National geographic usa 2014 02
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Transcripts - National geographic usa 2014 02
NGM.COM FEBRUARY 2014
GARRISON KEILLOR: MY HOMETOWN
When there is the potential
for violence, crowds can
have a calming influence.
Olivia Rowe keeps pigeons. Her sisters prefer horses and sheep. They
are the great-granddaughters of Garrison Keillor’s Aunt Josephine. ERIKALARSEN
Secrets of the Brain
“It’ll take me a moment to locate your brain,”
the scientist says. With new technologies,
he’s able to shed light on life’s great unsolved
mystery: how the human mind really works.
By Carl Zimmer Photographs by Robert Clark
There’s No Place Like Home
When a man lives in one place for most of
his life, he doesn’t need GPS. He is guided
by memories of boyhood bike rides, the ever
present Mississippi, and the undeniable
power of rhubarb.
By Garrison Keillor Photographs by Erika Larsen
How did a hot-tempered goldsmith create
the miraculous ediﬁce in Florence?
By Tom Mueller Photographs by Dave Yoder
Special Poster: The Cathedral of Florence and
Redeﬁning the Dome
Gold Fever in theYukon
Prospectors invade Canada’s great wilderness.
By Tom Clynes Photographs by Paul Nicklen
Karma of the Crowd
Millions of pilgrims ﬂock to a Hindu gathering
in India—and ﬁnd inner peace in numbers.
By Laura Spinney Photographs by Alex Webb
An Elephant Never Runs Out
The mammal’s six sets of chompers
are enough for a lifetime of chewing.
Rooftop Tsunami Refuge
It will be built atop a new school
in Westport, Washington.
The Benefit of Pruney Digits
The ridges could have helped ancient hu-
mans catch ﬁsh or clamber over slick rocks.
Fly Like an Owl
A barn owl barely ﬂaps. Engineers aim to
mimic its wings to make quieter aircraft.
Quinoa Conquers the World
The high-protein Andean seed could help
ﬁght hunger—if we can grow enough of it.
The 50-Million-Year-Old Bird
A newly discovered fossil is thought to be
a cousin of the hummingbird and the swift.
Why Women Remember Faces
They’re better scanners than men.
On the Cover The colorized ﬁbers connect different regions of the brain.
Magnetic resonance image by Van Wedeen and L. L. Wald, Martinos
Center for Biomedical Imaging, Human Connectome Project
ART: FERNANDO G. BAPTISTA,
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PHOTO: ERIKA LARSEN
Keillor likes driving rural
Minnesota roads. “One
evening,” says photogra-
pher Erika Larsen, “I
went along.” She shot
this near Buffalo Lake.
A few years ago I was in the middle of a meeting when one of our
senior editors ushered in a tall man with a large, expressive face,
wearing owlish glasses and dressed in a khaki suit. In a voice once
described as “a baritone that seems precision-engineered to narrate
a documentary about glaciers,” he addressed the group and pitched
a story idea. He wanted, he told us, to do a story about his own
“personal geography.” That man was
the author, radio personality, and story-
teller Garrison Keillor, and there could
be only one answer to the appeal.
Keillor’s reminiscence, “There’s No
Place Like Home,” is the result. You
might say it’s a piece he’s been writing
his whole life. Ostensibly, it’s about
Minneapolis-St. Paul. He conjures word
pictures of neighborhoods with stucco
bungalows, lakes with names like
Minnetonka and Nokomis, and the
sweep of the rocket tail ﬁns on a
white Cadillac convertible. But it’s also
something different and very special.
Keillor’s piece is an interior geog-
raphy; it’s the map of a man’s soul. In
summoning up the Twin Cities of his
youth and adulthood, he talks about
what it means to be not just from a
place, but of a place. Early on, he says,
he realized that Minneapolis-St. Paul
was a much better place than Manhat-
tan in which to be an original. In his
essay Keillor tells us why where you come from matters. “If
you want to know the truth,” he says, “I feel understood there.”
A Prairie Home
It’s a piece
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national geographic february
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Take Charge of
ant to take health care into your own
hands? Steer clear of hospitals and doctors’
offices? Cut back on over-the-counter and
prescription drugs and find milder, more natural ways
to get well? Then this is the book for you.
Tieraona Low Dog, M.D., integrative physician and
expert in natural medicine, has collected her favorite
remedies and recipes—tried and true, for children and
adults, the ones she has used in her own home over
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advice on when to call the doctor and when to stay put
and use your own resources to get healthy at home.
Also available from National Geographic
“A must-read for anyone who cares about optimal health.”
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la proves her to be THE WORLD’S
another pair of
“I do not think
e “It INVOKES FEELINGS
never experienced from any other
painting, sculpture, or photograph.”
“I couldn’t stop looking,
trying to understand what
he was feeling behind those
APTIVATING GREEN EYES.”
national geographic February
their thoughts on
what makes the
Afghan Girl so
OCTOBER 2013, THE PRICE OF PRECIOUS
The graphic on page 56 is incorrectly
labeled. It should read “Number of
personal electronics owned by adults
in the U.S.” In addition, ﬁve million is the
metropolitan area population of Atlanta,
not the population of the city proper.
Reading Sharbat Gula’s
story and learning about her
life helped me understand
why I could never forget her
face. I could see the determi-
nation and fear in her eyes, a
combination of vulnerability
and strength that is so difﬁcult
to capture. This photograph by
Steve McCurry is a reminder
of human endurance regardless
of gender, age, or culture.
Enough of the Afghan Girl
already. We don’t want to
see her anymore.
New York, New York
With banks of yellow-spine mag-
azines on the shelves behind me,
dating back to the days of Koda-
chrome and before, at the age
of 84 I doubted that renewing
my annual subscription would
still inspire my photographic
and world interests. Then your
October Photo Issue arrived.
Thank you for a new lease of life.
Before the Civil War, when the
art form was still in its infancy,
photographs were seen as
inherently unsuitable for record-
ing events because of the mere
split second of captured time.
Lithographs were far more
popular because they could be
crafted to suit current tastes in
public memory. The modern
mentality is far different.
Columbia, South Carolina
To Robert Draper: I’m sorry.
You are wrong. You are not
“just one of the writers.” Your
article on the power of photog-
raphy moved me as much as
the photographs themselves.
Saratoga Springs, New York
125Years of Photos
As a college junior in 1976, I was an avid photographer. (How
I miss my Pentax SP1000!) I wrote to National Geographic
asking the requirements to be a staff photographer. I re-
ceived a personal reply stating I would need to have a college
degree and ﬁve years’ experience on a photo-oriented news-
paper, and I probably should know another language. It also
stated that “the average Geographic photographer spends far
more time being a traveler, diplomat, making arrangements,
and coping with a myriad of problems that can arise when he
or she is working alone in a strange land.”
NANCY J. BUSHNELL
North Mankato, Minnesota
EMAIL comments to ngsforum@
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ART: DANIELA SANTAMARINA, NGM STAFF
BASED ON A PHOTO BY STEVE MCCURRY
national geographic February
ART: ISTVAN BANYAI. PHOTO: MICHAEL WELLS
My team studies what happens to
undocumented migrants crossing the
border from Mexico to the U.S. Many
don’t make it. So the archaeology
and anthropology we do are often
unpleasant—uncovering death and
physical and emotional suffering.
We hope the research that we do
can aid immigration law reform.
On a trip to study a four-year-
old migrant site where the trafﬁc
had slowed, we found the body of
a 41-year-old woman. She was just
south of Tucson, Arizona, in the So-
noran Desert, only 30 miles from the
Mexican border. The area is mountain-
ous. She had been cresting a steep
hill. It was July, and the temperatures
there averaged 100°F or more.
Finding a person meant the team
had to navigate between gathering
scientiﬁc data and feeling empathy.
And we had to call the police. She’d
been dead about four days, and there
were already birds circling overhead.
We knew what animals did to bodies
in the desert, so we needed to collect
what data we could—without disturb-
ing the body—then and there.
There were seven of us on the
team, and we were all struggling. It
was easier when we had seen other
migrants’ bodies that were fragment-
ed, a collection of bones. No one
wanted to take this woman’s pho-
tograph because we could see her
humanity. We called her Marisol.
Before we found her, we had come
across some items buried under a
tree nearby, including a backpack
with a new, very vibrant Mexican
blanket inside. When we ﬁnished
logging the data—what she carried
with her, her clothing, the GPS
coordinates—we used the blanket to
cover Marisol up and waited for the
police. It was a temporary gesture.
Jason De León
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AND KRIS HARTMAN
AT MT. ST. HELEN’S NATIONAL PARK
WHEN TIM MEDVETZ SHATTERED HIS BODY AND
CRACKED HIS SKULL IN A NEAR-FATAL MOTOR-
CYCLE ACCIDENT IN 2001, HE WAS NOT EXPECTED
TO WALK AGAIN. A YEAR LATER, HE WAS CLIMBING
NOW, ON “GOING WILD,” TIM IS TAKING EVERY-
DAY AMERICANS ON A RIGOROUS JOURNEY,
TRANSPORTING THEM TO PLACES OTHERS CAN
ONLY DREAM OF REACHING WHERE THEY CAN EXPLORE THE
WONDERS OF THE WORLD— AND REDISCOVER THEMSELVES.
IN THIS EPISODE, WE MEET KRIS HARTMAN, WHO’S BEEN
DEALING WITH THE DEATH OF HIS SISTER SEVEN YEARS
AGO BY IMMERSING HIMSELF IN HIS JOB AND NIGHTLY TV-
WATCHING BINGES. HIS WIFE WORRIES THAT’S HE’S MISSING
OUT ON HIS SON’S CHILDHOOD.
“HE NEEDS A WAKE-UP CALL
—a little dose of Mother Nature,”
says Tim. Together, they’ll take
a treacherous three-day journey
up the summit of Mt. St. Helen’s,
an 8,300-foot active volcano in
Washington State. Its snowy peaks
and dense forests are teeming
with dangerous wildlife, including
cougars, elk, and bears. Tim knows
this deadly environment is just
the place to kick Kris into gear.
“I’m going to put you through hell,”
Tim tells him—and does. Will Kris reach
the peak—and muster the courage to
dig deep within and ﬁnd the strength
to LIVE LIFE TO THE FULLEST?
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Behind a theater window
at Florida’s Weeki Wachee
Springs State Park, Nikki
Chickonski swims through
swirling bubbles. Strategi-
cally placed air hoses
allow the mermaids to
take in lungfuls of air, then
by scuba tanks.
PHOTO: CRISTINA GARCIA RODERO, MAGNUM PHOTOS
The colorful rhyolite
mountains of the Land-
are a popular hiking
destination in Iceland’s
southern interior. Getting
there can be hard: Local
roads aren’t paved, and
rivers run across them.
They must be forded
using four-wheel drive.
PHOTO: HANS STRAND
O Order prints of select National Geographic photos online at NationalGeographicArt.com.O Order prints of select National Geographic photos online at NationalGeographicArt.com.
Robes ﬂy as monks
practice a traditional
dance in the court-
yard of the Rinpung
Dzong, a fortress and
dating from 1646—and
now a seat of district
in Bhutan’s Paro Valley.
PHOTO: DAVID BUTOW
VISIONS | YOUR SHOT This page features two photographs: one chosen by our editors and one chosen by our
readers via online voting. For more information, go to yourshot.nationalgeographic.com.
national geographic february
Hong Ng CK
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
In the Dang district of Nepal,
Hong was working with an
organization that holds free
art classes for young students.
During a break, a girl began
jumping rope, sending dust
from the ﬂoor into the air as
the sun shone in through a
window behind her.
Umek rode his bike 55 miles
to take landscape shots of
Slovenia’s picturesque Logar
Valley. “I wanted to make a
dream landscape,” he says.
At the top of one hill he found
a view of a small homestead
that looked as if it belonged
in a fairy tale.
For people with a higher risk of stroke due to
Atrial Fibrillation (AFib) not caused by
a heart valve problem
IMPORTANT SAFETY INFORMATION:
Do not stop taking ELIQUIS without talking to the
doctor who prescribed it for you. Stopping ELIQUIS
increases your risk of having a stroke. ELIQUIS may
need to be stopped, prior to surgery or a medical or
dental procedure. Your doctor will tell you when you
should stop taking ELIQUIS and when you may start
taking it again. If you have to stop taking ELIQUIS,
your doctor may prescribe another medicine to help
prevent a blood clot from forming.
ELIQUIS can cause bleeding which can be serious,
and rarely may lead to death.
You may have a higher risk of bleeding if you take
ELIQUIS and take other medicines that increase your
risk of bleeding, such as aspirin, NSAIDs, warfarin
), heparin, SSRIs or SNRIs, and other
blood thinners. Tell your doctor about all medicines,
vitamins and supplements you take. While taking
ELIQUIS, you may bruise more easily and it may take
longer than usual for any bleeding to stop.
Get medical help right away if you have any of
these signs or symptoms of bleeding:
- unexpected bleeding, or bleeding that lasts a long
time, such as unusual bleeding from the gums;
nosebleeds that happen often, or menstrual
or vaginal bleeding that is heavier than normal
- bleeding that is severe or you cannot control
- red, pink, or brown urine; red or black stools (looks
- coughing up or vomiting blood or vomit that looks like
- unexpected pain, swelling, or joint pain; headaches,
feeling dizzy or weak
ELIQUIS is not for patients with artiﬁcial heart valves.
Before you take ELIQUIS, tell your doctor if you have:
kidney or liver problems, any other medical condition,
or ever had bleeding problems. Tell your doctor if you
are pregnant or breastfeeding, or plan to become
pregnant or breastfeed.
Do not take ELIQUIS if you currently have certain
types of abnormal bleeding or have had a serious
allergic reaction to ELIQUIS. A reaction to ELIQUIS
can cause hives, rash, itching, and possibly trouble
breathing. Get medical help right away if you have
sudden chest pain or chest tightness, have sudden
swelling of your face or tongue, have trouble breathing,
wheezing, or feeling dizzy or faint.
You are encouraged to report negative side effects of
prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit www.fda.gov/
medwatch, or call 1-800-FDA-1088.
Product Information on the
Individual results may vary.
or call 1-855-ELIQUIS
ELIQUIS is a prescription medicine used to reduce the risk of stroke and blood clots in people who have atrial
ﬁbrillation, a type of irregular heartbeat, not caused by a heart valve problem.
Ask your doctor if ELIQUIS is right for you.
©2013 Bristol-Myers Squibb Company
I was taking warfarin. But I wondered,
could I shoot for something better?
NOW I TAKE ELIQUIS®
(apixaban) FOR 3 GOOD REASONS:
1 ELIQUIS reduced the risk of stroke better than warfarin.
2 ELIQUIS had less major bleeding than warfarin.
3 Unlike warfarin, there’s no routine blood testing.
ELIQUIS and other blood thinners increase the risk of bleeding which can be
serious, and rarely may lead to death.
What is the most important
information I should know about
Do not stop taking ELIQUIS without
talking to the doctor who prescribed
it for you. Stopping ELIQUIS increases
your risk of having a stroke. ELIQUIS
may need to be stopped, prior to surgery
or a medical or dental procedure. Your
doctor will tell you when you should
stop taking ELIQUIS and when you may
start taking it again. If you have to
stop taking ELIQUIS, your doctor may
prescribe another medicine to help
prevent a blood clot from forming.
ELIQUIS can cause bleeding which can
be serious, and rarely may lead to
death. This is because ELIQUIS is a blood
thinner medicine that reduces blood
You may have a higher risk of
bleeding if you take ELIQUIS and
take other medicines that increase
your risk of bleeding, such as aspirin,
nonsteroidal anti-inﬂammatory drugs
(called NSAIDs), warfarin (COUMADIN®),
heparin, selective serotonin reuptake
inhibitors (SSRIs) or serotonin
norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors
(SNRIs), and other medicines to help
prevent or treat blood clots.
Tell your doctor if you take any of
these medicines. Ask your doctor or
pharmacist if you are not sure if your
medicine is one listed above.
While taking ELIQUIS:
• you may bruise more easily
• it may take longer than usual for any
bleeding to stop
Call your doctor or get medical help
right away if you have any of these
signs or symptoms of bleeding when
• unexpected bleeding, or bleeding
that lasts a long time, such as:
• unusual bleeding from the gums
• nosebleeds that happen often
• menstrual bleeding or vaginal
bleeding that is heavier than
• bleeding that is severe or you cannot
• red, pink, or brown urine
• red or black stools (looks like tar)
• cough up blood or blood clots
• vomit blood or your vomit looks like
• unexpected pain, swelling, or joint pain
• headaches, feeling dizzy or weak
ELIQUIS (apixaban) is not for patients
with artiﬁcial heart valves.
What is ELIQUIS?
ELIQUIS is a prescription medicine used to
reduce the risk of stroke and blood clots
in people who have atrial ﬁbrillation.
It is not known if ELIQUIS is safe and
effective in children.
Who should not take ELIQUIS?
Do not take ELIQUIS if you:
• currently have certain types of
• have had a serious allergic reaction
to ELIQUIS. Ask your doctor if you are
What should I tell my doctor before
Before you take ELIQUIS, tell your
doctor if you:
• have kidney or liver problems
• have any other medical condition
• have ever had bleeding problems
• are pregnant or plan to become
pregnant. It is not known if ELIQUIS
will harm your unborn baby
• are breastfeeding or plan to
breastfeed. It is not known if ELIQUIS
passes into your breast milk. You
and your doctor should decide if you
will take ELIQUIS or breastfeed. You
should not do both
Tell all of your doctors and dentists that
you are taking ELIQUIS. They should talk
to the doctor who prescribed ELIQUIS
for you, before you have any surgery,
medical or dental procedure.
Tell your doctor about all the
medicines you take, including
prescription and over-the-counter
medicines, vitamins, and herbal
supplements. Some of your other
medicines may affect the way
ELIQUIS works. Certain medicines
may increase your risk of bleeding
or stroke when taken with ELIQUIS.
Take ELIQUIS exactly as prescribed
by your doctor. Take ELIQUIS twice
every day with or without food, and do
not change your dose or stop taking
it unless your doctor tells you to. If
you miss a dose of ELIQUIS, take it as
soon as you remember, and do not
take more than one dose at the same
time. Do not run out of ELIQUIS. Reﬁll
your prescription before you run out.
Stopping ELIQUIS may increase your
risk of having a stroke.
What are the possible side effects
• See “What is the most important
information I should know about
• ELIQUIS can cause a skin rash or severe
allergic reaction. Call your doctor or
get medical help right away if you
have any of the following symptoms:
• chest pain or tightness
• swelling of your face or tongue
• trouble breathing or wheezing
• feeling dizzy or faint
Tell your doctor if you have any side
effect that bothers you or that does not
These are not all of the possible side
effects of ELIQUIS. For more information,
ask your doctor or pharmacist.
Call your doctor for medical advice
about side effects. You may report side
effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.
This is a brief summary of the
most important information about
ELIQUIS. For more information, talk
with your doctor or pharmacist, call
1-855-ELIQUIS (1-855-354-7847), or go
Bristol-Myers Squibb Company
Princeton, New Jersey 08543 USA
Bristol-Myers Squibb Company
Princeton, New Jersey 08543 USA
New York, New York 10017 USA
COUMADIN® is a trademark of
Bristol-Myers Squibb Pharma Company
© 2013 Bristol-Myers Squibb Company
ELIQUIS and the ELIQUIS logo are trademarks of
Bristol-Myers Squibb Company.
Based on 1289808 / 1298500 / 1289807 / 1295958
December 2012 432US13CBS03604
This independent, non-proﬁt organization provides assistance to qualifying patients with ﬁnancial hardship who
generally have no prescription insurance. Contact 1-800-736-0003 or visit www.bmspaf.org for more information.
FACTS /The information below does not take the place of talking with your healthcare
professional. Only your healthcare professional knows the speciﬁcs of your condition and how ELIQUIS® may ﬁt into your
overall therapy. Talk to your healthcare professional if you have any questions about ELIQUIS (pronounced ELL eh kwiss).
Millions Demand America’s Purest Silver
Dollar. Shouldn’t You?
Secure Your New 2014 Eagle Silver Dollars Now!
Millions of people collect the American Eagle Silver Dollar.
In fact it’s been the country’s most popular Silver Dollar for
over two decades. Try as they might, that makes it a very
hard “secret” to keep quiet. And right now, many of those
same people are lining up to secure the brand new 2014 U.S.
Eagle Silver Dollars — placing their orders now to ensure
that they get America’s newest Silver Dollar —in stunning
Brilliant Uncirculated condition — before millions of
others beat you to it.
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secure these massive, hefty one full Troy ounce U.S. Silver
Dollars in Brilliant Uncirculated condition. The nearly
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eagle, thirteen stars, and an American shield.
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Silver is by far the most affordable of all precious metals —
and each full Troy ounce American Eagle Silver Dollar is
government-guaranteed for its 99.9% purity, authenticity,
and legal tender status.
A Coin Flip You Can’t
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Why are we releasing the most popular Silver Dollar in
America for a remarkably affordable price? We’re doing it
to introduce you to what hundreds of thousands of smart
collectors and satisfied customers have known since 1984 —
GovMint.com is the place to find the world’s finest coins.
Timing is Everything
Our advice? Keep this to yourself. The more people who
know about this offer, the worse for you. Demand for Silver
Eagles in recent years has shattered records. Experts predict
that 2014 Silver Eagles may break them once again. Our sup-
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You must be 100% satisfied with your 2014 American Eagle
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prompt refund (less all s/h). Don’t miss out on this exclusive
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2014 American Eagle Silver Dollar BU
Your cost 1-4 Coins - $27.95 each + s/h
5-9 Coins - $27.75 each + s/h
10-19 Coins - $27.50 each + s/h
20-40 Coins - $27.25 each + s/h
Offer Limited to 40 per Household
For fastest service, call toll-free 24 hours a day
Offer Code PSE192-04
Please mention this code when you call.
Prices and availability subject to change without notice. Past performance is not a predictor of future performance. NOTE: GovMint.com® is a private distributor of
worldwide government coin and currency issues and privately issued licensed collectibles and is not afﬁliated with the United States government. Facts and ﬁgures deemed
accurate as of December 2013 ©2013 GovMint.com.
14101 Southcross Drive W., Dept. PSE192-04
Burnsville, Minnesota 55337 www.GovMint.com
is 40.6 mm
How long will
an elephant live?
Look to its teeth.
PHOTOS: HUGH TURVEY. GRAPHIC: JOSÉ MIGUEL MAYO. SOURCE: DAVID FAGAN, THE COLYER INSTITUTE
TEETH MAY BE the most essential organ elephants
have, says veterinary dentist David Fagan. The
reason is appetite. An African savanna elephant
consumes between 400 and 600 pounds of
vegetation a day, an Asian elephant about 300.
To process that quantity of food, elephants need
to chew constantly. They wear down each tooth
until it’s no longer useful. Then it falls out.
Most other mammals have two sets of teeth
in their lifetimes. Elephants go through six. Each
set—one tooth on the top, one on the bottom—lasts
about three years when an African savanna ele-
phant is young but can be good for more than ten
years later in life. Unlike human teeth, which sprout
from the gum line, elephants’ start at the back of
the mouth and move forward like a conveyor belt.
It’s an effective system until there aren’t any
teeth left. Elephants that live to old age—about
70 years in captivity—often succumb to starvation,
unable to chew. —Daniel Stone
Worn teeth are dislodged
How it works Teeth develop at the back of the mouth and
move forward. Unlike chewing teeth, tusks are not replaced.
An x-ray of an Asian
elephant’s jaw reveals
teeth that can reach the
size of a phone book.
0 mi 200
0 km 200
plate slides under
strong enough to
trigger a tsunami.
MAP: JEROME N. COOKSON, NGM STAFF. SOURCES: NATHAN WOOD, USGS; MATHEW SCHMIDTLEIN,
CALIFORNIA STATE UNIVERSITY, SACRAMENTO. PHOTO: N EISELE-HEIN, GETTY IMAGES
RefugeUp to 5,000 people are in
Westport, Washington, on a
summer day. About a ﬁfth could
be too close to the coast and
too far from high ground to
escape on foot from a tsunami,
which experts say would follow
an earthquake there by 25
minutes. The city is forging a
safe haven, building on state
plans. Last April it approved a
bond for the ﬁrst vertical tsunami
refuge in the U.S.—on top of a
school and able to withstand a
9.2 magnitude earthquake.
“Japan’s 2011 tsunami was a
transitional moment in moving
Westport from planning to
implementation,” says emer-
gency manager John Schelling.
Westport residents saw parallels
between the Japanese towns
and their own area: both in a
potential tsunami path, both
ﬂat. So when Westport needed
a new school, a tsunami plan
became part of it. Rising a little
taller than 55 feet, the building
will allow water to pass through
without compromising the
structure, which can shelter 700.
Planners hope that this ﬁrst
successful idea spawns other
refuge options. —Johnna Rizzo
0 mi 1
0 km 1
Pedestrian travel time to
tsunami safety zone
Tsunami safety zone
What are the
that will enter
the energy mix?
Energy is an issue that
touches every person on the planet.
Everything you need to stay current
on the big picture of energy—
and what it means for you—can be found at
is a National Geographic initiative in partnership with Shell that convenes and engages
inﬂuential citizens and key energy stakeholders in solutions-based thinking and dialogue
about our shared energy future. It’s a call-to-action to become actively involved, to learn
more and do more—to change how we think about and consume energy so that we can
all help tackle the big energy questions. Let’s start now.
Be part of the solution.
Take part in the challenge.
Stay informed with up-to-the-minute news and insights
ENERGY NEWS ` Trusted, balanced, independent global reporting with a scope
and scale that stands apart.
Test Your Energy I.Q.
ENERGY QUIZZES ` Featuring amazing facts and energy-saving tips.
Join the debate and move the conversation forward
THE BIG ENERGY QUESTION ` Encouraging solutions through diverse conversations.
Engage with the world’s experts
ENERGY BLOG ` A fascinating forum where experts keep issues front and center.
Do rapidly growing
cities offer a
blueprint for energy
How will we
drive change for
As we move to a population
of 9 billion by mid-century,
how do we manage the
stress on the intersection
of food, water, and energy?
PHOTOS: ANAND VARMA (LEFT); PHOO CHAN, FLICKR/GETTY IMAGES. ART: MAAYAN HAREL
German engineers have
a ﬂight plan: mimic
barn owls’ quiet aerial
maneuvering to make
less noisy airfoils for hu-
man aviation. Nocturnal
hunters, barn owls use
acoustics to locate
prey, so they can’t be
distracted by noises
of their own making.
Key to a barn owl’s
stealth is ﬂying slowly,
with very little ﬂapping.
Its steep wing curve
is a particular asset:
It’s especially good at
creating the low pres-
sure on the top side that
sucks the wings upward,
says lead researcher
Plumage plays a part
too. Owls have extreme-
ly dense coats, and their
feathers’ soft texture
mufﬂes sound. Fringes
on the edges of feathers
may also lead to ways to
Solid Grasp Linger in the bathtub long enough,
and ﬁngers and toes will prune. Those wrinkles may seem insigniﬁ-
cant, but they could be rooted in evolution.
Puckered digits were once thought to be just the bloated result of
water absorption. Then Newcastle University evolutionary biologist
Tom Smulders heard about another theory—that the lines promote
water runoff and aid adhesion, like treads on a tire. Smulders con-
ﬁrmed that pruney ﬁngers have the advantage in wet conditions.
He’s only just scratched the surface of how the wrinkles work. For
now, though, his ﬁndings could boost the theory that a million years
ago the ancestors of modern humans went through a semiaquatic
state, when skin folds might have helped toes cling to slick rocks
and ﬁngers catch wriggling ﬁsh. —Catherine Zuckerman
Fingertips grip wet objects, like this marble, better when they’re “pruney.”
In some wasp species, such as yellow jackets and hornets,
females have 12 antennal segments. The males have 13.
Prescription Lyrica is not for everyone. Tell your doctor right away about any serious allergic reaction that causes swelling
of the face, mouth, lips, gums, tongue, throat, or neck or any trouble breathing, rash, hives or blisters. Lyrica may cause
suicidal thoughts or actions in a very small number of people. Patients, family members or caregivers should call the doctor
right away if they notice suicidal thoughts or actions, thoughts of self harm, or any unusual changes in mood or behavior.
These changes may include new or worsening depression, anxiety, restlessness, trouble sleeping, panic attacks, anger,
irritability, agitation, aggression, dangerous impulses or violence, or extreme increases in activity or talking. If you have
suicidal thoughts or actions, do not stop Lyrica without ﬁrst talking to your doctor. Lyrica may cause swelling of your hands,
legs and feet. Some of the most common side effects of Lyrica are dizziness and sleepiness. Do not drive or work with
machines until you know how Lyrica affects you. Other common side effects are blurry vision, weight gain, trouble
concentrating, dry mouth, and feeling “high.” Also, tell your doctor right away about muscle pain along with feeling sick
and feverish, or any changes in your eyesight including blurry vision or any skin sores if you have diabetes. You may have a
higher chance of swelling, hives or gaining weight if you are also taking certain diabetes or high blood pressure medicines.
Do not drink alcohol while taking Lyrica. You may have more dizziness and sleepiness if you take Lyrica with alcohol,
narcotic pain medicines, or medicines for anxiety. If you have had a drug or alcohol problem, you may be more likely to
misuse Lyrica. Tell your doctor if you are planning to father a child. Talk with your doctor before you stop taking Lyrica or
any other prescription medication.
Please see Important Risk Information for Lyrica on the following page.
To learn more visit www.lyrica.com or call toll-free 1-888-9-LYRICA (1-888-959-7422).
You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA.
Visit www.FDA.gov/medwatch or call 1-800-FDA-1088.
Get specific treatment for Diabetic Nerve Pain.
Lyrica is FDA
approved to treat
Diabetic Nerve Pain.
may cause pain.
Diabetic Nerve Pain (or pain from Diabetic Peripheral Neuropathy) is characterized by shooting, burning,
pins and needles symptoms. Lyrica provides effective pain relief so patients feel better.*
Some patients also had a signiﬁcant reduction of pain in as early as one week. And, Lyrica is not a narcotic.**
Ask your doctor about Lyrica today.
*Individual results may vary. **Those who have had a drug or alcohol problem may be more likely to misuse Lyrica.
We asked Phyllis to tell us about her experience with Lyrica. To hear Phyllis’s story visit Lyrica.com.
PBP537409-02 ©2013 Pﬁzer Inc. All rights reserved. March 2013
IT’S A WONDERFUL
—PHYLLIS, RETIRED SCHOOL BUS DRIVER
DIAGNOSED WITH DIABETIC NERVE PAIN.
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NEED MORE INFORMATION?
POSSIBLE SIDE EFFECTS OF LYRICAC
LYRICA may cause serious side effects, including:
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The most common side effects of LYRICA are:
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BEFORE STARTING LYRICA
IMPORTANT SAFETY INFORMATION ABOUT LYRICA
LYRICA may cause serious, even life threatening, allergic reactions.
Like other antiepileptic drugs, LYRICA may cause suicidal thoughts
or actions in a very small number of people, about 1 in 500.
LYRICA may cause swelling of your hands, legs and feet.
LYRICA may cause dizziness or sleepiness.
LYRICA is a prescription medicine used in adults 18 years and older
Who should NOT take LYRICA:
Mr. Bigshot rolled up in a roaring high-performance
Italian sports car, dropping attitude like his
$14,000 watch made it okay for him to be rude. That’s
when I decided to roll up my sleeves and teach him
“Nice watch,” I said, pointing to his and holding up
mine. He nodded like we belonged to the same club.
We did, but he literally paid 100 times more for his
membership. Bigshot bragged about his five-figure
purchase, a luxury heavyweight from the titan of high-
priced timepieces. I told him that mine was the Stauer
Corso, a 27-jewel automatic classic now available
for only $179. And just like that, the man was at a loss
The Stauer Corso is proof that the worth of a watch
doesn’t depend on the size of its price tag. Our factory
spent over $40 million on Swiss-made machinery to insure the
highest quality parts. Each timepiece takes six months and over
200 individual precision parts to create the complex assembly.
Peer through the exhibition back to see the 27-jeweled automatic
movement in action and you’ll understand why we can only offer
the Corso in a limited edition.
Our specialty is vintage automatic movements. The Corso is
driven by a self-winding design, inspired by a 1923 patent.
Your watch will never need batteries. Every second of power is
generated by the movement of your body. The dial features a
trio of complications including a graphic day/night display.
The Corso secures with a two-toned stainless steel bracelet and
is water-resistant to 3 ATM.
Your satisfaction is 100% guaranteed. Test drive the Stauer
Corso. If you don’t love it, send it back within 30 days and we’ll
refund every dollar of your purchase price. And you’re welcome to
keep the $99 sunglasses as our gift! Spending more doesn’t make
you smarter. But saving thousands on a watch this stunning will
leave you feeling (and looking) like a genius!
27-jeweled Vertex automatic movement - Interior dials - Transparent caseback - Dual-toned stainless steel case and bracelet band fits wrists 6 ½–9
Only the “Robin Hood of Watchmakers” can steal
the spotlight from a luxury legend for under $200!
How to Outsmart
Order the Stauer
Corso and these
(a $99 value) are
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Ostentatious Overpriced Competitors Price
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14101 Southcross Drive W.,
Burnsville, Minnesota 55337
Rating of A+
PHOTOS: MARK THIESSEN, NGM STAFF. NGM MAPS. SOURCE: DIDIER BAZILE, CIRAD, FRANCE
Keen on Quinoa Quinoa’s reputation
is blossoming. The seed of a goosefoot species that originated
in Peru and Bolivia around Lake Titicaca, it’s been a staple of
Andean cuisine for millennia. Over the past decade other cul-
tures have developed a taste for it too. Since 2007 U.S. imports
have risen from 7 million to more than 70 million pounds a year.
This growing appetite is affecting South America. Farmers
are struggling to meet demand, and some urban populations
can’t afford the resulting price increases. To cash in on the
crop’s popularity, countries on other continents have begun
moving from consumer to cultivator. There are now quinoa
farms in 56 countries, including France, Thailand, Australia,
and the U.S. Quinoa is also being grown in Africa, where the
UN hopes its high protein content will help ﬁght hunger.
The long-term objective is diversity, says Kevin Murphy,
a plant breeder at Washington State University. “There are
hundreds of varieties of quinoa, and our goal is to develop
the ideal one for different climates.” For now most retail
stores in the U.S. remain stocked with Andean quinoa. With
continued crop experimentation, though, Murphy adds, it
won’t be long before locally grown—and less expensive—
becomes an everyday option. —Catherine Zuckerman
range is expanding.
Goosefoot (right) and its
edible seeds (above)
PHOTO (TOP): JOHN WEINSTEIN, FIELD MUSEUM. SOURCE: LANCE GRANDE, THE LOST WORLD OF FOSSIL LAKE. PHOTO (BOTTOM):
VISUAL DEVELOPMENT LAB, MCMASTER UNIVERSITY. GRAPHIC: MARGARET NG. ART (TOP): ÁLVARO VALIÑO. SOURCE: AMADEUS
BirdThere’s a new branch
on the avian family tree.
fossilized bird found in
Wyoming is thought to
be an extinct cousin of
and swifts. Based on the
Daniel Ksepka believes
inches from head to
tail—would have been
a conventional ﬂier. Its
specialized, growing long
so swifts could stay aloft
all day and short so hum-
mingbirds could hover.
The discovery of this fossil
helps explain the evolution
of swifts and humming-
birds in North America.
EYE SPY Dots represent instances—observed over the course of ﬁve seconds—when each gender ﬁxated on a facial feature.
Face-to-Face Women have long
been shown to be better than men at remem-
bering faces. New research from Canada’s
McMaster University helps explain why.
Kinesiologist Jennifer Heisz tracked the way
men and women moved their eyes as they
scanned pictures of faces (right). Both gen-
ders started at the center and looked at the
same features—eyes, nose, mouth—but wom-
en made more eye movements between the
features. “More frequent scanning generates
a more vivid picture in your mind,” says Heisz.
Understanding how the brain memorizes vi-
sual information could lead to improvements
in how memory loss is treated. —Daniel Stone
10 seconds 2 3 4 5
The world’s busiest air route connects Jeju and Seoul,
South Korea. It saw 10.1 million passengers in 2012.
An engineer wears a helmet of
sensors at the Martinos Center
for Biomedical Imaging—part
of a brain scanner requiring
almost as much power as a
nuclear submarine. Antennas
pick up signals produced when
the scanner’s magnetic field
excites water molecules in the
brain. Computers convert this
data into brain maps like the
one on pages -.
SECRETS OF THE
New technologies are shedding light
on biology’s greatest unsolved mystery:
how the brain really works.
1. Frontal cortex
2. Motor cortex
3. Parietal lobe
4. Corpus callosum
6. Occipital lobe
7. Temporal lobe
8. Brain stem
BRAIN PREPARATION PERFORMED AT ALLEN
INSTITUTE FOR BRAIN SCIENCE
THE COLOR OF THOUGHT
The brain’s many regions are connected by some
, miles of fibers called white matter—
enough to circle the Earth four times. Images like
this, taken at the Martinos Center, reveal for the
first time the specific pathways underlying cognitive
functions. The pink and orange bundles, for
example, transmit signals critical for language.
VAN WEDEEN AND L. L. WALD, MARTINOS CENTER
FOR BIOMEDICAL IMAGING, HUMAN CONNECTOME PROJECT
would be close enough to my brain to pick up
the radio waves it was about to emit. As the slab
glided into the cylindrical maw of the scanner, I
thought of The Man in the Iron Mask.
The magnets that now surrounded me began
to rumble and beep. For an hour I lay still, eyes
closed, and tried to keep myself calm with my
own thoughts. It wasn’t easy. To squeeze as much
resolution as possible out of the scanner, Wedeen
and his colleagues had designed the device with
barely enough room for a person of my build to
fit inside. To tamp down the panic, I breathed
smoothly and transported myself to places in my
memory, at one point recalling how I had once
walked my nine-year-old daughter to school
through piles of blizzard snow.
As I lay there, I reflected on the fact that all of
these thoughts and emotions were the creation
of the three-pound loaf of flesh that was under
scrutiny: my fear, carried by electrical impulses
converging in an almond-shaped chunk of tissue
in my brain called the amygdala, and the calm-
ing response to it, marshaled in regions of my
frontal cortex. My memory of my walk with my
daughter was coordinated by a seahorse-shaped
fold of neurons called the hippocampus, which
reactivated a vast web of links throughout my
brain that had first fired when I had clambered
over the snowbanks and formed those memories.
I was submitting to this procedure as part of
my cross-country reporting to chronicle one of
the great scientific revolutions of our times: the
stunning advances in understanding the work-
ings of the human brain. Some neuroscientists
are zooming in on the fine structure of individ-
ual nerve cells, or neurons. Others are charting
the biochemistry of the brain, surveying how
our billions of neurons produce and employ
thousands of different kinds of proteins. Still
others, Wedeen among them, are creating in un-
precedented detail representations of the brain’s
wiring: the network of some 100,000 miles of
nerve fibers, called white matter, that connects
the various components of the mind, giving
rise to everything we think, feel, and perceive.
The U.S. government is throwing its weight be-
hind this research through the Brain Research
an Wedeen strokes his half-
gray beard and leans toward
his computer screen, scroll-
ing through a cascade of
files. We’re sitting in a win-
dowless library, surrounded
by speckled boxes of old
letters, curling issues of sci-
entific journals, and an old slide projector that no
one has gotten around to throwing out.
“It’ll take me a moment to locate your brain,”
On a hard drive Wedeen has stored hundreds
of brains—exquisitely detailed 3-D images from
monkeys, rats, and humans, including me.
Wedeen has offered to take me on a journey
through my own head.
“We’ll hit all the tourist spots,” he promises,
This is my second trip to the Martinos Center
for Biomedical Imaging, located in a former
ship-rope factory on Boston Harbor. The first
time, a few weeks ago, I offered myself as a
neuroscientific guinea pig to Wedeen and his
colleagues. In a scanning room I lay down on
a slab, the back of my head resting in an open
plastic box. A radiologist lowered a white plastic
helmet over my face. I looked up at him through
two eyeholes as he screwed the helmet tight, so
that the 96 miniature antennas it contained
BY CARL ZIMMER
PHOTOGRAPHS BY ROBERT CLARK
VAN WEDEEN AND L. L. WALD, MARTINOS CENTER FOR BIOMEDICAL
IMAGING, HUMAN CONNECTOME PROJECT (ABOVE); TASCHEN GMBH
ANATOMY OF A MYSTERY
Scientists have studied the brain for centuries, but by
the s they could still make out only the regions
visible to the naked eye, as shown in this illustration.
New technologies let scientists peer deep into the
hidden structure of the brain. A high-resolution view
of the image on the previous two pages reveals white
matter fibers arranged in a mysterious grid structure
(opposite), like longitude and latitude lines on a map.
national geographic February
through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnolo-
gies (BRAIN) Initiative. In an announcement
last spring President Barack Obama said that the
large-scale project aimed to speed up the map-
ping of our neural circuitry, “giving scientists
the tools they need to get a dynamic picture of
the brain in action.”
As they see the brain in action, neuroscien-
tists can also see its flaws. They are starting to
identify differences in the structure of ordinary
brains and brains of people with disorders such
as schizophrenia, autism, and Alzheimer’s dis-
ease. As they map the brain in greater detail,
they may learn how to diagnose disorders by
their effect on anatomy, and perhaps even un-
derstand how those disorders arise.
On my return trip to his lab Wedeen finally
locates the image from my session in the scanner.
My brain appears on his screen. His technique,
called diffusion spectrum imaging, translates ra-
dio signals given off by the white matter into a
high-resolution atlas of that neurological Internet.
His scanner maps bundles of nerve fibers that
form hundreds of thousands of pathways carrying
information from one part of my brain to another.
Wedeen paints each path a rainbow of colors, so
that my brain appears as an explosion of colorful
fur, like a psychedelic Persian cat.
Wedeen focuses in on particular pathways,
showing me some of the circuitry important to
language and other kinds of thought. Then he
pares away most of the pathways in my brain, so
that I can more easily see how they’re organized.
As he increases the magnification, something
astonishing takes shape before me. In spite of
the dizzying complexity of the circuits, they all
intersect at right angles, like the lines on a sheet
of graph paper.
“It’s all grids,” says Wedeen.
When Wedeen first unveiled the grid struc-
ture of the brain, in , some scientists were
skeptical, wondering if he’d uncovered only part
of a much more tangled anatomy. But Wedeen
is more convinced than ever that the pattern is
meaningful. Wherever he looks—in the brains
of humans, monkeys, rats—he finds the grid.
He notes that the earliest nervous systems in
Cambrian worms were simple grids—just a pair
of nerve cords running from head to tail, with
runglike links between them. In our own lineage
the nerves at the head end exploded into billions
but still retained that gridlike structure. It’s pos-
sible that our thoughts run like streetcars along
these white matter tracks as signals travel from
one region of the brain to another.
“There’s zero chance that there are not prin-
ciples lurking in this,” says Wedeen, peering
intently at the image of my brain. “We’re just
not yet in a position to see the simplicity.”
Scientists are learning so much about the
brain now that it’s easy to forget that for much
of history we had no idea at all how it worked or
even what it was. In the ancient world physicians
believed that the brain was made of phlegm.
Aristotle looked on it as a refrigerator, cooling
off the fiery heart. From his time through the
Renaissance, anatomists declared with great
authority that our perceptions, emotions, rea-
soning, and actions were all the result of “animal
spirits”—mysterious, unknowable vapors that
swirled through cavities in our head and trav-
eled through our bodies.
The scientific revolution in the th century
began to change that. The British physician
Thomas Willis recognized that the custardlike
tissue of the brain was where our mental world
existed. To understand how it worked, he dissect-
ed brains of sheep, dogs, and expired patients,
producing the first accurate maps of the organ.
It would take another century for researchers
to grasp that the brain is an electric organ. Instead
of animal spirits, voltage spikes travel through it
and out into the body’s nervous system. Still, even
in the th century scientists knew little about
the paths those spikes followed. The Italian phy-
sician Camillo Golgi argued that the brain was
a seamless connected web. Building on Golgi’s
research, the Spanish scientist Santiago Ramón
y Cajal tested new ways of staining individual
BURROWING DOWN TO SINGLE NERVE CELLS MAY FINALLY
PROVIDE ANSWERS TO BASIC QUESTIONS ABOUT THE BRAIN.
Carl Zimmer wrote on bringing back extinct species
in the April issue. Robert Clark’s previous
story, on sugar, was in the August issue.
Seeing the Brain
for the rules that organize the brain’s seeming
chaos. Recently Lichtman’s postdoctoral re-
searcher Narayanan Kasthuri set out to analyze
every detail in a cylinder of mouse brain tissue
measuring just a thousand cubic microns—a
volume /, the size of a grain of salt. He
selected a region surrounding a short segment of
a single axon, seeking to identify every neuron
that passed through it.
That minuscule patch of brain turned out
to be like a barrel of seething snakes. Kasthuri
found a thousand axons and about 80 dendrites,
each making about 600 connections with other
neurons inside the cylinder. “It’s a wake-up call
to how much more complicated brains are than
the way we think about them,” says Lichtman.
neurons to trace their tangled branches. Cajal
recognized what Golgi did not: that each neuron
is a distinct cell, separate from every other one. A
neuron sends signals down tendrils known as ax-
ons. A tiny gap separates the ends of axons from
the receiving ends of neurons, called dendrites.
Scientists would later discover that axons dump
a cocktail of chemicals into the gap to trigger a
signal in the neighboring neuron.
Jeff Lichtman, a neuroscientist, is the current
Ramón y Cajal Professor of Arts and Sciences
at Harvard, carrying Cajal’s project into the st
century. Instead of making pen-and-ink drawings
of neurons stained by hand, he and his colleagues
are creating extremely detailed three-dimensional
images of neurons, revealing every bump and
stalk branching from them. By burrowing down
to the fine structure of individual nerve cells, they
may finally get answers to some of the most ba-
sic questions about the nature of the brain. Each
neuron has on average , synapses. Is there
some order to their connections to other neurons,
or are they random? Do they prefer linking to one
type of neuron over others?
To produce the images, Lichtman and his col-
leagues load pieces of preserved mouse brain
into a neuroanatomical version of a deli meat
slicer, which pares off layers of tissue, each less
than a thousandth the thickness of a strand of
human hair. The scientists use an electron mi-
croscope to take a picture of each cross section,
then use a computer to order them into a stack.
Slowly a three-dimensional image takes shape—
one that the scientists can explore as if they were
in a submarine traveling through an underwater
“Everything is revealed,” says Lichtman.
The only problem is the sheer enormity of
“everything.” So far the largest volume of a
mouse’s brain that Lichtman and his colleagues
have managed to re-create is about the size of
a grain of salt. Its data alone total a hundred
terabytes, the amount of data in about 25,000
Once the scientists have gathered this infor-
mation, the really hard work begins: looking
THE GLOW OF MEMORY
When you form a memory, “there’s a physical
change in the brain,” says Don Arnold, of the
University of Southern California. Red and
green dots on the branches extending from
this rat neuron show where it contacts other
neurons. As the rat forms new memories,
new dots appear and old ones vanish.
GARRETT GROSS AND DON ARNOLD, UNIVERSITY OF SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA
JENNIFER ON THE BRAIN
Caltech and UCLA scientists use pictures
of celebrities to study how the brain processes
what the eyes see. In they found an
individual nerve cell that fired only when
subjects were shown pictures of Jennifer
Aniston. Another neuron responded only to
pictures of Halle Berry—even when she was
masked as Catwoman. Follow-up studies
suggest that relatively few neurons are
involved in representing any given person,
place, or concept, making the brain stagger-
ingly efficient at storing information.
IMAGE CREDITS AT NGM.COM/BRAIN
How did scientists discover the
“Jennifer Aniston neuron”? At UCLA’s
Medical Center for Neuroscience
electrodes are implanted in the brains
of epileptic patients such as Crystal
Hawkins. The next time she has a
seizure, the electrodes will pinpoint
its source, allowing neurosurgeons to
target what brain tissue to remove.
The electrodes also provide a rare
opportunity to eavesdrop on neurons
functioning normally, which led to
the discovery of nerve cells that
respond to specific faces.
ERIC BEHNKE AND ANDREW FREW, UCLA (BOTTOM)
Seeing the Brain
Complicated, but not random. Lichtman and
Kasthuri discovered that every neuron made
nearly all its connections with just one other one,
scrupulously avoiding a connection with almost
all the other neurons packed tightly around it.
“They seem to care who they’re connected to,”
Lichtman can’t say yet whether this fastidious
pattern is a general rule or a feature of just the
tiny area of mouse brain he sampled. Even as they
scale up the technology, he and his colleagues
will need another two years to complete a scan
of all 70 million neurons in a mouse. I ask about
scanning an entire human brain, which contains
a thousand times more neurons than a mouse’s.
“I don’t dwell on that,” he says, with a laugh.
“It’s too painful.”
When and if Lichtman completes his three-
dimensional portrait of the brain, it will reveal
much—but it will still be only an exquisitely de-
tailed sculpture. His imaged neurons are hollow
models; real neurons are crammed with living
DNA, proteins, and other molecules. Each type
of neuron uses a distinct set of genes to build
the molecular machinery it needs to do its own
job. Light-sensitive neurons in the eyes produce
photon-catching proteins, for example, and
neurons in a region called the substantia nigra
produce a protein called dopamine, crucial to
our sense of reward. The geography of proteins is
essential to understanding how the brain works—
and how it goes awry. In Parkinson’s disease the
substantia nigra neurons produce less dopamine
than normal, for reasons that aren’t yet clear.
Alzheimer’s disease scatters tangles of protein
through the brain, although scientists have yet
to firmly settle on how those tangles give rise to
the devastating dementia the disease causes.
A map of the brain’s molecular machinery
called the Allen Brain Atlas has been generated
at the Allen Institute for Brain Science in Seattle,
founded ten years ago with funds from Micro-
soft co-founder Paul Allen. Using the brains
of recently deceased people, donated by their
families, researchers there use a high-resolution
magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan of each
brain as a three-dimensional road map, then
slice it into microscopically thin sections that
are mounted on glass slides. They then douse the
sections with chemicals that reveal the presence
of active genes harbored in the neurons.
So far the researchers have mapped the brains
of six people, charting the activity of 20,000
protein-coding genes at 700 sites within each
brain. It’s a colossal amount of data, and they’ve
only begun to make sense of it. The scientists
estimate that 84 percent of all the genes in our
DNA become active somewhere in the adult
brain. (A simpler organ like the heart or pan-
creas requires far fewer genes to work.) In each
of the 700 sites the scientists studied, the neurons
switch on a distinct collection of genes. In a pre-
liminary survey of two regions of the brain, the
scientists compared a thousand genes that were
already known to be important for neuron func-
tion. From one person to the next, the areas of
the brain where each of those genes was active
were practically identical. It looks as if the brain
has a finely grained genetic landscape, with spe-
cial combinations of genes carrying out tasks in
different locations. The secret to many diseases
of the brain may be hiding in that landscape, as
certain genes shut down or switch on abnormally.
All the information from the Allen Brain At-
las is posted online, where other scientists can
navigate through the data with custom-made
software. Already they’re making new discover-
ies. A team of Brazilian scientists, for instance,
has used it to study a devastating brain disor-
der called Fahr’s disease, which calcifies regions
deep inside the brain, leading to dementia. Some
cases of Fahr’s disease had already been linked
to a mutation in the gene SLCA. In the atlas
the scientists found that SLCA is most ac-
tive in precisely the regions that are targeted by
the disease. They also found a network of other
genes that is most active in the same areas, and
now they’re trying to find out whether they’re
involved in Fahr’s disease as well.
Of all the new ways of visualizing the brain,
perhaps the most remarkable is one invented
by Stanford neuroscientist and psychiatrist
THE SECRET TO MANY DISEASES MAY BE HIDING IN THE BRAIN’S
GENES, AS THEY SHUT DOWN OR SWITCH ON ABNORMALLY.
Two hundred sections of a piece of mouse brain, each
less than /, the thickness of a human hair, are
readied to be imaged by an electron microscope.
Arranged in stacks, , such photomicrographs
form a -D model no larger than a grain of salt (in
tweezers). A human brain visualized at this level of
detail would require an amount of data equal to all
the written material in all the libraries of the world.
AVOYAGE INTO THE
Thought, feeling, sense, action—all derive
from unimaginably complex interactions among
billions of nerve cells. A section of mouse
brain (above) no larger than a grain of salt
serves as a window into this
JASON TREAT AND KURT MUTCHLER, NGM STAFF; ANTHONY SCHICK. ART: BRYAN CHRISTIE
2.7 billion terabytes
needed to produce
human brain image
1.3 billion terabytes
needed to produce
mouse brain image
ANATOMY OF A NERVE CELL
JASON TREAT AND KURT MUTCHLER, NGM STAFF; ANTHONY SCHICK. ART: BRYAN CHRISTIE
PHOTO (FLAP): JOSH L. MORGAN, HARVARD UNIVERSITY; ARTHUR WETZEL, PITTSBURGH SUPERCOMPUTING CENTER
SOURCES: JEFF LICHTMAN, HARVARD UNIVERSITY; DANIEL BERGER, MASSACHUSETTS INSTITUTE OF TE
*The 1-mm image is from
a different data set than
the other images.
For the ﬁrst time scientists can visualize how
neurons actually connect with one another.
The three blocks at right have been colorized
but are not an artist’s conception: They show,
at increasing levels of magniﬁcation, real
neurons in part of a mouse’s brain receiving
signals from the face. Technology may soon
make possible a similar reconstruction of an
entire mouse brain—and eventually of the
vastly more complicated architecture of the
human brain, opening the way for advances
in understanding schizophrenia, depression,
and other mental diseases.
The neuron’s power-
house, responsible for
generating energy and
An image a millimeter
high—less than four-
hundredths of an
inch—shows nerve cells
arranged in orderly
layers and columns.
A section a hundredth the size
reveals blood vessels among
pink cell bodies and a tangle
of their axons and dendrites.
HALF THE WORLD’S HARD DRIVES
Visualizing neurons at the level of
detail shown in these images requires
unprecedented computing power.
Producing an image of an entire
human brain at the same resolution
would consume nearly half the world’s
current digital storage capacity.
that pick up signals
from other neurons
ECHNOLOGY; INTERNATIONAL DATA CORPORATION
agniﬁed again by 100,
s section more clearly
ows axons (blue) and
ndrites (yellow). Budlike
ndritic spines receive
ormation from other
lls’ axons across gaps
Magniﬁed yet again, this section
reveals synaptic vesicles (yellow
grains) containing neurotrans-
mitters, which carry chemical
messages across synapses,
signaling the receiving nerve
cell to ﬁre or stop ﬁring.
A long nerve ﬁber that
conducts information from
the cell body in the form of
an electrical impulse
The glue of the nervous
system, supporting, feeding,
and protecting neurons
End point of an axon’s branches, where
electrical impulses are discharged; releases
neurotransmitters that carry chemical
messages to other cells’ dendrites
A CLEAR VIEW
Scientists at Stanford University
bathe a mouse brain (far left)
in chemicals that remove fats
and other molecules, rendering
it transparent (left). Proteins
can then be added that bind
only to certain neurons. Below,
a green-glowing protein reveals
the ubiquity of a type of neuron
that accounts for just one
percent of a mouse’s brain.
KWANGHUN CHUNG AND KARL DEISSEROTH, STANFORD UNIVERSITY (ALL)
Seeing the Brain
Karl Deisseroth and his colleagues. To see the
brain, they begin by making it disappear.
On my visit to Deisseroth’s lab, undergradu-
ate Jenelle Wallace led me to a bench where half
a dozen beakers rested in a plastic-foam base.
She pulled one out and pointed to a grape-size
mouse brain resting at the bottom. I didn’t look
at the brain so much as through it. It was nearly
as transparent as a glass marble.
Needless to say, a normal human or mouse
brain is decidedly opaque, its cells swathed in fat
and other compounds that block light. That’s why
Cajal had to dye neurons in order to see them
and why Lichtman’s group and the Allen Insti-
tute scientists slice the brain into thin sections
to gain access to its inner depths. The advantage
of a transparent brain is that it allows us to peer
into its workings while the organ is still intact.
Along with postdoctoral researcher Kwanghun
Chung, Deisseroth came up with a recipe to
replace the light-scattering compounds in the
brain with transparent molecules. After making
a mouse brain transparent in this way, they can
then douse the brain with glowing chemical labels
that latch on to only certain proteins or trace a
specific pathway connecting neurons in distant
regions of the brain. The scientists can then wash
out one set of chemicals and add another that re-
veals the location and structure of a different type
of neuron—in effect untangling the Gordian knot
of neural circuits one by one. “You don’t have to
take it apart to show the wiring,” says Deisseroth.
It’s not easy to dazzle neuroscientists, but
Deisseroth’s method, dubbed CLARITY, has left
his colleagues awestruck. “It’s pretty badass,” says
Christof Koch, the chief scientific officer at the
Allen Institute. Wedeen has called the research
“spectacular…unlike anything else in the field.”
Because of our shared evolutionary heritage,
a clarified mouse brain can reveal a great deal
about human brain function. But Deisseroth’s
ultimate goal is to perform the same transforma-
tion with a human brain—a far more difficult
task, not least because a human brain is 3,000
times as large as that of a mouse.
A CLARITY picture showing the location of
just one type of protein in just one human brain
would create a monstrous heap of data—about
two petabytes, or the equivalent of several hun-
dred thousand high-def movies. Deisseroth
anticipates that CLARITY may someday help
the sort of people he treats in his psychiatric
practice, by revealing hidden features of disor-
ders like autism and depression. But for now he’s
keeping those hopes in check.
“We have so far to go before we can affect
treatments that I tell people, Don’t even think
about that yet,” he says. “It’s just a voyage of dis-
covery for now.”
As revealing as a transparent brain may prove
to be, it will still be dead. Scientists need differ-
ent tools to explore the terrain of living brains.
The scanners Wedeen uses to trace white mat-
ter patterns can, with different programming,
record the brain in action. Functional magnetic
resonance imaging (fMRI) pinpoints regions of
the brain recruited during a mental task. Over
the past couple of decades fMRI has helped re-
veal networks involved in all manner of thought
processes, from recognizing faces to enjoying a
cup of coffee to remembering a traumatic event.
It’s easy to be dazzled by fMRI images, which
festoon the brain with rainbow blobs. But it’s im-
portant to bear in mind that those images are
actually quite coarse. The most powerful scanners
can record activity only down to the scale of a
cubic millimeter—a sesame seed’s worth of tissue.
Within that space, hundreds of thousands of neu-
rons are firing in synchronized patterns, trading
signals. How those signals give rise to the larger
patterns revealed by fMRI remains mysterious.
“There are ridiculously simple questions about
the cortex that we can’t answer at all,” says Clay
Reid, a former colleague of Jeff Lichtman’s at Har-
vard who moved to the Allen Institute in .
Reid has come to Seattle hoping to answer
some of those questions with a grand series of
experiments he and his colleagues call Mind-
Scope. Their goal is to understand how a large
TO SEE THE BRAIN, SCIENTISTS AT STANFORD UNIVERSITY
BEGIN BY MAKING IT AS TRANSPARENT AS A GLASS MARBLE.
For more on the mind, tune in to the
third season of Brain Games, premiering
in January on the National Geographic
Channel. Check local listings.
NO ROOM FOR ERROR
Removing brain tumors is a risky procedure—
surgeons need to excise as much of a tumor as
possible without destroying neurons essential for
functions such as speech, sight, and memory or
the connective fibers between them. David Fortin
(at center right), a neurosurgeon at the Université de
Sherbrooke in Canada, relies on a high-resolution
map of a patient’s brain to avoid mishaps.
A GUIDED HAND
Scans of one of Fortin’s patients
revealed that a tumor (red, above)
had grown into a region controlling
the movement of hands and feet.
As he removed parts of the tumor
(left), Fortin applied current to the
region to determine if neighboring
neurons were critical for move-
ment. “There was a lot of motor
function still active in this patient,”
says Maxime Descoteaux, one of
the Université de Sherbrooke
scientists who made the brain scan.
“So the surgeon in this case was
more conservative than aggressive.”
MAXIME DESCOTEAUX AND MAXIME CHAMBERLAND, SHERBROOKE CONNECTIVITY
IMAGING LAB, UNIVERSITÉ DE SHERBROOKE (TOP)
Seeing the Brain
number of neurons carry out a complex task.
The function Reid and his colleagues have
chosen to decipher is vision. Scientists have been
investigating how we see for decades, but they’ve
been able to study it only piecemeal. A neuro-
scientist might place an electrode in the region
of a mouse’s brain involved in visual perception
and then note whether nearby neurons fire when
the animal sees a particular image.
This approach has allowed scientists to map
regions of the visual brain that specialize in dif-
ferent tasks, such as detecting the edges of an
object or perceiving brightness. But scientists
haven’t been able to see all those regions work
together at once—to learn how the million or
so neurons in the visual regions of a mouse’s
brain instantly put information together into the
image of a cat.
Reid and his colleagues are setting out to solve
that problem by engineering mice so that their
visual neurons will release flashes of light when
they fire. The flashes record the neural activity
when a mouse sees a specific object, be it a cat, a
snake, or an appealing piece of cheese. The scien-
tists can then compile the data to create massive
mathematical models of vision. If the models are
accurate, the researchers will be able to literally
read the mind of a mouse.
“Our goal is to reconstruct what the mouse
sees,” says Reid. “And I think we can do it.”
Reid’s research on mouse vision is another
step toward neuroscience’s ultimate goal: a com-
prehensive view of how this vastly complicated
organ really works—what the scientists I talked
to call a theory of the brain. Such a grand vision
is still a long way off, and for the most part, the
search for it has yet to change the way doctors
treat patients. But there is one line of research—
brain-machine interfaces—where the mapping
of the mind has started to change people’s lives.
When she was 43 years old, Cathy Hutchin-
son suffered a massive stroke, leaving her unable
to move or speak. Lying in her bed in Massachu-
setts General Hospital, she gradually figured out
that her doctors didn’t know if she was brain-
dead or still aware. Her sister asked Hutchinson
if she could understand her. She managed to
answer by moving her eyes up on command.
“It gave me such a relief,” Hutchinson tells me
years later, “because everybody talked about
me as if I was dying.”
It is a chilly winter day at her home in eastern
Massachusetts, and she’s sitting in a wheelchair
in the middle of the living room, dressed in a
dark green jogging suit and sneakers. Still almost
completely paralyzed and unable to speak, she
communicates by looking at letters arrayed on
a computer monitor bolted to her wheelchair, a
camera tracking the movement of a tiny metal
disk attached to the center of her eyeglasses.
Near the top of the brain is a region called the
motor cortex, where we generate commands to
move our muscles. For more than a century we’ve
known that each part of the cortex corresponds
to a particular area of the body. When people like
Hutchinson become paralyzed, the motor cortex
often remains intact, but it can’t communicate
with the rest of the body, because its connections
have been destroyed. John Donoghue, a neuro-
scientist at Brown University, wanted to find a
way to help people with paralysis by tapping into
the signals from their motor cortex. Perhaps they
could eventually learn to type on a computer or
operate a machine merely with their thoughts.
Donoghue spent years developing an implant
and testing the device on monkeys. Once he and
his colleagues knew it was safe, they were ready
to start working with human patients.
One of them was Hutchinson. In 2005 sur-
geons at Rhode Island Hospital drilled a hole the
size of a poker chip in her skull and inserted the
sensor for Donoghue’s device. About the size of
a ladybug, the sensor contained a hundred min-
iature needles, which, pressing into Hutchinson’s
motor cortex, recorded the signals from nearby
neurons. A set of wires anchored to this device
passed through the hole in her skull and led to
a metal connector sitting on her scalp.
After her surgery had healed, the Brown Uni-
versity researchers plugged Hutchinson’s implant
into a cable that relayed signal patterns from her
brain to a cart of computers they wheeled into
her room. As a first step, the scientists trained
IF THEIR MODELS ARE ACCURATE, THE RESEARCHERS WILL
BE ABLE TO LITERALLY READ THE MIND OF A MOUSE.
national geographic February
“Cathy’s smile when she put down that drink—
that’s everything,” Donoghue says.
Today Donoghue and other scientists are
building on that success, hoping to create
human-machine interfaces that will be power-
ful, safe, and easy. At Duke University Miguel
Nicolelis has been experimenting with exoskel-
etons that strap on to the body. Signals from the
brain control each limb. Already he has gotten
monkeys to control full-body exoskeletons. If
all goes well, a paraplegic wearing a simpler
version of the device will deliver the open-
ing kick at the World Cup in Nicolelis’s
“Eventually brain implants will become as
common as heart implants,” says Nicolelis. “I
have no doubt about that.”
When it comes to the brain, predicting the fu-
ture is a tricky game. Advances in the past have
inspired giddy expectations that in many cases
have not been met. “We can’t tell a schizophren-
ic brain from an autistic brain from a normal
brain,” says Christof Koch. But the research that’s
going on now, he believes, is moving neurosci-
ence to a remarkable new stage. “I think we can
begin to put the pieces together.” j
the computers to recognize signals in her motor
cortex and use them to move a computer cursor
around a screen. This was achieved the first time
she tried because they had learned how to trans-
late patterns of brain activity into movements.
Two years later they coupled a robotic arm to the
computers, refining a program that could inter-
pret Hutchinson’s brain signals to move the arm
forward and back, to raise it up and down, and to
open its robotic fingers and squeeze them shut.
After just a few sessions Hutchinson, the com-
puter, and the robotic arm had become a team.
“It felt natural,” she tells me. So natural that
one day she reached out for a cinnamon latte,
grabbed it, and brought it to her lips to drink.
BY THOUGHT ALONE
A rhesus macaque walks with the aid of a
pneumatically powered exoskeleton controlled
by a computer reading signals from electrodes
implanted in the monkey’s motor cortex. Miguel
Nicolelis and colleagues at Duke University are
developing similar devices that could allow
paralyzed humans to walk again.