Table of Contents December 2015


Ancient fossils reveal the story of Earth, but can the oldest stars in the cosmos tell the story of the universe? Also in this issue, discover the ways facial recognition software is already integrating itself into our lives to catch criminals and tag photos. You'll also learn why tracking wildlife is more essential than ever for conservation efforts, and meet the German physician who experimented on himself and won a Nobel Prize.

We also examine the history of what astronauts ate in space, and, speaking of food, you'll see how the body gets used to eating spicy meals. Rest assured, there's plenty more in this issue of Discover to satisfy your hearty appetite for science. 

Digital editions


From catching crooks to tagging friends, facial recognition software is watching you.
Some astronomers seek to understand the origins of our universe by reconstructing the lives of its oldest sources of light.
In the 1960s, a researcher lied to prove students would rise to meet their teachers’ expectations. But no one could replicate those results without also lying — until now.
Developed by the earliest hunters, wildlife tracking skills remain essential tools for conservation.


Lightning might last only an instant, but it can shape a planet’s atmosphere and even spark life.
A 40-year-old demands to stay at the hospital, yet nothing seems wrong — until he explains why he can’t go home.
A daring treetop experiment is yielding key insights into the fate of sensitive rainforest plants as air pollution rises.
Early space travelers faced darkness, danger and truly terrible food.
At New Horizons mission control, a 12-watt signal from 3 billion miles away unleashed a surge of scientific emotion.


Arctic scientists rush to save a rogue piece of equipment and valuable research.
A public contest makes the biggest seizure breakthrough in 15 years.
Surface-coating technology prevents blood from clotting in medical devices.
Just because a mission’s over doesn’t mean it’s done being useful.
Experts continue to hunt for variations linked to homosexuality.
What happens when your mouth feels the heat.
The answer could be right under our noses.
Astronomers learn how to study the seafloors of Saturn’s largest moon.
Researchers find a new kind of hydrogen bond.
’Tis the season for gift-giving, as well as settling into a cozy spot with a good read and a cup of hot cocoa. We found some pages worth turning for even the most hard-to-please reader on your list.