Table of Contents July-August 2010

Discover Magazine's mission is to enable readers to lead richer lives by explaining and expanding their universe.  Each month we bring you in depth information and analysis from various topics ranging from technology and space to the living world we live in.
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Astronomers are ramping up their 400-year search for "vulcanoids"—planets, asteroids, or even rubble—in the solar system’s last remaining swath of empty real estate.
Each year, hundreds of immigrants lose their lives while slipping across the border into Arizona’s Sonoran Desert. DNA forensics is piecing together the identities and stories of the dead.
Seemingly random attacks contain an unexpected regularity: the same numerical pattern seen in Wall Street booms and busts.
For centuries some of the world’s greatest geniuses struggled in secret to turn base metals into gold. In a sense they succeeded: In their restless quest, they unlocked some of nature’s greatest secrets.
The dinosaurs are long gone, but their tracks remain, telling strange tales of where the creatures went and how they lived.
Thousands of hidden fires smolder and rage through the world’s coal deposits, quietly releasing gases that can ruin health, devastate communities, and heat the planet.
Researchers tend to look for answers where the looking is good, rather than where the answers are likely to be hiding.
For 50 years a devoted group of scientists has been listening for signals from intelligent life. Despite all the dead air, the true believers say the odds of success are now better than ever.


Spies and hackers know only too well about the security loopholes that riddle the Internet—and maybe even the guts of our computers. Former presidential advisor Richard Clarke has ideas for how we can prepare for the new world of virtual combat.
A blow to the head can change the neural architecture of the brain from elastic to brittle, with devastating consequences.
Observation of Saturn from near and far is revealing the complicated dynamics of the amazing phenomenon on this planet.
How it might kill us, how it might save us, and how it was used in the smallest ever marketing stunt
First he made a machine that can read DNA at lightning speed. Now Leroy Hood wants to reach into the genome to revolutionize medicine.
Physicist Elena Aprile is certain that dark matter exists. She just hasn’t found it yet.
Engineers are using leading-edge physics to try to make photovoltaic cells a mainstream power source.
Cleopatra's return, the creation of "sulphagne" (sulfur + champagne), and more
Travelers can come down with life-threatening diseases—even when the trouble begins at home.
Hint: It's actually something you might have lying around the house.


Researchers are finding better ways for our neurons to talk directly to our computers.
Albatross chicks collectively consumed more than four tons of plastic at Midway last year, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
The addition of a little acetyl group to proteins seems to have a huge effect on many processes in the body.
Yee-haw! Whipping a rocket in the behind with laser blasts might be a more efficient way to get it to space than the regular tons-of-fuel model.