Table of Contents July/August 2015


A century ago, technology helped us dig underground and extract fossil fuels to power our world. We're overdue for another energy revolution to keep our climate cauldron from boiling over. In this special issue of Discover, we survey cutting-edge techniques to produce clean, renewable energy for the future.

You’ll meet generations of daredevils who weren’t — and still aren’t — afraid to wing it in pursuit of man's ultimate dream: to fly like the birds. We’re also heading to Mongolia to investigate how climate fueled Genghis Khan’s rise to power 800 years ago, and how a different climate shift could spell disaster today.

Plus: The scientists who deny dark matter's existence, human echolocation, and tantalizing new insights about Pluto. And more! 

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Whether it's developing self-powered aircraft, wingsuits, jet packs or something even more astounding, for these pioneering daredevils and inventors, the sky is most definitely not the limit.
A fortuitous shift in weather patterns fueled the Mongol Empire's explosive growth 800 years ago. But will a less favorable change, currently underway, result in catastrophe?
Web exclusive
Exploring a blasphemous alternative to one of modern physics' most vexing enigmas.
Cut through flawed assumptions and false beliefs — including your own — with these strategies.
Innovative technologies and forward-thinking policies can help light the way to a low-carbon world.
How the human brain adapts to blindness and allows us to see our world through echolocation.


An infant in an Arctic village struggles to get air into his lungs. Without the necessary medical equipment, is diagnosis futile?
Even frog eggs can flee from hungry predators. But how do they sense danger?
A massive eruption set the stage for the coldest decade in centuries. But where — or precisely when — it happened remains a mystery.
Are human beings evolution’s most successful story of self-domestication?
A group of true believers is hard at work on machines that could take us to the stars. (Some patience required.)
Your health, feelings and diet can change your sweat composition — but your unique sweat fingerprint is distinctly yours.


With the arrival of the New Horizons probe, it’s the planetary reject’s time to shine.
Potato breeding programs add some color so that the tuber's appeal doesn't go stale.
The new documentary “Uranium — Twisting the Dragon’s Tail” explores the world's most controversial element.
An Englishman with Crohn's disease is infected with parasites. That’s the good news.
By sticking together, sperm can find a more direct path to the egg.
Homes once promised to produce as much energy as they used, but the trend hasn't caught on.
The All-Sky Automated Survey for Supernovae is proof that small projects can produce a big payoff.
Octopus arms inspire the next generation of robotic surgery.
A cobalt salt can store oxygen and release it as needed.
Evolution, the first weathermen, Planck in perspective and those furry feelings.
Spoiler alert: It doesn't end well.