Whereas we sleep this spring, billions of birds will likely be flying by the evening from their wintering grounds to their breeding territories. Hen migration is a mind-bendingly astonishing phenomenon: these tiny creatures fly 1000’s of kilometers with sufficient precision to return to the identical nesting website 12 months after 12 months. They use three sorts of compass, guided by the celebs, solar and, most mysteriously, Earth’s magnetic subject. On this problem’s cowl story, scientists Peter J. Hore and Henrik Mouritsen clarify how some birds are capable of “see” Earth’s magnetic subject utilizing quantum results in exquisitely photosensitive molecules of their eyes. We hope this text will add to the enjoyment of seeing migratory birds return to your neighborhoods after a protracted winter.
I’ve been taking a look at streams with extra appreciation after studying about their “hyporheic zone,” the realm of streambed extending under the water and to the edges of a waterway. This hidden layer of sand and gravel, the place the groundwater and stream combine, is dwelling to small animals and larvae and microbes. As writer Erica Gies describes, it’s referred to as the “liver of the river” due to the way it retains a waterway wholesome. People who find themselves restoring drained or dying streams are utilizing new information in regards to the hyporheic zone to carry again thriving habitats.
Trying up from streams and past the birds, astronomers are planning formidable initiatives to hunt the supply of darkish matter, the invisible stuff within the universe that strikes stars and galaxies. Theoretical physicist Chanda Prescod-Weinstein presents the very best concepts for easy methods to search for darkish matter, a few of which may get a lift this 12 months if physicists concerned in a once-a-decade planning venture endorse darkish matter probes as a prime scientific precedence. (We hope they do.)
The tradition of astronomy has been reworked by a wave of ladies coming into the sector (together with Scientific American advisory board member Meg Urry), as author Ann Finkbeiner observes. She is admired in science writing circles for uplifting the “Finkbeiner take a look at,” a information to avoiding sexist clichés when speaking about ladies in science. Now she realizes we’re in a brand new period, when ladies are proudly themselves and decided to make science extra welcoming to all.
Biblical archaeology is one other subject being reworked, albeit fitfully. Researchers utilizing trendy analytical strategies try so as to add some rigor to excavations in Jerusalem, which have been guided by scripture quite than science. Creator Andrew Lawler reveals how spiritual and worldwide conflicts add to bodily constraints (the land could be very crumbly) to make this one of the crucial difficult locations on the planet to unearth true historical past.
Fashionable neuroscience started with Santiago Ramón y Cajal’s cautious observations of neurons and the way they work together. Creator Benjamin Ehrlich particulars how revolutionary Cajal’s concepts had been and the way they modified the way in which we take into consideration the mind. The painstakingly drawn illustrations are certainly wondrous.
In 1889 Scientific American shared a few of Thomas Edison’s ideas on sleep. He was towards it. However he did respect napping—or not less than the half-asleep state that led to lots of his inspirations. Beginning right here, you may discover ways to observe his recommendation to extract creativity from a sleep. Author Bret Stetka tells the story.
We’re introducing a print column this month known as Thoughts Issues, during which consultants will share current fascinating insights from social science. Get pleasure from, and tell us what you suppose.