George Floyd’s mother was not there, but he used her as a sacred invocation

This story was produced in partnership with The Undefeated, an ESPN website that explores the intersection of race, culture, and sports. This report also appears on TheUndefeated.com. ESPN and National Geographic are both owned by The Walt Disney Company. The video frame of George Floyd on Facebook, handcuffed on his stomach as a Minneapolis police…

SpaceX launches new era of spaceflight with company’s first crewed mission

Against a backdrop of shifting clouds and patches of welcome blue sky, a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket roared to life at 3:22 p.m. ET at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center (KSC), warming the already sweltering, sticky air with blindingly bright rocket fire and sending tremors through the Florida coast. Strapped into a spacecraft atop the 229-foot-tall…

‘We’re hurting, we’re hurting’— grief and outrage converge in Minneapolis

George Floyd’s death sparked nationwide protests. The pain has tapped into long-simmering divisions that have plagued his hometown.Photograph by David Guttenfelder, National GeographicRead CaptionOn Friday, May 29, protesters congregated outside a police station in Minneapolis to demand justice for George Floyd, an African-American man who died after a police officer knelt on his neck down…

A COVID-19 vaccine has passed its first human trial. But is it the frontrunner?

A promising coronavirus vaccine candidate cleared a key hurdle this week, when Moderna Therapeutics entered phase two of clinical trials. The move signals that the company’s mRNA vaccine has passed its initial safety checks and has met an important milestone in bringing this drug closer to the public and commercial markets. After almost five months…

Fishery managers seek to open Pacific monuments to fishing

Managers of the American fisheries operating in the Pacific Ocean have asked President Donald Trump to open four national marine monuments to commercial fishing—a request that could inhibit protections in areas set aside, in part, for dwindling fish populations to renew themselves. The Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council is a quasi-governmental body that sets…

This virologist saved millions of children—and stopped a pandemic

In April 1957, a mysterious illness was making its way through Hong Kong. Medical workers encountered throngs of children with “glassy-eyed stares,” and more than 10 percent of the city’s population was infected with influenza. The scientific community stayed quiet, but American virologist Maurice Hilleman recognized the threat: A pandemic was brewing. Hilleman thought the…

The Children’s Crusade set out for the Holy Land in 1212. It never arrived.

The Crusades stand as one of the key historical milestones of the Middle Ages. Backed by the Catholic Church, European Christians launched eight separate missions to take the Holy Land from Muslim control between 1096 and 1291. Led by Europe’s elite, the Crusades were documented in great detail by the leaders of the church as…

Horned screamer

What is a horned screamer? Horned screamers are the unicorns of the bird world. Over the course of their lives, these birds grow long, white spines of cartilage in the middle of their foreheads. Some birds possess horns approaching six inches in length. No other birds on earth have anything like it. Unlike with rams…

The grand old trees of the world are dying, leaving forests younger and shorter

California’s giant sequoias can live for more than 3,000 years, their trunks stretching two car lengths in diameter, their branches reaching nearly 300 feet toward the clouds. But a few years ago, amid a record drought, scientists noticed something odd. A few of these arboreal behemoths inside Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks were dying…

My generation grew up online. Endless ‘virtual life’ would be terrifying

This story appears in the August 2020 issue of National Geographic magazine. My first name comes from the children’s books about Thomas the Tank Engine, The Railway Series. My eldest brother had been reading the books, and Oliver the Western Engine was one of his favorites. My mother thought the name was beautiful, and so…