April 22nd through April 28th is National Park Week. It’s a celebration of the more than 400 national parks in the U.S., including canyons, forests, beaches, historic houses and battlefields. While National Geographic can’t take any credit for these spectacular places, we do take pride in our long-standing connection to the national parks, a connection that stretches back all the way to the 1800s – before either the National Geographic Society or the National Park Service even existed.
Scientists at the Hamamatsu University School of Medicine in Japan have come up with a special kind of spacesuit that can help keep insects alive in a vacuum. Unlike the gear astronauts wear, the nano-suit — as scientists are calling it — is more than 1,000 times thinner than a human hair and it’s made using electrons.
Each spring, as the Japanese cherry trees bloom in Potomac Park and around the Tidal Basin, something tugs at our memories. Didn’t the National Geographic Society have something to do with getting those trees here? Wasn’t Eliza Scidmore, the first woman on our board of trustees, somehow involved?
Bumblebees may not have the large, highly-developed brains that certain other animals possess – us highly intelligent primates, for example – but they can perform surprisingly sophisticated tasks, like using logic and picking up cues from their fellow bees.
It’s a fact: cities are loud. All that noise can have a deleterious effect on our lives, but humans aren’t the only ones negatively impacted by urban noise. Scientists have linked high levels of urban noise to a decline in songbird diversity.
Forests in the eastern United States have become less green over the past decade. That’s what scientists at NASA have concluded after analyzing a series of satellite images compiled between 2000 and 2010.
What can the rock hyrax – or, more specifically, the rock hyrax’s pee – tell us about climate change? More than you might think.
Bacteria with the ability to change ions into solid gold? This scenario may sound like a biochemist’s version of a fairy tale, but it’s real and scientists at McMaster University have just figured out how the process works.
Air pollution. Light pollution. Radical changes to local ecosystems. The profound environmental impact of cities is a popular topic among scientists these days. Now it appears that cities may actually be changing the weather — and the effects are being felt not just in urban areas, but in places thousands of miles away from major metropolises.
What do the members of the American Physical Society’s Division of Fluid Dynamics discuss during their annual meetings? Math, usually. Lots of math. But this week they’ll also be talking about something a little different: penguins.
A friend of Henry Henshaw’s described him as having an “innate shyness and personal dignity,” along with a “ready wit and a whimsical sense of humor [that] gave him a most attractive personality.” Along with his quiet charm, the ornithologist was a passionate advocate for America’s birds. When he resigned as Chief of the Biological Survey in 1916, he left as his legacy not only the Migratory Bird Bill, but also the Migratory Bird Treaty with Great Britain, the mother of all subsequent pieces of international conservation legislation. He also left nearly 70 bird sanctuaries.
National Geographic founder William B. Powell may not have had the colorful exuberance of his famous brother, John Wesley, but he was not by any means a timid man. On the contrary, he was a passionate and fierce critic of public and secondary school education. His reformist zeal prompted him to make sweeping changes in outmoded teaching methods and curricula garnered him both acclaim and disapproval. But his legacy to the Society was an early and insistent emphasis on the importance of education, including geography education, in America’s classrooms
Almon Thompson didn’t set out to become an explorer. When he began his career in 1864, after a brief stint as a soldier in the Civil War, it was as a school superintendent in Illinois. It wasn’t until his famous brother-in-law, John Wesley Powell, began inviting him along on his expeditions to the Rocky Mountains that Thompson found his true calling. Diligent and imperturbable, Thompson eventually became a cartographer who was not deterred by gold rushes, Indian scares, and other distractions. He was, as one historian put it, “a man who liked to get things done.”
If you’re like most people you probably find cobwebs to be a nuisance. But it turns out that these messy webs are actually small feats of engineering. Polymer scientists at the University of Akron have discovered that the common house spider can tailor the type of adhesive discs it uses to anchor its webs, making them stronger or weaker depending on where the cobwebs are positioned and the movements of its prey.
A newly discovered star with an extremely strong magnetic field has caught the attention of scientists. Located about 20,000 light-years from Earth, NGC1624-2 is the most magnetic massive star discovered by astronomers to date.
A new airport will soon be in the works in Chinchero, Peru. The plan is part of an effort to boost tourism to the Inca ruins of Machu Picchu, according to Peru’s President Ollanta Humala. But questions have been raised about how much more traffic the ruins can accommodate.
How do you film a net-casting spider catching its prey? Strap on your hiking boots, trek out into the the middle of the woods, get your camera ready, wait a long time, and then . . . don’t blink.
On March 8, 1918, National Geographic editor, Gilbert Grosvenor received a letter from Arthur Hosking regarding several photographs the Society had recently purchased. Hosking was handling the transaction for the photographer, a Japanese schoolteacher named Kiyoshi Sakamoto, and he thought Sakamoto and National Geographic might be a good match. Editors at National Geographic did indeed find Sakamoto’s work worthwhile. The letter marked the beginning of what would be a decades-long relationship between the Society and the photographer.
For Americans sweating it out around the country, the news won’t come as much of a surprise: the first five months of 2012 have been the hottest on record in the continental United States. This past June 164 all-time heat records were broken or tied, and July is off to a sweltering start. What’s causing the latest heat wave?
Being alone doesn’t just feel bad. It’s bad for you. This is the conclusion of two recent studies that examined the link between feelings of loneliness the risk of mortality.
When the U.S. Navy and Coast Guard failed to find any sign of Amelia Earhart after she vanished on July 2, 1937, it was assumed that the famous pilot and her navigator died when their plane ran out of fuel and crashed into the Pacific Ocean. However, new details have emerged that suggest the story of Earhart’s disappearance may be different — and more tragic – than originally thought.
Helen Churchill Candee’s 1936 National Geographic article “Summering in an English Cottage” may not sound like the stuff of adventure, but its writer knew plenty about excitement. Journalist, Washington socialite, suffragette, globe-trotter, White House interior decorator — those were just a few of Candee’s accomplishments. And then there was that last-minute trip she booked on the RMS Titanic…
As robots improve and develop the capability to perform social tasks, questions are raised about how humans view and interact with them. A new study examines children’s perceptions of robots as emotional and moral beings.
Libraries have always been based on the idea of “reuse and recycle”, but a community in Wisconsin took the idea to a whole new level — a tiny one!
Life getting you down? Maybe it’s time to go to Hawaii. According to the results of a recent poll by Gallup, Hawaii’s residents are the happiest people in the United States.