“I’ll be real honest with you; we cooked up this issue as an excuse to talk about UFOs. Here are some of the names we considered: The UFO Issue. Invasions. Aliens. Weird Science… Eventually, we settled on what you have in front of you: Out There. And whoa, was that ever a good choice. Keep reading, and you’ll soon be gobbling up tales from the fringes of what humans can know, reach, and do.”

Editor-in-Chief, Popular Science, Joe Brown  

 

ARE WE ALONE IN THE UNIVERSE?

The universe as we know it stretches 93 billion light-years across and contains 2 trillion galaxies. This fall a supercomputer will start analyzing data from the 64 MeerKAT antennas just north of Cape Town, South Africa, that will be surveying 1 million stars within five years. Given the unfathomable size of the universe and the amount of data we’ve yet to collect, let alone analyze, is it really possible that we’re alone? Speaking with astrophysicists, astronomers, and more, Assistant Tech Editor Rob Verger tries to understand what people think might be out there.

DEEP HORIZONS 

After Victor Vescovo climbed the Seven Summits—the highest mountain on each continent—he skied to both the North and South poles. Only 66 people have accomplished this dual feat of human performance, dubbed the Explorers’ Grand Slam. When Vescovo completed these endeavors, the 53-year-old could have called it quits then. Instead, he ventured to do something no one had ever done before. Popular Science gained exclusive access to one man’s ambitious quest to reach the bottom of each ocean and change the landscape of sea exploration. 

MESSAGES TO FUTURE CIVILIZATIONS

Unbeknownst to many of us, many linguists, designers, and designers are puzzling over how to send millennia-spanning messages to recipients whose languages, senses, and fears bear little resemblance to our own. Including a lunar time capsule, warnings about nuclear waste, a language decoder, and more, this Popular Science roundup takes a look at how our messages could be understood to beings 1,000 to 10,000 years from now. 

CITIZENS OF THE WORLD’S EDGE

Why do a growing number of people believe Earth is flat? What role did YouTube and its algorithm play in building this movement? How can scientists do a better job of explaining the facts? Contributor Mara Hvistendahl traveled to the Flat Earth Conference, spoke to flat-earthers, psychologists, researchers, tech developers, and more to get a better understanding of how this growing society has reshaped beliefs.

ALSO: HOW CONSPIRACY THEORIES TAKE HOLD 

 

PLUS: Seven Predictions That Science Fiction Got Right; Astronaut Diaries; Oysters as a Natural Seawall; A Full Day of Dehydrated Food; Scuba Diving and Mountain Climbing Starter Kits; Super Sensory Animal Powers; and More