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MISSED A SPOT: THE LAST UNMAPPED PLACES ON EARTH

NA SA G O E S TO THE ARCTIC W H E R E TO L I V E I N 2 1 0 0 A.D. M AC H I N E S OF THE DEEP

E X P L O R E CAUTION: M AY C AU S E WANDERLUST


The future belongs to those who change it.


Contents

NOW

NEXT

FEATURES

MANUAL

You are a time(less) traveler, with the gear (11) and apps (14) to prove it. You know where to stay the night in any era (15), you’ve seen cars that think for themselves (16), and your version of camping is a modern take on all the classics (18).

You find frontiers at all scales, from the vast universe (20) to our unmapped Earth (22). Other planets (24) beckon, but so do ocean depths (26) and the expanse of your own mind (28). Bacteria may like living at extremes (30), but you prefer a safe home (32).

You venture out, visit the oddly familiar in China (36) and dive with legends (45). You see giants among the clouds (54) and delve inside your own body (64). When that’s not enough, you leave the solar system entirely (69).

You can discover the night sky (77-78) and find essentials for a safe trip (80-82, 84). Bring your garden and oven (86, 88) — then recycle it all (89).

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JAN / FEB 2017

Shake a Tail Section Most hangars at the Dover Air Force Base are too small to fit a C-17 Globemaster III cargo plane. The solution? Stick the five-story tail through the wall.

END MATTER You can ask us anything about the world (90) or dream of what could be (98).

On the Cover A glove from a Russian Sokol space suit

PHOTOGRA PH BY

Benedict Redgrove


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A SINGLE MOMENT OF LIGHT T

#onassignment I swear, I brought a much nicer shirt for this portrait. “Life Made in China,” (page 36).

THE ESCALATOR FERRIED US TOWARD THE FIRST floor of an electronics mega-bazaar in Shenzhen, China; the photographer grabbed my arm and ran. She hauled me outside into a yellow-gold glow so physical, I felt it: sunlight, an alien presence that dreary week. We exited into a crowded pedestrian square, and she backed away, firing off shots, one of which is the picture on this page. It started raining a minute later. How often do you realize you’re in a special moment or place? In that rare dry minute, the sputtering cough of a fading typhoon, I could feel the energy of the city. Shenzhen is not just an economic boomtown, but an unexpected cultural one as well. It is a force that is rewiring everything from trade to art to love. The Westerners who live in Shenzhen are ambassadors to this new world, exploring what it means to live more together than ever before. I chose exploration as the theme of my first issue as Editor-in-Chief because it’s the art we practice at Popular Science, and it seemed fitting for this maiden voyage. We may not be in Shenzhen, China, but we’re also experiencing new forces of change. From the way we create to the way we drive to the tiny particles that exist all around us, every day is new by virtue of what we’re creating and learning. For the past 144 years of Popular Science, we’ve been so proud to help direct your senses of wonder. For at least the next year, we will focus every issue on a single topic. From the first page to the last, we’ll delve into the various meanings and interpretations of our themes. We will surface for you the most important ideas, presented in a manner as exciting as the stories themselves. We will find that moment of light. Thinking about it makes the hair on my arms stand up.

Editor-in-Chief Joe Brown Executive Editor Kevin Gray Deputy Design Director Mike Schnaidt Managing Editor Ken Gawrych EDITORIAL Online Director Amy Schellenbaum Science Editor Rachel Feltman Senior Editor Sophie Bushwick Technology Editor Xavier Harding Assistant Editors Sarah Fecht, Claire Maldarelli Staff Writer Kelsey D. Atherton Social Media Editor Jason Lederman Copy Chief Cindy Martin Consulting Features Editor Mark Robinson Researchers Ambrose Martos, Erika Villani Contributing Writer Mary Beth Griggs Interns Sara Chodosh, Peter Hess, Michael Koziol, Knvul Sheikh ART AND PHOTOGRAPHY Photo Director Thomas Payne Digital Associate Art Director Michael Moreno Associate Art Director Russ Smith Acting Production Manager Jennifer Corsano CONTRIBUTING EDITORS Brooke Borel, Tom Clynes, Clay Dillow, Nicole Dyer, Daniel Engber, Tom Foster, William Gurstelle, Mike Haney, Joseph Hooper, Gregory Mone, Adam Piore, P.W. Singer, Erik Sofge, Kalee Thompson, James Vlahos, Jacob Ward Group Editorial Director Anthony Licata Group Design Director Sean Johnston BONNIER LIFESTYLE GROUP Vice President, Publishing Director, New York Gregory D. Gatto Associate Publisher Jeff Timm Financial Director Tara Bisciello Northeast Advertising Office Matt Levy (Manager), Frank McCaffrey, Chip Parham, Christine Sendelsky Midwest Manager Doug Leipprandt West Coast Account Manager Stacey Lakind Detroit Advertising Director Jeff Roberge Advertising Coordinator Nicky Nedd Digital Campaign Manager Justin Ziccardi Executive Director, Integrated Marketing Brenda Oliveri Group Sales Development Director Alex Garcia Sales Development Directors Amanda Gastelum, Charlotte Grima Associate Sales Development Manager Releen Franceschelli Executive Director, Brand Integration Beth Hetrick Associate Directors, Brand Integration Eshonda Caraway-Evans, Lynsey White Creative Services Director Ingrid M. Reslmaier Creative Director Gabe Ramirez Creative Manager Sarah Hughes Digital Creative Manager Steve Gianaca Consumer Marketing Director Bob Cohn Public Relations Manager Molly Battles Human Resources Director Kim Putman Group Production Director Michelle Doster

Chairman Tomas Franzén Head of Business Area, Magazines Lars Dahmén Chief Executive Officer Eric Zinczenko Chief Financial Officer Joachim Jaginder Chief Operating Officer David Ritchie Chief Marketing Officer Elizabeth Burnham Murphy Chief Digital Revenue Officer Sean Holzman Vice President, Integrated Sales John Graney Vice President, Consumer Marketing John Reese Vice President, Digital Operations David Butler Vice President, Public Relations Perri Dorset General Counsel Jeremy Thompson

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The new guy

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“I set the lights to come on at dusk so my family always comes back to a welcoming home... especially when I am out of town.” —

Philadelphia, PA

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P R O P ST YL IN G BY S A R A H G UI D O -LA A K S O FO R H A LLE Y R ES O UR C ES

by J OE B RO WN

T R E K S TA R V OYA G E R S P H OTOGR AP H S BY

Ted Cavanaugh

BASED SOLELY ON ITS BROWN LEATHER UPPER AND RED LACES, you might dismiss the Danner Mountain 600 as a simple throwback. But this boot is designed to perform. That brown leather? The Oregonbased company’s cordwainers use as few pieces as possible—just five— minimizing sewing screwups. And that sole is an exclusive collaboration with the plastic masters over at Vibram; it blends natural rubber with ethylene-based polymers to create a contact patch that grips like crazy. So now that you’ve got these kicks: Where to? $200

JAN/F E B 20 1 7 • POPSCI.COM

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Get Out

SCOUTING PA RT Y

WANT DIRECTIONS TO CHARLOTTESVILLE? ASK YOUR PHONE. Want to know the fun way to get to Charlottesville? Ask...the Internet? Or Butler Maps, invented to surface great rides for motorcyclists interested in journey over destination. Butler’s curators evaluate roads based on undulation, elevation change, and scenery. Field agents drop pins in an app to rate routes, which HQ superimposes onto a map showing quality in three grades: G1, G2, and G3. “G1 is worth going 100 miles out of your way to ride,” says founder Court Butler. Only one way to find out... $15 AND UP


WRIST ROCK IT

THIS WATCH IS TOUGHER THAN YOU. ANY VICTORINOX I.N.O.X. watch has to be able to withstand 130 tests of badassery. Among them: a 650-foot descent into Davy Jones’ Locker, a 33-foot drop test, a 2.5-hour boiling-water bath, being frozen in ice, and getting run over by a 64-ton tank. Rubric here That’s five—only another 125 to go. The titanium version pictured has to also endure a trip into the stratosphere via weather balloon. The test victim ascended more than 100,000 feet above sea level before the balloon popped and then fell into a lake. All without losing a second of accuracy. $595

Section

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Augmented

LOOKING GLASS

The naked eye has limits. With augmentedreality apps, you can use your phone to unlock hidden knowledge (and virtual monsters) all around you.

by KNVUL SHEIKH

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POKEMON GO Last summer you may have bumped into the reverent heads-down multitude clogging streets. They were playing Pokemon Go, the app version of the ’90s video game. A cool 45 million players downloaded it and wandered off on a global scavenger hunt. The goal: catch the game’s 151 monsters while learning facts about local landmarks as you go. Free + In-App Purchases, iOS and Android

FIELD TRIP Stumped on a great place to eat or shop? Field Trip is a travel discovery app that’s better than a crumpled list from your smartypants friend. It taps into sites like Thrillist, Zagat, and Eater, and uses your current location to show you photos and reviews of nearby locations. Or you can let the app alert you to notable spots while you’re out. It’s like having your smartypants friend in your pocket. Free, iOS and Android

SPYGLASS Lost in the woods? Or just looking to learn a little something while you hike? Your inner explorer deserves a truly mobile multitool. Spyglass turns your smartphone into a compass, gyrocompass, sextant, star tracker, and more. Use the altimeter to see how high you’ve climbed. Or let range finder determine the exact distance of a far-off landmark before you set out to explore it. $3.99, iOS

ZOMBIES, RUN! Running is great. Running from zombies is even better. In Zombies, Run! you can set your route, then run for your life. Listen to characters babble about the apocalypse as you collect in-game items and the undead rise up around your jogging route. You won’t even notice that you’re training for a 10K. It’s survival of the fittest (literally). Free + In-App Purchases, iOS and Android

GOOGLE TRANSLATE We travel to lose ourselves, but not literally. Deciphering street signs in a foreign language can seriously turn you around. Google’s Translate app is your raggedy pocket dictionary, all grown up. Point your phone’s camera at a some text, take a photo, highlight the words, and voilà—readable directions. Translate from 52 tongues when offline, 103 when online. Free, iOS and Android

I L LUST RAT I ON BY

Daniel Stolle


Now Crash Pad

WHERE WE’VE SLEPT

IT’S DARK AND YOU’RE FAR FROM HOME. WHERE DO YOU stay? Back in the day, you had to know somebody. Nowadays your smartphone does. When night falls, every vagabond—old or new—requires a roof over their head and a bed under their bottom. But where we stay has by drastically changed over time. Now uncovering a MICHAEL place to crash can happen in a matter of moments. KOZIOL

PREHISTORYPRESENT A PAL’S PLACE Staying at a friend’s house—or cave, or loft, or cave-loft—is a tradition as old as friendship itself, and that practice is new again thanks to the sharing economy. Services like Airbnb help you find a room in which to crash.

400-1300 MONASTERY For the dutiful Christian making his pilgrimage to the holy lands of Jerusalem (in 400) and Santiago de Compostela (in 1000), monasteries were literal lifesavers. Food, shelter, and a lot of awkward chitchat with the monks at breakfast.

1990 ICE HOTEL Every November, Swedish workers carve 2-ton chunks of ice from the Torne River to make a 55room hotel. Travelers dine at ice tables with frozen cups, and sleep on ice slabs (in fur or sleeping bags). Bathrooms consist of less...melty material.

1900-2000S HOTEL SYSTEMS Thousands of miles of U.S. highway constructed in the 20th century attracted travelers, fueling the peak of hotel creation in the 1920s. Thirty years later, hotel franchises were booming, providing a uniform and recognizable service across the country.

I L LUSTR ATI ON BY

Always with Honor

1200-1500 CARAVANSERAI 12th century Silk Road traders relied on a network of caravanserais (roadside compounds). Doorways wide enough for camels and open courtyards offered sleeping bays for traveler and animal. A great place to resupply and trade trinkets.

1912 THE TITANIC On its maiden voyage, RMS Titanic was the height of oceanliner luxury. As the largest movable object in the world, it included a gym, pool, and squash courts. Airplanes caused ocean-travel popularity to sink not long after the Titanic did.

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The Platform

by XAVIER HARDING

neighborhoods. Could an autonomous future also be biased?

R I G H T O F WAY FOR ROBO-CARS Outgoing Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx on our self-driving future collect data on it. It’s another for a manufacturer to collect data, anonymize it, and share it with other manufacturers. When one car avoids a crash using a specific maneuver, other cars can learn from that. Taking a proactive approach on laws that require autonomous automakers to share information will help keep roads secure in the future, and we’ve laid the groundwork for that. +STATS

What advice would you give the new secretary? We’ve laid out a template for the future, one that you can build upon. Take our work on data sharing. It’s one thing for a company to build an autonomous vehicle and

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NAME Anthony Foxx MISSION Keep driverless cars safe CURRICULUM VITAE Mayor of Charlotte, N.C., 2009-2013

Is being open something we should demand of these companies? The government and the Federal Aviation Administration have kept the skies safe without mandates. Commercial carriers voluntarily share anonymous data with us on accidents and near-collisions. We’re able to work with them to reduce risk in the skies, so we’ve had experiences with nonmandatory data sharing. Whether that works in the automobile space where everyone is hypercompetitive, I can’t say. But we’ve started to open that conversation with carmakers.

In the past, U.S. highway planning neglected minority and impoverished

What’s been your main challenge in crafting policy for driverless cars? We’re doing something we’ve never had a chance to do: be a part of developing a culture of safety around driverless cars from the beginning. We didn’t have that chance with the original automobile or the airplane. Those technologies existed before our department did. We’re laying out guidelines to set expectations for present-day stakeholders but simultaneously forecasting the driverless-car arena of the future. We want people to think of what we’re doing less as a final word and more as a beginning.

LEFT TO RIGHT: STEPHEN VOSS/REDUX; M ARC O LIVIER LE BLANC

DRIVERLESS CARS ARE moving fast. Google and Lyft flash us their self-driving-car schemes, and Uber has already put robo-cabs to work in Pittsburgh. But if autonomous cars are going to chauffeur us, we need to regulate them. During his time as Secretary of Transportation, Anthony Foxx, who leaves his post at the end of January, penned laws to keep us safe on these changing roads. And he has some tips for the new hire.

We’ve already seen it. We’ve seen how modern travel can be biased toward those of a certain economic class. Many systems today trade money through the use of smartphones and credit cards, though there are still large numbers of people who might not have one or both. When you think of a service like Zipcar, those rental cars reside in certain communities. You’re going to have the same situation with some of these autonomous-vehicle services. To combat this, companies have to think about how the facilities they build actually serve the communities that they touch.


COMPUTER ON WHEELS Carol Reiley, president of AI-fueled software company Drive.ai, wants cars to talk to us MANY PEOPLE’S FIRST experience with a driverless car is as a bystander. So part of our mission is transparency: making sure our vehicles can communicate intention to pedestrians. A roof-mounted LED or lasers projected onto the ground would allow that communication through words or even emoji. You can tell people when the car is in self-driving mode by using a blue light. Even people who are colorblind can see blue. On the inside, we use artificial intelligence that teaches the car through deep learning. We wanted to bypass the need to hard-code detection of specific features— such as

lane markings, guardrails, and bicyclists—and avoid creating a near-infinite number of “if, then, else” statements. That’s too impractical to code when trying to account for the randomness that occurs on the road. This sort of “deep driving” can identify objects and intent, and can process piles of data. We’re using it for everything from creating maps to identifying objects to combining the input from sensors. Deep learning also offers a smoother ride by learning from examples. This eliminates jerkiness for a more natural feel. And then there’s the roughly two hours of commute

time you gain back each day from your car driving itself. We think this will trigger the next big app boom. Thinking of the car as a computer platform, it will become your third living space. It’s not just about getting from point A to point B. It’ll be like you’re sitting inside your cellphone. —as told to X.H.

EXPLORE SCIENCE FROM

A NEW ANGLE 6\YUH[PVUULLKZ:;,4YLZLHYJOLYZ[VOLSWÄUKZVS\[PVUZ[V[OL challenges of crime and justice in the United States. Interested? Learn more at NIJ.gov/FindFunding

+STATS

NAME Carol Reiley MISSION Make driverless cars smarter OTHER OBSESSIONS Surgical robots and DIY: At age 8, she designed a humane mousetrap to catch a renegade pet hamster.


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Get Out

GEAR FOR THE LONG HAUL

by GRENNAN MILLIKE N

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1/ MSR POCKETROCKET CANISTER STOVE Some places don’t allow campfires. Others simply have nothing to burn (think snowy mountains). A canister stove has your back. The PocketRocket folds to the size of a softball and will stick with you forever. $39.95

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2/ FJALLRAVEN KAJKA 65-LITER PACK When camping for a few days, 65 liters of gear is plenty. The frame on this pack adjusts to men’s and women’s body types, and the lid can be used as a light bag for quick trips from camp. No, it doesn’t come in neon. $370 3/ BLACK DIAMOND ION HEADLAMP From helping you find that lost s’more to lighting the path for your 2 a.m. pee break, the camper’s headlamp is a crucial piece of your kit. They’re easy to lose though, so don’t spend a ton on one. $24.95 4/ ORU BAY KAYAK In less than five minutes, the Oru transforms from a folding-chair-size box into a fully functioning boat. Made of tough corrugated plastic, its cockpit features everything you’d expect in a nice kayak: a backrest, butt pad, and braces for your feet. $1,175 5/ SEA TO SUMMIT TREK II SLEEPING BAG Mummy sleeping bags are a dream for keeping you warm, but a nightmare if you’re claustrophobic. This three-season sleeper’s design opens a bit at the top—so you won’t feel like you’re being prepped for burial. $279

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6/ BENCHMADE GRIPTILIAN A versatile knife will always serve as the centerpiece for any outdoor kit. The Griptilian is a worthy companion: Its coated steel blade stays sharp and will beast through rope, food, and kindling. Its rigid locking mechanism is both easy to open and super secure. $115

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7/ SNOWPEAK TREK 1400 TITANIUM COOKSET Cookware is a camping essential. But steel pots and pans are noisy, add weight, and take up space. This cookset locks together to save your ears from the clanking. And at half a pound, it’s also astonishingly light. $55.95 8/ MOUNTAIN HARDWEAR OPTIC TWO-PERSON TENT Mesh walls give you a 180-degree panoramic view of your surroundings. And that fresh cross breeze helps with your awful foot odor. Screens don’t do much for precipitation, so yes, it does come with a rainfly. $240

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PH OTOGR AP H S BY

Ted Cavanaugh

9/ VUARNET 60TH ANNIVERSARY GLACIER GLASSES Mick Jagger made Vuarnet glasses rock-star classic in the ’80s, but these are more than just hot. Designed for bright slopes, their lenses and side shields protect your corneas from glacier-reflected sunlight. $600


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COURTESY THE S LOAN DIGITAL SKY SURVEY & BARYON OSCILLATIO N SPECTR OSCO PIC SUR VEY

THIS IS YOUR UNIVERSE

YOU ARE LOOKING AT A TINY SLICE OF THE LARGEST-EVER 3-D MAP OF the cosmos. Each of these nearly 50,000 dots represents a galaxy. That sounds like a lot, but it’s only about 3 percent of the 1.2 million galaxies that the Baryon Oscillation Spectroscopic Survey (BOSS) recently mapped. BOSS is helping astronomers figure out how dark energy accelerates the expansion of the universe. By measuring shifts in the density of visible matter all around us, the survey determines how swiftly galaxies are spreading apart from Earth and each other. Hundreds of Sloan Digital Sky Survey and BOSS researchers spent a decade charting these positions in a region that is 650 billion cubic light-years in volume. Their data helps to check Einstein’s general-relativity theory, which predicts how fast the structure of the cosmos is growing. “It’s the most stringent test we’ve ever thrown at general relaby tivity,” says BOSS co-chair Rita Tojeiro of the University of SOPHIE St. Andrews, Scotland, “and general relativity has passed.” BUSHWICK


13.5

Volume, in billions of cubic lightyears, of the space shown in this image

KEY

Each galaxy’s color represents its distance from us. The lightest yellow dots are the closest, and the darkest purple ones are the farthest away.

Yellow Roughly 6.4 billion light-years away Red Roughly 6.7 billion light-years away Purple Roughly 7 billion light-years away

Gray Regions Data is missing because a bright star blocked the view or an error occurred during observation.

MAP SCALE 1.25 BILLION LIGHT-YEARS


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WRANGELL-SAINT ELIAS WILDERNESS has glaciers and rocky terrain so vast that even the most dauntless explorers aren’t crazy enough to trek the region alone.

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MAMMOTH CAVE is located in Kentucky and boasts the title of longest cave system in the world. Fearless cavers discover new sections yearly. To reach undiscovered chambers and record new depths, explorers must wiggle themselves through tunnels barely wider than their bodies. Visitors can tour the mapped areas, provided they fit through the crawlspaces.

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SARISARIÑAMA looks like someone took a hole punch to the Venezuelan jungle. This tepui, or flattopped mountain, holds four gaping sinkholes, each with a distinct ecosystem inside. A pilot first spotted the holes in 1961 when he flew over the area.

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THE AMAZON has significant chunks that are known only to indigenous peoples. Researchers are giving some tribes handheld GPS devices to map these areas.

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Uncharted

HOLES IN THE MAP

Navigation systems today can find us the nearest Starbucks within a 10-mile radius and provide countless routes home. Yet, our atlases still contain empty tiles–unmapped areas that prove the world is still full of mystery. MODERN EXPLORERS ARE NOTHING LIKE Ferdinand Magellan, whose maps were riddled with blank spaces. Today’s maps display the work of centuries of cartographers and thousands of satellites. Still, some areas remain unknown. Unnamed glaciers streak across the Alaskan wilderness, untamed peaks jut out from the Patagonian mountains, and unseen shores hug the Greenlandic north. Nearly every ocean has unswum waters with seafloors that only the bottom-dwelling creatures that live there know. It won’t be long before even the untouched corners of the world are fully explored. But for now, these remaining uncharted outposts by are a reminder that humankind is SARA never done exploring. CHODOSH

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ANTARCTICA is inhospitable for humans but important for science. Studying how ice sheets move can help researchers predict how they’ll melt, which will dramatically affect sea-level rise. Climatologists are going deeper into the sheets to understand the movements and uncover the giant landmass underneath.

I L LUST RAT I ON BY

Sinelab


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PATAGONIA has pockets of tourism and roughly sketched areas, but the majority of the region’s expansive, remote highlands has yet to be mapped.

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NORTHEAST GREENLAND NATIONAL PARK is the world’s largest national park. So few visit that the ones who do often stumble on unknown islands.

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THE EASTERN SAHARA DESERT has heavily armed nomadic groups, blistering sun, and interminable sandstorms— so unsurprisingly, few want to visit. Even fewer want to map it.

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TSINGY DE BEMARAHA boasts spires of white limestone called “tsingy” peaks that jut out like razor-sharp skyscrapers to form this bizarre rock formation in Madagascar. Seemingly smooth paths contain minuscule spikes that mutilate shoes and tear into flesh. The perilous drops between these peaks mean most human explorers dare not enter.

SIBERIA lives up to its stereotype: Millions of square miles of icy forests and jagged mountain peaks make the isolated local people uninterested in mapping the unknown territories.

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CAPE MELVILLE is home to a rainforest perched atop a mountain range in Australia that has spent the past few million years diverging from ecosystems below it. Arriving by foot is near impossible, so in 2013, scientists dropped in by helicopter and found species seen nowhere else on Earth.

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UNCONTACTED PEOPLE still thrive, even in our hyperconnected world. About 100 groups live in isolated areas across the globe, including parts of the Amazon,11 the Andaman Islands near India,12 and Papua New Guinea.13 Most are horticulturists or hunter-gatherers.

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THE OCEAN makes up 71 percent of Earth’s surface, but oceanographers have mapped just 5 percent of its floor. NASA satellites among others, have been used to reveal seafloor structures longer than 3 miles. For intricate details, scientists must attach sonar equipment to boats and tediously parse the data.


FOUND IN SPACE

Final Frontier H

10,000-100,000 9,000-10,000

Our greatest adventure lies beyond the sun

8,000-9,000

10, 0

7,000-8,000 6,000-7,000

by MICHAEL KOZIOL

5,000-6,000 4,000-5,000 3,000-4,000 2,000-3,000 1,000-2,000

DISTANCE IN LIGHT-YEARS

900-1,000

G

800-900 700-800

F

600-700 500-600 400-500 300-400 200-300

E

100-200 90-100 80-90 70-80 60-70 50-60

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40-50 30-40

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B A

THE GALAXY BRIMS WITH BILLIONS OF planets, but whoa—they’re so far away! Unfortunately for would-be star trekkers, even the closest would take hundreds of lifetimes to reach with current technology. Until someone invents the warp drive, we’ll have to do our exploring with telescopes. But good news: Those visual expeditions are about to get better. The Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite and the James Webb Space Telescope, launching in 2017 and 2018, will analyze what these distant worlds are made of, and whether alien life might be there. Set your itinerary with the chart above.

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A/ EARTH You are here! And Voyager 1, the man-made object farthest from Earth, is just 0.004 lightyears away—after a 37-year journey. B/ PROXIMA B Earth’s nearest exoplanet is 4.2 light-years away, and it might be habitable. Tiny, laser-powered “spacechips” could fly

there and prove it— in a few decades.

novel have traveled 78 light-years by now.

C/ 55 CANCRI E This planet might be made of diamond. Or maybe it’s filled with magma. Or it’s oozing super-hot water. One thing’s for sure: It’s a weird world.

E/ ARRAKIS Desert planet from the novel Dune

D/ WAR OF THE WORLDS SIGNAL Radio waves from the 1938 broadcast of H.G. Wells’

F/ KEPLER 22B The entire surface of this world may be covered in a vast ocean. And where there’s water, there could be fish (probably not, but life, at any rate).

G/ KEPLER 47 Planets in this system orbit two stars, just like Tatooine from Star Wars, minus the sand dragons and gambling. H/ USS VOYAGER Star Trek: Voyager begins 70,000 lightyears from Earth—a 75-year journey at maximum warp. With today’s tech it would take about 189 million years.

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FEET 0 1 1,000 2 2,000

Under Pressure 3,000 3 4,000

MACHINES OF THE ABYSS

5,000 6,000 7,000 8,000 9,000

These five pioneering submarine inventions—used for commerce, war, and scientific discovery—brought humans to the deepest parts of the oceans.

10,000 11,000 12,000 13,000 14,000

1/ SUBMARINE

15,000

USS ALBACORE 600 FEET Early military subs stayed just below the surface. During the Cold War, they began diving deeper to carry nukes undetected. The USS Albacore was an in-between stage: an unarmed ship that zipped along at up to 30 miles per hour.

16,000 17,000 18,000 19,000

2/ ATMOSPHERIC DIVING SUIT 20,000

JIM SUIT 1,250 FEET First designed in the 1850s, pressurized diving outfits let humans ascend rapidly without pausing to let the gases in their bodies decompress. In the 1970s, oil companies used this deep-diving JIM suit for pipeline work.

21,000 22,000 23,000 24,000 by KELSEY ATHERTON

25,000 26,000 27,000

3/ BATHYSPHERE

BEEBE BATHYSPHERE 3,028 FEET In the 1920s, naturalist William Beebe and engineer Otis Barton created the bathysphere: a hollow steel ball 5 feet in diameter with walls more than an inch thick. Its spotlight and window let a passenger inside observe marine life.

28,000 4/ ROBOTIC SUBMERSIBLE

29,000

KAIKO 35,798 FEET Robotic submersibles don’t have to worry about keeping squishy humans alive. Before a typhoon snapped its tether to the surface in 2003, the remotely operated vehicle Kaiko collected hundreds of species from the ocean floor.

30,000 31,000 32,000 33,000

5/ HUMAN-OCCUPIED SUBMERSIBLE 34,000 35,000 4 36,000

26 POPS C I. CO M • JA N/FE B 2 017

5

DEEPSEA CHALLENGER 35,787 FEET In 2012, Deepsea Challenger carried filmmaker James Cameron, crammed in a sphere just 43 inches wide, to the bottom of Challenger Deep. His expedition filmed this depth—which humans first reached in 1960—in 5K for a documentary.

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YOUR BRAIN ON DRUGS PREFRO NT AL C OR TE X

COCAINE Normally dopamine carries signals between neurons, binding to cell receptors until a transporter removes it. But cocaine keeps the neurotransmitter latched in place. Dopamine then floods the brain, causing an addictive euphoria. Continued use alters this decision-making center, making it even harder to resist using the stimulant.

“I gazed at my hand, and it seemed to fill my visual field, getting larger and larger while at the same time moving away from me. Finally, it seemed to me, I could see a hand stretched across the universe....” OLIVER SACKS, RENOWNED NEUROLOGIST AND POT SMOKER

AMYGDA LA + NUCLEUS A CC UM BE NS

MARIJUANA (THC) THC binds to cannabinoid receptors on nerve cells, altering communications all over the brain. It can cause contentment in the nucleus accumbens, a reward center, and paranoia via the amygdala, which regulates fear and emotion. THC curbs pain and nausea by hindering signals from sensory nerves. REWARD P AT HW AY

SUGAR Sometimes we alter our brain chemistry with sweet stuff. Eating sugar activates a reward pathway that includes the striatum, which tells you to eat that tasty treat again. The cortex then decides whether to act on the urge. Certain types and high amounts of sugar can disrupt this pathway, triggering addiction in some people.

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PO PS C I. CO M • JA N/FE B 2 0 17

by CLAIRE MALDARELLI


Head Trip

”Reality is inconceivable without an experiencing subject...an ego in whose deepest self the emanations of the exterior world, registered by the antennae of the sense organs, become conscious.” –ALBERT HOFMANN, CREATOR OF LSD

SENSORY CORTEX

LSD Usually the areas controlling introspection and sensing the outside world light up at the same time only if your eyes are open. But people on acid show simultaneous activity even with their closed eyes. This may be why users report feeling connected with their surroundings. LSD may ease anxiety by changing how we perceive and react to threats. VISUAL CORTEX

MUSHROOMS (PSILOCYBIN) Digestion turns shrooms’ active ingredient into psilocin, a psychedelic that causes hallucinations. It’s chemically similar to the neurotransmitter serotonin, whose 5HT2A receptors are found throughout the brain, especially in the visual cortex. When psilocin commandeers those receptors, it puts the “magic” into “magic mushrooms.” BRAIN STEM

“I take very small doses of it regularly against depression and against indigestion, and with the most brilliant of success.” SIGMUND FREUD, FAMED PSYCHOLOGIST AND COCAINE ADDICT

OPIATES Drugs like morphine and codeine block pain messages sent from the body to the brain. They work by dulling neural activity and hijacking opioid receptors to dump dopamine into the brain. The resulting pleasant feelings overwhelm any pain signals, creating an intense sense of well-being. But opiates are also highly addictive.

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Serge Seidlitz


THE WORST PLACES LIFE LOVES TO LIVE

Bad Neighborhoods

MOST OF US EARTH-DWELLERS PREFER THE EASY LIFE. WE’RE not built to live beyond a certain Goldilocks set of environmental conditions. However, a hardy few of our fellow passengers, namely microbes, thrive in places the rest of us would find hostile. By studying such extremophiles, scientists hope to better understand the limitations of life. by That in turn can hold clues to how humans CLAIRE can survive, and thrive, on Mars and beyond. MALDARELLI

DESERT Chroococcidiopsis is a cyanobacteria, a microbe that obtains energy from sunlight. It requires extremely little water, and thus can survive even in the driest nonpolar location on Earth: the Atacama Desert, which NASA uses as a model for Mars.

OCEAN Methanopyrus kandleri strain 116 lives in hydrothermal vents, cracks in the ocean floor that spew magma-heated hot water. It can survive temperatures up to 252°F, the hottest living conditions ever documented for a microbe.

HOT

DRY

HUMID

RADIATION First discovered in an irradiated can of meat, Deinococcus radiodurans contains multiple copies of its genome, so if radiation damages one, there’s still a blueprint for repair. The bacterium can also survive extreme cold and dehydration.

SPACE Scientists are genetically modifying nonextremophile bacterium Anabaena to excrete sugar for other microbes to eat—in space. As part of a self-feeding ecosystem, it could nourish future humans. NASA will test it in space in 2017.

COLD

TUNDRA Methanosarcina soligelidi lives in the extremely cold and dry Siberian permafrost. Scientists are studying its structure, and how to find it in the wild, in order to search out similar life-forms on Mars—where temperatures average 80 degrees below zero—and other planets.

key

KEY

Methanopyrus kandleri

Chroococcidiopsis

30 POPS C I. CO M • JA N/FE B 2 017

Deinococcus radiodurans

Methanosarcina soligelidi

Staphylococcus aureus

Escherichia coli

Lactobacillus acidophilus

Micrococcus luteus

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Location, location, location

WHERE TO LIVE IN AMERICA, 2100 A.D.

The times they are a changin’, but it’s not too late to secure yourself some prime future-proof real estate. SEASON AFTER SEASON EXTREME WEATHER BOMBARDS THE continental United States. Over the next 83 years, its cascading effects will force U.S. residents inward, upward, and away from newly uninhabitable areas. But don’t worry: We’ve mapped out how these factors will alter the country’s landscape in 2100. Now go nail a quality spot while the pickings are still slightly more plentiful. –Additional reporting by Sarah Fecht and Grennan Milliken

32

PO PS C I. CO M • JA N/FE B 2 0 17

by PETER HESS

I N F OGRA PHI C BY

Valerio Pellegrini


Your New Home: Let’s all move to Sault Ste. Marie! Nestled in Michigan’s upper peninsula, this small city will be only slightly warmer than it is now (don’t sweat it; you can still ice fish) and will be lucky enough to escape most of the changes wreaking havoc on the rest of the country.

DROUGHT Almost the entire country is at a greater risk of drought, with the most significant dry spells in the Great Plains. We will all need to seriously ramp up our water-conservation efforts by using more-efficient techniques. This is especially true for croplands, which use around 70 percent of the world’s fresh water.

MOSQUITOES Over the next century, mosquitoes that carry pathogens like Dengue and Zika are predicted to expand their range across the Southern and coastal states, sparing only the north central part of the U.S. Insecticides will help, but disease-carrying mosquitoes of this magnitude will require some backup plans.

WILDFIRES As the West continues to heat up and dry out, wildfires will spread over larger areas. Earth scientists predict that in some states, these fires will burn 650 percent more land for every 1.8 degree Fahrenheit rise in temperature. This is bad news, as Western states could get hotter by up to 6.5 degrees Fahrenheit as we hit the middle of the century.

TORNADOES As air warms, by 2080, the resulting rise in water-vapor concentration will make tornadoes more severe and frequent in the Southeast. Plus, the number of tornadoes each year will be extremely unpredictable. So if you live in a home without a basement, your best bet for shelter is an interior windowless room, closet, or hallway.

HURRICANES Climatologists don’t expect the total number of hurricanes America experiences to increase during this century. But they do predict that the number of strong (Category 4 or 5) ones will double by 2100. To top that off, these future storms could peak farther north, so Northeastern cities like New York City and Boston will get hit harder than they do today.

SEA-LEVEL RISE Geologists predict sea levels could rise up to 6.6 feet by 2100. This will affect coastal communities most, and flood zones and areas at risk of storm surge will move farther inland, making cities like New Orleans, Miami, and New York particularly vulnerable. So if you live near the coast, take a drive inland and tour your inevitable future home.


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3

Features

JA N UA R Y/ FEBRUARY 2017

POPULAR SCIENCE

PAGE 35

3

Exploration

PH OTOGR AP H BY

The Voorhes

Life Made in China

36

The Deep Sea Six

45

Giants of the Sky

54

The Body Electrician

64

The Proxima Trail

69


This city is known for its worldbuilding factories,

BY JOE BROWN

but itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s actually creating something


far more important than silicon and plastic.

Shenzhen is ground zero for the new culture of globalization. PG. 37

PHOTOGRAPHS BY CHRISTINA HOLMES


YOU’VE PROBABLY BEEN TO A DOZEN JOINTS

FRANKIE’S N 22° 30’ 31.194” E 114° 2’ 51.082”

You can buy almost anything electronic inside “The Market,” aka SEG Electronics Plaza.

The maker group meets over beers and lamb skewers talking tech till the break of dawn.

that’s the trick of this place. Frankie’s—for all its chickenfried charm—is in Shenzhen, China. It’s at the metaphorical and physical heart of that city’s expat community. It’s a regular haunt for guys like Josh Bismanovsky, a San Francisco Bay-area native who is a couple of beers in and losing to me at Big Buck Hunter, strafing a simulated alpine stream with a tethered plastic shotgun. His forest of brown curly hair moves a beat behind his head as it snaps quickly to the right. He racks the plastic forend grip and fires at the screen; his shot connects, but with the wrong mammal. Don’t shoot the cow! a pop-up dialog box admonishes. Game over. “I suck at this game,” he says, drains his beer, and walks outside to smoke. The night is warm and heavy with typhoon rain, still power-washing the city streets after two days of relentless wet. Frankie’s has a little frosted-glass awning out front though, and you can stay pretty dry if you stand under it. Follow Bismanovsky’s gaze as he pulls on his imported Japanese cigarette, and you might see Hong Kong. Not the famous jagged skyline, but the outskirts: the swampy green of the Mai Po wetlands and the bleak stretches of Lok Ma Chau, the buffer zone the Chinese government set up to separate the cultural anarchy of Hong Kong from the unsullied mainland. Frankie’s Bar and Grille, Guihua Road, Futian district of Shenzhen, Guangdong province, Mainland-and-don’tyou-forget-it China, is about 50 feet from the Free Trade Zone. Small-fronted and easy to miss if not for the illuminated greenscript sign, Frankie’s sits among warehouses, at the end of a street crowded with parked

tractor-trailers. Opened just five years ago, Frankie’s is nevertheless the alpha pub in a city of dog years. Here time hurtles forward at an astonishing pace. Deng Xiaoping created the city from bucolic nothing in 1980 as the pilot of his special economic zone project. These zones were meant to create safe places for Western companies to do business—and they worked. Even though China is not the boom-country it was two years ago, favorable trade policies and cheap skilled labor lure companies and entrepreneurs from across the globe to Shenzhen’s nimble factories. Before the SEZ, there were some 30,000 people in the area. Today, Shenzhen’s population is north of 10 million, and its port is one of the busiest in China. You already know this: Your iPhone is made here. Everything is made here. But this is not a story about tech made in China; it’s a story about lives made in China. As of 2013, there were 22,000 permanent foreign nationals living in the city, and nearly 8 million others visiting every year. The expats range from the manufacturing-industry vet with a house and a spouse to the fresh-off-the-plane Kickstarter romantic with a pocketful of pledge cash to the English teacher who can’t tell a diode from a dinner plate. And because humans crave contact with others, a community of couldn’t-be-more-different internationals, united by the allure of this new economic engine, is building something far more important than businesses: a new cultural reality. There is, of course, a context for all this: epochal change. Just as warming seas intensify typhoons like the one outside, the ineluctable tide of human evolution is washing away borders. Change is a violent storm, and Shenzhen is landfall. The leading edge of this planet-shaping shift is here: Western economics, Western people, Western culture, all thriving inside a country whose government is powerful enough to lock down a billion people’s Internet. No force, not even the

M A P BY R OF LR

Y

like Frankie’s: The varnished bar runs almost the length of the restaurant, an oaken finger indicating the cigar room in back. The brick walls are thick with beer logos and framed nostalgia. Twenty-somethings flit between high tables, flirting and munching on chicken wings. A guy you swear you’ve seen in so many other watering holes sits flanked by empty barstools, suit coat on a peg under the counter, keeping counsel with a Kindle and a glass of wine. Dim overhead lights halo the chalkboard beer list: a dozen brews on tap, including Guinness and a Kansas City saison called Tank 7 Farmhouse Ale. Tank 7 is strong, and the smiling bartenders will warn you about its 8.5 percent ABV on your second or third pint. But hey, it goes well with Frankie’s famous cheeseburger, a large, hand-formed patty topped with a healthy glob of cheese. “Best burgers in town!” reviews. “They get the fat-to-lean proportions just right.” Other reviews focus not on the burger, but on the atmosphere, which is Frankie’s true specialty: “It has that Southern hospitality I miss” and “I walked into Frankie’s and I was home.” Home, in this case, refers to America. And


This community of couldn’tbe-moredifferent expats is building something far more important than businesses.

thundering anti-globalization roar of America’s most recent presidential election, can stop this tempest. And though we’re still in the throes of it, you can already start to see what will grow when the chaos subsides. The foreign community in Shenzhen has the makings of a cultural power the world hasn’t felt since the expatriate denizens of post-World War I Europe pounded absinthe together at Harry’s New York Bar. They too ended up far from home thanks to savage economic forces, but they harnessed the energy of change and made things: art, literature, music. Walking the streets of Shenzhen, feeling the energy of the blurring world, you see those same archetypal characters snapping into focus. Entrepreneurs chasing dreams, artists seeking inspiration, landed gentry following the action, lost souls in search of a definition of self. And though there’s no Shenzhen Hemingway, the ingredients for one exist in the experimental spirit and easy access to almost any component of anything made anywhere in the world. If we haven’t found our Shenzhen Hemingway yet, perhaps it’s because, expecting pages full of words, we’re missing the sonnets of solder and wire. Today, for many of us, it’s

not a painting or a poem that captures the spirit of our time; it’s a gadget or an app. Or maybe Shenzhen’s contribution is more subtle: precedent for a global community of creatives drawn not to the historic centers of art, but to the world’s nascent economic hubs.

THE SHORT-TIMERS

O

MOST FOREIGNERS COME TO THIS TOWN to do the Shenzhen Shuffle: design, prototype, build, sell, ship, repeat. Thanks to the proximity to factories, hardware manufacturers of all sizes can get more done in a week here than they can in months back home. It’s a tech-steeped life. There’s a remarkable variant on this type of visitor: supply chain tourists. This species haunts factories and scours bins of electronic components for fun. They build things, sure, but often their products scratch creative itches more than they break open new markets.

JAN/F E B 20 1 7 • POPSCI.COM

39


I was like “Well, I don’t really know anything about either country, but China’s on the other side of the world.

SCOTTY ALLEN: I guess I’m the first one here JACOB: White guy walking in now SCOTTY ALLEN: Also, there’s no Tsingtao and at least one waiter speaks very passable English. What city is this and what did you do with Shenzhen? ALEX C-G: Only Bud there now. If you come next door, there’s Tsingtao here CHARLES PAX: How cold? ALEX C-G: At Lamb Place now. Bud is smoking cold Lamb Place—aka if you speak Chinese, or DanHa Grill Lamb Leg if you want to get literal—is a quick block off one of Futian’s main drags. It’s jammed with young Chinese people unwinding amid the humidity-thickened smoke of lamb crackling on small grills set in the centers of the closely packed tables. Even with the bumping crowd, it’s not hard to spot the half-dozen white dudes shoved into the farthest table from the restaurant’s entrance. The six men seated there met through WeChat, the ubiquitous Chinese communications app, and are united by membership in a well-known chat group called HQB_2016. The name is short for HuaQiang Bei (Twenty-Sixteen), the section of the Futian district in which they live, play, and eat. Lamb Place is in HuaQiang Bei, as is Jie En, the hacker-friendly short-term apartment block down the street. “That’s where we all tend to wash up,” says Alex Curteon-Griffiths, a strong-accented Brit who came to China to work in Shanghai real estate. These days, he’s the product lead at SpaceGambit, an organization dedicated to creating a spacefaring civilization through open-source collaboration. Welcome to Shenzhen. The HQB group fluctuates, but it’s usually around 75 members united by a common love: They make stuff, hence its more-common name: the maker group. The members drift in and out of Shenzhen—some to find work, others because they don’t have to work— but when they’re in town, the group is an anchor. They get together over barbecue and beer “sometimes every other night, sometimes once a week,” and jaw on about current projects, the things they’re building. Like Charles Pax’s temperature logger, which he built not to fill some screaming market’s urging desire, but because he wanted a temperature logger. “It’s what I do for fun,” he says. He put the device on Kickstarter to see if anyone else wanted one. They did; he’s sold about 200 of them at $165 a pop. “There are people doing automotive stuff, people brewing beer,” he says, excitedly, going on to demonstrate a future version’s modular circuit board—it’ll let you log anything, diligently plotting a graph on its monochrome screen. Pax used to be the head of R&D at 3-D-printing company MakerBot. Since cashing out in 2013, he’s split his time between Shenzhen and New York. Lately he’s been spending more time here. “A bunch of MakerBot people came to China,” Pax says, “and a couple of them stayed.” As he speaks, he’s unwinding one of his logger’s four wire probes from its spool. “I had come to visit them on vacation—to do some hacking stuff—and I made the decision that this is the place for me.” He wiggles the wire behind the label of one of the table’s many unclaimed beer bottles and powers on his machine. As


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3

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5

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1

Twenty-year-old CTO Nicky Öster Jenk is in town for only a few days. First stop: the Market. 2

Elspeth Myers and Frank Teng met through Reddit’s r/Shenzhen forum. 3

Zachary Hany is a CrossFitter and paper artist. 4

Culinary explorer Arrica Gilmer fears no meal. 5

Josh Bismanovsky: misfit, man-abouttown, injectionmolding sales rep. 6

Julia Kaisinger loves cycling, hiking, the beach, and mealworms.

promised, the beer is quite cold. Guys—all guys—flow in and out of the group, meeting each other and discussing their projects. There’s a South African media artist on an organized tour of the city and a Spanish engineer who recently road-tripped around Spain in a hacker van. Scotty Allen, an ex-Googler who runs a big data startup called Appmonsta, is here to play in the expansive electronics bazaar down the road. It is a nerd pilgrimage. “The Market,” as the maker group calls it, is SEG Electronics Plaza; its concrete face suggests an electronics Abu Simbel, and what’s inside commands similar reverence. It’s a nine-story tinkerer’s paradise, where anyone can buy any part to make anything: gallon bags full of cellphone cameras, kilometers of wire terminating in any connector imaginable, whirring machines that will print you a circuit board. Drone shopping? Third floor, keep left. Need an HDMI cable? There’s a booth on five that sells nothing but. Across the street, up a great glass elevator: Hax, a hardware accelerator that funds promising projects with $100,000 apiece (in exchange for a 9 percent equity, of course) and brings teams to Shenzhen for four months to all but ensure their success. In the loftlike offices, young engineers play pingpong, do laundry, handbuild prototypes, and mine Hax’s China-savvy staff for knowledge about how to launch a successful startup. Twenty-nine-year-old Julia Kaisinger is a Hax alum, an Austrian who has been in Shenzhen for a year and a half getting her company’s home mealworm farms ready for production. Her team’s Kickstarter raised $145,000 from people who want to grow and eat their own bugs. (Hey, it’s a very sustainable protein source. ) The storm outside is cranking again, and Kaisinger turns to watch the fat drops splash on the flat roof beyond Hax’s kitchen window. “I always think, ‘OK, in a few months, I’m gonna leave,’” she says. But who knows? Neither Kaisinger nor her co-founder are manufacturing specialists, but as the design lead, she’s closest. She’ll stick around town, close to the factory, until everything is running smoothly. For now, Kaisinger has a good setup. She works out of Hax and found a cheap apartment online, using Google Translate to read the ads; she shares it with three other women—all Chinese. She’s one Metro stop away from the office, because, during the week, she’s almost always there. “I work a lot,” she says. “Maybe, I don’t know, 12 hours a day, minimum?” You’d think Kaisinger would want to hit the town to unwind. Not really. “There are a few bars here that are OK, but I don’t like the spirit of Coco Park,” she says, referring to expat-heavy area where most of the clubs are. “It’s a lot of male foreigners who give me the impression that they easily pick up Chinese girls.” Shenzhen is a notorious meat market where Western men take advantage of local women. Kaisinger makes it sound creepier than a box full of worms. On the weekends, she tries to get out of the city. “I mainly like doing outdoor stuff,” she says. There are mountains, remote parks, and beaches within a short train ride. “I have a bike here,” she says. “I go riding, hiking.” Sometimes she’ll take the train into Hong Kong, where the beaches are better.

JAN/F E B 20 1 7 • POPSCI.COM

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THE LIFERS

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IN SOME WAYS, SHENZHEN IS LIKE ANY other town. You move there for work; you get an apartment, make friends, and find a couple of spots you like to hang out. Next thing you know, several years have flown by and you’ve put down roots. It could be Cleveland. The difference is, of course, that this is not Cleveland. When living in China, you have the choice to immerse yourself in the local culture or hold onto your own. Josh Bismanonvsky represents the latter camp: very much a stranger in this strange land—even after spending more time in China than he spent in high school and college combined. He graduated from the University of Colorado in 2006 and looked for work in the Denver area. “But there were just no opportunities for a communications major,” he says. After a short stint at an Apple store and some motherly encouragement to get out of her house, he came to China for a six-month internship with a supply-chain management company called PCH. The internship ended, and he briefly considered returning to the U.S. Then he landed a job as a sales rep for a manufacturing outfit, and—a decade later—he’s still here. It’s the day after our Big Buck Hunter outing at Frankie’s, and Bismanovsky is nursing a hangover. To make it go away, he’s just ordered a 180-gram wagyu

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How cold is that beer? This home-brewed temperature logger is on the case.

Burgers are kind of a big deal in Shenzhen. This one costs 10 times a normal local lunch.

burger called the MBA. It wears a crown of fried cheese and over-easy egg, and costs the equivalent of $18—10 times what a streetside bowl of noodles will run you. The belly, as the blind poet says, is a shameless dog. Bismanovsky is modest about his Chinese, but it’s clearly very good. You never see him repeating himself or looking up words, and the sentences flow with ease. As does, by all appearances, his life. He lives in an $1,100-a-month two-bedroom apartment in a nice high-rise—a bit below market because, Bismanovsky suspects, the landlord is happy to have a single foreigner there instead of a family of four. He works the same steady job he got after leaving PCH. And though he’s something of a China lifer at this point, Bismanovsky is culturally rooted in the U.S. He doesn’t have many Chinese friends outside work, and he dates mostly Western women. “Unless they’ve lived overseas for some time,” he says of the locals, “I find that we don’t have anything in common.” Bismanovsky has a solid group of Western buddies from around the globe. They play basketball and got sick of video games together. Although most of his American friends have left Shenzhen, he does still have one left; they split an NFL streaming package and watch the live games late at night. “Nobody else likes it when we get together because we’re super loud and obnoxious,” he says. “All we do is talk about sports.” The burgers arrive, and Bismanovsky levers his into his mouth. The MBA is taller than it is wide and, at first squeeze, it starts leaking meat juice and liquid yolk from the fried egg on top. The rain outside picks


up, as if spurred by the burger to drum Shenzhen’s theme music: a cadence of arrival, a beat of change. The next day is bright and hot, the calm before another typhoon is expected to swat the region. In the blasting sun, Zachary Hany is impossible to miss—even across a broad plaza. His skin is a shade of white you wouldn’t think possible to maintain in Southeast Asia. The light bounces off his shaved head like a watch face. Hany, a muscular 6 feet, is big even by American standards. A fast walker, he’s tough to keep up with as he navigates the stairways and hidden turns of the multilevel shopping complex. Though the plaza where we met could have been plucked from any modern city, Hany guides us to unmistakably mainland China. Water from the previous days’ rain, though dried in open areas by the strong sun, still drips steadily down the concrete columns that support the mall above. We walk into a restaurant with pictures of Hong Kong action stars on the wall, and Hany does the ordering. The server is visibly startled by his Chinese fluency. An Illinois boy who grew up mostly in Germany, Hany came to China with the Peace Corps in 2000, after finishing his master’s in environmental engineering. “I could have gone to either Jamaica or China, and I was like, ‘Well, I don’t really know anything about either country, but China’s on the other side of the world.’” He’s been here ever since, living the past 13 years in or around Shenzhen, hustling to knit together a living. “I work on a few projects here and there, just pulling together what I can, hoping,” he says, trailing off. As if to defy his imposing appearance, Hany is a gentle and genuinely nice guy. He’s also very obviously lost in the world. He’s American, but he grew up in Europe; he went to school in the States, but then he almost immediately left the country again. Where is home for a guy like that? What is he still doing in China? With his engineering background and formidable bilingualism, Hany could likely land a lucrative job here; he’s uninterested. Even without one though, he’s “not in fear of starving to death.” You can live cheap in Shenzhen. And even though he was recently evicted from his apartment, he scored a room in a friend’s place in exchange for helping out the guy with a project. The standard Shenzhen path might not be Hany’s chosen course, but there is still a good reason for him to stick around town. Though Hany wouldn’t describe himself as one, he’s kind of an artist. Hany calls it “design stuff,” but he’s talking about papercraft—worlds beyond the cut snowflakes you might be imagining. “I’m fascinated with paper engineering and pop-ups,” he says. Engineering is the key word there. Hany designs complex networks of shapes in CAD and realizes them with a computercontrolled laser-cutter. Many projects are aesthetic: detailed geometric lattices and sharpened fractals that explode along their radii like crystal supernovae; filigreed lanterns that glow from carefully concealed LEDs. Stare at them long enough, and you’ll see a whole universe in their iterated facets. The practical side of his paper passion is building realistic pop-up worlds for tabletop games—the ones in which miniature metal figurines do battle. The simulated rock and timber of his sturdy paper creations

almost look real (as real as the orcs, anyway), and yet collapse down, for easy storage. He has a Facebook page, a booth at the annual Gen Con tabletop gaming convention in Indiana, and, from the buzz in the forums, a waiting market. When he’s not at home (“I would describe myself as ‘slightly reclusive’”) and not working out (he used to be a certified CrossFit instructor), Hany is likely playing those same games. He and his friends, mostly Westerners, set up at each other’s houses, at bars, restaurants—wherever. He dreams of selling his collapsible constructions someday; he has vague plans for a Kickstarter. But, he says, “life gets in the way.” A veil of melancholy falls over his face. Soon, he says, “I’ll get my head straight.” The server forgot Hany’s noodles—a simple but delicious tomato-and-beef concoction that you unfortunately couldn’t find in America—but he doesn’t seem bothered. He smiles calmly at the server, casually accepting the apology in his flawless Chinese.

THE ADVENTURERS

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DON’T TELL DENG XIAOPING, BUT THE tech industry isn’t the only force that draws people to Shenzhen. As with any global city, some just land here, drawn by opportunity or wanderlust. Many teach English, recruited by well-funded international schools tasked with teaching the children of American or wealthy Chinese families. Often these expats are not in search of the next Shanghai or seekers of new artistic truths. That doesn’t mean they’re any less important to the cultural fabric of the city. “Shenzhen was the only option they gave me,” says Elspeth Myers as she sips coffee in the booth of a restaurant called Linen Tea Dessert in Nan Shan. Linen Tea looks like the kind of place you’d go after church: white tablecloths and a lot of banquette seating. A 23-year-old education consultant, Myers works for a company that helps well-heeled Chinese kids get into American colleges. “I just wanted to come anywhere,” she says. By “anywhere,” she meant anywhere in China. Myers took every Chinese language class the University of Wisconsin could offer, and is close to fluent. Her boyfriend, Frank Teng, finishing off a bowl of noodles next to her, quit his job at Make magazine to drink from the Shenzhen fountain of fortune—but didn’t quite succeed. “Hardware is a lot harder than I thought,” he says, laughing at the pun. Now Teng, 25, works for Myers at the education company and spends his free time studying for the GRE. Though the two of them are both in education, they avoid the local teacher scene. It’s not their vibe. “The

Most foreigners come to this town for the Shenzhen Shuffle: design, prototype, build, ship, sell, repeat.

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or “Lamb Place,” as the foreign crowd hails it, serves a mean skewer.

The imposing facade of SEG Electronics Plaza, a temple to technology.

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majority are guys who are maybe a little socially awkward or just can’t get a job back home,” Teng says. They are more interested in the local women than the local culture. It’s the crew Kaisinger spoke about. “There’s a name for them,” Teng says: “LBH, loser back home.” Arrica Gilmer is a teacher, but she’s no LBH. “My only request is chicken feet,” says the 30-year-old from Pueblo, Colorado, as she sits down to brunch in a heavily gilded dim sum restaurant. Typical of large banquet halls, there are no windows. If there were, they’d be getting hammered with still more rain; the second typhoon of the week is making its way north, just minutes from hitting town. Tall and athletic and dressed in workout clothes and a knit cap, Gilmer came to Shenzhen a year and a half ago, after chaperoning a high school trip to Costa Rica. “I came back and I was like, ‘I need to travel,’” she says. She gave herself a year to get out of the country, but within six months had a job here, teaching English to Chinese students. Gilmer, an African-American woman, hasn’t caught any static because of her race. In fact, she says, people seem to see her as foreign more than they do black, lumping her in with an amoebic group of teachers and tech bros. She’s actually had more trouble at the gym. “Being an athletic person wasn’t a bad thing at home,” Gilmer says. She power-lifts, and didn’t think it would be a big deal to go to the gym and throw some weight around. It was. “It’s not really what the culture embraces for women,” she says. People stare. This bothered her, until she met her friend Stephanie, an athletic woman

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from northern China. “She’s really helped keep me sane on days when I feel like a monster because I’m doing things that the boys are doing,” she says. Outside work and the gym, Gilmer’s life in China revolves around food. It’s her main source of entertainment. Sure, she and the other teachers hit the bars—Frankie’s is a favorite—but Gilmer is mostly interested in exploring delicious new flavors she couldn’t find back home. She and Stephanie comb Shenzhen in search of the best post-workout meals. And while many Westerners have, shall we say, difficulty with hardcore Chinese food, Gilmer straightup seeks it out. “I’m pretty sure I had poop the other day,” she says, more embarrassed to talk about it than revolted by the experience. “I was eating some duck, and I grabbed this one piece—I thought it was liver. It looked kinda different,” she says. Honestly, who can identify cooked duck feces? “I was like, maybe it’s some kind of organ—and I like organ—so I didn’t think anything of it. Then I bit into it, and I was like, oh, God, no. That’s not something you’re supposed to eat.” Gilmer swallowed it—whatever it was—and went back in for another piece. “You can’t be a punk when eating in China,” she says. She laughs, and the chicken feet arrive. Gilmer tucks right in.

THE STORM PICKED UP NOTICEABLY DURING DIM sum, so my photographer, Christina, and I hustle back to the hotel to grab our luggage. It’s our final morning in Shenzhen, and we have flights out of Hong Kong. As soon as we walk in, though, we realize we’re not going anywhere. The borders, the concierge tells us, are closed. He stands, palms forward, in front of the door. Nowhere to go, we grab a table by the window in the hotel’s 26th-floor bar. Raindrops chase each other down the broad sheets of darkened glass. Yet, from 300 feet above the street, the storm looks insignificant. The scale of this city is so massive, someone would have to build a bigger wind to disturb it. In search of some evidence of storm, our eyes set upon a broad green swath, a park stretching from the convention center’s imperial front to the ultramodern civic center. It’s a marvel: a meticulously planned urban refuge, crisscrossed with pathways and shaded benches, punctuated with water fountains, arching bridges, and open spaces for exercise. Robert Moses’ most tender dream. Impressive just by virtue of its features, this public work has a defining feature that trumps all the others: It runs atop the roofs of all the structures between the two municipal buildings. It’s a sky park. You could find a public work like this only in a city that sprang forth from some urban planner’s omnipotent head. In the short history of this urban landscape, those buildings have always been malls. Their roofs have always been greenspace. There is no old convention center. This suite of structures is the very crystallization of Shenzhen: huge, new, deliberate. But you can’t plan everything. Life will always find fissures in your concrete. In Shenzhen, the green shoots of a new culture are drinking in the storm of globalization to eclipse any tower of glass and steel. You think the city is rising, but it’s just a base.


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Kendrick Kidd / PHOTO G RA PH BY The Voorhes

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DEPTH GAUGE

At 81, the record-breaking diver isn’t done with the depths BY MARY BETH GRIGGS

WHEN SYLVIA EARLE WAS 3 YEARS OLD, playing on the Jersey shore, a wave knocked her to the ground. “At that moment,” she says, “the ocean got my attention.” It’s held it ever since. Known as “Her Deepness,” Earle would rise from that early encounter to lead the first all-female team to live underwater (for a week in 1970); set a record for walking the ocean floor, untethered for two hours, at 1,250 feet deep (1979); and become chief scientist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (1990). At 81, she remains a bluewater advocate, an ambassador to the deep who cares as much for extreme microbes that thrive near boiling ocean vents as she does for migrating whale pods that display social complexity. “What’s held my attention, and what should hold everyone’s attention, is the splendor of life,” Earle says, “all these creatures that are like us in so many ways.” In 1953, while a biology undergrad, Earle strapped on one of the first scuba tanks

in the U.S. Over the next few decades, she became a prolific diver. She has logged a total of 7,000 hours (the equivalent of 291 days) underwater, and is still at it. “As long as I’m breathing,” she says, “I’ll be diving.” She now heads Mission Blue, a nonprofit she launched in 2009. Its goal: the legal protection of 20 percent of our oceans by 2020. To that end, Earle teaches about what she calls “Hope Spots,” places critical to the health of oceans. She lobbies governments and citizens all over the world to protect these areas, from the algae-covered Sargasso Sea in the North Atlantic to the rocky shores of California’s Monterey Bay. In September, Earle stood alongside President Obama as he announced the quadrupling of Hawaii’s Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument, expanding it to a 583,000-square-mile “no-take” zone, off-limits to fishing and some commercial activities. Earle thanked Obama, not for herself, but “on behalf of all people and all life everywhere.” Then she gave him a picture of a fish that lives only there, which has no name yet, but will be named for him. He said, “That’s a good-looking fish.” For Earle, pictures are only a start. “Any astronaut will tell you, satellites are vital to seeing Earth,” says Earle. “But sending a picture is not good enough; you need to be there.” So she is helping develop technology to bring people face to face with the deep. Another venture Earle started, Deep Ocean Exploration and Research Marine, makes crewed subs, camera housings, and grasping tools that scientists use to study ice in Antarctica and to film fragile coral reefs. But Earle wants more people to see these things. “We still don’t have the chariot to take us deep into the ocean,” she says. “Millions of people fly 7 miles up in the sky watching movies. Why are we not as thrilled about exploring this part of our world as we are about Mars or the moon? We know so little about the deep. What we do know is the deeper we go, the less we know.”

1953 While still a student, Earle becomes one of the first oceanographers to use scuba equipment 1966 Earns her Ph.D. from Duke University with a dissertation on algae in the Gulf of Mexico, catching the attention of the oceanographic community for its enormous and unprecedented scope 1970 Leads the first all-female team on a habitat mission, Tektite II, living 50 feet underwater for more than a week 1979 Using the JIM—a pressurized, armored diving suit—walks the ocean floor, at a depth of 1,250 feet, untethered for more than two hours 1990 Becomes chief scientist of NOAA 2009 Founds Mission Blue in an effort to protect important areas of the ocean

BIO AGE 81 AFFILIATIONS Mission Blue, Deep Ocean Exploration SPECIALTY Deepwater diving and advocating for the legal protection of 20 percent of Earth’s oceans

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Riccardo Vecchio


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BIO AGE 62 AFFILIATION Professor of Biological Oceanography at Duke University Marine Laboratory SPECIALTY Biological oceanography, Alvin pilot

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1982 Part of the first expedition to explore hydrothermal vents in the East Pacific Rise, a line running from Antarctica to the Gulf of California where tectonic plates are pulling apart 1990 First (and only) female Alvin pilot 1993 Helped explore and characterize Lucky Strike, one of the largest-known and most biologically unique hydrothermal-vent areas 1997 Publishes The Octopus’s Garden, a memoir. 2005 Helps devise ways to protect vents from deep-sea mining 2006 First female director of the Duke University Marine Laboratory 2015 Co-developed a first- of-its-kind tool that can vaccum up huge volumes of plankton to study

Breaking the glass ceiling on the ocean floor BY SARA CHODOSH

CINDY LEE VAN DOVER HOLDS MEMBERSHIP IN A most exclusive boys’ club: Of 42 gearheads, engineers, and former Navy commanders who have piloted the submersible Alvin—the stubby, three-crew midget research sub that explored the Titanic—she is the only woman. “The hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life,” Van Dover says, “was to become an Alvin pilot.” To earn pilot certification takes months of training, memorizing the language of check valves, autoclaves, ballast systems, oxygen monitors, electrical systems, and a Rube-Goldberg system of mechanical levers and knobs. You must master and execute it all 2 miles underwater, where there’s no other way up or out. Since Van Dover’s first piloted dive in 1990, she has descended into the ocean 235 times, discovering dozens of exotic invertebrates living off hydrothermal vents. Even as a kid who spent summers flipping horseshoe crabs and inspecting snail eggs on the beach, all she wanted, she says, was “to see these animals living on the seafloor.” In 1989, she earned a Ph.D. in biological oceanography. That year she won a passenger seat in Alvin—and vowed to become a pilot. After nine months studying manuals and schematics, she earned her certification. Most biologists wait years to get a research project written, funded, and green-lit for an Alvin mission. But a pilot can dive every more often. “It was quite a strategic move on her part, and one that took a lot of guts,” says Dan Fornari, a marine geologist at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute and a colleague of 30 years. Van Dover now spends her days at a desk, organizing expeditions in her eponymous lab at the Duke University Marine Laboratory. But she’ll always remember her last dive. A mile underwater in the Gulf of Mexico, the carbon-dioxide scrubber on Alvin failed. As the CO2 levels started to build up, the pilot had to drop ballast as the crew strapped on oxygen masks and quickly ascended. She never panicked. “I know that submarine so well,” she says. “I knew we’d get back up.” Despite the constant urge to go to sea, that dive will likely be her last.“It was such a memorable one,” she says. “I might just leave it at that.”


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1986 Goes to sea for the first time, visiting the site of the first “black smokers”—vents that spew iron-sulfide clouds—discovered in the Atlantic Ocean 1997 Discovers the first tectonically controlled hydrothermal vent to exist away from an active volcano zone 1999 Discovers the first sites of active venting in the Antarctic, on the East Scotia Ridge 2004 First to use an autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV) to search for, locate, and photograph seafloor hydrothermal vents robotically Looking for aliens—in the Arctic BY KEVIN GRAY

YOU MIGHT NOT EXPECT AN oceanographer to be high on NASA’s speed dial, but when the space agency needed help mounting a mission to Jupiter’s ice-covered moon Europa, it called one: Chris German. Ever since the geochemist found hydrothermal vents teeming with life in the Atlantic Ocean in 1997, he’s been an Indiana Jones in the search for vents, creatures, and the origins of life. A senior scientist at Woods Hole, German was among the first to use programmable underwater robots to explore the seafloor. The skill to operate them in difficult conditions—15,000 feet deep and under 10-foot-thick ice—is what NASA likes about him. Last September, they teamed up for a two-month Arctic expedition, a dry run for what NASA might one day try on Europa. Geochemists theorize that the ocean’s hydrothermal vents—which spew heat, gas, rocks, and chemicals that sustain life—may have birthed all life on this planet. Can the same be true in other

watery worlds? That’s what NASA hopes to find in Europa’s abyssal seafloor: evidence of life—or life’s chemicals—embedded in the top of the ice. “Wouldn’t it be great,” asks German, “if we could fly around the outside of Europa, look down, and detect that stuff? Or land there and scrape up ice samples that could give us an answer?” For years, no one thought life-sustaining ocean vents existed beyond active volcanoes, until German found a vent field in the Atlantic, miles from any active volcano. “He’s a genius at finding life and working at abyssal depths,” says Adam Soule, chief science officer at the Woods Hole National Deep Submergence Facility. German’s work in the Arctic could help NASA decide where and what to look for when it sends the Europa Clipper to take flyby pictures, thermal images, and magnetic soundings of the frozen moon in 2022. Exploring extreme worlds on Earth, he says, will help us search in nearly any ocean habitat. “That’s where I come in,” he says. “We’re going to look pretty dumb if we get up there and find something we didn’t plan for.”

2011 Discovers the first live tube worms in the Atlantic, previously thought to exist only in the Pacific 2014 Leads mission using a fiber-optic tether to send a remotely programmable sub under the Arctic ice

BIO AGE 53 AFFILIATIONS Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution; Most Excellent Order of the British Empire SPECIALTY Geochemistry, finding life in extreme habitats

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BIO AGE 84 AFFILIATIONS University of Rhode Island/ Ocean Exploration Trust SPECIALTY Oceanography, finding shipwrecks and traces of ancient civilizations

Finding the Titanic at the bottom of the sea was just the start BY MARY BETH GRIGGS

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1973 Takes part in Project FAMOUS (French-American Mid-Ocean Undersea Study), his exploration of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge in a submarine helping prove the theory of plate tectonics 1977 AND 1979 Helps discover “black smokers”: hydrothermal vents on the seafloor, areas so seemingly inhospitable to life, researchers are shocked to see the diversity there 1985 Discovers the Titanic under 12,000 feet of water, 73 years after it sank 1989 Discovers the German battleship Bismarck, which the British navy sank in 1941 2008 Founds Ocean Exploration Trust, a nonprofit focused on “pure exploration,” not academic grants; it buys a research vessel and names it E/V Nautilus

FOR 73 YEARS, RMS TITANIC LAY LIKE a silt-coated tomb, 2 miles below the surface of the North Atlantic, where it sank after a violent run-in with an iceberg. In 1985, Bob Ballard, a Naval officer-turned-ocean archaeologist, dragged a deep-sea robot over the site and, using powerful sonar and a video feed, found it. It was the first time anyone had viewed the ship since it went down with hundreds of people on board in 1912. Those grainy first images of the ghost ship ran on repeat across the planet’s TVs. They also gave Ballard an idea. Plenty of smart ocean researchers (archaeologists, biologists, geologists, vulcanologists) can’t raise money for a big expedition or spend an entire month at sea. What if Ballard brought the ocean to them? These days, he does it via telepresence. No, it’s not a Cisco setup with a big screen and interactive graphics. It works like this: A researcher picks a project that lies along the route of E/V Nautilus, the 50-crew

research ship Ballard commands. Ballard’s crew then sends a remote operated vehicle (ROV) to the research site. The ROV feeds video and data to the surface, which the crew beams to the Inner Space Center at the University of Rhode Island, which Ballard founded in 2009. Workers there post it to YouTube for public and scientific viewing. Among the images Ballard has given the world: mud-spitting volcanoes, barnacled World War II patrol boats, Byzantine amphorae (old clay jugs), and fuzz-covered iron-chewing microbes. “We run it like an emergency room,” Ballard says of Nautilus and its shifting missions. “We don’t know what our ambulance is going to bring in: a mother having a baby, a heart-attack victim, a gunshot wound— God knows.” On one recent expedition, Ballard’s crew beamed video of fuzzy microbes at the bottom of the Caribbean Sea to a Harvard biologist, who viewed them via Wi-Fi-connected laptop, 35,000 feet in the air, sitting in coach somewhere over Illinois. Ballard loves stories like that. But he himself is no laptop explorer. He began his career as a Naval officer assigned to Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute in the 1960s. In 1977, he discovered the first “black smokers,” hydrothermal ocean vents. Three years after Titanic, he found the remains of the German battleship Bismarck. This July, he’ll look even deeper into human history. He will sail Nautilus off the Los Angeles coast, following an older, ancient coastline that the sea swallowed during the last Ice Age. He’ll be looking for caves that were once on land. Since caves are natural shelters, and these have been sealed with salt water for millennia, he hopes to find evidence of humans who migrated into North America. For Ballard, it’s a sweet spot of ocean exploration. “The shallow explorers quit when you can’t scuba dive,” he says. “The deep explorers don’t start until they’re past the continental shelf. So there’s this no-explore zone.” He adds, “It looks like fun.”


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2002 Moved from Japan and began working with researchers at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution 2002-2003 Spent 42 days at sea on her first oceangoing research cruise with Woods Hole 2006 Helped establish the magnetic time scale of the Jurassic Quiet Zone in the Pacific, an era that saw several backto-back magnetic pole reversals 2011 Conducts her first geological survey on dry land, in Norway 2016 Among the first researchers to gather three-dimensional magnetic profiles of geologic formations on the seafloor 2017 Plans to examine the magnetic properties of geological formations in ancient seafloors that are no longer submerged, in North Carolina and British Columbia

BIO AGE 37 AFFILIATION Texas A&M University, heads up an applied physics lab for earth sciences SPECIALTY Geology and geophysics, studying magnetic rocks

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Uses rock-sniffing subs to understand polar magnetic flips BY PETER HESS

EARTH’S MAGNETIC POLES have flipped many times over the past 20 million years. Each time that happens, geographic north and south stay put, but magnetic north and south reverse. These flips, known as chrons, can take between 10,000 and 100,000 years. Marine geophysicist Masako Tominaga searches the Pacific seafloor for evidence of past flips. Her work could help scientists predict the next flip, which could devastate life on our planet. Here’s why. Earth’s magnetic field protects it from solar magnetic storms. When the field starts to flip, it weakens, letting those storms strike the planet. It’s not the full flip that’s the problem, it’s the process. The beginning of the next one could let solar storms fry our power grid, our satellites, and expose us to space-radiation-induced DNA mutations. Knowing the speed of previous flips and how Earth generated its field during them can help prepare us for the next one. We think. It’s a mission Tominaga finds

urgent and personal. “Growing up in a naturaldisaster-plagued country,” Tominaga says, “it’s inevitable that you think about why we have these phenomena and what’s driving them.” A native of Japan, she moved to the U.S. in 2002 and started working with researchers at Woods Hole. She studied the Pacific seafloor with a robotic sub and helped figure out that during the Jurassic era, Earth’s field was weak and flipped many times. “It was kind of in fibrillation mode,” says Maurice Tivey, a senior geologist at Woods Hole and Tominaga’s longtime mentor. “She made a very big contribution.” Tominaga now leads her own team at Texas A&M University. She uses a similar robotic sub to sniff out seafloor rocks that contain magnetic stripes. Mineral orientation in these stripes reveals the era and speed of a swap. “They are weak and hard to identify,” she says. There’s evidence we may be on the road to another flip since the magnetic field started destabilizing 2,000 years ago. But, says Tivey, it likely won’t happen for “thousands, or even tens of thousands, of years.”


BIO

Charting the volcanic eruptions that are pushing our world apart BY KNVUL SHEIKH

COLIN DEVEY LAUNCHED HIS VOLCANO-HUNTING career on land, studying a 66-million-year-old lava flow that once covered half of India. But in 1987, he scored an empty bunk on a Tahitian research cruise. Though it’s hard to see volcanic rock on the seafloor, he found the landscape geologically simple. “The continents are complicated because they’ve been around for billions of years, and they’re messed up, like a billboard covered in 150 advertisements, layer on layer,” Devey says. “The oceans are like a new billboard.” For the past 30 years, Devey has busied himself reading those billboards and hauling news of their movements to the surface, altering what we know about plate tectonics and how continents drift apart. Thousands of underwater volcanoes make up the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, a roughly 37,000-mile-long chain of divergent tectonic plates running north to south. Geologists and geochemists like Devey once thought these volcanoes all erupt with equal force, driving continents apart at the same rate along the ridge’s length. Devey, a U.K. native who works at GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research in Kiel, Germany, found asymmetrical activity: patches of extreme violence and relative calm. Because of him, we now know that the North American, Eurasian, South American, and African plates spread at different rates in different spots. We know too that these blasts circulate minerals from inside Earth and (along with magma) help push the plates apart. “The seafloor is where most volcanic activity takes place,” says Devey. “We want to understand why they are there and what they do.” Devey’s next billboard reads will (he hopes) explain the murky geochemistry of a little-studied region in the North Atlantic: the volcanically active Reykjanes Ridge, south of Iceland. In June 2018, he will drop an ROV into its depths to study fresh lava and figure out why the ridge is spreading about 1 inch every year. If the past is any indicator, he’s sure to find something to whet our curiosity. “This planet is fascinating, and we know almost nothing about it,” he says. “The most important thing is to go out there and explore it.”

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AGE 55 AFFILIATION GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research in Kiel, Germany SPECIALTY Geologist, seafloor volcanoes

DEPTH GAUGE

1994 Achieves his deepest dive: 11,483 feet, in the Pacific Ocean. During the dive, a squid rockets past his submersible and explodes a cloud of black ink. “I would have jumped out of the submersible if I could, it was so scary.” 2004-2006 Co-chairs the InterRidge program, an international cooperative for studying midocean ridges and oceanic spreading 2015 While searching for deep-sea organisms off Brazil, discovers the largest cache of round, black manganese deposits ever found in the Atlantic Ocean, some as big as bowling balls and 10 million years old 2016 Studying new volcanic rock in the South Pacific, found that the magma held recycled Archean sediment that had been stored deep in the earth for over 2.5 billion years before rising to the surface as magma


GIANTS OF THE SKY

E N O R M O U S B U T L A R G E LY U N S E E N , T H E S E F LY I N G M U L E S H A U L S O L D I E R S A N D V I TA L S U P P L I E S A L L A R O U N D T H E W O R L D / B Y K E L S E Y AT H E R T O N / P H O T O G R A P H S B Y B E N E D I C T R E D G R O V E


1 c-5m super galaxy

A UNIVERSE OF CARGO

Behold the hollow belly of the largest airplane in the U.S. Air Force. The C-5M Super Galaxy is Lockheed Martin’s latest version of its C-5, first flown in 1968. With that monster cargo bay, longer than the entire distance of the Wright brothers’ first flight, it can carry a 280,000-pound load (equivalent to two 68-ton M1 Abrams tanks) for 2,150 nautical miles, then unload and keep going for 500 more. C-5s have transported everything from a deep-sea rescue submarine to Vietnamese children in 1975’s Operation Babylift.

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1 dreamlifter

CAVE OF THE WINDS

The main cargo hold of Boeingâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Dreamlifter is 65,000 cubic feet. Another way to think of it, says Dreamlifter operations expert Dave Beck, is that the hold has enough volume for a 10-lane bowling alley in a three-story building. Beneath that space, and the huge airplane parts it carries, the Dreamlifter has a secondary hold for smaller cargo. But it didnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t start life with this much capacity. Boeing converted each one from a 747-400 jumbo jet, making it taller, wider, and longer than the already massive passenger plane.


1 c-17 globemaster iii

THE POWER BROKER

To carry its bulk through the sky, the C-17 relies on four Pratt & Whitney F117 engines to generate 40,400 pounds of thrust. Each 7,100-pound engine, like the one pictured here, stretches nearly the length of a Honda Civic and, at its widest point, measures about 7 feet across. Together, those enormous engines provide enough lift for a C-17 to carry 10 Humvees, three Strykers, or one M1 Abrams battle tank. With a full, lighter load of 102 paratroopers, it could fly all the way from Delaware to Donetsk, Ukraine.

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1 p-791

BLIMP MY RIDE

Deserts, jungles, the ocean, and the Arctic are too remote for most vehicles. Oil and mining companies want access to them for their resources, but there’s no cost-effective craft for getting there—yet. Lockheed Martin thinks a helium-filled airship could solve that problem. It built this experimental P-791 to test out technology for the commercial LMH-1 hybrid airship, due for a 2018 delivery. Compared with planes, it will have lower fuel consumption, quieter takeoffs, and greater fuel efficiency per ton of cargo.

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1 c-17 globemaster iii

F LY I N G A M B U L A N C E

The cockpit of the C-17 Globemaster III, the workhorse of the Air Force, holds three crew members: pilot, copilot, and loadmaster. The latter makes sure the cargo and people inside the craft are balanced, which is key to letting a C-17 carry large groups: It can serve as a supersize ambulance, transporting a five-person medical team with up to 34 prone patients and 54 walking ones. Thanks in part to stable transport like this, injured American troops who make it to a field hospital have a 98 percent chance of survival.


1 p-791

RISING INFL ATION

The P-791 sits on four gray “feet”: its air cushion landing system. Inspired by hovercraft, these feet soften the airship’s landings and then, once it’s on the ground, use suction to anchor the craft. Lockheed used the P-791 to test components, like this landing system, that it later incorporated into the design of its LMH-1 airship. Like its sibling, the LMH-1 will take off and land vertically, giving it more flexibility than planes, with more carrying power than cargo helicopters like the U.S. Army’s CH-47 Chinook.

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1 dreamlifter

A PLANE-CARRYING PLANE

Boeing owns exactly four of these big boys, which it entrusts with a very special mission: carrying parts of its commercial 787 Dreamliner around the world. The Dreamlifter hinges open to grab its varied payload: It flies to Italy, South Carolina, and Kansas for up to 104-foot-long fuselage sections, to Japan for 96.5-foot-long wings, and to South Carolina and Washington state for final assembly. This method, Boeing says, reduces the time required to ship Dreamliner components overseas from 30 days to one.

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Section Rubric here

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BY ADAM PIORE / PHOTOGRAPH BY MARIUS BUGGE P G. 6 5

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MICHAEL LEVIN WIRES FROGS TO REGROW SEVERED LEGS—OR GROW EXTRA ONES.

CAN HE DO THE SAME FOR A HUMAN?

P H OTOGR AP H BY

Credit Here

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ONE MORNING IN SPRING 2000,

Michael Levin flopped in his chair and clicked on his desktop computer. A newly minted assistant professor at Harvard, Levin, then 30, was looking to solve a riddle that had baffled science for centuries: How do our dividing embryonic cells know on which side of our bodies to grow our hearts, our livers, our gall bladders? Countless people throughout history have been born with some, even all, of their organs transposed, and yet functioning. Levin suspected DNA alone was not to blame; there had to be some other trigger. Days earlier, he had ordered an imaging test on a half dozen chick embryos at the verge of organized development. As he pulled up the results, he stared, amazed. Electrical charges, rendered in yellows and reds, lay across the cells in patches, left to right, as clearly as a neon “This Way” arrow. Levin sat back and blinked. He was witnessing, for the first time in history, embryo cells telling each other left from right via electricity.

HOW TO GROW AN ARM USING TINY ELECTRICAL CURRENTS TO GO FROM S T U M P T O F U L LY FUNCTIONING APPENDAGE by Rachel Feltman

For decades, genetics taught us a simple truth: Each cell in our body (and there are billions) contains the blueprint that tells us how to grow. That might not be the whole story. Levin and a few others now say that tiny bioelectric signals surging through and among our cells act as an instruction to kick-start gene expression. These signals point cells in the right direction as they start to grow into things like hearts, and influence the shape and function of the body. For two decades, Levin has set about proving it. In doing so, he has created a startling Island of Dr. Moreau zoo of freaks. He forced tadpoles to grow an eye on their gut; induced frogs to sprout six legs; and caused worms to grow two heads, which, when severed, will grow back just like a salamander’s severed tail—all by manipulating the faintest of bioelectric signals. He now thinks—no, he knows—he will one day do the same for humans. So if a solider loses an arm to a bomb on the battlefield, he will simply grow a new one. “I don’t know if it will be faster than the normal process of human fetal growth,” says Levin, sitting in his laboratory office at Tufts University where he now works, tending his creations as well as a jungle of houseplants. “Worst-case scenario: If you get your arm blown off at 25, by 35 you will have a teenager’s hand, which is very functional.” To do this, Levin traverses the most infinitesimal of passages. Across the surface of each cell sit hollow proteins known as ion channels. Charged molecules (or ions) surge through these pathways, entering and exiting cells and changing cell polarities and voltage gradients (the difference in voltage across the body). Tiny gates inside the channels control flow, swinging open and closed based on certain signals; when enough gates open, ions flood the cell and change its charge. The cell passes information to its neighbors through another group of gated proteins called “gap junctions.” By deploying such microscopic tools as neurotoxins, Levin easily opens or blocks channels, flooding them with ions or strangling them. In the process, he creates creatures that nature never designed and that few of us have ever imagined. “The endgame of this field,” Levin says, “is complete specification of shape. You’d be able to sit down on a computer, like in Photoshop, and draw what you want, and out it comes. If you said, ‘I want a triangular frog with seven legs, and the eyes should be over here,’ I don’t see any reason you couldn’t do that.”

1/ SEVERED ARM Surgeons prepare an amputation site for limb regeneration by cleaning the wound site of debris. They then expose raw nerves, bones, tendons, muscles, and other tissues so the molecules in them can be treated with a faint electrical charge.

2/ BIODOME To conduct electrical currents, the wound site must remain moist and protected from air, which would dry it out and expose the wound to infection. So surgeons put this sleeve over the site. Made of silicone, rubber, and silk, it mimics the aquatic habitat of a womb.


PHOTO GR AP H BY ERIN SWITZER

A Leg Up Murphy cop movies. Levin used them to It’s a goal that sounds megalomaniacal, The lab used light to alter the biolectricity in log into the company’s mainframe to learn preposterous, Frankensteinian. Even supthis frog, making it grow a leg from its mouth. coding. By 15, he wrote a version of Pacporters—including his former Harvard Man, created a software-graphics editor, mentor, developmental biologist Cliff and published a journal paper, showing Tabin—question his controversial claims. how to use trigonometry to draw 3-D-like While the genetics field now believes that shapes on a 2-D screen. ion channels play a role in creating and A year later, in 1986, Levin’s father took differentiating organ placement in the the family to Vancouver for Expo 86 (aka body, many doubt Levin can drive the the World’s Fair). The experience would mechanism. “How do you control it?” asks change Levin’s life. A monorail hummed Tabin. “If you are designing the logic of the overhead. Eurythmics played. General system, how do you decide where to make Motors showed off a new holographic a head as opposed to where you make a technology. But Levin’s big lightbulb motail? You might need channel proteins to ment didn’t happen in a pavilion or aboard make these decisions, but that might not a magnetic levitating train. It happened in be the linchpin of the decision itself.” a tiny bookstore, in downtown Vancouver, far from the crowds. Levin disagrees. And his life’s work, his motivating animation One day, rummaging the store’s shelves, Levin found a copy of and purpose, is to prove he can use bioelectricity to fix anything. the 1985 The Body Electric: Electromagnetism and the Foundation of Life by Robert Becker and Gary Selden. An orthopedic surgeon AT 47 YEARS OLD, ON THE SHORT SIDE, WITH PALE BLUE EYES, for the U.S. Veterans Administration, Becker had become fixatand an often untidy beard, Levin looks a lot like Pavel Chekov, ed on bioelectricity: the way our bodies interact with magnetic the navigator in the original Star Trek TV show. Mostly it’s the lax fields (like power lines) as well as the impulses that animate our brown hair pasted across his forehead. But he’s also Russian, as muscles and brains. As far back as the 1780s, Italian physicist Luigi was Chekov. Despite immigrating to Swampscott, Massachusetts, Galvani discovered the presence of animal electricity by attacha seaside town north of Boston, when he was child, his slight ing electrodes to a dead frog’s legs and making them twitch. Other Boston accent is sometimes colored by a subtle Slavic inflection. scientists later figured out that ions carried this energy through “That’s a six-legged frog we made, showing you can trigger ectothe body. It wasn’t until the 1930s and ’40s that new tools helped pic limb formation by appropriate voltage gradients,” Levin says, researchers learn that ion flows could control a cell’s polarity. in his usual clinical deadpan. He rarely betrays amazement, huBecker cited these studies and added details from his own exmor, or even a glint of smug at what he has wrought. He is standperiments. He amputated the limbs of frogs and salamanders, ing in the corridor outside his office, a stretch of hall dominated and applied a voltmeter to the wound sites. He found that within by an unsettling gallery of his creations. Like a music producer’s 24 hours of an amputation, the wound-site voltage in both species gold-record collection, he has hung at least a dozen poster-size spiked from -10 mV to +20. But the voltage in the salamander later blowups of his scientific journal covers, such as a 2007 Develplummeted to -30 mV, a pattern that preceded limb regeneration. opment, depicting a frog with two legs, one left arm and three Becker wondered if you could change the voltage in the frog, crab-arm-like protrusions blooming from the right side of its body. When Levin was a kid, about 10 years old, his father would bring home computers from his programming job at Digital Equipment Adam Piore is the author of The Body Builders: Inside the Science Corporation, which made those boxy computers you see in Eddie of the Engineered Human, out in March.

3/ ION FLOOD The sleeve contains drugs that can manipulate the body’s ion channels, hollow proteins that sit on the surface of cells letting charged molecules move in and out, thus changing a cell’s charge and its signaling to other cells across the body.

I L LUSTR ATI ON BY

Todd Detwiler

4/ GENE TRIGGER The cells’ bioelectric signals influence the action and direction of genes, acting as a sort of software code for the entire body. Once the signal to divide cells is given, a cascading effect happens, and the body will begin the natural process of growing an arm.

5/ NEW ARM The process is as fast as normal human fetal growth. That means a 25-year-old solder who lost an arm to a roadside bomb would have to wait a decade, until the age of 35, for the arm of a middle-schooler—but one that would be fully functioning.

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would it do the same: regrow the lopped-off limb? He thought so. But at the time, he did not have tools precise enough to try it. Levin, just 16 years old, was electrified by this question. When he returned home, he tracked down each study Becker cited, read it, looked up the references, read those, and followed the trail back to Galvani, Xeroxing hundreds of papers along the way. His obsession remained a hobby, a side project to his real work: coding. Still, it kept nudging its way into his work. Later, as a computer-science major at Tufts, he wanted to create an artificial intelligence, which he felt would need the ability to self-repair. But to figure out how to make a machine do it, he first needed to figure out how nature does it. So he borrowed magnetic coils from the physics lab, wrapped them around sea urchin embryos, and measured the way electromagnetic waves changed the rate of cell division, findings that led to his first two scientific papers. By senior year, he had started a software company. But what he really wanted was to join a research lab to make science-altering discoveries. So he left the software company and soon found himself in Tabin’s lab at Harvard Medical School. At the time, Tabin’s team had identified a signaling gene that seemed to express on the left side of the body early in development. They knew a bit about what it did in later stages, but they hadn’t looked into why it was located where it was. Not one of his postdocs would tackle the deeper questions of why and how. “I have a number of really smart, talented, and ambitious students; none of them would touch it with a 10-foot pole,” says Tabin. They did not want to take the risk of throwing years of their lives into a black hole. As soon as he entered the lab, Levin—despite doubts from his thesis adviser—jumped on it. Levin realized, “correctly,” says Tabin, that it was an richly unexplored bit of science. “Mike, when he sees something he thinks is a really cool idea, he doesn’t worry about what other people think,” says Tabin. Levin then found other genes that controlled the left-right symmetry of body parts, and eventually illuminated the genetic pathway that helped direct the action. But he still believed something else drove the signals forward. By 2000, he knew it was bioelectricity, but he needed to know more about how it worked. A colleague had access to a tool that made the cells fluoresce red, green, yellow, and blue based on voltage. Levin asked him to try it on some chick embryos. And then, on that spring day in 2000, there it was: proof electricity played a key role in gene expression, in influencing where and when organs grow. SPARKING LIFE INTO SEVERED STUMPS TO MAKE them regrow is not all that new. In the 1970s, pioneers such as biologists Lionel Jaffe and Richard Borgens showed they could ignite the beginnings of limb regeneration in frogs by applying electrical currents. But they had conducted their experiments with simple batteries. Levin is the first to precisely tweak bioelectric signals at the cellular level, and to try to crack the

code for what it means to those cells. At Tufts, he built a complex toolbox to do this. Among those tools: neurotoxins and drugs that block ion channels that would otherwise stay open, or open those that would stay shut; RNA that also codes for new channels, which Levin injects into cells via glass micropipette; molecules that can transport ions through cell membranes; and genes that code for ion channels (discovered by brain, kidney, and gut specialists). He tracks the impact of voltage changes using fluorescent proteins and dyes, which grow brighter as the voltage gradient rises. Each cell surface hosts hundreds of ion channels. But only one or two dominate these voltage gradients, so Levin can easily manipulate them. For instance, just four channels act as the master control knobs that determine if organs grow on the correct side of the body. Tweaking any one of them randomizes the organ placement. Levin grew an eye on a tadpole’s gut, just by adding one extra channel. “If you ask the question, ‘Where does the eye come from in the first place?’ you look in the embryo, and you can see that there’s a particular bioelectric pattern that sets up the endogenous eye field,” Levin explains. “Now if I set up that same pattern somewhere else, will I get an eye? The answer, as we know, is yes.” Inducing a limb to regrow requires a little extra TLC. To make a tadpole regrow a tail, Levin soaks the wound in a solution so charged ions flood its cells. Soak time: one hour. Eight days later: new tail. To regrow a limb takes a 24-hour soak. A functional leg takes about six months. The purpose of the soak, Levin says, is that it “kick-starts all these other cascades of gene expression, of cell behavior.” Levin faces challenges to do the same for humans, or any warm-blooded mammal. First, warm-blooded animals have much higher blood pressure than reptiles. So there’s a huge risk of bleeding out if the wound is not papered over with a scab. Second, warm-blooded limbs tend to grow more slowly, allowing a greater risk that infection will take hold. And just as with any animal, the body attacks infection with inflammation, which could inhibit cellular growth. Also, to conduct electrical current around a wound, it must stay moist and be protected from air. Levin, along with David Kaplan, chairman of Tufts department of biomedical engineering, developed a watertight BioDome that they place over an animal’s wound site. Levin’s hope is that a human amputee would have to wear it only a few hours, just long enough to give the cells the initial signal to start growing. Made of silicone, rubber, and silk, it would contain an aquatic habitat similar to what you find surrounding an embryo, but filled with the sort of ion-manipulating tools that would trigger limb regrowth. The pair have put BioDomes over frogs’ severed limbs, which helped the frogs regrow functioning legs. “The tools are there,” says Kaplan. “It’s just getting everything to work together, so it’s only a matter of time.” Levin’s work could soon change cancer treatment. This past March, he and colleagues made global headlines when they Continued on page 92

LEVIN MUST TRAVERSE THE TINIEST OF PASSAGES, A HOLLOW PROTEIN KNOWN AS AN ION CHANNEL, NO MORE THAN AN ATOM OR TWO WIDE.


I L LUSTR ATI ON S BY

Totto Renna / PHOTO G RA PH BY The Voorhes

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Rechargeable Digital Hearing Aid - For Only $179!* The new HearClearTM,ZZĞĐŚĂƌŐĞĂďůĞŝŐŝƚĂů,ĞĂƌŝŶŐŝĚƐĂƌĞ ŶŽǁĂǀĂŝůĂďůĞƚŽLJŽƵĨŽƌĂŶƵŶďĞůŝĞǀĂďůĞƉƌŝĐĞdŚŝƐƋƵĂůŝƚLJĚŝŐŝƚĂů ŚĞĂƌŝŶŐĂŝĚŚĂƐƚŚĞƐĂŵĞŬĞLJĞůĞŵĞŶƚƐƚŚĂƚĂůůŚŝŐŚĞŶĚĚŝŐŝƚĂů ŚĞĂƌŝŶŐĂŝĚƐƐŚĂƌĞďƵƚŝƐĂůƐŽƌĞĐŚĂƌŐĞĂďůĞdŚĞŵŝĐƌŽƉŚŽŶĞ ƉŝĐŬƐƵƉƚŚĞƐŽƵŶĚĂŶĚƐĞŶĚƐĂŶĞůĞĐƚƌŝĐĂůƐŝŐŶĂůƚŽƚŚĞĚŝŐŝƚĂů ƐŝŐŶĂůƉƌŽĐĞƐƐŽƌǁŚŝĐŚŝƐƚŚĞďƌĂŝŶƐŽĨƚŚĞŚĞĂƌŝŶŐĂŝĚdŚĞ ƐŽƵŶĚŝƐƚŚĞŶĂĚũƵƐƚĞĚƚŽĂŵƉůŝĨLJŝŵƉŽƌƚĂŶƚƐƉĞĞĐŚƐŽƵŶĚƐĂƐǁĞůů ĂƐĮůƚĞƌŝŶŐŽƵƚƵŶǁĂŶƚĞĚŶŽŝƐĞKŶĐĞƚŚĞĚŝŐŝƚĂůƉƌŽĐĞƐƐŽƌŚĂƐ ĂŵƉůŝĮĞĚƚŚĞƐŽƵŶĚŝƚŝƐƉĂƐƐĞĚƚŽƚŚĞreceiver (also known as the ƐƉĞĂŬĞƌ(ǁŚŝĐŚĞŵŝƚƐĂĐŽƌƌĞĐƚĞĚĂŶĚĂŵƉůŝĮĞĚ ƐŽƵŶĚƚŚƌŽƵŐŚƚŚĞƐŽƵŶĚƚƵďĞŝŶƚŽLJŽƵƌĞĂƌ DŽƐƚŝŵƉŽƌƚĂŶƚůLJLJŽƵƌŶĞǁ,ĞĂƌůĞĂƌ,Z hearing aids work at a ĨƌĂĐƟŽŶŽĨƚŚĞĐŽƐƚŽĨ ŶĂŵĞ3ďƌĂŶĚŚĞĂƌŝŶŐĂŝĚƐĂŶĚLJŽƵĚŽŶƚŚĂǀĞƚŽ ŬĞĞƉĐŚĂŶŐŝŶŐƚŚĞďĂƩĞƌŝĞƐzŽƵǁŝůůĂůƐŽůŽǀĞ ƚŚĞĐŽŵĨŽƌƚĂďůĞůŝŐŚƚǁĞŝŐŚƚKƉĞŶ3ĮƚĚĞƐŝŐŶ zŽƵĐĂŶƐƉĞŶĚƚŚŽƵƐĂŶĚƐĨŽƌĂŶĞdžƉĞŶƐŝǀĞ ŚĞĂƌŝŶŐĂŝĚŽƌLJŽƵĐĂŶƐƉĞŶĚũƵƐƚΨϭ*+ĨŽƌĂŚĞĂƌŝŶŐĂŝĚƚŚĂƚũƵƐƚ plain works ;ŽŶůLJΨϭϳ+ĞĂĐŚǁŚĞŶLJŽƵďƵLJĂƉĂŝƌ9tĞĂƌĞƐŽ ƐƵƌĞLJŽƵǁŝůůůŽǀĞŽƵƌƉƌŽĚƵĐƚƚŚĂƚǁĞŽīĞƌĂ100% Money Back 'ƵĂƌĂŶƚĞĞ;ZŝƐŬ&ƌĞĞŝĨLJŽƵĂƌĞŶŽƚƐĂƟƐĮĞĚĨŽƌĂŶLJƌĞĂƐŽŶ

*MONEY SAVING OFFER hƐĞŽƵƉŽŶŽĚĞ# P71

'ƌĞĂƚ,ĞĂƌŝŶŐŝĚ /ŵƌĞĂůůLJŐůĂĚ /ƚƌŝĞĚƚŚĞ,ĞĂƌůĞĂƌ,Z/ƚǁŽƌŬƐ ĂƐŐŽŽĚĂƐŽƌďĞƩĞƌƚŚĂŶƚŚĞŵŽƌĞ ĞdžƉĞŶƐŝǀĞŽŶĞƐ/ǀĞƉƵƌĐŚĂƐĞĚŝŶƚŚĞƉĂƐƚ /ƚƐŐƌĞĂƚƚŚĂƚƚŚĞƉƌŝĐĞŝƐƌĞĂƐŽŶĂďůĞ dŚĂŶŬLJŽƵĨŽƌƚŚĞŐƌĞĂƚƉƌŽĚƵĐƚ- Tim M.

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The HCRC

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Visit and Save: www.AdvancedHearing.com/P71


Manual TIME 2 hours COST $28

Stargaze Like Galileo

DIFFICULTY • •• • •

Build the type of telescope the pioneering astronomer used to explore the night sky. +MATERIALS • 50 mm double concave lens, 150 mm focal length

2-inch inner diameter • PVC external

• 50 mm double convex lens, 1000 mm focal length

end cap for 2-inchdiameter pipe • Paper-towel

• PVC pipe,

or toilet-

5-foot P R O P ST YL IN G BY S A R A H G UI D O -LA A K S O FO R H A LLE Y R ES O UR C ES & R E A DY S E T

length,

paper tube

+INSTRUCTIONS

1/ Calculate the distance between lenses: Subtract the focal length of the concave lens (curves inward) from that of the convex lens (curves outward). We got 33.5 inches. Saw the PVC pipe to this length. 2/ Drill a hole in the center of the end cap. Center and glue the concave lens on the inside of the cap. Put the cap on the pipe.

+TOOLS

of the cardboard tube. If necessary, cut a slit in the tube so the lens fits. Slide the tube into the open end of the PVC pipe. 4/Peer through the hole in the cap at a target you can’t see from several feet away, such as a piece of text. If the focus is off, adjust the lens. Glue it in place, and then decorate your telescope.

3/ Glue the convex lens to the inside

PH OTOGR AP H BY

Ted Cavanaugh

• Measuring tape • Handsaw • Drill • Hot-glue gun • Scissors

by MICHAEL KOZIOL

JAN/F E B 20 1 7 • POPSCI.COM

77


Manual Theme Building

Snap the Night Sky on a Phone Y O U C A N ’ T S T O P G A Z I N G AT T H E luminous full moon—you need to share this with Instagram. So you pull out your phone, aim at the heavens, and capture... a fuzzy white blob. The firmament is one of the hardest targets to snap on a phone. Why? A smartphone’s camera lens is wide, and it automatically sets the exposure to capture the dark sky instead of the bright objects in it. To up your phone game, try adding some additional technology. These tips will by help you photograph ceSOPHIE lestial bodies near and far. BUSHWIC K

78 POPS C I. CO M • JA N/FE B 2 01 7

1

SHOOT THE MOON Before you adjust the settings on your phone, fix the setting around it. Go to a dark area to avoid light pollution, clean the camera lens with a soft cloth to remove any smudges that might produce a glow effect, and use a tripod and a remote trigger to stabilize the phone. (Did you know you can use your headphone remote to take a photo?) On an iPhone, focus on the moon by tapping on it, and then swipe down to reduce brightness.

2

TRACE STAR TRAILS As Earth spins on its axis, the stars overhead appear to move in curves. The paths they follow are called star trails. Apps that let you customize your camera settings can take long exposures that will reveal them. The NightCap Pro app is particularly easy to set up because it has “star trails” as a preset mode. As you do for moon photos, minimize light pollution, keep the lens clean, and stabilize the camera.

3

CAPTURE A PLANET To nab bright planets such as Saturn and Jupiter, snap them on the eyepiece of a telescope and reveal details with stacking software. First, use an app like ProShot or Manual to take multiple photos in RAW format. Then combine the images with a computer program such as Deep Sky Stacker. This works best if you have a mount that holds your smartphone to the scope. Or hack one together with wood, a hose clamp, and some rubber bands.

I L LUST RAT I ON BY

Chris McVeigh


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Manual Toolbox

1

The Modern Explorer’s Survival Kit WHO NEEDS A SURVIVAL KIT? YOU HAVE A PHONE. Compass. Flashlight. Maps. Translator. Classic tools of exploration, all there under your uncalloused thumb. But your phone is not a rain poncho or a power bar. It’s time to think like a modern explorer, one as capable on an urban grid as on a dirt switchback. The items here will help you break away from your routine while letting you hang on to your app-store by comforts. Welcome to the SARA CH OD OS H Silicon Age of Exploration. AND PET ER H ES S

2

3

1/ FOOD Whether you’re trekking the trails or the avenues, you’ve gotta eat. Powders and bars made from crickets pack protein, iron, vitamin B12—and less sugar than most granola. You won’t even know you’re eating bugs. Chapul Protein Powder, $39; Chapul Bar, $3 2/ POWER Nothing says “rookie explorer” like running out of juice. This unit, with built-in Apple Lightning and micro-USB cables, lets you and two companions charge your devices at the same time. Jackery Bolt 6,000 mAh Ultra-Compact External Battery Charger, $22.09

1

3/ BURNER PHONE It never hurts to have two. If your phone is lost, stolen, or broken, a prepaid flip phone will give you a secure backup— and it doesn’t even need a wireless plan. Throw one in your bag for that Jason Bourne vibe. TracFone LG L237C 3G Prepaid Phone, $14.99

80 POPS C I. CO M • JA N/FE B 2 017

PHOTOGRA PH BY

Ted Cavanaugh


4

4/ COMMUNICATION Don’t lose your friends to a cellular dead zone. The candybar-size goTenna turns phones into walkie-talkies, letting connected smartphones talk and text, via VHF radio waves, within a 4-mile radius. Plus, it keeps your GPS online even without a signal. goTenna, $149

5

6

5/ FIRST AID The price of exploring is blisters. With waterproof tape, you can protect your feet in any condition. Don’t forget to sanitize your hands before and after treating your sores. Nexcare Absolute Waterproof Tape, $3.42; Purell Advanced Travel Size, $10.97 for pack of four

7

6/ WATER Does the water in your city park or campsite fountain taste like metal? Improve your H2O by drinking it from a bottle with a built-in filter. But this bottle won’t stop all microbes, so boil water from a questionable source before filtering it. Bobble Classic 18.5 oz., $9.99

8

5

7/ NAVIGATION Fiddling with your phone while biking is dangerous. Get handsfree directions by attaching this turn-by-turn navigation device to your handlebars. Download the app, pick a route, pocket your phone, and follow the light-up turn signals. Hammerhead One, $99 8/ RAIN PROTECTION Whether you’re stuck in a woodsy downpour or faced with a dew-slick park bench, you’ll want reliable, stay-dry gear. And nothing beats the versatility, protection, and low price of a rain poncho. LOOGU Camouflage Waterproof Rain Poncho, $16.88


HOW IT WORKS

Manual Fix the World

Zero-Casualty Mine Sweeping BROTHERS MASSOUD AND Mahmud Hassani grew up in Kabul, Afghanistan, knowing that one wrong step could end their lives. “When we walked to school, we had a special path to follow—otherwise we would end up in a minefield,” Massoud says. Mines are cheap to manufacture and deploy, but slow and expensive to remove. An estimated 110 million land m i n e s l i tte r the globe, killby ing 15,000 to C OBY 20,000  people M cDONAL D

a year. Living among them “becomes like a mental disorder,” Massoud says. “The fear is on your mind all the time.” After the Hassani family relocated to the Netherlands, the brothers created an antimine device based on a windpowered tumbleweed toy they’d built as children. The Mine Kafon (kafon means “explode” in Dari) could roll through a minefield, detonating any mines it crossed and thus marking out a safe path. Though more conceptual than

practical, it became a hit; New York’s Museum of Modern Art even bought one in 2012. The Hassanis spent the next two years developing a tool they hope will have real-world impact: a mine-hunting drone. The autonomous copter performs a three-step process: It maps an area, detects mines, and then destroys them. The brothers c laim Mine Kafon Drones will clear mines 20 times faster than existing technologies. Removing a single mine by hand can cost $300 to $1,000; one Kafon costs about $1,100 and can cover a full minefield. The Hassanis hope to deploy thousands, potentially ridding the world of land mines within 10 years.

The Mine Kafon Drone operates in three phases, and it uses a separate robotic attachment for each one.

1/ MAPPER

Using a 3-D camera, GPS, and a computer, the drone maps the terrain, turning any given area into a precise grid. 2/ DETECTOR

Brothers’ Sweeper The Hassani brothers make adjustments to a Mine Kafon Drone. Sensors and a retractable arm keep the metal detector 1.5 inches above the ground as it geotags mine locations. 3/ DETONATOR

82 PO PS C I. CO M • JA N/FE B 2 01 7

LEFT TO RIGHT: C OURTESY H ASSAN I B ROTHERS; ILLUSTRATIO NS BY +ISM

A gripper arm places a small, explosive detonator onto each mine. The drone then triggers the explosives remotely.


M

o ct N tra n o Fee N hly t

Co

Breakthrough technology converts phone calls to captions.

on

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A simple idea… made possible with sophisticated technology. If you have trouble understanding a call, the Captioning Telephone can change your life. During a phone call the words spoken to you appear on the phone’s screen – similar to closed captioning on TV. So when you make or receive a call, the words spoken to you are not only amplified by the phone, but scroll across the phone so you can listen while reading everything that’s said to you. Each call is routed through a call center, where computer technology – aided by a live representative – generates voice-to-text translations. The captioning is real-time, accurate and readable. Your conversation is private and the captioning service doesn’t cost you a penny. Captioned Telephone Service (CTS) is regulated and funded by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and is designed exclusively for individuals with hearing loss. In order to use CTS

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81112

Do you get discouraged when you hear your telephone ring? Do you avoid using your phone because hearing difficulties make it hard to understand the person on the other end of the line? For many Americans the telephone conversation – once an important part of everyday life – has become a thing of the past. Because they can’t understand what is said to them on the phone, they’re often cut off from friends, family, doctors and caregivers. Now, thanks to innovative technology there is finally a better way.


Manual DIY Evolution

Make a Sextant from Junk FOR THOUSANDS OF YEARS, humans navigated by comparing their positions with those of familiar celestial bodies. They did this with instruments such as the sextant, which measures the angle between a heavenly target and the horizon. Some sextants are precise works of art; others are super-basic devices cobbled together from office supplies. We built the latter. Simple as it is, you can use this DIY sextant to estimate latitude—and navigate like an ancient mariner.

• Protractor • String • Paper clips • Tape • Foot-long ruler

TIME 10 minutes COST $7 DIFFICULTY •••••

84 PO PS C I. CO M • JA N/FE B 2 01 7

+INSTRUCTIONS

1/Tie string through the hole in the protractor’s base. 2/Cut the string to about 7 inches and tie a weight such as paper clips to its other end. 3/Tape the straight edge of the protractor to the ruler, about half an inch from one end. 4/On a clear night, hold the ruler up to your eye and sight Polaris (the star at the end of the Little Dipper’s “handle”) down its length. Measure the angle at which the string hangs, and subtract this number from 90. The result is the angle of Polaris’ altitude above the horizon. Polaris is directly above the North Pole, so its angle corresponds to your latitude.

5/In the Southern Hemisphere, replace Polaris with the southern celestial pole. To find it, use the constellations Centaurus and Crux. Draw an imaginary line between the two brightest stars in Centaurus, then another line bisecting it. The point where the bisecting line crosses a line drawn through Crux is the southern pole. 6/To navigate, measure the latitude before you leave home. As you return, stay at that latitude while traveling either east or west, depending on which coast you sailed from.

PHOTOGRA PH BY

Ted Cavanaugh

PR OP STYLING BY SAR AH G UIDO-LAAKSO FOR HALLEY RESOUR CES

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Biohacks +TOOLS & MATERIALS • Two five-gallon food-grade buckets (A) • Drill with ½-inch hole saw and

/16-inch

1

bit

• Sandpaper • Cloth or nylon strips (B)

RoadReady Garden

• PVC pipe, ¾-to 1-inch wide, 18 inches long (C) • Saw C

• 16 quarts of soil (D) • Seedlings or plants (E)

+INSTRUCTIONS

D

by MARY BE TH GRIGGS

1/ Trace the mouth of the pipe on the bottom of one bucket, less than an inch from the edge. Drill and sand out that circle.

THERE’S NOTHING QUITE like putting down roots and tending a garden. But what happens if you don’t have a backyard? Or you’re suddenly uprooted? Or you decide to go on a road trip and can’t get anyone to watch your plants? Just whip up a portable container garden. Sure, it’s not the same thing as a plot of land, but it’s easy to build and you can move it on demand. In this design, created by researchers at the University of Maryland Extension, a water reservoir helps keep the plants healthy and hydrated— even if you forget to water them while you’re traveling.

2/ Drill five additional 1/2-inch holes: one in the center and four evenly spaced around the edge. For drainage, add eight smaller holes spread around the bottom.

A

3/ Tie a knot at one end of each cloth strip. Feed the strips through the 1/2-inch holes so the knots sit on the inside and the cloth hangs down. 4/ Put the holey bucket into the second one, mark a spot on the outer bucket where the holey base hits, and separate them. Drill a small overflow hole at the mark and restack the buckets.

B

5/ Cut one end of the pipe at a 45-degree angle. Push that end through the pipe-size hole in the inner bucket. 6/ Fill the inner bucket with damp soil and plants, and keep them hydrated by pouring water down the pipe. Stop adding water when the overflow hole starts to leak.

TIME 2 hours COST $50 DIFFICULTY •••••

Charging via Train Tracks

86 POPS C I. CO M • JA N/FE B 2 017

Some train tracks carry an electric charge to locate trains or detect blockages. This electricity, as demonstrated by Ukrainian DIYers Pavel Pavlov and Aleksandr Kryukov,

can also charge a phone. Warning: No, no, no. No. Don’t mess with train tracks. Tracks carry a little less than 3 volts of alternating current. To harness it, lay a piece of metal across

each rail and connect it to components that will convert the flow into direct current, stabilize it, and step it up to the 5 volts your phone needs. So why not try this? Well, it would take a

really long time to charge anything. Oh, and hanging around an active train line could get you arrested or killed. Most important, a bad circuit could fry your precious phone.

I L LUST RAT I ON BY

+ISM

IC ON BY MICHAEL BRANDON MYERS

Don’t Try This


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A

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foam insulation • Black gaffer tape • Scissors bamboo skewers • Aluminum tape • Sheet of glass or plastic • Oven mitts

TIME 2 hours by THOM LEAVY

+INSTRUCTIONS

• Eight 1-foot

COST $30 DIFFICULTY • •• • •

1/Line the inside of one box with adhesive and foam insulation, and cover the insulation with gaffer tape. 2/Cut duplicates of the first box’s flaps from the second box. Tape the duplicates to the outer edges of the originals, doubling their surface area.

3/Poke two skewers into each side of the box to prop open the flaps. Adjust their angles for maximum sunlight, using the link at popsci.com/ solaroven. 4/Cut cardboard triangles to fit in

the gaps between the flaps and affix them with gaffer tape. Cover the flaps with aluminum tape. 5/To cook, lay the glass on the insulation and position the oven to catch the sunlight. It gets hot, so handle with oven mitts when it’s cooking.

PHOTOGRAPH BY BRIAN KLUTCH

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Recycle Plastic at Home WHEN HUMANS MOVE INTO NEW TERRITORY, WE LEAVE

COURTESY DAVE HAKKENS (2)

waste behind, and one of our most harmful byproducts is plastic. Dave Hakkens wants to solve the planet’s plastic problem with a build-it-yourself home recycling system that will make the material easy to reuse. “With wood or metal, you can recycle it yourself,” he says. There are already consumer tools that can cut,

Repurposed Tech

bend, melt, and reconnect scraps of this material. The machines that process plastic for recycling, on the other hand, are not available in your average workshop. So Hakkens decided to design those machines himself. His Precious Plastic system includes four appliances: One chops up and shreds clean plastic refuse into scraps. The other three heat and reuse that plastic by squeezing it into filament for 3-D printers, injecting it into a mold to form small objects, or compressing it into a mold to make larger items. The machine designs are open-source, and Hakkens provides blueprints, instructional videos, and directions online. He suggests that builders recycle scrap material to build the machines themselves; in his videos, he picks through a junkyard and even cuts sheet metal from an old car door. Building one of the four Precious Plastic machines costs between by MEAGHAN LEE $135 and $215 and takes three to five days. CALLAGHAN

Use and Reuse Hakkens’ system compressed recycled plastic into molds to create these containers.

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Ask Us Anything Have a burning question? Email it to askanything@popsci.com or tweet it to @PopSci with #AskAnything

Q

CAN YOU FERTILIZE MARTIAN CROPS WITH HUMAN POOP? Short answer Sure, if you’re willing to wait.

A

If humans ever settle on Mars, getting reliable food will be one of the major challenges they face. “If you’re ever going to have a tomato on Mars, you’re going to have to grow it there,” says Bruce Bugbee, a Utah State University professor who helps NASA develop life-support systems for astronauts in space. Setting aside light and water issues, plants still need nitrogen to ANSWER BY

grow. Human feces contain nitrogen as well as bacteria that break it down into nitrate, which plants prefer for growth. But lingering alongside those useful bacteria will be any bad bacteria the crew brought with them. If they dumped it all directly onto the plants, the harmful bacteria could thrive and proliferate and make humans sick. To avoid this, says Bugbee, Martians will have to compost the feces over several months to weed out the bad microbes. So it’s possible to use human waste for fertilizer, but they’d better have a contingency plan for the first few months.

Michael Koziol

ILLUSTRATIONS BY

Paul Blow


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THE BODY ELECTRICIAN

C o n t i n u e d f r o m p a g e 6 8 reversed cancerous tumors in frogs

using light to manipulate bioelectric signals. Many cancerous tumors, Levin says, have abnormal bioelectric signaling, in the form of massive cell depolarization. It’s this wonky signal, he believes, that causes them to grow and spread. Instead of nuking the body with chemo, it might be possible to one day coax deviant cells back into normal tissue. He has also shown he can reverse embryonic birth defects, such as a malformed forebrain in a frog, a defect that bears similarities to those caused in human embryos by a parent’s alcohol abuse. Already doctors use ion-channel drugs to treat certain cardiac and neurological illnesses. Levin says those same drugs might be used to treat cancers and correct birth defects, if detected in the embryo, by restoring the necessary signals. “I’d put money on the fact this is going to happen within the next 25 years,” Levin says. “I’m being conservative, but I think in my lifetime, we’ll see that.” Not everyone is sure. Most of the work in regenerative medicine takes place around the genome and stem cells. And while some scientists think that sort of singular focus neglects other potential factors—such as bioelectricity—science as a whole is not quite ready to accept Levin’s assertions that bioelectricity is a primary trigger. “For us to fully buy into a lot of the things he is talking about, I think there should be a bit more mechanistic insight,” says Andre Levchenko, a biomedical engineer who directs the Yale Systems Biology Institute. “We should understand at the same level and clarity as we understand genetic information that controls cell function. We don’t have such an understanding for electrical potential. If his aim is to gain the same level of understanding, it’s laudable. He should be supported. It’s clearly part of the story.”

Despite lingering doubts, Levin has landed powerful backing for his experiments, which have been funded by the National Institutes of Health. Last April, the Paul G. Allen Frontiers Group, launched by the billionaire Microsoft co-founder, bestowed a $10 million grant, which could balloon to $30 million. Thomas C. Skalak, the group’s executive director, recalled the reaction after Levin gave a lecture the previous winter with a slide show of his creations. “It was earth-shattering,” Skalak says. “People were saying it changed their whole view of biology, that they had never seen data that showed one could have permanent changes in morphology of an organism above the level of a genetic change. It really was an eye-opener.” His hope is that Levin will crack open a new field in bioscience. “We expect it to mushroom,” he says. So does Levin. His most ambitious goal is to grow any shape he wants, in the lab or in utero. That level of understanding would mean he could fix any malady. And he is using his computer skills to do it. He is designing computational models and artificialintelligence programs that will analyze and predict how changing gradients affect an organism’s shape and function—in essence, cracking life’s bioelectric code in order to fully control it. “We know only a little bit about it right now,” Levin says. “We need to do much more to really have good control.” He likens it to brain science. We know memories are embedded in the brain, but neuroscientists don’t know how to tweak specific neuron states to edit them. “Same with us,” says Levin. “We know electrical properties encode a sort of pattern memory in tissues that cause morphological change. But we are only beginning to understand the formula that connects those patterns.” He adds: “I’m optimistic we will see the long-term stuff. It’s very hard. This is frontier stuff. But you and I will see it in our lifetime.”

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I WISH SOMEONE WOULD INVENT... A LONG-DISTANCE JETPACK Stuart Harwood via Facebook Martin Aircraft in New Zealand built the prototype that’s closest to allowing you to jet to work. A fan-propelled, rotary-enginepowered jetpack with 200 horsepower, the Martin Jetpack (not pictured) keeps steady altitude even if riders’ hands leave the controls for a sip of coffee. “It’s ridiculously easy to fly,” says Mike Read, VP of sales at Martin. Its range? Thirty miles. Martin plans for the military to test it before consumers whiz it around.

A SUNSCREEN PILL Chad Wells via Facebook Antioxidants in Polypodium leucotomos, a tropical fern, can technically block UV radiation. But antioxidants are unstable molecules, so getting them from stomach to skin is hard. Today’s fern-extract pills, like Solaricare or Heliocare, reach only SPF 4, not nearly enough for daily protection, let alone a beach day. This instability issue won’t be solved soon, so keep slathering up.

A TELEPORTATION DEVICE @SybelleSilver via Twitter Yeah. No. Not going to happen. To instantaneously transport across space, our bodies would need to convert to energy and back without mishap. Even if we combined the storages of every computer available today, that would hold just a fraction of the data for one human, says Caltech physicist Philip Hopkins. The energy isn’t anything to scoff at either. He says, “It’d be like launching all of the U.S.’s and Russia’s nukes in one spot and trying to contain that.” –Reporting by Sara Chodosh, Michael Koziol, and Peter Hess Want to know if your fantasy invention could become a reality? Tweet @PopSci or tell us on Facebook. POPULAR SCIENCE magazine, Vol. 289, No. 1 (ISSN 161-7370, USPS 577-250), is published bimonthly by Bonnier Corp., 2 Park Ave., New York, NY 10016. Copyright ©2016 by Bonnier Corp. All rights reserved. Reprinting in whole or part is forbidden except by permission of Bonnier Corp. Mailing Lists: We make a portion of our mailing list available to reputable firms. If you would prefer that we not include your name, please write to POPULAR SCIENCE, P.O. Box 6364, Harlan, IA 51593-1864. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to POPULAR SCIENCE, P.O. Box 6364, Harlan, IA 515931864. Periodicals postage paid at New York, NY, and additional mailing offices. Subscription Rates: $19.95 for one year. Please add $10 per year for Canadian addresses and $20 per year for all other international addresses. Canada Post Publications agreement #40612608. Canada Return Mail: IMEX Global Solutions, P.O. Box 25542, London, ON N6C 6B2. Printed in the USA. Subscriptions processed electronically. Subscribers: If the post office alerts us that your magazine is undeliverable, we have no further obligation unless we receive a corrected address within two years. Photocopy Permission: Permission is granted by POPULAR SCIENCE® for libraries and others registered with the Copyright Clearance Center (CCC) to photocopy articles in this issue for the flat fee of $1 per copy of each article or any part of an article. Send correspondence and payment to CCC (21 Congress St., Salem, MA 01970); specify CCC code 0161-7370/85/$1.00–0.00. Copying done for other than personal or reference use without the written permission of POPULAR SCIENCE® is prohibited. Address requests for permission on bulk orders to POPULAR SCIENCE, 2 Park Ave., New York, NY 10016 for foreign requests. Editorial Offices: Address contributions to POPULAR SCIENCE, Editorial Dept., 2 Park Ave., New York, NY 10016. We are not responsible for loss of unsolicited materials; they will not be returned unless accompanied by return postage. Microfilm editions are available from Xerox University Microfilms Serial Bid Coordinator, 300 N. Zeeb Rd., Ann Arbor, MI 48106.

98 PO PS C I. CO M • JA N/FE B 2 01 7

I L LUST RAT I ON S BY

Mark Nerys


Jeremy

Richard

James

CL ARKSON

H A MMOND

M AY

WHAT COULD POSSIBLY GO WRONG ?

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