PDF version of this release available here.
This month, a special issue celebrates the 125th anniversary of the National Geographic Society on Jan. 13. The issue, themed “The New Age of Exploration,” focuses on risk takers and new frontiers. For the first time in the magazine’s history, the issue features five covers, representing different extremes of exploration: the wildest, the smallest, the highest, the deepest and the farthest.
A photo portfolio looks at different moments of exploration; restless genes and the compulsion in some to see what lies beyond are explored; various risk takers are profiled; the viability of humans traveling to the stars is discussed; the diversity of Ecuador’s Yasuní National Park, as it faces threat from oil development, is documented; a scientific expedition to Antarctica in 1912 is recalled; and the microscopic world of microbes is examined.
Look for the January issue on digital newsstands (iPad, iPhone, Kindle Fire and Nook) Dec. 14 and on print newsstands Dec. 25.
Exclusive content for the digital edition includes:
- Human Migration map — Take a look at the generalized route humans took when they began their migration out of Africa some 60,000 years ago until they had spread to all corners of the Earth (route includes migration dates).
- Reaching for the Stars video — Tour a futuristic spaceship with sci-fi artist Stephen Martiniere…what would a starship built to carry generations of colonists beyond our solar system look like?
- How to Propel a Starship interactive — Learn about different ways to propel a starship; included are pros, cons, maps and diagrams.
- Amazon Adventure video — Follow a team of our photographers as they document the astounding diversity of Ecuador’s Yasuní National Park, one of the wildest places on Earth.
- Camping in the Antarctic video — See footage of how a group of explorers pitched a tent in 1912 and bundled up to survive the Antarctic nights.
- Bacteria and the Body’s Neighborhoods graphic — Tap on the different regions of the human body to learn about the unique populations of bacteria each contains.
Rain Forest Sale, by Scott Wallace, photographs by Tim Laman, Ivan Kashinsky, Karla Gachet, David Liittschwager, Steve Winter (Page 82)
The diversity of life in Yasuní National Park, a 3,800-square-mile pristine rain forest in eastern Ecuador, is almost incomprehensible: nearly 600 species of birds, 10 confirmed species of monkeys, and more insect species in a single hectare as are known in all of the U.S. and Canada combined. But the number that has brought greatest attention to the park is the estimated 850 million barrels of oil in untapped reserves inside Yasuní’s northeastern corner in a tract known as the ITT Block, ground zero of the oil controversy. Ecuador’s President Rafael Correa, in a proposal first put forward in 2007, has offered to leave untouched the oil inside the ITT Block in return for $3.6 billion in compensation from the rest of the world. Hailed by supporters as a milestone in the climate change debate, the so-called Yasuní-ITT Initiative also has its critics. By mid-2012, only about $200 million had been pledged. Author Scott Wallace and a team of photographers journeyed into the heart of the Amazon to document what may be the most biodiverse spot on Earth.
Small, Small World, by Nathan Wolfe (Page 136)
Microbes in your body outnumber your own cells by 10 and can weigh in total as much as your brain — about 3 pounds in an average adult. The microbial tenants our bodies play host to make survival possible: They help digest our food, guide our immune system and ward off deadly germs. But what happens when helpful microbes get caught in the line of fire between an antibiotic and its intended target? Only in the last few decades have we come to realize how ubiquitous microbes are, flourishing from the tops of clouds to miles below the Earth’s surface; and we’ve only just begun to understand how vital they are to our health and the health of the planet. Yet we still know precious little about them.
Restless Genes, by David Dobbs (Page 44)
The compulsion to see what lies beyond that ridge or that ocean — or this planet — is a defining part of human identity and success. Scientists are studying whether mutations within our genes predispose us to exploration in a way that is unique to our species. These mutations, combined with changing environments, our large and slow-developing brains, dexterous limbs and long adolescence, may combine to nudge Homo sapiens toward imagination, adventure, risk — and the unknown. Soon the combined results of relatively young fields of study like anthropology, genetics and developmental neuropsychology may provide a clearer picture of why humans continue to venture toward new frontiers.
Crazy Far, by Tim Folger (Page 68)
Will interstellar travel ever be possible? Tim Folger looks at the technologies needed to propel a starship: nuclear pulse, nuclear fusion, antimatter and beamed solar sail. Some scientists believe that some form of interstellar exploration could be achieved within 100 years; others believe 500 years is more realistic. Folger profiles the players whose dreams extend beyond our planet.
Risk Takers, by Pat Walters, photographs by Marco Grob (Page 58)
National Geographic magazine begins a yearlong series profiling men and women who press the limits in the name of exploration, even when it puts them in jeopardy. An extreme kayaker, a snake hunter and a war zone doctor are just three of the brave individuals who have felt compelled to seek out and embrace the unknown, redefining the concept of an explorer for the 21st century.
Ultimate Trek, by David Roberts, photographs by Frank Hurley (Page 120)
Overshadowed by the British and Norwegian teams racing for the South Pole, the Australasian Antarctic Expedition of 1912 was pursuing the most ambitious exploration yet of the 2,000-mile-long southern continent, with the goal of compiling the best scientific results ever obtained on a polar journey. On Dec. 14, 35 days after setting off from their base, leader Douglas Mawson and two members of his team had traveled nearly 300 miles when the merciless environment began to take its toll. David Roberts’s account of Mawson’s trek sheds new light on one of the most terrifying survival stories of all time.
National Geographic magazine is the official journal of the National Geographic Society, one of the world’s largest nonprofit education and scientific organizations. Published in English and 37 local-language editions, the magazine has a global circulation of around 8 million. It is sent out each month to National Geographic members and is available on newsstands for $5.99 a copy. Single copies can be ordered by calling (800) NGS-LINE, also the number to call for membership to the Society.