Table of Contents December 2013


Do your holiday shopping 20 years early with this issue's 2033 Holiday Gift Guide, filled with futuristic textiles, de-extinction kits and stick-on smartphones. Also, read about the science of dragons, and how engineering is being taught to elementary schoolers.

Plus, is everything in our universe part of a single mathematical structure—or even one big computer simulation? Pick up the issue to find out. 

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Fire up the time machine and take a peek at what your wish list, inspired by developing technology, might look like in 20 years.


In this excerpt from his new book, Max Tegmark proposes that our reality isn't just described by mathematics, it is mathematics.


The debilitating tick-borne disease is well-documented north of the Mason-Dixon line, but does it exist beyond that?


Engineering instruction should build on young students' natural problem-solving skills to prepare a future generation of critical thinkers.



Tests could reveal whether we are part of a giant computer simulation — but the real question is if we want to know...


When an airplane passenger stops breathing, a doctor has to improvise on the fly.


Stephen Morse is in the vanguard of an effort to predict the next pandemic — but says prevention is an elusive goal.


Don't cry for the crippled Kepler space telescope — it was always meant to be the first word in planetary discovery, not the last.


The hominids are depicted as degenerate and slouching because the first Neanderthal skeleton found happened to be arthritic.


A very specific set of weather conditions is required to make a natural ice sculpture like this one. 

The cat's remarkable braking and pivoting abilities may be as important for hunting success as its rocket-like acceleration is.

The sun's sister stars may be far more numerous than scientists had previously thought.

Move over, Instagram: The first hand-held, real-time 3-D camera is here.

Just-hatched baby caimans ride in mom's mouth down to the waterfront.

Satellite images and seismic activity provide otherwise unattainable data about these deadly disasters.

Animal motion is a thorny challenge for modern illustrators, but Paleolithic drawings were surprisingly accurate.

The new approach could one day help health care workers in remote areas identify new viruses as soon as they appear.

People lie more convincingly if given time to rehearse their fibs.



With the release of genre-blurring games and much-hyped new devices, 2013 was a good year to be a gamer.


Dinosaurs, robots, state parks and much more science is on tap for December.


What if Old Saint Nick replaced his reindeer with electric, solar or nuclear power? We run the numbers.


Hunt neutrinos, moonwalk with Max, dissect creepy crawlies and see the "fin"-ishing touches on Utah's new aquarium. Then wash it all down with a big gulp of soda history.


The December sky neatly frames the nearest and farthest stars visible to northern viewers.


Paleontologist and Tolkien aficionado Henry Gee explains fire-breathing villains like The Hobbit's Smaug.


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