National Geographic : 2018 Jul
EMBARK | BREAKTHROUGHS DISPATCHES FROM THE FRONT LINES OF SCIENCE AND INNOVATION PHOTOS, FROM TOP: CRISTIAN MARIANCIUC; CHRISTIAN ZIEGLER FOR MAX PLANCK INSTITUTE; MATT BERTONE ENVIRONMENT Bugs: They’re in the House Freeloaders come in all sizes. A study of 50 houses in the Raleigh, North Carolina, area, reported in the journal Peer J, found hundreds of species of arthro- pods living with unwitting home- owners. Most (73 percent) were flies, spiders, wasps, ants, and beetles, like the varied carpet beetle below. Also found: moths, earwigs, cockroaches, and millipedes. —LORI CUTHBERT TECHNOLOGY WINGED PREDICTIONS CAN TAGGED BIRDS DETECT COMING EARTHQUAKES? Scientists are betting on a new system to alert us to impending earthquakes: birds wearing tiny backpacks. Though no one knows precisely why, animals often act atypically before an earthquake or other disaster. Flocks of birds might migrate off course or be active at unusual times, says Martin Wikelski, an ecologist at Germany’s Max Planck Institute for Ornithology and a fellow of the National Geographic Society. He directs a satellite track- ing project called International Cooperation for Animal Research Using Space. ICARUS will use lightweight electronic tags—affixed as backpack harnesses, leg bands, or even hats—to monitor the activity patterns of tens of thousands of birds, bats, and other creatures for irregularities that suggest an earthquake is imminent. A global network of volunteers has started to tag animals with the devices—Wikelski calls them “wearables for wildlife”—which will track and beam their movements and other data to the Inter- national Space Station. There Russian astronauts will install the ICARUS data-gathering hardware during an upcoming space walk. The result, Wikelski hopes, will be a disaster-prediction network akin to an “internet of wings.” —LINDSAY GELLMAN Origami Challenge What started in 2015 as an ambitious project for paper artist Cristian Marianciuc— to fold an origami crane a day for 100 days—became a personal quest. He ended up making 1,000 gorgeous cranes over as many con- secutive days.