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November 2001 Archive

A beetle that lives in the Namib Desert, one of the hottest places on Earth, survives by using its bumpy shell to draw drinking water from periodic fog-laden winds. A scientist in the United Kingdom has figured out how it works.

NASA scientists are studying the first picture of the red planet beamed down from the Mars Odyssey spacecraft.

Two researchers studying the fossil record of European and Siberian mammoths have traced the evolution of the woolly mammoth. The research has raised a few questions about current evolutionary theories.

A campaign that focuses on conservation, restoration, and social unity has risen from the ashes of a devastating fire in the Table Mountain chain of South Africa. The January 2000 fire, which burned more than 23,500 acres (8,370 hectares), was made worse by invasive plants. The Ukuvuka Operation Firestop program aims to eradicate them.

A new study suggests that birds use the Earth's magnetic field to plan dining locations along their migration route. These culinary stopovers are critical to the success of the migration because, according to a second study, the fatter the bird, the more efficiently it is able to fly.

London Zoo is to give up its 170-year tradition of keeping elephants, in tacit recognition that it does not have a suitable place to house them.

Indian scientists say they have developed a new vaccine against anthrax, the infectious disease that has recently become part of the terrorist arsenal. The new vaccine is said to be less toxic and longer lasting than the current vaccine. The researchers hope it will be widely available within a year.

Scientists have found a mosquito that appears to have evolved and adapted to climatic changes induced by global warming—the first documented case of a genetic change in response to the apparent heating up of the planet.

In a ground war in Afghanistan, U.S. battle planners will turn to geographic information systems, or GIS, to provide troops with detailed views of terrain and elevation. No matter the topography—mountains, deserts, plains, inhabited urban areas—GIS enables commanders to pinpoint distinctive physical characteristics, from back alleys and munitions caches to vegetation and creek beds.

An ingenious, centuries-old network of irrigation channels that criss-cross Afghanistan give the Taliban a strategic advantage in a ground war in the country. Unmarked on maps and largely invisible at ground level, the trenches could allow the Taliban to move their forces around in a guerilla campaign.

The raw and beautiful landscape of the Western Isles is host to some of Britain's most remarkable wildlife. But now the ecology is under attack from vicious invaders—minks that have escaped from fur farms are ruthless and efficient killers, swimming from island to island and preying on native birds, mammals, and fish to the point of extinction.

War Against Terrorism Through the Lens of National Geographic News

In the early 1900s Argentine ants hitched a ride on merchant ships that carried goods to several continents. Their invasion has wiped out native populations of ants in some areas, with damaging effects across ecosystems, a new study shows.

Coral reef team with a mind-boggling array of life in waters that are often nutrient poor. Researchers say they may have found the answer to this paradox that has intrigued scientists since the famous voyages of Charles Darwin.

As they stand huddled in a flock in what appears to be a grazing stupor, sheep may in fact be visualizing favorite flock mates. New research has found that sheep have sophisticated facial recognition skills and can recognize and possibly remember for years dozens of faces of other sheep they have encountered.

Western governments are in no doubt that Osama bin Laden is in the nuclear market and that the threat of a terrorist nuclear weapon is real. The only significant uncertainty is the timing of the first attempt at a nuclear attack, and what kind of bomb would be used.

A large set of specialized bone tools from a South African cave is forcing scientists to rethink a key idea about human origins: when "modern" behavior emerged. A growing body of evidence suggests it occurred much earlier than assumed.

From new images of the brain, scientists have discovered that structures associated with language are heavily influenced by genetics. The finding begins to explain why learning disorders can run in families and shows that the volume of gray matter is strongly linked with IQ.

Tiny cameras hidden in clothing, eyeglasses, ballpoint pens, and even ordinary objects like smoke detectors and light bulbs are able to secretly monitor people anywhere. Since the terrorist attacks on the United States in September, a large Texas supplier of the technology reports heightened interest in the spy cameras.

Although the terrorist attacks of September 11 have raised anxieties about travel and affected the entire industry, determined Americans can find good opportunities—and some bargains. A Q&A with the editor of National Geographic Traveler.

As the 100th anniversary of the first flight approaches, a team has been rebuilding and testing the path-breaking 1901 glider of Wilbur and Orville Wright at NASA's Langley Research Center in Virginia, National Geographic Today reports.

What caused the extinction of many of North America's large mammals about 10,500 years ago? For years, human hunting has been the most widely accepted theory. Now, a scientist blames it on climate and habitat change.

Geologists at Ohio State University have discovered a fossil of a giant prehistoric cockroach that scuttered about Ohio about 300 million years ago, when that part of North America was hot and swampy.

The mayor of Washington, D.C., unveiled a new environmental education program Tuesday that will serve as a living memorial to the students, teachers, and National Geographic Society staff members who were killed in a hijacked airliner on September 11.

About 35 million years ago a giant asteroid or comet hurled through space and crashed into the Atlantic Ocean off North America. New research results are helping to answer a lot of questions about the resulting crater and its impacts.

The EZ-Rocket, a highly modified U.S. $30,000 build-it-yourself aircraft, fired its rocket engines and soared nearly two miles (three kilometers) above California's Mojave Desert on Monday. It's designers hope that someday a version of this two-seater rocket will carry tourists and satellites into space.

In a study that may help scientists combat the scourge of malaria, researchers have found that one in five of all people in the African country of Burkina Faso carry a gene that protects them against the disease. More than 300 million new cases of malaria and one million related deaths occur each year, mainly in sub-Saharan Africa.

For the first time in the history of the World Wide Web, native English speakers no longer dominate the Internet, according to a new report.

Two decades ago researchers discovered that some male garter snakes mimic female behavior when they emerge from hibernation. According to a new study, the behavior is a strategy for keeping warm and deflecting predators.

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At 88, Lady Bird Johnson, former First Lady of the United States, is a tough one to stump—especially on plants. Since the 60s, she's pushed a national crusade to encourage the preservation and re-establishment of native wildflowers, grasses, shrubs, vines and trees because of their ecological benefits.

At Knebworth House, a drafty and ornate 15th-century castle in Hertfordshire, England, the major players behind the movie Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, talk about bringing the much-loved book to the screen.

As the long-awaited Harry Potter film premieres, animal groups in the United Kingdom fear for the welfare of owls given as gifts this holiday season. In the United States, meanwhile, conservationists see Harry's feathered friend, Hedwig, as an icon to focus attention on the wonders of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

Two life-size casts of Supercroc—the 112 million-year-old, 40-foot (12-meter), 8-ton (18,000-pound), dinosaur-eating crocodilian—were unveiled Friday at National Geographic Society's Explorers Hall in Washington, D.C., and at the National History Museum of Los Angeles County, California.

The Vatican is an accumulation of remarkable buildings and art; it is the smallest sovereign nation, and yet one of the most powerful. If it had a gross national product it would be measured not in money, but in souls. The National Geographic Channel provides an unprecedented look at what goes on deep inside this remarkable place.

Edward Girardet has visited Afghanistan at least 40 times in the past 23 years to report on the country and its people. He describes his experience and insights in the December National Geographic magazine and in an interview with National Geographic News.

Scientists have found a new family of antibiotics in certain cells of a hybrid striped bass. The results are especially interesting because the researchers think it may be more difficult for bacteria to develop a resistance to these new antibiotics.

As millions of Americans gather around the table on Thursday, wild turkeys may be the ones with the most thanks to give. A century ago they were on the road to extinction, but they've made a dramatic recovery and now number 5.4 million.

Each Thanksgiving in the United States American families enjoy a traditional turkey dinner. Millions of birds are bred especially for the holiday. But each year one turkey officially gets reprieved from its fate: the President "pardons" a fowl and it is sent off to live out its days on a farm in Virginia.

At a camp in Indonesian Borneo, orphaned orangutans are being readied for their release back into the wild. But their future is grim. Half of the world's remaining orangutans have disappeared in only ten years; all may be gone by the end of this decade. A special report by National Geographic Today.

The official scribes of Maya kings are thought to have played a powerful role in royal households. New research suggests they were especially targeted by enemies in battle and tortured by having their fingers broken.

Tom Meierding is a geomorphologist, and over the past 25 years he's visited more than 700 cemeteries studying thousands of tombstones that offer important information about pollution and other environmental conditions.

Scientists at a U.S. biotech company announced they have cloned human embryos and will use the same process to produce an endless supply of stem cells that could be used to treat human diseases. But some experts consider the research a failure because the embryos all died long before reaching the stage at which stem cells could be harvested.

As anti-Taliban Afghan leaders meet to plan a new government, the nation's diverse tribes will have to find some common ground. But the country's turbulent history over the past two decades underscores how complex the search for a solution will be.

Last Sunday in India the newly refurbished Fairy Queen, thought to be the oldest working broad-gauge steam engine in the world, more than tripled its own speed record. When built in 1855 by a British firm, the workhorse of the former East Indian Railways could travel only up to 15 kilometers (9 miles) an hour.

Scientists at the National Aquarium in Baltimore are concerned about the whereabouts of a baby hooded seal they spent four months resuscitating after it was rescued far from the Arctic. A week after the revived pup was returned to ocean waters, signals from a satellite tag it was wearing stopped.

An unwritten rule decrees that reporters shall not write about the life of reporters. But in the changed atmosphere following the murder of four journalists in Afghanistan last week, perhaps it's time to make an exception, writes a British correspondent on the scene.

In an exclusive phone interview with National Geographic.com, journalist Robert Young Pelton describes the situation in Afghanistan after Taliban prisoners being held at a fort in Mazar-e Sharif staged an uprising and battled National Alliance and U.S. forces. The first in a series of periodic reports from the field.

The Arctic Ocean floor is one of the last frontiers on Earth, and mapping it was thought to be an impossible task. But U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Healy, a specially outfitted icebreaker, has returned from its inaugural voyage with detailed maps, exotic life forms, and evidence of volcanic activity below the ice cap.

A new population of eastern North Pacific right whales, thought to be almost extinct, has been discovered in the southeastern Bering Sea. In another report, a statistical analysis indicates that the demise of endangered North Atlantic right whales could be prevented.

In the Southern Ocean, gale-force winds and punishing waves of frigid water roar across the deck, pounding already-exhausted crew members. Most people would think of only one thing: survival. But for the 97 people competing in the round-the-world Volvo Ocean Race, the quest for victory means speed is constantly played against safety.



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