Although
the exact number of wild boars in the
world today is not known, one thing
is certain: They occupy nearly every
type of terrain. And they?re also quite
adept at steering clear of humans.
Even large-scale hunting campaigns,
complete with snipers in helicopters,
have been in vain. Boars simply dash
off into the next tuft of undergrowth
at a top speed of 30 miles per hour.
Can they be ambushed? Not likely.
They can be active at night or during
the day, depending on their needs,
they are smarter than dogs, and they
vanish at the first whiff of a human.
Boars cause an estimated $1.5 billion worth of damage per year
in the U.S. alone. They are able to avoid even the most elaborate
wireless, solar-powered, and Internet-connected traps because
they can sniff out humans. Footage taken during the night with
camera traps shows that one pig will break off from the pack to
investigate the trap to see how it works and avoid it in the future.
Furthermore, sows even teach avoidance strategies to their young.
Thus humans must always develop new and ever-more advanced
trapping technologies in order to keep up with these clever swine.
Once they have
the freedom,
pigs tend to go wild
a lot faster than
other domesticated
animals.?
JACK MAYER
zoologist at the Savannah River National
Laboratory in South Carolina
They even fare better than chimps
on IQ tests; they extricate themselves
from every maze and are able to move
a cursor on a screen by manipulating
a joystick with their snout. A fence?
Oh please! A wild boar can jump over
a barrier or make its own way through.
A study in South Carolina found that
it takes 29 hours on average to lure
a single wild pig into a trap. As if that
weren?t enough, some of the animals
can grow to previously unimaginable
dimensions. ?Hogzilla? was a male
boar hybrid that was shot in Georgia
in 2004. Its weight was estimated to
be 800 pounds and it was said to be
12 feet long from its snout to the tip
of its tail. In hindsight, those numbers
have probably been exaggerated by
around 200 pounds and 3 feet or so.
But reports and photographs of giant
dead pigs are becoming ever-more
common. ?Most of these situations
involve escaped pigs,? says Mayer.
These are animals that were grown
unnaturally large in order to be eaten,
and all they want is what generations
before them have already achieved:
to heed the call of the wild?and to
become part of it. A very large part?
ideasanddiscoveries.com
73
N ov 2017
LAB
JAMES WEBB SPACE TELESCOPE
Can This
Telescope
See the
Birth of the
Universe?
It costs about $10 billion and is nearly as big as a Boeing 737? engineers are currently
constructing the most powerful space telescope in the world. The focus of its research?
The ?rst galaxies, the universe before there were stars? and the origin of life?
N ov 2017
74
ideasanddiscoveries.com
HOW MUCH
COLD CAN
A SUPERMIRROR
WITHSTAND?
In the ?Chamber of
Horrors? at NASA?s
Goddard Space Flight
Center, engineers cool
down the large mirror
segments of the new
telescope to ?450癋.
Here experts test the
light metal beryllium
and the gold coating
to make sure they can
endure such extreme
temperatures.
LAB
PRIMARY MIRROR
CAMERAS AND
SENSORS
ROCKET
PROPULSION
The telescope will
be launched into
space aboard an
Ariane 5 rocket.
SOLAR
MODULE
ANTENNA
STEERING
SEGMENT
1 MILLION
MILES
away from Earth is
where the telescope
will be orbiting the
Sun. Once it reaches
this distant area, the
unfolding process
will begin.
RADIATION
PROTECTION
The ?ve layers of the
telescope?s Sunshield
take about two days to
unfold into their ?nal
functional form.
SUNSHIELD
Once unfolded, the layers
of the Sunshield will keep
the telescope protected
from external sources of
light and heat that would
interfere with its work.
James Webb
Telescope:
The Real
Transformer
SECONDARY
MIRROR
A
SUNSHIELD
STAR
TRACKERS
IN POSITION
The primary mirror
aligns its wings. The
antenna is point
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