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December 2015

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Features

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Peforming Arts: Bill Hader and Fred Armisen

The "SNL" veterans behind the sly new series "Documentary Now" add a layer of authenticity to the art of sending up nonfiction films

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Physical Sciences: Alan Stern

The scientist behind NASA's New Horizons mission gave cheering earthlings their first close-up view of the dwarf planet

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Education: Françoise Mouly

The amazing tale of a determined art director who harnessed the powers of the greatest illustrators around the world to blow kids' minds

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Technology: Rana el Kaliouby

Engineer Rana el Kaliouby is set to change the way we interact with our devices—and each other

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History: Lin-Manuel Miranda

Composer, lyricist and performer, Miranda wows audiences and upends U.S. history with his dazzlingly fresh hip-hop musical

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Youth: Lilianna Zyszkowski

At age 11, Lilianna Zyszkowski designed a new life-saving device to help people track their medication. That was just the beginning

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Social Progress: Theaster Gates

The artist's creative approach to bringing new life to a crumbling neighborhood offers hope for America's beleaguered cities

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Snap Judgment

There has always been some truth to the apocryphal Emerson quote

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Visual Arts: Zoe Crosher and Shamim Momin

Zoe Crosher and Shamim Momin are behind the effort to turn the classic American eyesore into true art

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Natural Sciences: Rudolph Tanzi and Doo Yeon Kim

Rudolph Tanzi and Doo Yeon Kim have invented a revolutionary new tool to study the mysteries of the disease and counter the coming epidemic of dementia

Departments

Discussion

Reader responses to our November issue

Phenomena

Tabula Rosa

The Rosa Parks collection adds depth to the story of the civil rights heroine

Phenomena

Waste Land

Photographer Fabrice Monteiro conjures the specter of environmental ruin

Phenomena

Mother and Child

A venerable symbol of human love, as you've never seen it before

Quakers with a Vengeance

Ron Howard's new film "In the Heart of the Sea" captures the greed and blood lust of the Massachusetts island

Ask Smithsonian

Also up for discussion—why are oceans seawater and not freshwater?