Table of Contents July-August 2011

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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Humans have a perplexing 
tendency to fear rare threats such as shark attacks while blithely 
ignoring far greater risks like 
unsafe sex and an unhealthy diet. Those illusions are not just 
silly—they make the world a more dangerous place.

Would you kill a crying baby to save yourself and others from hostile soldiers outside? Neuroscience offers new ways to approach such moral questions, allowing logic to triumph over deep-rooted instinct.
From an enormous trove of sexual Web searches, neuroscientists extract some startling lessons in hidden desire.
Without the rare earths, there would be no iPods and no hybrid cars. But who has even heard of erbium or ytterbium?
Two fans of extreme weather head for Tornado Alley to look for twisters—but stay the heck out of their way.
From alphabets to iPhones, humans have experimented with 
data storage for millennia. In the modern age, though, information 
is beginning to overwhelm the physical world.
A remarkable substance 
extracted from pigs enables the body to 
regenerate lost tissue, including fingertips and big chunks of muscle. And that may not be all it can do...
writer stretches his mind and earns a place 
at the World Memory 


The mystery of how to describe it, the mystery of where spin comes from, and the mystery of whether lightning makes rocks magnetic.
As wireless nodes become cheaper and more common, our electronic networks will expand to include many of the non-electronic things you really care about: your missing pants, a new shoelace, and the city’s best produce stand.

Human biology reorganized itself to cope with the punishing burden of our oversize thinking parts. That shift completely reshaped who we are.

When a woman collapses in the waiting 
room, a doctor acts swiftly to diagnose and treat a potentially fatal condition.
Jeff Cooke looked heavenward and discovered Golden Boy, which showed astronomers how galaxies collide and merge.
Summer movie mayhem, the most human ape, and Spielberg returns to the small screen
Bees have amazingly complicated social structures and behaviors, and are critical for a lot of agriculture. Hopefully not all of their colonies will collapse...
A massive metal compactor puts tough new rocket materials to the test.
We're not too far away from supercomputers that could use half a gigawatt—as much energy as a small city. So chip researchers are looking to make giant steps in getting processors' power consumption under control.
What started out as totally intellectual, impractical experiments could help pave the way for a revolution in computing.
Better humanity through discovery


On sampling the fruits of his labor, the horticulturalist behind the chili says, “It’s the worst pain I’ve ever felt.”
Instead of raiding a patient's body for a vein, heart surgeons could create a new one made from human cells.
The scope's main mirror must hold its shape even down to temperatures near absolute zero.
Two of NASA's dynamic duos—the two Voyager crafts and Mars rovers Spirit and Opportunity—are famous for operating well beyond their expected lifetimes. But the U.S. space program has produced some other examples of engineering that keep on ticking...
For this study, rats are the perfect lab rats: they can learn about foods through one quick sniff of another rat's breath.
The EPA and independent researchers can't possibly test the huge range of chemicals found in products we use. But now a tireless, efficient bot will take on the task.