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SPECIAL ‘DOUBLE ISSUE THE SCIENCE WE DON’T SEE Science, Technology, and The Future INVISIBLE PLANET IN SEARCH OF THE MISSING SOLAR SYSTEM DINOSAUR FOOTPRINTS MATHEMATICS OF TERROR MEDICINE’S BLIND SPOT THE FIRE UNDERFOOT JULY/AUGUST 2010 | | 3 PLUS Electric Hamsters, Light-Powered Rockets, Meee Unknown Immigrants, Solar Energy’s Second Coming, DISCOVERMAGAZINE CoM and Can DNA Save Health Care? 08> ‘$5905. One Team, @ne Planet: im. I: atvetetoto commons were oven SRIDGESTONE Bridgestone wants to inspire and move you. PASSION for EXCELLENCE contents JULY/AUGUST 2010 ‘Some of the tools that render the invisible visible: Xenon100 dark. matter detector, PCR amplification of DNA, wide-angle camera mounted on an F-18, quantitative analysis software, Philosophers’ Stone, Allen Tele- scope Array, Tin Man chemical sensor, rapid genome sequencer. Below, their stories. FEATURES INVISIBLE PLANETOIDS 34 Every pat of the solar system is fll of stuft— planets, comets, asteroids—except for one lonely zone between Mercury and the sun, Will new searches finaly reveal something hiding there? ‘y PHIL PLAIT MATHEMATICS OF TERROR 38 ‘Quantitative analysis can explain the movements of stock markets and the pattern ns, Recent studies suggest the even decode the mind ofa terrorist. DISCOVER INTERVIE\ ELENA APRILE 44 The Columbia Unversity physicist unveils her lat greatest scheme for hunting WIMPs—the unseen particles that may dominate the universe. by FRED GUTERL GONE BUT NOT FORGOTTEN 46 When llega immigrants cross into the United States, distressing number of them vanish into the Sonoran Desert. Anthropologist Lori Bakers using DNA forensis to give them back their identi BY JANE BoSvELO Photograph by Joshua Sect DISCOVER ‘THE STREETLIGHT EFFECT 54 Scientific inquiry fs beset by erors, contradictions, and false con- clusions, The author says he knows why. BY DAVIO H, FREEDMAN DISCOVER INTERVIEW: RICHARD A. CLARKE 58 America’s former counterterrorism czar dscusses the nation’s vuner- ability to ber attack, aying out how to prepare fora future in which Virtual wars could be fought by computer. BY ROBERT KEATING EARTH ON FIRE 60 Allover the word, burning coal beds are belching toxic fumes, spewing greenhouse gases, and proving neary impossible to extinguish, BY KRISTIN OHLSON IN THE FOOTSTEPS OF GIANTS 66 Fosslized tracks provide an eloquent record of what dinosaurs were lke when they were living, breathing, stomping animals. ‘An extraordinary trove in Utah offers up its secrets. BY AMY BARTH DISCOVER INTERVIEW: LEROY HOOD 72 ‘A key player in the Human Genome Project predicts a total transformation of medicine, fueled by our rapidly deepening under- standing of how DNA works. BY PAMELA WEINTRAUS. ISAAC NEWTON AND. ‘THE PHILOSOPHERS’ STONE 74 ‘Alchemy gets a makeover: Far from being the work of superstitious fools, it was an essential step toward modern science, endorsed by two of history's greatest geniuses, BY JANE BosvELO CALL WAITING 84 For 0 years, sciontists have scanned the cosmos for signs of nteligent alien lie After a half-century of alure, they are— amazingly—more optimistic than ever. BY NICMAEL LEMOMICK pce MAIL 3 CONTRIBUTORS 6 EDITOR'S NOTE 8 DATA 10 Solar power gets a reboot; biology’s master ‘on-off switch; garbage collection on the high ‘eas; lght-powered rockets; your microbial fingerprint; slicing Saturn's rings; and more HOT SCIENCE 24 ‘The best new books and movies, plus Cleopatra's palace and a dase of extra-dry British wit. THE BRAIN 28 ‘Alook at what happens inside the head during and after a brain injury BY CARL ZIMMER VITAL SIGNS 32 ‘An older woman's sudden delirium exposes a family secret, BY ANNA REISMAN 20 THINGS 5 YOU DIDN'T KNOW ABOUT NANOTECHNOLOGY 96 Electric hamsters, super computers, and eco-dust BY REBECCA COFFEY Killer Robots ‘Asa Vietnam dratee, | had mixed feelings hile reading about the use of robots in war ["The Terminators,” May, page 36). Tacticaly it seems lke a great idea: It keeps our soldiers out of harm's way. Strategically, however, itis a scary thought for exactly the same reason. if our lead- fers know there is no threat to our sons, and daughters, they will be more inclined toenter a war. They are already protected from public outery by our volunteer army. ‘Carl Bruckman Denver, CO lam tented of humanity's developing and Using robots that can harm humans. Soft- ware manufacturers can't release bug-free word processors; heaven help usif we let them develop kil-decision software. Isaac Asimov had it ight in the 1940s with his ‘Taree Laws of Robotics: A robot may not injure a human being o, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm; a robot must obey any orders given to it by human beings, except where such orders would conflict withthe First Law; and a robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not confict with the First or Second Law. These rules wore hardwired into the positronic brains of robots at manufacturing ime. Give me Asimov or ll have no robots! David Sigetich “Toronto, Ontario Reading about autonomous warfare ‘machines brings to mind a possible use of similar technology that would benefit us clulians: smart stoplights. How close are we to having affordable, camera-based trafic controllers that make decisions based on the actual facts on the ground, rather than simple pressure-plate detec- tors or idiot timing devices? Couldn't they save society a tremendous amount of time and gasoline? Scott Green kins, WV Diabetes Detective Work “Terry Wikin's ideas about the type 1 diabetes epidemic [*Chile’s Plague,” May, page 50] are interesting but beg two Unresolved and, on the surface, unrelated ‘questions. First, the clusters of type 1 cases make it dificult not to raise the question of a common-source exposure (‘emember John Snow's pump and chol- era in 1854). Second, the suggestions of high body mass index (BM) “causing diabetes may have the cart before the horse. Would it not be more intriguing to ‘consider a common chemical or biologi- cal exposure that damages the insulin ‘production process, in turn causing a ‘surge in weight? How else to explain the gradual return, afte birth, to normal heightWweight growth patterns of babies born to diabetic mothers? H. Spencer Turner, M.D. Fernandina Beach, FL You omitted an essential piece of informa tion that could expiain the exponential rise Inlabetes cases. As you mention, in the 1890s the death rate of chien dus to dia- betes was roughly equal tothe rate of new cases. Therefore, juvenile diabetes suffer- fers never made it to childbearing age, and any genetic defects related to the disease ‘were not passed on to offspring. Now, with the miracle of modern medicine, diabetics are living fll ives, Unfortunately, until we identity and modify the genes responsible for the attack on insulin-secreting cell, it ‘seems that the disease wil follow the pat- tem of a new genetic tat introduced into ‘a population. Kem Kough Oasis, NV Mail How to Return to the Moon | take strong exception to the claim in “There's Hydrogen in Those His” [May, page 61] that propellants account for the ‘vast majority ofthe cost of existing rockets. ‘Almost al the recurring cost of launch= ing @ payload comes from the expended hardware. Thus, the key to low-cost space transportation does not le in technol- ‘ogy breakthroughs to reduce propellant requirements but in designing fully reus- able launch vehicles. By developing launch ‘systems that don't waste any hardware, \we can send astronauts tothe moon and Mars at a small fraction of what NASA. ‘wanted to spend on Constellation. Dick Morris Lynnwood, WA Hydrogen and the Hindenburg Item 8 of May's "20 Things You Didn't Know About Water" [page 80] perpetu- ates the tired folklore that an explosion in hydrogen-filed lifting cells destroyed the Hlixdenburg. Research by the Zeppelin Co. and Addison Bain proves that static ‘charges sparked a freon the outer skin, which was coated with a mixture of metal- lic aluminum and iron oxide (essentially the same thing that fuels our orbiters’ solid fuel boosters). No one doubts that the hydrogen, once it gt loose in the atmosphere, contributed to the inferno, but the Hindenburg would have succumbed regardless, ‘Samuel 0. Lindeman, Muskogee, Ok Guillaume de Syon, historian and author (of Zeppelin! Germany and the Airship, 11900-1939, responds: While the Hindenburg’ fabric was ‘light ciflrent from that of other airships and may have been more conductive, ittkely did not lead to the fre. Te best reconstructions suggest the cause was a ‘combination of accumulating hydrogen {roma ripped ballonet inside the hull, static electricity bit up rom a nearby storm (which may have been exacerbated by the dope on the fabric), and sheer bad luck ‘Send e-malo edonl@ciscovermagazine com, ‘Adoross tors to DISCOVER, 90 ith Avenue, Nw York,NY 10017 Include your fullname, adress, and daytime phone number suwyaueusr 2010 | 3 DISCOVER ....... Corey S. Powell Patrice G.Adcroft ‘Michael F. Di lola ames Weitawd Seon cos1on ‘i Oem PROCUCTION RECTOR sy ution Gra Moseman ‘sate Newman, sre is Slern Nek at, Bo nang atin aigan er erg WER EDITOR Henry Donahue aoe tanta Sune rca onECTON co nT en ‘pumupcereg Seca. sen SS en settee comenin WHAT IS THIS? Hints 1. occupies a confined space fr about 65 days, 2. often has companions. 3. The adult ‘versions something you would commonly fd around the house. For the answer, see the September ieeuo or viet diccovermagazine: ‘Last month's answer: page 20. REPRINTS, E-PRINTS, AND RELATED ITEMS: Contact PARG Inerntonsl, Phone: 212-221-9695 Fax: 212.721.9196 E-ma: Discovefep ‘eran nggrapents comets ay SU INTERNET. DISCOVER Wen ate (www dlacovermagazine com. NOTE TO St _ompants for nee promotional eat you pear at eno prove your oonaton 9 ee Compares pass eal 840:89°9%38 and fave You" al iSSloM te Gn seca case er retponge for ursoueted manoncrgtao atin @ ying. rine a aa sae mong tao ces 24 SCIENTIFIC STUDIES NOW IN ONE EASY-TO-SWALLOW PILL. Antioxidants 101, Emerging science suggests that antioxidants are critically important to ‘maintaining good health because they protect you from free radicals, which can damage your body. Taking one POM pill a day will help protect you from free radicals. It’s just that simple. -8 ‘The antioxidant power ‘of our 8 jue. POMk:is powerful. Naturally. POMk is an all-natural, ultra potent antioxidant extract. Containing 2 full spectrum of pomegranate polyphenols, POM is so concentrated that a single capsule has the anti- oxidant power of a full glass of POM Wonderful® 100% Pomegranate Juice. Superpill’ $34 million in medical research. Science. Not fiction. POM is made from the only pomegranates backed by $34 milion in medical research at the worlds leading Universities, Not only has ths research documented the unique and superior antioxidant power of pomegranates, ithas revealed promising results for prostate and cardiovascular health. Complicated studies. Simplified. Our POM pill are made from the same pomegranates we use to make our POM Wonderful 100% . Pomegranate Juice, on which each of the following medical studies was conducted. An initial UCLA study on our juice found hopeful results for prostate health, reporting “statistically significant prolongation of PSA doubling times,” according to Dr. Allen J, Pantuck in Clinical Cancer Research, 2006:* {An additional preliminary study Con our juice showed promising results for heart health. “Stress-induced ischemia (restricted blood flow to the heart) decreased in the pomegranate group” Dr. Dean Ornish reported in the American Journal of Cardiology, 2005, Try POMx Monthly FREE for ONE MONTH | Welll even pay for the shipping: Order Now: 888-766-7455 or pompills.com/dvr Use discount code: DVR30 {CONTMUE TO RECEIE MONTIAY SUDAN FOR tans WITH! COMPUMEKTARY SPONG ‘rpc rds treme ta tay cana aera canon barton pagan cabrones coool e Negara Contributors MICHAEL LEMONICK wrote “Call Waiting” (page 84) in response to the 50th anni- versary of SETI (Search for Extraterres- tral Inteligence) research. Although that efforthas yet to yield a single alien signal, Lemonick was amazed to find that the sc entists involved with the quest are “more excited than ever.” One key source for the piece was astronomer Seth Shostak, a senior scientist at the SETI institute, who spoke at length about the serious thinking behind his seemingly quixotic research. Lemonick describes Shostak as “kind of the Robin Willams of astronomy, with Quick quips and leaps of imagination, Lemonick is a senior staff writer at Cli- ‘mate Central, a nonprofit group working to bridge the gap between climate scientists ‘and the public. He also teaches journalism at Princeton University. Previously, he was a science writer at Time magazine for 21 years and was once an executive editor at DISCOVER, Lemonick is currently writ- ing a book about the imminent discovery of Earth-ike planets around distant stars. The photograph on this page was taken by his wife, Eileen Hohmuth-Lemonick, and includes their daughter, Hannah, who is now 22. "She fell out of the tuba Fight after the camera flashed, but l caught her.” Lemonick says. KRISTIN OHLSON Was visiting southern (Ohio when she heard about a local coal rmine that had been burning for 120 years, ‘ever since striking miners loaded a wagon full of timbers, set it on fire, and pushed it into the mine. Onison became captivated by the subject and visited two other burn- ing mines for "Earth on Fire” (page 60). (One of them was in Kentucky, where she saw smoke curling from the ground and ‘minerals enerusting nearby leaves. The other mine fie, in Centralia, Pennsyivania, is probably America’s most notorious. “It was winter, and there was smoke beiching Up from the ground and freezing on the grass,” she says. In addition to science, Ohison’s writing interests include travel, food, and culture. She has writen for The New York Times, Food & Wine, American Archaeology, and Smithsonian.com. Her memoir, Staking the Divine, about getting to know a group of cloistered nuns, won the American Society of Journalists and ‘Authors Best Nonfiction Book Award in 2004, Her nonfiction book Kabul Beauty ‘School, coauthored with Deborah Rodr- uez, was a New York Times bestseller. MATT NAGER knows firsthand the harsh, long desert path that some illegal immi- dgrants face when attempting to enter the United States from Mexico. He took pho- tographs for “Gone but Not Forgotten” (page 46), which documents the process Cofidentilying the remains of those who do ‘ot survive the nearly 100-mile journey. “ts tough out there. I's not a place you want to be crossing, but | don't really see anything changing,” Nager says. In the intense heat of Arizona's Sonoran Desert, bodies quickly decompose, leaving litle more than bones. The limited informa- tion makes identifi cation dificult, but forensics expert Lori Baker of Baylor Uni- versity is using DNA testing to help fami- lies find their miss- ing relatives. For this story, Nager met with Baker, border-con- trol officers, medical examiners, relatives oflost immigrants, and activist groups that provide water for those making the eross- ing. n his career he has traveled all over the worl, including Botivia, where he pho- tographed local coca traditions, and Italy, \where he is documenting the rise of cancer in Naples due to what he describes as the ‘Matia's environmental neglect. To see more of his work, vist www.mattnager.com, JANE BOSVELD was intently watching The Teaching Company's history of science DVDs when she wondered: Why were famed scientists ike Isaac Newton and Robert Boyle toying with something as absurd as alchemy? Bosveld, a senior edi- tor at DISCOVER at thetime, learned that the scientists hoped to create the legend- ary Philosophers’ Stone—a substance that could turn lead into gold. For "isaac Newton and the Phi- losophers’ Stone” (page 74), she got in touch with Lawrence Principe, a chemist and science historian at ‘Johns Hopkins University who worked on the DVDs, and his colleague Wiliam New- man, The two have managed to decode cryptic recipes left by Newton and Boyle ‘and replicated a number of their alchemy ‘experiments —but so far, no Philosophers’ ‘Stone. “These alchemists weren't the wack- _ado0s people think they were. Alchemy was. a progression toward modern chemisty,” ‘says Bosveld, who also wrote “Gone but Not Forgotten” (page 46) for this issue. Bos- veld is a contributing editor at DISCOVER, ‘and a freetance water based in New York. ——} PU ARES Peet Our roots in local communities go back 100 years. And throughout all those years, you've been able to depend on the people of CITGO to get you where you need to 90. For busy families, for neighborhood businesses and. organizations, CITGO ensures a reliable supply of quality fuel to help communities around the country succeed. Por people Editor's Note {ast April right around the time we started putting together this special issue of DISCOVER, Mercury was making an unusually prominent appearance in the evening sky. | had never gotten a good look at the elusive innermost planet, so | waited for clear weather and scanned for my target. | failed: too much twilight glare, too much New York skyline blocking the western horizon. | take some solace from the legend that Copernicus —the clever fellow who figured out the true configuration of the whole solar system—never saw Mercury either. And I get a deeper satisfaction from knowing that | was participating in an ‘ld and noble process of seeking out the invisible As Phil Plait describes on page 34, astronomers have spent 399 years searching fora planet or asteroid belt Circling even closer to the sun than Mer- cury, Despite 399 years of staring at blank fields, they keep going. The universe is ful of things that elude our limited human ‘senses, and the only way we ever will find them (and, by extension, learn more about (our place in that universe) isto press on, failures be damned. ‘There isnot just one kind of invisible that science pursues; there are three