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HOW

YOUR WORLD
WORKS

What’s So Scary
About the Future,
Anyway?
SAFER PAPER COLLEGE DRONE HEALING FRIENDLY ELECTRIC
NUCLEAR FUEL ROBOTS PARKS BODY ARMOR A.I. TRUCKS
PAGE 63 PAGE 56 PAGE 67 PAGE 61 PAGE 72 PAGE 15

... AND 23 MORE


REASONS TO BE OPTIMISTIC
ABOUT TOMORROW
© 2017 YETI Coolers, LLC
1 1 .17 “Think of a
robot
that crawls around,
8

10
From the Editor

PM Everywhere
folds itself up
13

15
Houston Recovery

Electric Truck to move through


small spaces,
22 MythBusters

26 College Kids and


Rockets
30

32
Ask Roy

Spatchcock a Turkey then unfolds


again once
34 Drink a Drink

36 Road Tested

it’s in the open.


40 The New Vintage

46 Getting Started in
Sewing

It would be
50 Winter Gear

56 The 2017
Breakthrough Awards
66

72
Colleges of Tomorrow

A.I. very useful


for exploring
80 Amazing Tools

92 Shop Notes

new environments.”
94 Tool Test: Electric
ON THE COVER: Router photograph by Stephen Lewis.

Chainsaws
96 Popular Mechanics for
Kids: Book light!
104 Great Unknowns

CYNTHIA SUNG
AGE 28
A S S I S TA N T P. 5 7
PROFESSOR OF
MECHANICAL
ENGINEERING,
UNIVERSITY OF
P E N N S Y LVA N I A

5
M E O N I N S TA G R A M

How to Skin a Cat


My barn (have I told you about my barn?) stick it in.
was built sometime after 1856, the year our Now, Roy is no cutter of corners. He just
house was completed. It’s a fine-looking didn’t see the need to build a fortress wall rhdagostino I do love my truck.
#f150 #pickup #truck
red barn, and it was a big selling point for to hold a ten-pound window in an old barn. #doesthistruckmakemelooksmall
my wife and me. The projects we could do And Richard is no nervous Nellie, but he
in there! The thing was pretty dank when couldn’t fathom why you wouldn’t want to
we moved in, but we figured we could sweep construct a strong frame to set yourself up
it up and I’d be building furniture out for future renovations, which he knows I
there in no time. Or brewing beer, or what- want to do.
ever I thought people did in barns when we In the end, we did three Richard’s way
moved from the city to the country. and two Roy’s way. Each has its virtues.
Well. Turns out it isn’t so easy to make In that respect, it was a classic home-
a dank barn not dank. The dankness was improvement project: no right answer.
in the pores of the wood, the seams in the We’ve included both methods, starting on
floor, the silt that coated everything. You’d page 90, because we know different people
walk out of there with grit on your teeth. would go at this in different ways.
What the place needed was air. Which The one constant, however, is the tool
brings us to the day this past summer when at the center of the project: the Milwaukee rhdagostino Friday night mow.
I stood in the barn with senior home editor Super Sawzall. It’s one of five iconic tools
Roy Berendsohn and contributing edi- featured in this issue, tools built so intel-
tor Richard Romanski, listening to them ligently you could spend your life working
debate for the better part of a morning the them hard and they’d still last for genera-
best way to hang a sash window in an exte- tions. We give you advice and projects and
rior wall of a barn. It was epic. Two great tips for each of these tools, but we know
do-it-yourself minds, two vastly different that in the end, you’ll add your own know-
approaches. Richard began with a long dis- how and personality to any job. And, with
sertation on the need to build a solid frame any luck, you’ll have a good neighbor with
in which the sash would sit, square to the whom to politely argue about it.
side of the barn and not more than seven
feet off the center point of the rear wall
above the bottom plate as plotted with a
laser level to make a plumb line for the tri- rhdagostino #eclipse in front of the Hearst
ple vertical framing members and... Tower with the @popularmechanics crew
Nah nah nah, said Roy. I don’t see why RYAN D’AGOSTINO and the rest of #nyc. Even though you knew
Editor in Chief what it was going to look like, when you saw
you wouldn’t just rough-cut your hole and @rhdagostino it, it took your breath away. #solareclipse

Editor in Chief Ryan D’Agostino • Design Director Michael Wilson • Executive Editor Peter Martin • Managing Editor Helene F. Rubinstein • Deputy
Managing Editor Aimee E. Bartol • Associate Creative Director Allyson Torrisi • Articles Editor Jacqueline Detwiler • Senior Editors Matt Allyn, Roy
Berendsohn • Automotive Editor Ezra Dyer • Technology Editor Alexander George • Senior Associate Editor Kevin Dupzyk • Associate Editor Lara
Sorokanich • Editorial Assistant James Lynch • Assistant to the Editor in Chief Eleanor Hildebrandt • Copy Chief Robin Tribble • Copy Editor Maude
Campbell • Research Director David Cohen • Research Editor Henry Robertson • Art: Art Director Duane Bruton • Associate Art Director Zachary
SINCE 1902 Gilyard • Photography: Assistant Photo Editor Ida Garland • Contributing Editors: Tom Chiarella, Daniel Dubno, Wylie Dufresne, Kendall Hamilton,
Francine Maroukian, Nick Wicks Moreau, David Owen, Joe Pappalardo, Richard Romanski, James Schadewald, Joseph Truini • Imaging: Digital
Imaging Specialist Steve Fusco • PopularMechanics.com: Site Director Andrew Moseman • Deputy Editor Eric Limer • Senior Editor Darren Orf • DIY
Editor Timothy Dahl • Web Video Editor Ryan Mazer • Assistant Editor Jay Bennett • Mobile Editions: Mobile Editions Editor Tom Losinski • Popular
Mechanics Interactive: Producer Jeff Zinn • Popular Mechanics International Editions: Russia, South Africa • SVP/International Editorial Director Kim St. Clair Bodden • Published by Hearst Communications, Inc.
President & Chief Executive Officer Steven R. Swartz • Chairman William R. Hearst III • Executive Vice Chairman Frank A. Bennack, Jr. • Hearst Magazines Division: President David Carey • President, Marketing
& Publishing Director Michael Clinton • President, Digital Media Troy Young • Chief Content Officer Joanna Coles • Senior Vice President, Chief Financial Officer Debi Chirichella • Publishing Consultants Gilbert C.
Maurer, Mark F. Miller

Publisher, Chief Revenue Officer Cameron Connors • Associate Publisher Adam C. Dub • Executive Director, Integrated Marketing Jason Graham • Advertising Sales Offices: NEW YORK: East Coast
Automotive Director Joe Pennacchio • Integrated Account Director Sara Schiano • Integrated Account Manager Loren Black • Assistant Francesca Lawrence • Vice President, Digital Sales, Lifestyle and Design
Group Sue Katzen • LOS ANGELES: Integration Associate Michelle Nelson • SAN FRANCISCO: William G. Smith, Smith Media Sales, LLC • CHICAGO: Midwest Director Justin Harris • Integrated Midwest
Manager, Auto Aftermarket Marc Gordon • Assistant Yvonne Villareal • DETROIT: Integrated Sales Director Mark Fikany • Midwest Account Manager Bryce Vredevoogd • Assistant Toni Starrs • DALLAS:
Patty Rudolph PR 4.0 Media • Hearst Direct Media: Sales Manager Brad Gettelfinger • Marketing Solutions: Director, Integrated Marketing William Upton • Director, Group Marketing Yasir Salem • Special
Projects Director Karen Mendolia • Senior Manager, Integrated Marketing Amanda Kaye • Senior Director, Digital Marketing Samantha Gladis • Senior Digital Marketing Manager A’ngelique Tyree • Senior Digital
Marketing Manager Lee Anne Murphy • Creative Solutions: Executive Creative Director, Group Marketing Jana Nesbitt Gale • Art Director Michael B. Sarpy • Administration: Advertising Services Director Regina Wall
• Executive Assistant to the Publisher Amanda Bessim • Production/Operations Director Chuck Lodato • Operations Account Manager Jeanmarie O’Connell • Premedia Account Manager Lauren Rosato • Circulation:
Consumer Marketing Director William Carter • Research Manager Peter Davis • Group Vice President and Global Chief Licensing Director Steve Ross • Hearst Men’s Group: Senior Vice President & Publishing Director Jack
Essig • General Manager Samantha Irwin • Executive Assistant to the Group Publishing Director & Business Coordinator Mary Jane Boscia

8 NOVEMBER _ 2017 P O P U L A R M E C H A N I C S.C O M


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How the Coast
Guard Reopened
the Port of Houston
As their comrades rescued people from rooftops,
a little-known unit was getting one of the world’s
most important shipping lanes back in action.
BY KEVI N DU PZYK modate the massive ships that transit the world’s
second largest petrochemical complex.
As the ports were reopened in stages—only
O N S A T U R D A Y , A U G U S T 2 6 , Lieuten- certain areas, to certain size boats, at certain
ant Junior Grade Austin Fullmer was in times—the MTSRU determined which traffic should
Tampa, Florida, aboard the Coast Guard cut- enter first. On August 30, tankers were dispatched
ter Juniper, when he got orders to head to Houston. The to Marathon Petroleum and Phillips 66, which were
previous evening, Hurricane Harvey had made landfall running out of feedstocks for their refineries, pre-
Coast Guard cutter
near Corpus Christi, and it was clear the storm would Harry Claiborne venting them from becoming part of the 20 percent
be what the Coast Guard, in its levelheaded way, calls inspects and of U.S. refining capacity shut down by Harvey. The
repositions a lighted
an incident. In the storm’s early hours, much of the buoy that marks the
next day two cruise ships arrived to let off passengers
Coast Guard was devoted to search and rescue: Its heli- side of the Houston who’d been forced to temporarily divert to Miami
Ship Channel, but
copters plucked Texan after Texan from rising waters. had been displaced
and New Orleans. By Friday, September 1, the port
Fullmer had a different mission. By Sunday afternoon by the hurricane. was essentially back online.
he was at Incident Command Post Hous-
ton, working as day lead for the Marine
Transportation System Recovery Unit
(MTSRU), whose job is to perform search
and rescue on the port itself.
The Coast Guard closed the port
on Friday morning, and every day it
remained closed meant $1.7 billion of
lost economic activity. MTSRU coor-
dinated every aspect of operations to
reopen it. Fullmer was called in because
he’s an expert in aids to navigation—the
system of lights, lighthouses, buoys, and
beacons that guide ships through the
channel. After Harvey, lighted buoy No.
5, the city-bus-size green float that usu-
ally marks the port side of the entrance
to Galveston Bay (the shipping channel’s
mouth) was bobbing way out in the mid-
dle, where ships ought to be. Its starboard
counterpart had also come unmoored
and was nowhere near the channel. A
Coast Guard cutter was dispatched to
relocate them. Farther up, teams from
the Army Corps of Engineers and NOAA
performed soundings of the channel to
measure depth, looking for shoaling—
buildups of the seafloor caused by wind
and water that compromise the 45-foot
depth and 1,000-foot width that accom-

@PopularMechanics NOVEMBER _ 2017 13


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A battery-
powered
utility vehicle,
conceived
and built
in upstate
New York.
Take note,
Mr. Musk.

The
Electric,
Hydraulic,
Mostly
P H OTO G R A P H S BY CO L E W I L S O N

American
Truck
BY E Z R A DY E R

@PopularMechanics NOVEMBER _ 2017 15


Electric motors are
high-torque and
low-maintenance,
ideal for a proper
truck like the B1.

We can buy battery-powered versions else. “The reason we went with hydro-
of mainstream vehicles (Ford Focus, pneumatic is that you can have a lot of
VW Golf), hyper-efficent EVs (Chevy payload capacity, and the truck will
Bolt, BMW i3), even a gull-wing mini- still be safe,” Bollinger says. “Because
van (Tesla Model X). The one thing it’ll ride the same whether it’s loaded or
HOW IT WORKS: you can’t buy, though, is a truck. Sure, unloaded.”

HYDROPNEUMATIC weight and aerodynamics make


range an issue, but the high-torque,
Here at the company’s design cen-
ter—a sizable garage stuffed with
SUSPENSION low-maintenance characteristics of milling machines, attached to offices
When the truck hits a bump, electric motors are a natural for every- where designers render parts in Solid-
the wheel compresses a piston thing trucks do. If somebody built an Works—the first prototype is parked
that sends pressure into a res- electrified version of a Land Rover before us. That payload capacity, 6,100
ervoir filled with fluid (red) and Defender, I’d be all over that. Which is pounds, is crucial to the B1’s produc-
gas (green). Seeking to equal- why I’m in Hobart, New York, to grab a tion, since it vaults the relatively small
ize themselves, the fluid and
ride in the very first Bollinger B1. SUV into the Class 3 light-duty truck
gas gently resist, cushioning
the ride. It’s more complex and Its creator, Robert Bollinger, must’ve category. That’s important because
harder to repair than regular been reading my diary, because his Class 3 trucks like the burly F-350 deal
spring suspension, but comes company’s debut vehicle is like a with a much thinner book of Depart-
with truck-specific advantages. mashup of a Defender and a Tesla Model ment of Transportation regulations.
By adjusting the fluids, the B1 S. It looks like it was sketched with a For one, the B1’s airbags are noticeably
can self-level on uneven ter-
pencil and a rafter square, which is to absent. But if this truck replaces some
rain. Or tilt up a corner wheel
for a jack-free tire change, like say it would appear in a police lineup vintage Land Cruiser or hoary pickup,
Snoop Dogg hitting the three- with old Ford Broncos and new Jeep the B1 would represent a net safety
wheel motion. Wranglers. The guts, though, are unlike improvement, airbags or not.
any truck yet conceived. Twin elec- The only example of Bollinger’s
tric motors deliver 360 horsepower creation is barely past its first Fran-
and 472 lb-ft of torque, enabling an kenstein “It’s alive!” moment, but I’ve
I L LU S T R AT I O N BY J O E L K I M M E L

un-Wrangler-like zero-to-60 time of been hounding him for a ride. Bollinger


4.5 seconds. But it’s downstream from drives ahead in his gasoline pickup, and
the motors where things get really I climb into the B1 next to lead engi-
interesting, with locking differen- neer Karl Hacken, who drives us out to
tials sending power to geared hubs that a nearby field. The truck is quiet but for
allow 20 inches of ground clearance gear whine, with great outward visibil-
with the suspension at max exten- ity. The interior is spare, the flat dash
sion. That suspension, incidentally, is adorned with a simple row of knobs. The
hydropneumatic, an approach once
hydropneumatic, seats are excellent, more luxury sport
favored by Citroën and basically no one sedan than SUV. Hacken labors at the

16 NOVEMBER _ 2017 P O P U L A R M E C H A N I C S.C O M


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through the woods?
Make sure your car is ready.

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wheel. The truck’s hydraulic system The rear section of the top is remov- FR
isn’t yet powered up, and the B1 uses able, so you can then drive Jeep-style, —T OM
ARC HE—
hydraulic power steering. “We couldn’t rear seats alfresco, or remove the back HIV
(191 ES
find an electric rack we liked that would seats and slide the rear-most pillars for- 1!)
cope with the loads we’re putting on it,” ward to create a half-cab pickup. There
he says. “And we already have a hydrau- are also 110-volt power outlets through-
lic system for the suspension, so the out the cabin, so you can use that giant
hydraulic rack makes sense.” Even the battery to run power tools wherever
winch up front is hydraulic. you’re parked.
We pull over, and Bollinger dem- Initially, the B1 will ship with either
onstrates his truck’s most novel a 60-kilowatt-hour or 100-kwh bat-
cargo-carrying trick: its interior pass- tery, with a range of 120 or 200 miles.
through and front trunk. With the Price hasn’t been announced, but “it’ll
batteries and motors tucked low in the be more than a base Wrangler,” Bol-
center, the front is dedicated to stor- linger says. After four years of work, he
age—there’s even a tailgate, so you says production is still at least two years
could do your pregame cookout from away. I observe that building a car is
either end of the B1. In between the always more complicated than anyone Probably the first electric truck
driver and front passenger, there’s a thinks. “Definitely,” Bollinger says. “If I story in Popular Mechanics, from
the June 1911 issue.
flip-up door that opens the front trunk knew then what I know now,” he laughs.
to the interior, allowing you to carry He’s had this idea in his head for
12-foot boards inside. “But,” Bollinger a long time: a vehicle with the cargo us, rivets gleaming in the sun.
says, “if you opened up the front and capacity of a heavy-duty pickup truck “The next stage is, we’re just looking
rear tailgates, I guess there’s no definite and the off-road ability of the best Jeep for hand-raisers,” Bollinger says. “Not
limit on how long the lumber could be.” or Land Rover, all the parts made in taking deposits yet, just looking to see
If you regularly transport sail masts, America to the greatest extent possible. who says, ‘This is the kind of truck I’d
this is the rig for you. Bollinger says Those are not easily reconcilable goals. like to buy.’” Bollinger’s still got a long
that two employees so far have demon- But here’s the first B1, parked in front of way to go, but consider my hand raised.
strated the generous dimensions of the
pass-through by crawling through it, an Placing the motors
assertion that I take as a challenge. I am and batteries low in
now on the record as the third person to the center means an
unobstructed center
worm my way through the B1. And I’d pass-through.
be a big stack of 2 x 4s.

BREAKFAST The Coffee SHOPPING Hobart is ACTIVITIES The Hanford LODGING The Bull &
Pot, off route 10. The a Book Village. What Mills Museum holds Garland (book through
waitress (Geri) is also the does that mean? It coopering workshops. Airbnb). The pub
co-owner. Exceptional means Hobart has five Plus, a working water- and downstairs is owned
coffee, decor. Cash only. independent bookstores! steam-powered sawmill. by a storytelling Brit.

18 NOVEMBER _ 2017 P O P U L A R M E C H A N I C S.C O M


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TERRORIST Shotguns ready, we burst into a down-
town hotel looking for the reported
TRAINING FOR FIRST gunmen. Immediately, a terrorist
RESPONDERS shoots the hostage kneeling before
him. Our SWAT team trades fire, and
the shooter goes down. I struggle to carry the wounded hostage outside
to the hastily staged EMS triage area. Vital signs indicate he probably
won’t survive. “Good try,” says the instructor over the headset. “Now
another terrorist has set a hotel room on fire. Escort fire personnel
safely to the scene.” Smoke is already rising from the windows.
This new virtual training platform for first responders is called EDGE
(Enhanced Dynamic Geo-Social Environment). The multiplayer online
environment is built on the same Unreal Engine platform that powers
interactive games such as BioShock. But here, the carnage is the opposite
of entertainment. First responders play themselves, practicing a coordi-
nated response to critical incidents. Since its launch this summer, EDGE
is already being distributed free to hundreds of first responders across
the country by the Department of Homeland Security. —Dan Dubno

FOUR THINGS WE LEARNED READING


LEONARDO DA VINCI, THE NEW BIOGRAPHY
BY WALTER ISAACSON
1. He was the first scientist to record a frog dissection.
2. In studies for The Vitruvian Man, he obsessively recorded the pro-
portions of the human body, down to the distance from his seat to his
crown: “half his height plus the thickness and length of his testicles.”
3. Commissioned to make a two-ton copper ball and lacking
modern welding torches, he ground mirrors to melt seams together
with light.
4. Renaissance shop note: To generate accurate perspective lines, try
da Vinci’s technique from painting Adoration of the Magi: Make a
poplar panel 8 feet square. Hammer a nail into the center. Tie a string
around it, and pull it taut to the point on the canvas from which you
need a perspective line. Trace the string.

“Right now I’m


THE NBA’S This June, the Brooklyn Nets selected 19-year-old
Jarrett Allen in the first round of the NBA draft. Among
playing BioShock INCOMING a talented rookie class, he stands out for his agility and
and PlayerUnknown’s GAMER seven-foot-five wingspan. He’s also perhaps the only
Battlegrounds, NBA rookie ever to have built his own computer.
more first-person Popular Mechanics: Why build a computer?
shooters. I don’t Jarrett Allen: I did it for fun in high school and I’m a big gamer. I
play sports
was playing Rainbow Six Siege, Overwatch, and Far Cry 4 on it.
games.”
PM: That’s an unlikely project for an NBA prospect.
JA: I’ve always liked putting stuff together. Growing up, I also had
K’NEX and Legos around the house. Now I’m learning web design.
PM: How did you spec your computer?
JA: I wanted at least 16 gigs of RAM and 3.5 hertz for the processor to
run at 45 frames per second or faster. Learning how to do it took a year,
but it actually only took an hour to build on my kitchen table.
PM: You’re in the NBA now, but is it time to build another?
JA: Probably soon, but building computers gets expensive.

20 NOVEMBER _ 2017 P O P U L A R M E C H A N I C S.C O M


New Myths, New Busters
After an almost two-year absence, MythBusters is back. We joined the new hosts on
the set of TV’s most fun source of scientific experiments and explosions.
B Y J A M E S LY N C H

When MythBusters returns on


the Science Channel on November
15, it’ll be with two new hosts. Jona-
than Lung, a product designer, and
Brian Louden, a pilot and res-
cue diver, were dedicated
fans of the original series.
But they bring their own
excitement to the show—
and all-new myths.
One of their first: In a
wild-west shoot-out, is it
better to shoot many shots
quickly, or take your time
and get off a few more accu-
rately? We followed them to a ghost
town and rifle range in Santa Clarita,
California, to find out. Lung practices fir-
ing to help the crew
decide where to set
up for additional
angles—includ-
ing one captured
by a GoPro on his
chest. Another
GoPro (inset, far
left) got shot when
it recorded from the
target’s perspective.

Building a course
of pop-up targets
was the easy part
of testing the myth.
The real issue was
for the two expert
craftsmen to learn
to shoot as well as
their cowboy coun-
terparts. Lung and
Louden enlisted
Cisko Guerra, a
world champion gun-
fighter, to train them
in sharpshooting.
P H OTO G R A P H S BY J U L I A N B E R M A N

Louden explains that the triangulation


effect of bracing a long gun against your
shoulder gives it better accuracy than
a handgun. Lung’s perfect line of shots
across this target proves his point.

22 NOVEMBER _ 2017
NEW STYLES
AND GREAT FITS
A LANDMARK
DOCUMENTARY EVENT

How to Make a SEASON TWO OF


THE GRAND TOUR PRE-

Great TV Show MIERES THIS MONTH.


BUT REPRODUCING
TOP GEAR, THE BEST

About Cars CAR SHOW EVER, ISN’T


THE WAY TO GOOD TV.

BY E Z R A DY E R

Top Gear ruined it for everyone. And by Top Gear, you know which one I
mean—the particular iteration of the BBC franchise hosted by Jeremy Clark-
son, James May, and Richard Hammond, buttressed by a massive budget and
blessed with the best writing and production said budget can buy. After that
show dissolved in 2015, Amazon created The Grand Tour, reassembling all those ingredi-
ents down to the hosts and producers. Now on season two, it’s the latest in years of foolish
attempts to re-create the magic of the original. I should know. I’ve been part of the problem.
My TV aspirations began more than a decade ago, when I hosted an on-demand cable
show called The Cars You Want. It went well enough for me to make it onto cable as a writer
and occasional host on The Car Show, a full-fledged and, I thought, generally excellent
cable TV program. On one episode, I raced AC/DC lead singer Brian Johnson across

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BLU-RAY, DVD & DIGITAL HD
Manhattan. He got a Lamborghini. I took the subway. A helicopter tracked our progress.
After we wrapped, I was returning his car when a New York City school bus sideswiped the
Lamborghini and did $80,000 in damage. Truly unfortunate, but definitely Hollywood.
I’ve also been involved with Top Gear, writing for the History Channel’s version and
auditioning to be a host every time a new American offshoot ramps up. The BBC could
probably make a whole new show just from footage of me trying out, but I’ve learned not
to feel bad about my rejections. Producers are looking for a certain mix in the cast. If
Companion Book you don’t fit into that mix, it doesn’t matter what you do. Say you’re putting together a
also available circus, and you want a bear who rides a bike, a zip-lining sloth, and a llama who stomps
with more than out “Yankee Doodle Dandy.” If a dog who plays the sitar shows up and doesn’t make the
500 photographs
and maps cut, that’s not the dog’s fault. You just weren’t looking for a sitar-playing dog. Maybe the
dog’s audition could’ve been better, but let’s not dwell on that.
So, after all this time plunging my delicate hands into the dangerous machinery
of entertainment, I probably have some ideas about how to create a winning TV show
about cars, right? Sort of!

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TWO PEOPLE
I’ve hosted plenty of seg-
ments solo, and it’s a lot
harder to make jokes to the
silent eye of the camera.
Conversely, you don’t want
too many personalities (see:
the Chris Evans season of
Top Gear, which had more
players than Rusted Root).

KEEP THE
EDITING TIGHT
Four minutes max for one
segment. When we see Jay
Leno get so bored that he
asks “So what kind of oil are Watch Video
you running in this thing?”
that’s not his fault. It’s the
fault of whoever decided that
a Jay Leno’s Garage segment
should run 29 minutes.
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with the contrived drama,
guys with beards building
cars in garages, yelling at
one another because that
exhaust header is hitting
the firewall. We all know it
doesn’t really need to be
done tomorrow, and Carl’s
not really quitting because
of what Jethro did to his
filter wrench.

PICK HOSTS
WHO KNOW CARS
Script all you want, but
genuinely funny moments
happen only when the
knowledge is already there.
Part of Top Gear’s magic
was that its hosts were all
journalists who knew a ton
about cars. The Food Net-
work wouldn’t give a show
to someone who can only
cook Hamburger Helper,
but the equivalent thing still
happens with cars.

ROADKILL
These guys build crappy
cars to go fast and have
adventures.

@PopularMechanics
The Young
Rocketeers
This summer, more
than 1,000 college
students gathered for
the Spaceport America
Cup in New Mexico,
where they launched
sounding rockets in
O L I V I A P E T R Y I S S U F F E R I N G . In the desert outside Truth
the desert—for fun,
or Consequences, New Mexico, the captain of the North Seattle
for jobs, and for the College rocketeering team has all the signs of heat exhaustion:
chance to make history. sudden chills, blurred vision, loss of balance. As she walks
through the 100-degree heat, she grabs her bare shoulders as if
BY J O E PA P PA L A R D O
caught in a blizzard. The terrain offers steep hills, inch-long thorns that
penetrate boots, and bleached cow bones. There is no water. No one thought
to take it as they set off after their rocket, which drifted away from the des-
ignated landing zone and into the part of the desert named Jornada del
Muerto (Dead Man’s Trip) by Spanish settlers.

Rockets are designed


to hit 10,000- or
30,000-foot altitudes
and must carry a
payload of at least
8.8 pounds.

P H OTO G R A P H S BY M AT T N AG E R

26 NOVEMBER _ 2017 P O P U L A R M E C H A N I C S.C O M


® ®

Jim Beam Black® Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey, 43% Alc./Vol. ©2017 James B. Beam Distilling Co., Clermont, KY

R Y
®

O
All trademarks are the property of their respective owners. Awarded International Wine & Spirits

E H I ST
Competition’s 2016 Bourbon Trophy.

M A K
Eventually, the team finds the rocket
suspended in a bush, two miles from
the launch site. Parched and light-
headed, four other members hoist the
50-pound rocket to their shoulders. They R O C K E T E E R S C A L L I T a wolf hunt:
hike for an hour under passing clouds searching for your rocket without firm
that lessen the sun’s effects. But then GPS coordinates or a tracking-radio
Petry’s feet start to shuffle. She stops transmission. Before the launch, Olivia
communicating. Petry had headed to the judge’s podium,
where solid-fuel launches are triggered.
Her red badge, reading “Rocketeer,”
flapped around on the end of a neck
lanyard. She opened a briefcase, now
converted to a mobile-launch command
NORTH SEATTLE COLLEGE isn’t a typi- console. Another team from Switzer-
cal entrant here at the annual Spaceport land was scheduled to launch ahead
America Cup, the world’s largest and of NSC. They tried to, but after count-
most ambitious intercollegiate rocket down, heartbreak. A dud. During her
club competition. More than 80 teams own countdown, Petry’s hand twitched
are judged on an overall rocket and pay- with nerves. At zero, she mashed her
load concept, uniqueness of design, and palm on the ignition. The engine flared
the rocket’s ability to reach a designated and the rocket leaped from the rail at
altitude of 10,000 or 30,000 feet. Schools 150 meters per second, trailing a thick
such as Stanford, Texas A&M, and Ohio contrail. She dashed across the podium
State have established programs and to watch the rocket climb, then reunited
generous funding. NSC does not. The with her teammates as they scanned
program at the two-year community col- the skies for a parachute. The flight was
lege in Washington is supported by only pretty but it wasn’t perfect. The main
$500 from the school and a $2,000 NASA parachute deployed too soon.
grant. To get here, the team packed into Ignoring protocol, the team imme-
an SUV with no air conditioning and an diately dashed into the brush without
eight-foot rocket balanced in the back. informing range officials. Now, deep
The drive took four days, with one stop in the desert, with the rocket on their
to pick up a new rocket motor. shoulders but no water, and with Petry’s
All the teams want to win, but some also condition continuing to worsen, they are
want to make history. “There is a collegiate paying for their enthusiasm.
space race going on,” says Charlie Garcia, From across the desert, the NSC
a member of MIT’s rocket team. “Every- team sees a thin line of dust rising in the
one wants to be the first university to get distance. It trails a vehicle. The truck
into space.” Colleges including Stanford, belongs to the firm that does security
Embry-Riddle, and Boston University aim on the range. When the team headed
to launch beyond the 330,000-foot-high off after the rocket, its student advi-
Karman line—the officially designated sor wisely thought to alert officials. The
edge of space—within three years. As a truck collects Petry, who by now is unable
host, Spaceport America enables this to walk without assistance. She’s deliv-
ambition. The competition used to be held ered to an air-conditioned ambulance,
at the Green River Launch Complex in where they find that her temperature has
Utah, which had a flight ceiling of 25,000 topped 101 degrees and hook her up to an
feet. There’s no such limit here. IV. Her competition is done.

Clockwise from top left: Aerospace firms send representatives, such as


Loretta Whitesides (pictured), a founder astronaut from Virgin Galactic,
to look for future employees; the University of Washington’s second-place
rocket; with no flight ceiling, Spaceport America can even accommodate
attempts to reach the officially designated edge of space, at 330,000 feet;
teams get extra points for clever payloads.

28 NOVEMBER _ 2017 P O P U L A R M E C H A N I C S.C O M


ing truck they drove from Washington
State, sit in tense silence. The countdown
ends in an insufferable pause. Inside the
rocket, the pressurized nitrous is inject-
L A T E R T H A T D A Y , a dust storm ing into the combustion chamber where
lashes the village of tents and tarps at the paraffin wax grains are waiting. The
the spaceport’s vertical launch range. two ignite, and the resulting explosive
The other teams struggle to work on reaction is ejected through the noz-
t hei r r o cke t s i n t he zle. A high-rate camera
25-mph winds. They rush captures the exhaust, and
to shield custom-built THINGS THAT ARE SARP students will exam-
laptops, rocket O-rings, IMPROVED BY ine this for telltale signs
and robotic payloads COUNTDOWNS that the nozzle did its job
from the gusts of swirling Ro cke t and sped up the exhaust,
desert dust. One tent’s l a u n c h es past the speed of sound.
members are particu- Sp o r tsC e n t e r (This is confirmed by the
larly grim: the Society h i g h l i g h ts appearance of shapes
for Advanced Rocket N e w Ye a r’s Eve called Mach diamonds in
Propulsion, from the the exhaust.)
University of Washing- The SARP team cheers
THINGS THAT
ton. They spent the day as the rocket slides off the
preparing their 14-foot
ARE NOT rail and arcs into the sky.
Pulling
rocket for launch. When a tooth They pour out of the truck,
the temperatures rose to leaping and howling.
Unplugging a
109 degrees, they had to l if e su p p o r t Harroun whips her wide-
bring in dozens of bags sys te m brimmed hat off her head
of ice to keep the nitrous and slaps it on her knee,
oxide cold, and sent one Yosemite Sa m–st yle,
member of the crew off in an ambu- before flinging it away. They embrace
lance, vomiting and shuddering from in a massive celebratory scrum, before
heat exhaustion. The desert has turned several ease off to man tracking equip-
on them. The range safety officials call ment that they hope will help find the
it: No more launches today. rocket and its payload, o a rover named
The next morning, on the second Little Pup.
launch day of competition, the SARP
team calls for purges of the nitrous. For
the rocket to produce full thrust, the
tank has not only to be filled but must be
filled with nitrous oxide in liquid form.
Somehow the tank weight has stalled T H E T E A M N E V E R finds Little
out at 173 pounds, 14 pounds light. By Pup, but it does win second place in the
purging the nitrous, the team hopes to hybrid/liquid rocket 30,000-foot launch
cool the pressurized tank, which should category, behind all-around Cup winner
keep the liquid from becoming a gas University of Michigan. By the end of the
and therefore allow them to load more Spaceport America Cup, more than 60
into the rocket. But the weight remains teams will launch successfully. After the
the same. The judges want to know if launches end, the tent city disappears,
the team is going to launch. They delay, one tarp at a time. Battered rockets, spiky
purging and refilling. A command deci- telemetry antennas, custom-made lap-
sion has to be made. “We have to go,” tops, dust-crusted folding chairs, and
says Alexis Harroun, the propulsion lead bags of crushed, empty water bottles are
engineer. The team agrees. packed. Everything is loaded into cara-
“We have a clear range and a clear vans of SUVs and trucks that head to the
sky,” the announcer says before start- exit along Spaceport America’s unpaved
ing the ten-second countdown. The roads. The trail of dust behind the wheels
team members, tucked into a white mov- follows them like contrails.

@PopularMechanics NOVEMBER _ 2017 29


POPULAR MECHANICS’
SENIOR HOME EDITOR
S O LV E S YO U R M O S T
PRESSING PROBLEMS.
B Y R OY B E R E N D S O H N

The power company trimmed


some of my trees away from
power lines. I don’t like the job
they did. What can I do about it?
JEFF J., SPRINGFIELD, MISSOURI

The first stop is the utility company’s website, which


may list the name of the company that did the work
and a contact there or at the utility itself. In other cases, the
town, county, or state may have an arborist—sometimes
quaintly called a tree warden—who oversees tree care on
public property and on the right-of-way where utilities run
(the strip of land that is private property but which var-
ious entities have the right to enter).
You can try both of them, but when it comes to power
lines, trees are pruned to ensure electrical safety and
reliability, not aesthetics. The contractors doing this
work will often try hard to avoid outright ugliness. But
there’s only so much you can do, especially when you use a
technique called directional pruning, as they do. This is where the
tree’s branches are cut to give clearance between themselves and Some of my plastic screwdriver
the power lines. It may result in a tree with a Y-shaped or L-shaped handles give off an odd stink.
notch in its branch structure. Why is that?
Tree wardens and utility companies are in an inescapably tough CARSON E., VICKSBURG, MISSISSIPPI
position. If residents think a tree looks ugly, the utility company Of the millions of
Chemically, there’s a
gets complaints. If the tree isn’t trimmed effectively and it takes good reason for this. tools with these handles,
out a power line during a storm, they get even more complaints. Clear plastic screwdriver only a small percentage
The choice for them seems obvious. Unfortunately, you’ll have to handles are usually made will encounter the right
get used to your new ugly pruning. from cellulose acetate conditions for chemical
butyrate, a material decomposition. I guess
developed in the 1930s. Its you’re among the unfortu-
primary component nate few. As for prevention, I
(cellulose acetate) is made wish I knew. A variety of tool
Are my old wood windows by reacting the cellulose users have advanced various
theories from wiping the
really that energy inefficient? from wood pulp with a
tool handles with solvents to
JOHN C., EUGENE, OREGON variety of acids. Under the
right circumstances—the occasionally washing them
Poorly maintained and loose-fitting wood windows presence of various types of with detergent and water.
are like having a hole through the side of your house. If, bacteria, moisture, and My advice is to invest in new
I L LU S T R AT I O N S BY J E F F LO W RY

however, they fit tightly, are well-maintained with weather strip- warm temperatures—this screwdrivers. And a pair of
ping, and have properly fitting storm windows, they’re just as normally tough plastic can work gloves.
energy efficient as basic insulated glass windows. Really, noth- decompose quite readily,
ing beats a modern double-pane or triple-pane window for giving off a stink like vinegar.
energy efficiency—especially one equipped with an optical film
that prevents excess heat buildup in the summer
or heat loss in the winter. The best ones will cost
you as much as $1,000 per window and require no
maintenance other than cleaning. And even that askroy@popularmechanics.com
is easy: Simply unlock the tilt-clean latch, tilt the
window in, and clean both surfaces.
@askroypm

30 NOVEMBER _ 2017
Ideas change the world.
KITCHEN MECHANICS

Spatchcock a Turkey
The debate over how to cook a turkey ends with spatchcock. It’s a curious P H OTO G R A P H S BY Z AC H D E S A R T A N D B U R C U AV S A R
word of Irish origin, but it really just means “reliably delicious bird, faster.”
B Y H U G U E D U F O U R , O W N E R A N D C H E F, M . W E L L S S T E A K H O U S E , L O N G I S L A N D C I T Y, N E W Y O R K

To spatchcock is to remove a bird’s STEP 1: Night-Before Prep Starting at the butt, cut through
spine and lay the body flat. It orig- the ribs along your guides with metal
inated to cook small birds evenly, Start with a thawed bird the night shears to remove the spine [Fig. 1]. You
but it’s just as effective on your holiday tur- before you’ll roast it. You’re going to can also use a cleaver if you’re comfort-
key and will cut the cooking time at least cut and dry-cure it now so that tomor- able swinging it, and keep your fingers
in half. You’ll also get crispy skin and row it goes straight into the oven and away. Later, if you want, you can add
meat that’s easy to carve. The only draw- comes out juicy. the spine to your roasting pan to cook
back is that most roasting pans are limited With the turkey breast-side down, and add to the drippings.
to about a 14-pound bird. But thanks to remove the giblets and neck from the Opposite where the spine sat, you’ll
the low height you can roast two birds on body. Then use a boning knife to slice see the breastbone. Using the heel
separate oven racks. guide cuts along both sides of the spine. of your chef’s knife—maybe one you

32 NOVEMBER _ 2017 P O P U L A R M E C H A N I C S.C O M


STEP 2: Turkey-Day Prep STEP 3: Roast

At least three hours before dinner, take


tak Slide the roasting pan into the middle
your turkey out of the fridge
friidge and preheat
prehe of your oven. After 30 minutes, baste
your oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. the turkey with the drippings and
INGREDIENTS Separate the skin from the meat, repeat every 15 minutes. Turn the pan
• 12- to but don’t remove it. Start at the bottom every couple bastes.
14-lb turkey and slide your hand under the skin and A 12- to 14-pound bird will take 2 to
• salt over each breast toward the neck. Do 2 ½ hours at 325 degrees, but every oven
• 1 lb unsalted the same with each thigh, starting at is different, so don’t rely on time to tell
butter the joint and working in. when it’s done.. I look for the bottom m of
• pepper
I like butter. It helps meat cook the legs to Fren
French—the
nch
ch—th
the
he skin
sk
kin ge
gets
ets cri
ccrispy
ispy
py
evenly and links flavors together, so andd pulls
ll away.
lls aw
way
w ayy When
When you
you see that
that, it’ss
EQUIPMENT I place a stick of butter (¼ pound) on almost ready. Check
C the temperature
• boning knife each breast, under the skin. Then cut with a meat thermometer in the thick-
• chef’s knife two sticks of butter in half and place est part of the breast. Take it out of the
• kitchen shears two pieces on each thigh, under the oven when it reaches 160 degrees.
• roasting pan
skin [Fig. 4]. Most of the butter won’t be Rest it at least 20 minutes to let the
• saucepan (for
gravy) absorbed. It will run into the pan with blood and juice redistribute through
the blood, which you can use to baste the meat. If it gets cool, put it back in the
the turkey and make gravy. The butter oven for 5 to 10 minutes on high heat.
will caramelize and have a nutty flavor.
Sprinkle a light layer of pepper over STEP 4: Gravy
the turkey.
Place the bird, breasts up, flat in a While it’s resting, pour the drippings
roasting pan. The thigh should also lay into a saucepan for gravy. Turkey is
flat, rotated out so the bottoms of the lean to begin with, so boil to emulsify
drumsticks nearly touch. Put the wings the fat and get it back in suspension.
under the body. Then whisk in a little starch to thicken.

Fig. 1 Fig. 2

don’t like—chop a crack down the


middle of it. Then gently pull the rib-
cage open to flatten and flip the bird
over. If it doesn’t lay flat, light pres-
sure should break the breastbone.
Remove the wings by cutting
through the main joint where they bend.
They’re thin and dry out if exposed, so
tuck them under the body later.
I don’t like a wet brine, it adds water
to the turkey. A dry brine just retains
juices. Pat the turkey dry, then season Fig. 3 Fig. 4

the wings and both sides of the body


with salt [Fig. 2]. Hit it everywhere,
especially the thickest places. I give it a
heavy
avy ddusting,
usting, b but
u if you
y want to mea-
sure,
ure, the recommendation
recommendatiion for poultry
is a quarter
qu
quarterr ounce
ouunce of salt
lt per pound
d off
meat. (Thi
meat (This
is is too m
much
uch forr steak.)
t k)
Fold the body back together and wrap
it and the wings separately in plastic
[Fig. 3]. Set them on a plate, and let them
brine overnight in the refrigerator.

@PopularMechanics NOVEMBER _ 2017 33


SPIRITS

A BIG BATCH
OF CHEER AMBER WAVES
Because measuring
your holiday spirit by OF GRAIN
the jigger is no N I C K FA R R E L L , S P I R I T S
M A N A G E R , I R O N G AT E ,
way to celebrate. WA S H I N G T O N , D . C .

BY FR AN CI N E MARO U KIAN For me, Thanksgiving was about


dessert. As a kid I was always
angling for a larger slice of apple
pie. What you have here is my
adult version of those nostalgic
flavors in a glass.

3/4 cup rye whiskey


3/4 cup applejack
Rye and applejack are a con-
nection to colonial America,
when distilling was a pres-
ervation method to store
harvest crops in smaller
spaces, like barrels.
1/4 cup Cynar
Italian digestivo in the arti-
choke family that adds an
earthy balance to the apple-
jack’s sweetness.
1/4 cup simple syrup
Handy to have around. Sim-
mer 1 cup sugar and 1 cup
water in a small saucepan
over medium heat, stirring
until sugar is completely
dissolved. Cool to room tem-
perature, then refrigerate.
1/2 cup water
Common practice is to chill
TIP and dilute a cocktail by stir-
When you batch,
you can fudge. A few ring it in a shaker with ice. But
“oops” drops in a dilution by stirring is never
single cocktail may consistent. Plus, people have
throw it off by 15%.
But portioned for six,
different freezers with differ-
it becomes only a 2% ent ice cube shapes. When
to 3% screw-up. batching, I add water, and
freeze overnight. You now
have exact dilution and a
near-exact temperature.
1 tsp Peychaud’s bitters
P H OTO G R A P H BY J O N AT H A N T I M M E S

This bitter from New Orleans


Why Batch? adds subtle “pie” spices
like cloves, cinnamon, and
Many of Farrell’s customers think that making cocktails in quantity takes away that nutmeg.
craft mystique. But it actually improves the quality, for three reasons. 1/8 tsp salt (or a heavy pinch)
It pulls flavors together.
Cohesion: Like a good one has tiny measuring feeling like they should be
soup, batching in advance devices, but who doesn’t doing something. Batching
gives the spirits more time have a measuring cup? allows you to simply pour, Combine, funnel into a bottle,
together. They taste better Convenience: Toiling serve, and do the other part and freeze overnight. Serve over
because they bond. away in front of your guests of hosting: spending time ice in a rocks glass, adding an
Consistency: Not every- makes them uneasy and with people. apple slice if you like. Serves six.

34 NOVEMBER _ 2017 P O P U L A R M E C H A N I C S.C O M


My American vodka beats
the giant imports every day.
Try American! It’s better.
W I T H E Z R A DY E R

2017
Chevrolet
Colorado
ZR2
Find trails,
catch air.

Base price: $40,995


($9,000 less than a
Ford Raptor)
Engine options:
2.8-liter in-line-
four turbodiesel or
3.6-liter V-6. Get
the V-6.

FIVE-WORD
it also has fenders flared REVIEWS
3.5 inches, a two-inch lift,
and Multimatic spool-valve
dampers. Allow me to trans-
late that last part: It has
suspension from a company
that builds components
for Formula One cars. That
speaks to an inclination
toward speed that you don’t TOYOTA C-HR
get in a Wrangler. Acura Sport
I recently tested a Toyota Wagon. But
Tacoma TRD Pro on my underpowered.
favorite rock-strewn moun-
tain trail, and it comported
itself well enough that I
didn’t feel the need to risk
ZR2 body damage on the
same climb. But I did take
Rock-crawling and to conquer that challenge. the mighty Colorado to an
high-speed desert A foot narrower than a off-road park rife with high- CADILLAC XT5
running are decidedly dif- Ford Raptor, the ZR2 can speed rolling bumps. And PLATINUM AWD
ferent off-road disciplines, squeeze down tight Jeep out there, it felt like a match A handsomer,
and it’s hard to build a truck trails, and it’s armed with for the Raptor, the fast techier SRX
that’ll excel at both. Yet triple locking differentials 4x4 gold standard. You can replacement.
Chevy, with the Colorado and rock rails for walking bounce the ZR2 a foot off
ZR2, appears determined its way up a mountain. But the ground (which I did) and
it never loses composure.
Normally I’d recommend
the Colorado’s diesel option
for its economy and torque.
Other Vehicles But for the ZR2, you want
with Triple the gas engine and its 308 KIA SPORTAGE SX
Locking
horsepower. This truck AWD
Ram Power Jeep Wrangler Mercedes-Benz might be good at going Kia nails the $35K
Differentials Wagon Rubicon G-Class slow, but it wants to go fast. crossover.

36 NOVEMBER _ 2017 P O P U L A R M E C H A N I C S.C O M


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2018 Subaru Crosstrek


The most Subaru Subaru.

The 2018 Crosstrek looks a whole lot like the 2017


Crosstrek, but it’s actually 95 percent new. The rede-
signed car is a whole lot stiffer and safer, if not quicker. On
that last point, I drove the car in the Black Hills of South
Dakota, which, being hills, are not at sea level. And a mile
up, a naturally aspirated engine is going to suck wind. But in
any case 152 horsepower is enough for bird-watchers, which
Subaru says that many of its owners are. Seriously. The info- 2017 Mazda CX-5
tainment system includes eBird, an app made by the Cornell
Bargain crossovers shouldn’t be this nice.
Lab of Ornithology.
The Crosstrek is an interesting species itself, since it’s a
small crossover armed with a serious all-wheel-drive system When was the last
and a legit 8.7 inches of ground clearance. A couple years ago, time you noticed the
Base price: $24,985
I took a Crosstrek out in a freak North Carolina snowstorm paint on a car? Mazda’s
Insurance Institute
Soul Red Crystal, a $595
and used it to rescue stuck vehicles, including a UPS truck. If for Highway Safety
option on the new CX-5, is rating: Top Safety
it can drag a delivery truck up a hill, a Crosstrek ought to suf- both deep and bright, wor- Pick+, the highest
fice for your weekend ski adventures. thy of an exotic or concept possible
The cool thing about the Crosstrek is that Subaru’s been car. Mazda says that the Enthusiast feature:
Floor-mounted
building this essential car for a very long time—it is, to me, intention is to invoke the accelerator pedal
Subaru’s iconic product. Back in ever-morphing hue of flow-
1981, my parents got tired of getting ing magma, and somehow
Base price: $22,710 that’s not silly hyperbole.
stuck on unplowed Maine roads and The fact that Mazda puts
Available
transmission: Six- bought a four-wheel-drive Subaru this kind of effort into a The chassis is fun, too, as
speed manual (!) GL wagon. It was inexpensive, good single paint color tells you crossovers go, with the
Standard tech: on gas, and it went anywhere. More a lot about the car, actually, G-Vectoring Control system
Android Auto and
Apple CarPlay than a quarter-century later, those because that seems to be making subtle adjust-
terms still apply. how it approaches every- ments to engine timing to
thing. Simply because this help the car turn. The only
is a four-cylinder crossover, issue, really, is that such a
a commodity vehicle, is no competent platform could
reason to dumb it down. certainly handle more
Indeed, in Grand Tour- power. In all-wheel-drive
ing trim, the CX-5 doesn’t cars, the 2.5-liter engine
give up much in finery to a doesn’t make peak torque
Mercedes-Benz GLC. You until it’s screaming at 4,000
have a heads-up display rpm. However, a solution
with traffic-sign recogni- is imminent: just wait for
tion, radar cruise control, the new twin-turbo diesel,
LED headlights, and clean which ought to make that
design throughout a cabin magma flow quite a bit
filled with nice materials. quicker.

Karma Revero The 2011 Fisker Karma was gorgeous, and fast, two
adjectives never before applied to a plug-in hybrid. Six
years later—after a $139 million government loan, unexplained fires, bankruptcy,
acquisition, and a name change—the Karma is back as the Karma Revero, a
superficially identical reboot selling for $130,000. But in those six years, another
company started building electric vehicles that beat the new Revero on every
spec except exclusivity. Even if owning one of the 1,000 Reveros Karma plans to
sell next year is a priority, test-drive a Tesla first. You’ll see how high the bar has
been raised for polar-bear-friendly luxury and speed. —Alexander George

38 NOVEMBER _ 2017 P O P U L A R M E C H A N I C S.C O M


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Japan, where the car was made, you drive on the left side of

Skyline GTS-t
the road. Here, the positioning makes it tough to stay in your
lane. Everyone else drives near the yellow line while I’m out on the
edge of the road. It’s also stick, so I have to shift with my left hand, but

Type M that only took about 20 minutes to get used to. By the time I drove it
back from Washington, where I bought it from a guy who bought it
from a guy in Canada who imported it from Japan, I figured it out. The
steering wheel aside, it doesn’t drive like a normal car. The suspension
is stiff, you’re always getting boost from the turbo, and the steering is
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40 NOVEMBER _ 2017 P O P U L A R M E C H A N I C S.C O M


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ARTIST-GRADE Artist James Turrell is a sculptor of
light. His meticulously constructed
CONSTRUCTION rooms with programmed LED instal-
lations force visitors to question their
perspective and perception of the space around them. At “Into
the Light,” his nine-room retrospective at the Massachusetts
Museum of Contemporary Art, the centerpiece is a two-story
room whose walls, floor, and ceiling have curved seams, bathed in
changing hues. Visitors lose all sense of place—it’s like being sus-
pended in sea foam at sunset. The smallest construction defect,
like a slight bulge in the plaster, would ruin the uncanny effect.
Linbeck Group, the exhibition’s builder, has worked with Tur-
rell for ten years. Linbeck’s project liaison Tom Butler says that
instead of using normal techniques, like taping and smoothing
drywall seams until they’re flat (which most museums require),
Linbeck laser-maps the studs to ensure perfect alignment before
each wall is hung. Butler says uninitiated workers look at the blue-
prints and say, “It can’t be that complicated—it’s just walls and
ceilings and floors.” When they’re done they realize it’s more:
It’s a canvas you can walk through. “Into the Light” is open now
through at least 2018.

GIVE GIFTS Pay-your-friends apps, like Venmo or


Square Cash, are the rare examples of
VIA TEXT technology so useful that it becomes indis-
pensable. At the end of happy hour, whoever
picked up the tab sends out polite invoices until everyone’s even.
Brilliant. Now, Apple has its own version for iPhone owners. If both
parties have updated to iOS 11 (do it, it’s great), they can send money
via iMessage. It works via Apple Pay—you punch your bank account
or credit card into your iPhone, and all the important info gets
securely obfuscated until you need to pay for your share of hot wings.
If the recipient doesn’t have Apple Pay set up, they get an Apple Pay
Cash card, redeemable at places that take Apple Pay—Chevron,
BevMo, and Starbucks, among others. Apple’s suggested use: a gift.
As in, you forgot to buy your nephew a graduation present, so you text
him $50 and a mortarboard emoji.

THE SUIT THAT


Corgan, a Dallas architecture firm
that designs airport terminals,
SIMULATES AGING began using an age simulation suit
in airports including LAX and Sea-
Tac to help its staff understand obstacles faced by the elderly in
such large, complex spaces. The suit, called GERT, is also used in
schools and hospitals, and ages a user 30 to 40 years by mimicking
common impairments: stiff knees, tremors, ringing ears, back
pain, unsteady gait, and glaucoma. After wearing GERT, design-
ers have a clearer idea of what architects should accommodate,
says Jonathan Massey, Corgan’s principal in airport planning.
Now, Corgan is developing signage that can be understood with
common eye diseases. People testing the suit struggled on stairs
and escalators, so planning paths that stay on one level or include
elevators is now a priority.

44 NOVEMBER _ 2017 P O P U L A R M E C H A N I C S.C O M


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SEWING THE KIT
Getting
Started A sewing machine, like
In... any other piece of
equipment, requires time
and research to
Add one more item to the list of things you know how to fix: purchase and use. So
for these basics, we’ll stick
Your own clothes. All you need is a needle and thread.
to hand sewing. Here’s
BY L ARA SOROK AN ICH
what you’ll need:

For as long as I can remember, I’ve been sewing buttons back onto shirts for my
dad and three brothers. It used to be easy when we lived in the same house. But
as us kids have grown up and moved away, it’s gotten a little ridiculous. “Merry
Christmas! Can you fix this shirt?” “Happy Thanksgiving! This button fell off...” A NEEDLE
If you’re a self-sufficient adult with any talent for working with your hands, your You’ll want sewing
sharps, a type of needle
day has come—the day when you learn to sew your own buttons, and a few other
with a pointed end that
skills. Knowing basic sewing has the same perks as knowing plumbing, carpen- glides through fabric
try, or any other mechanical skill: You can fix your own stuff, and save money and without damaging it.
time while doing it. That includes clothes, bags, outdoor gear, and car upholstery. Pick up a variety pack
Don’t worry, it’s easy. So easy that you’ll regret ever paying a tailor (or begging at a craft store or in the
your little sister) to do it for you. homewares aisle of the
grocery store.

THREAD
Polyester or all-purpose
thread works for most
projects. Pick up a few
spools or buy an emer-
gency sewing
kit, which includes
needles and miniature
spools of thread.

SEWING SHEARS
Dull scissors make cut-
ting fabric messy and
difficult. Spring for a new,
sharp pair of sewing scis-
HOW TO THREAD A sors or shears, available
NEEDLE for as little as $7 online
Snip a length of thread, then and in craft stores.
thread it through the eye (the hole)
of the needle. To sew a button,
use 24 inches. For other projects,
measure the length of the area you
want to sew, double it, and then
add a few inches. Pull your thread SEAM RIPPER
through the needle until you have A small, fork-shaped
equal lengths on each side, then tie tool with a blade in the
off the ends by looping the threads crux, used to remove
into a circle and drawing the ends unwanted stitches. To
through the loop. The knot will use, slip the pointed
stop the thread from slipping prong underneath a bad
through the fabric as you sew. stitch, then pull upward
to cut the thread.

46 NOVEMBER _ 2017 P O P U L A R M E C H A N I C S.C O M


TWO SIMPLE STITCHES, INFINITE POSSIBILITIES

THE RUNNING STITCH THE BACKSTITCH


Description: Used to bind two pieces of fabric together. Description: Creates a strong, flexible bind between two
Handy for shortening clothing, fixing a falling hem, or adding pieces of fabric. Use it to mend the busted seam of a dress
a patch to a bomber jacket. shirt, reattach a backpack strap, or attach a patch over a
hole in your jeans.
Instructions: Poke the needle through both pieces of fab-
ric, then push it back through the fabric a quarter-inch over. Instructions: Make one quarter-inch stitch, like you did in
This creates one stitch. Continue to the end of the seam. To the running stitch. Then bring the needle back toward the
close the stitches, push the needle through the fabric with- first stitch, poking it through a quarter-inch away from the
out pulling the thread all the way through to create a loop. start of the first. Bring the needle back down through the
Run the needle back through the fabric and loop to create a fabric to close the gap.
knot. Repeat two to four times.
Use it to: Repair a ripped dress shirt seam. Take the shirt
Use it to: Shorten a pair of pants. Turn the pants inside off and turn it inside out. Trim any frayed edges off of the
out and cuff to the desired length. Pin to secure. Poke the fabric, then pinch the pieces flat against each other with
needle through the topmost edge of the cuff. Then, use the your non-dominant thumb. Begin the backstitch about a
needle to pick up just a few threads of fabric on the outer quarter-inch below where the tear starts, and work your
layer of the pants. Bring the needle back through the cuff, way to the end using small stitches. Continue the stitches
and create a normal-size stitch on the inside. Repeat until about a half-inch past the top of the tear before tying it off.
the whole leg is sewn, then tie it off.

THE ESSENTIAL SKILL: BUTTON-SEWING


Starting at the inside of the shirt, poke the needle through the fabric and thread it through the button. Bring the needle down-
ward, and thread it through the opposite buttonhole and the shirt. Repeat three times, then do the same on the other two
holes. Once the button is secure, poke the needle up through the fabric at its base. Loop the rest of the thread around the
stem of the button six times, then poke the needle through that stem a few times and cut to secure it.

SEWING-FREE ALTERNATIVES
If you don’t have the time or skills to sew, there are a few great alternatives that will work in a pinch.

Fabric glue: Comes in handy for Iron-on fusing web: Used to bind Seam sealant:
embellishments, like when you’re two pieces of fabric together. Place Keep a tear from
I L LU S T R AT I O N S BY M I K E S U DA L

attaching a patch to a jacket or the webbing between two pieces of disintegrating into
shirt. Just make sure you give the fabric, then apply heat with a clothes a million threads by
article of clothing several hours to iron to bind together. This product is applying seam seal-
dry before wearing it. We recom- especially useful for hemming pants ing liquid. We like
mend Aleene’s No-Sew Fabric Glue. in a hurry. Try Stitch Witchery. Dritz Fray Check.

THREE THINGS Specialty outdoor gear. Your favorite suit. Leave A leather jacket. If you mess
YOU SHOULDN’T You’re better off using a altering important, expen- up, you’ve left permanent
TRY TO SEW waterproof patch or sealant. sive clothing to the tailor. needle holes behind.

@PopularMechanics NOVEMBER _ 2017 47


WI NTER
Winter may be cold,
but it’s miserable
only for the
unprepared.
Photographs by
PHILIP FRIEDMAN

You’re a
Craftsman,
and Work
Doesn’t Take
Winter Off
ZACHARY DETTMORE

Job: Owner of Dettmore


Home Improvements
What keeps him
outside: Framing and
finish carpentry
The worst he’s worked
through: Two days around
5 degrees Fahrenheit,
hanging siding
Always in his tool belt:
Cat’s paw, combo square, For a shoppable
and Stanley FatMax tape list of all the
measure stuff these guys
What he needs in are wearing,
winter workwear: see page 54.
“Overalls to keep my back
covered when I bend over,
and light layers so I don’t
sweat.”

50
OUTFITTER

You’re an
Adventurer,
Through All
Weather
RAFAL RAGOZA

Favorite destination:
Argentine Patagonia
Day job:
Longshoreman
at the Port of Newark
Weekend job:
Appalachian Mountain
Club guide
Winter adventures:
Hiking day trips and ice
climbing
What he looks for
in boots: “High-
top, insulated, and
waterproof, in case I
step through ice.”

51
WINTER OUTFITTER

You’re a
Be-Everywhere
Entrepreneur—
Even When It’s
Freezing Out
AKHTAR NAWAB

Job: Chef and restaurateur


Businesses: New York’s
Choza Taquerias, Alta
Calidad restaurant, Indie
Fresh prepared meals
Opening next: Prather’s
on the Alley, an American
concept in Washington, D.C.
His winter wardrobe:
“Comfortable layers I’ll
want to wear all day. I can’t
stand being cold, but I’m
always on the move visiting
my kitchens.”
You Have a
Real Job Now,
But You’re
Still a Powder
Hound
SHAWN POWELL

Years spent as a ski


bum: Ten, teaching lessons
and coaching racers
Now: Runs SPCARBON, a
custom carbon-fiber bike
builder in Manhattan
Home away: Whistler, in
his native British Columbia
Favorite skiing: Squaw
Valley for steep and deep
bowls
What he looks for in a
ski jacket: “It’s super criti-
cal that it breathes and has
vents in the back.”

53
WINTER OUTFITTER
5 0
PA G E

Carhartt Lined Patagonia Iron SOG Terminus Wolverine Vortex Patagonia Fog Leatherman Gordini MTN
Duck Bib Overalls Forge Hemp Knife $80 Boots $210 Cutter Sweater Tread Tempo Crew Gloves $75
$100 The warmest Canvas Ranch Three-inch blade Vibram sole $99 Watch $575 Breathable, with
work pants Jacket $179 and clip designed for ice Water-repellent 29 tools built into cowhide palm
Softer yet tougher shoulders the band
5 1
PA G E

The North Face Flint and Tinder Spy the Hunt Filson Medium Elijah Craig Small Council Tool Vel- Stanley Master
Ventrix Jacket Reversible Sunglasses $160 Duffel $395 Batch Bourbon vicut Premium Vacuum Food Jar
$200 Sweatshirt $68 Anti-slip nose and It will outlast you $30 Blend of Saddle Axe $148 $60
Only breathes when Two looks, always temple pads 8 to 12 years Packable axe with a Holds heat for
you’re moving comfortable big bite 20 hours

5 2
PA G E
Hestra Army 686 Mountain Danner Powder- Crescent Moon Luminox Navy Fjallraven Keb Red Wing Shel-
Leather Patrol Waterproof horn Insulated EVA Snowshoes SEAL Trident Trousers $225 don Boots $370
Gloves $130 Snapback Hat Boots $250 $160 Watch $425 Built to hike Work boots for
Windproof and $25 Sleet rolls Gore-Tex-lined plus Same foam as your Lightweight carbon- mountains business
waterproof right off Thinsulate sneakers compound bracelet 5 3
PA G E

Nau Utility Wool Oris BC3 Nau Altiplano Bonobos Washed Timbuk2 Hudson Lululemon Helly Hansen
Down Jacket Advanced Watch Alpaca Scarf $95 Chinos $88 Laptop Briefcase Somatic Long Alpha 3.0
$360 $1,250 Midweight density, Four fit options $298 Sleeve Shirt $78 Jacket $450
Recycled down Automatic in a naturally soft for a tailored Rugged build, Fast-drying, Insulated cellphone
insulation stainless-steel case appearance boardroom style anti-stink fabric pocket

The North Face Seirus Innovation K2 B.F.C. 100 Eddie Bauer Julbo Aerospace Dakine Heli Pro DPS Alchemist
Purist Pants Hellfire Gloves Boots $700 Freedry Merino Goggles $240 24L Pack $110 Cassiar 95 Skis
$449 $425 Heated, up to Hybrid Base $65 Lens opens on all Carry a board or $1,300
Three-layer Heated, up to 19 hours Stay warmer, smell sides to vent skis Carbon-fiber
Gore-Tex 12 hours better construction

54 NOVEMBER _ 2017 P O P U L A R M E C H A N I C S.C O M


YOU DRY®, GORE® and designs are trademarks of W. L. Gore & Associates, Inc.
© 2017 W. L. Gore & Associates, Inc. GORE-TEX®, GUARANTEED TO KEEP

THINK ABOUT SILENCE.


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BREAK

The gold portion of


this robot started as
a piece of flat plastic
and was folded by
hand. For more on
its designer, Cynthia
Sung (opposite),
turn to page 58.
THROUGH
AWARDS
2017
CYNTHIA
SUNG
AGE 28
A S S I S TA N T
PROFESSOR OF
MECHANICAL
ENGINEERING,
UNIVERSITY OF
P E N N S Y LVA N I A

For 13 years we’ve recognized the greatest people and ideas in science, technology, and engineering.
This year, we focused on people whose careers are just beginning. These 12 young people have already
changed entire industries—and lives. They’re creating battle gear that treats wounds, hyperefficient
digitized electricity, and these things: lightweight inexpensive robots that assemble like origami.
The best part about these award winners? They’re a long way from being done.

P H O T O G R A P H S B Y H E N RY H U N G

@PopularMechanics NOVEMBER _ 2017 57


BREAK
THROUGH
AWARDS
2017

JOBS

ROBOTICS
DOMESTIC
FLAT- PA CK OUTSOURCING
RO BOTS KYLE
BROTHIS
AGE 30
CYNTHIA SUNG’S ROBOTS look more like toys CTO, TECHTONIC
than the work of engineers. A tightly folded star- GROUP
fish, a cubic white bird, a house with legs—they’re
inspired by origami that Sung’s mother taught
her in the third grade. They beckon you to play
with them, to push them along and bend their
movable joints. But their purpose is more than
art or entertainment.
The concept goes like this: Rather than mak-
ing robots out of rigid, heavy material such as
metal or hard plastic, Sung wants to build them
out of paper or thin plastic. That way, they can
be shipped or stored as lightweight flat sheets.
When they need to be used, fold them along the
lines to create the robot, then add the motor. The
idea saves money, since thin sheets of plastic are
inexpensive, and space.

W
“The big benefit is in the robots’ ability to
transform,” Sung says. “Think of a robot that HEN TECHTONIC
crawls around, folds itself up to move through
group started 17
small spaces, then unfolds again once it’s in the
open. It would be very useful for exploring new years ago, it was an
environments. You could also imagine a swarm off-shoring com-
of robots that store as flat sheets of plastic in an pany. It accepted
envelope, then self-fold to deploy, then unfold software-development work and
and store themselves back as flat sheets.” Sung farmed it out to a team of program-
also sees potential in their use for education.
mers in Armenia. But in 2014, CEO
Because the robots are small and made by fold-
ing rather than soldering, wiring, or welding, Heather Terenzio realized that the
they’re more accessible to young students. cost of travel back and forth and the
Sung has a lot to figure out before these quality of the work just wasn’t justi-
AUTOMATED
robots are used in the world. Currently, her
CRICKET FARMS fiable—especially when there were
designs are mostly folded by hand, and can take As protein, crickets can plenty of people around her in Den-
between ten minutes and five hours to complete. be raised using 12 times ver and Boulder who needed jobs.
That’s why she has enlisted the help of a materi- less feed and 2,000
als scientist to look into active materials that will Techtonic started hiring locals,
times less water than
help the robots fold themselves. This summer, cattle. But production
training them, and doing the coding
Sung tried making the robots out of polystyrene, takes a lot of oversight, themselves. Then last year, Terenzio
the same substance used in those oven-baked which means a lot of hired Kyle Brothis as chief technol-
Shrinky Dinks from the 1980s. When the unas- money. This summer, ogy officer. Brothis brought with him
sembled sheets were exposed to boiling water, the Aspire Food Group
experience teaching coding boot
the polystyrene areas shrunk and pulled the folds opened a new facility
together, dropping assembly time to less than in Austin that is almost camps, and together he and Teren-
a minute. To reduce design time, which can last fully automated. On zio put together Techtonic Academy.
months, Sung is also developing computer pro- a 24-hour optimized Ex-baristas, ex-military, ex-cons,
grams that will do the work for her. schedule, robots feed and anyone else who’s interested can
Sung sees her work somewhere between tra- the crickets and monitor
the eggs before they are take the four-week-long free coding
ditional robotics and the emerging field of soft course with Brothis as the instructor.
hatched and harvested.
robotics, which aims to make robots out of mate-
rials that mimic living organisms. She’ll change
The system has already The best students land apprentice-
significantly reduced ships at Techtonic Group—out of
how we think of robots—in terms of where they Aspire’s manpower
can go, what they can be made of, and who can expenses and increased
the first class of 13, seven became
afford them. —Lara Sorokanich the plant’s output by apprentices—where they get paid
1,000%.

58 NOVEMBER _ 2017 P O P U L A R M E C H A N I C S.C O M


GAMING
and paired with mentors to do actual client work. For
students, it’s a way to find out if they like to code—and
potentially even find a job—at no cost. For Techtonic, it’s a
I NTE R AC TIVE O N LI N E
way to staff their contracts, provide clients with a pipeline VIDEO GAMES WITH
of talent, bolster the job market in their community, and
help diversify a famously homogeneous industry. N O D E L AY
Brothis’s hope is that anytime someone is going to send
a coding job overseas, to a team like the one his company
used to manage, they’ll check in with Techtonic first. After
all, when you factor in the extra cost caused by distance,
language barriers, and cultural differences, Techtonic
can provide the same services for about the same price.
More important, any time a company hires disenfran-
chised American workers, they’re helping fulfill one of
the great promises of the tech industry: At the cost of lit-
tle more than an internet connection, work can come to
the workers. JAMES
BOEHM
Techtonic already has a satellite office in Bozeman,
AGE 21
Montana, and is looking to Manhattan, Kansas; Santa Fe, AND
New Mexico; and Colorado Springs, Colorado, as future
MATT care. They found that
sites. They’re able to offer the class for free only by cor- SALSAMENDI most existing apps relied
ralling funding from state and local governments and AGE 19 on a sort of faux live feed,
nonprofits, so expanding isn’t as simple as finding new ENGINEERING LEADS streamed in short chunks
office space. But it’s important, despite the amount of AND COFOUNDERS OF of video stitched together.
work required. Techtonic plans to have offices in ten cities, MICROSOFT’S MIXER, They approached the issue
A STREAMING GAMING as if it were web confer-
with 100 developers each, by 2020. —Kevin Dupzyk
P L AT FO R M encing. “It all boils down
to building Skype, but for
WHEN JAMES BOEHM and thousands of people,”
Matt Salsamendi started Salsamendi says. And it
their first company in 2011, worked. Salsamendi and
a Minecraft-server-hosting Boehm achieved latency of
service, they had 28 years less than a second.
between them. Not years At the beginning of 2016,
of experience—years of liv- they used the technology
ing. By 2014, their company to launch a company called
was pulling in $5 million Beam. Salsamendi pre-
annually. And they kept hear- sented Beam at the annual
ing that their users wanted TechCrunch Disrupt Startup
more. They wanted a place Battlefield competition held
where they could watch in New York in May 2016.
and interact with other It won, and Beam amassed
people playing video games, 100,000 users in the first
a growing segment of the three months of beta test-
$30-billion-a-year gam- ing. A month later, both
ing industry. The problem men were named fellows
was participation. There in bajillionaire Peter Thiel’s
were plenty of opportuni- program that pays students
ties online to watch gamers, to skip college. Two months
but streaming a video game after that, Microsoft bought
requires a lot of data—so their company.
much that no app allowed Now called Mixer, the
you to watch a game with- technology was transferred
out a substantial delay. That to Xbox and Windows 10
delay ruined the possibility PCs and is used by millions
of interaction. By the time of fans of watching and par-
you tell gamers that there’s ticipating as other people
an enemy around the corner, play games. With absolutely
or change their weapons, no delay. —James Lynch
they’ve already moved on.
Boehm and Salsamendi
had little experience in
streaming. But they didn’t

@PopularMechanics NOVEMBER _ 2017 59


BREAK
THROUGH
AWARDS
2017

H E A LT H

A NEW WAY THE FIX


FOR MUTATED
EMBRYOS

TO STIMULATE
In August, for
the first time
ever, researchers

CANCER DRUGS
ROBERTA successfully repaired
ZAPPASODI a gene mutation in
AGE 36
a human embryo.
Shoukhrat Mitalipov
RESEARCH
of Oregon Health &
SCHOLAR, MEMORIAL
Science University
SLOAN KETTERING
and his team used
CANCER CENTER the CRISPR gene-
snipping tool and
modified in-vitro
fertilization
techniques to
produce a healthy
fertilized egg whose
future offspring
would also be
mutation free.

whether a particular therapy is working.


That would be significant enough, but
next Zappasodi tries to find out if those

T
biomarkers give doctors any insight into
HE CURRENT SITUATION in can- the treatment itself. Her biggest success
cer research is a little strange: so far: finding out that a popular immu-
Suddenly, the most sought-after notherapy drug that targets the protein
researchers are people who spent CTLA-4 increases a previously ignored
more time in school learning subgroup of T-cells that actually sup-
COMPRESSION
about T-cells (the immune system’s killer presses the immune system. If that
IGNITION FOR
cells) than about tumors. Researchers like group of T-cells gets too large in response
GAS ENGINES
Roberta Zappasodi, who works at Memorial to the medication, it reduces the immune A gasoline engine
Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York system’s ability to attack the cancer without spark plugs
City. Her focus, immunotherapy, is a new and helps the cancer resist treatment. is the cold fusion of
type of cancer treatment that involves hack- When that happens, administering internal combustion:
an idea that hasn’t
ing a sick person’s immune system so that it another drug decreases the suppressive gone anywhere. But
can recognize and kill cancer the same way T-cells and allows treatment to resume. in August Mazda
it would fight a cold. “Based on the quantity of this cell sub- announced that it
Though immunotherapies work so well set in the blood, we can combine the will bring a gasoline
compression ignition
in some cases that they can bring patients two drugs better,” she says. Administer
engine to production
back from the brink of death, they don’t work one drug if the population gets too high, in two years.
for everyone, and doctors often spend valu- and another if it drops too low. This may Called Skyactiv-X,
able time waiting to find out which patient not sound like a monumental discovery, it will still have
spark plugs for cold
falls into which category. With Zappasodi’s but in cancer—a disease which every day
starts. Otherwise,
work, they don’t have to. “What I do is find turns out to require more precise, indi- combustion is
biomarkers, which are signs that the drug vidualized care to defeat—it can mean triggered by the heat
is doing its job immunologically,” she says. the difference between life and death. of compression,
She develops tests, essentially, that can tell —Jacqueline Detwiler upping efficiency
by 30%.

60 NOVEMBER _ 2017 P O P U L A R M E C H A N I C S.C O M


COMBAT

MATTHEW
A. LONG BO DY A RM O R
AGE 21
MARINE CORPORAL TH AT H EA LS YO U
AN ENEMY ROUND tears through the Marine’s Kevlar vest, passing through the Small
Arms Protective Insert (SAPI)—ceramic trauma plates held against his chest, back, and
sides—through a small protective cushion, through his uniform, and into his flesh. Between
2001 and 2011, nearly 1,000 U.S. troops died of potentially survivable injuries because they
couldn’t get to a treatment facility in time. But this Marine is wearing his treatment facility.
The layer of cushion is filled with packets of gel and a painkiller. When pierced by a bullet
or shrapnel from an IED, the cushion releases the gel, which turns into a foam sealant and
forces the painkiller down into the wound, staving off shock and stanching blood loss.
A motor transport
The palliative cushion is the vision of Marine Corporal Matthew Long, a 21-year-old
mechanic, Corporal motor transport mechanic stationed in Albany, Georgia. In 2016, he submitted his idea to
Long submitted the Marines’ first ever Logistics Innovation Challenge. He was one of 17 winners. The idea is
his vest design in currently being developed, and Long is working with the lab as a consultant. “When imple-
the Marines’ first
Logistics Innovation mented, it will revolutionize the way combat medical care is conducted,” Long says. “It will
Challenge. save lives.” —Eleanor Hildebrandt

@PopularMechanics NOVEMBER _ 2017 61


EMERGENCY RESPONSE

TH E
SH RI N KI N G
BEA CO N
THE OXYGEN TANK
weighs 27 pounds. The ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE
jacket, pants, boots, radio,
and hand tools add another
22. The axe, six. When a S TA R T U P S W I T H T H E
firefighter enters a burn-
ing building, he carries as RESOURCES OF GIANT
much as 75 pounds of gear.
There’s no room for extra
bulk.
C O R P O R AT I O N S
Darmindra Arumugam, DANIEL GROSS
a research technologist AGE 26
and program manager at PA R T N E R , Y CO M B I N AT O R
DARMINDRA NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab-
ARUMUGAM oratory, knew this when
AGE 34 he and his team developed
RESEARCH the Precision Outdoor DANIEL GROSS WANTS to fund the next 1,000 great arti-
TECHNOLOGIST and Indoor Navigation and ficial intelligence startups. That’s why, earlier this year, the
AND PROGRAM Tracking for Emergency 26-year-old left a director job at Apple and started YC AI,
MANAGER, JPL Responders (POINTER). an artificial intelligence group at the business accelerator
The device uses magnetic Y Combinator. When he was working at Apple, Gross noticed
fields instead of higher- that machine-learning projects were getting easier within big
frequency radio waves, companies, but that startups were having trouble keeping up.
such as those used in GPS, That’s because companies like Apple, Google, and Facebook
that are often blocked by have the money to hire the best A.I. researchers, the com-
building walls to track first puter power and capital to train machine-learning models,
responders. and access to huge amounts of data. Startups typically don’t.
Radio waves bounce off “What we try to do is give startups access to those things
the electrical signals given that previously were only accessible within large companies,”
off by almost everything in Gross says. Which means YC AI doesn’t just provide capital. It
our world. Relatively few also helps startups connect with the best A.I. researchers at
things, however, give off larger tech companies, provides access to powerful computer
magnetic energy. POINTER processors, and acquires important data that teach artificial
uses magnetic fields to intelligence how to behave.
locate emergency person- Gross—who sold his own A.I. startup, a personal assistant app
nel up to three miles away, called Cue that scanned your various accounts to add events to
even in the gnarliest envi- your calendar, to Apple for more than $40 million in 2013—also
ronments. When it debuted started AI Grant, a nonprofit that funds A.I. research projects
YOUTUBE’S in 2016, Arumugam knew that are important but
ANTI- the size would be a problem not necessarily profit-
TERRORIST for firefighters counting able. His overall goal, at
MOVEMENT every ounce. But he also both Y Combinator and his
To combat online knew it would save lives. So nonprofit, is to accelerate
religious and racist the entire field of artificial
this year he shrank it.
radicalization, this intelligence and bring it
The updated system
summer YouTube to “every vertical on the
announced that it
swapped individual trans-
mitters for low-power planet, from manufactur-
would use machine
receivers that pick up signals ing to agriculture to design
learning to better
from a single transmit- to healthcare to banking.
detect and remove
hateful content. ter. They’re much smaller, “I think A.I. will make
The company also the size of a cellphone, and the Industrial Revolution
launched a program cheaper, at less than $5 look small,” Gross says. “It
that, in response each. Plus, bomb technicians has the potential to unlock
to extremism- won’t be sending out dan- a whole new quality of life
related key words, gerous signals as they work. for the average person,
automatically POINTER is currently limited and I think it could be the
redirects users to to first responders, but in a thing that makes the next
videos that debunk few years consumers will be great 10, 20, 30 thousand
hateful theories able to buy them, too. —J.L. companies.” —L.S.
and rhetoric.

62 NOVEMBER _ 2017 P O P U L A R M E C H A N I C S.C O M


BREAK
THROUGH
AWARDS
2017

strengthened, or ODS, alloys.


“The small oxide particles dis-
persed in the material increase
its strength and resistance to
deformation under stress at
high temperatures,” Terrani
says. The technology itself has
been around since the 1970s,
but only recently has anyone
figured out how to produce,
weld, or shape these alloys with
any consistency. They perform
better at the high tempera-
tures of a nuclear reactor, and
are slower to react with water.
After three years of testing, in
2018 Terrani’s team is start-
ing a pilot of iron-clad fuel rods
at the Edwin I. Hatch Nuclear
Power Plant in Georgia. It will
be the first time since the 1950s
that rods without zirconium
cladding are used in a commer-
cial nuclear power plant.
ENERGY
The reason we can still get
away with using zirconium

A PROTECTIVE COATING
cladding is that current reac-
tors reach temperatures that
zirconium can handle, except

FOR NUCLEAR FUEL KURT in freak accidents. But the new


TERRANI generation of reactors won’t use
AGE 32 water as a coolant and may look

T
S E N I O R S TA F F
nothing like the reactors we’re
S C I E N T I S T, OA K
HE MELTDOWN AT Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear used to. One design, called a
R I D G E N AT I O N A L
Power Plant in 2011 happened because of a massive L A B O R AT O RY
sodium-cooled fast reactor,
earthquake. But there might have been another reason: won’t work with zirconium—
the zirconium alloy cladding that protected the plant’s it’ll require one of Terrani’s new
fuel rods. As the damaged reactor heated up, the clad- alloys. Another, the high tem-
ding reacted with the water around it and generated hydrogen gas, perature gas-cooled reactor,
which exploded. Although no one could have predicted the accident, won’t work with steel at all. It
Terrani loads a test-
Kurt Terrani, a nuclear engineer and materials scientist at Oak Ridge ing system, above, promises better efficiency than
National Laboratory, near Knoxville, says that it wasn’t exactly a sur- that will scald today’s plants, but can’t be built
his experimen-
prise that the cladding failed in such an extreme situation. tal cladding with without radiation-resistant
Since commercial nuclear power plants were first developed in 2,192-degree- ceramics. Terrani’s team is
Fahrenheit steam
the late ’40s, thanks to a rocky political landscape and the economics before quenching it working on those, too. —K.D.
of building power plants, many aspects of how they work—including with cold water.
cladding materials—haven’t changed. So in the wake of Fukushima,
Terrani and his team at Oak Ridge started looking for better cladding
options. They focused on something called oxide-dispersion-

@PopularMechanics NOVEMBER _ 2017 63


ENERGY

HOW TO CONVERT THE WORLD


TO DIGITAL ELECTRICITY
CHRIS DOERFLER, AGE 38, AND ANATOLI OLEYNIK, AGE 33, 3DFS POWER SOLUTIONS

W
E WA STE
more than
two-thirds
of the elec-
tricity we
generate. Look at your cell-
phone. It has very different
power requirements than a
refrigerator, yet we plug them
into the same outlet. It’s like
filling pint glasses with a fire
hose. Also buckets, and eye-
droppers. And while the fire
hose is bluntly effective, it’s
also messy. When fluorescent
lights hum, or the cube at the
end of your phone charger gets
hot, that’s wasted electricity.
Chris Doerfler and Anatoli
Oleynik, cofounders of 3DFS
in Pittsboro, North Carolina,
want to stop that waste.
Ideally, you’d dose each
device with the precise
power that it needs at any
moment. To execute that
mission is a two-part chal-
lenge. First, you have to
precisely measure the flow of electricity in real time, because you can’t fix the waste if you don’t know how
much you might be wasting. This required 3DFS to invent software that can sample 295 million data points
per second—50,000 times faster than any measuring technology currently used. The second part is correc-
tion. Because we use three-phase power (three levels of power coursing through a single line), electricity
travels through the grid as a trio of sine waves. Right now, those waves are ragged. The spikes and sags rep-
resent inefficiency—electrical energy converting to thermal. We can use only a fraction of that wave. But if
that wave were smoothed out, say by the 3DFS VectorQ2 power controller, a cube the size of a breadmaker
I L LU S T R AT I O N S BY G R A H A M H U TC H I N G S

that plugs in between the grid and your building, removing or adding current as needed? Ninety-five per-
cent efficiency, or three times the current performance.
With precision power like this, a battery can be charged to its exact needs, increasing its lifetime by 250
percent. Generators can be smaller and more fuel-efficient. You’ll even know when your server or lightbulb
is about to fail, because its digital fingerprint will change. “Over time, failure in the grid is going to be 100
percent preventative,” Doerfler says. You replace a transformer before it blows, with one designed for digi-
tally processed power. And that one lasts 150 years.
The first VectorQ2s go into a new data center this fall. The military is also keenly interested. But 3DFS is
a fledgling private company attempting to push past a precarious moment—they’re ready for public adop-
tion, not venture capital, but their initial product costs about $30,000 and is aimed at a relatively small au-
dience. These guys think digitized electricity is inevitable, but first they need to convince the world to solve
a problem it didn’t know it had. —Ezra Dyer

64 NOVEMBER _ 2017 P O P U L A R M E C H A N I C S.C O M


BREAK
THROUGH
AWARDS
2017

SPACE

THE ASTRONAUT
TR ACKE R
C O D Y K E L LY
AGE 30
POST- L A N D I N G SU RV IVA L EQ U I PM E NT
SUBSYSTEM MANAGER, NASA

CODY KELLY IS THE MAN in


charge of just about every
facet of astronaut safety
when they come back to
Earth. His team created the
Advanced Next-Generation
Emergency Locator system,
or ANGEL. It deals with the
unexpected—the unfor-
tunate moments when
returning astronauts are
dropped in the expanse of
the Pacific Ocean, and we
can’t find them.
Using an increasingly
vast web of satellites
and a new, more durable,
wavelength capable of cut-
IMMEDIATE
ting through oceanic and
CONCUSSION
atmospheric interference,
DIAGNOSIS
One of the primary ANGEL relays a signal from
Our current electric- signs of a concussion astronauts to national res-
ity (top) travels in is a lag between cue control centers. There, When an astronaut’s land-
three erratic sine powerful computers pro- ing capsule drifts off course,
waves. The jagged
brain signals and
cess the information and Kelly’s ANGEL tracker can
edges represent eye movement. locate it, anywhere on
wasted electric- SyncThink’s Eye- send it out to recovery ships Earth, within ten feet.
ity. The electrons Sync, a lightweight and helicopters. In just 30
move chaotically, scanner based on minutes ANGEL can locate
and are converted
to thermal, rather Samsung’s Gear VR distressed astronauts to
than electri- platform, is the first within ten feet—anywhere ANGEL will spread from
cal, energy. After piece of equipment on the planet. the bounds of space to
they’re processed that measures eye “Launches are optional,” local applications. Which is
through 3DFS’s motion to determine
power controller, Kelly likes to say. “But land- good news for all of us. If
the smoothed-out if an athlete is ings are mandatory.” After ANGEL can find astronauts
waves (above) concussed. And it a complicated mission, the in the middle of the Pacific,
increase efficiency does so in only 60 it shouldn’t have a problem
by 300%.
landing should almost feel
seconds. After a finding a lost hiker on the
like an afterthought. It’s cru-
year of testing by Appalachian trail or a boater
PAC-12 football
cial to get it right.
In the next few years stranded at sea. —J.L.
programs, version
two of the device is
now wireless and
Cloud-connected,
and being expanded
to more teams this
season.

@PopularMechanics NOVEMBER _ 2017 65


In New Zealand, WPI
students investi-
gated how to help
the shrinking sea lion
population.

Wo r c e s t e r
Poly technic Instit ute
W o r c e s t e r, M a s s a c h u s e t t s

The Best
School for a
Scientist to
Study Abroad
INSTEAD OF THE TRADITIONAL
study-abroad classrooms and art muse-
ums (and pubs), students in WPI’s Global
Projects Program complete term-long
Top colleges and universities are
research at the school’s 42 centers. Past
racing to build big programs in science projects include alleviating traffic in an
and technology. We looked for the Indian city of 60,000 and developing a
safe, sustainable paper insulation for set-
most innovative and exciting, the tlements in Namibia.
unsung schools best preparing students “The Global Projects Program is why
I went to WPI,” says civil engineering
for tomorrow through STEM classes, senior Rachel Santarsiero. “You’re inte-
academic clubs, undergrad research, grating into a community, working with
and strong ties to industry. local students, companies, or NGOs, and
applying your skills to real-world applica-
Here are this year’s picks. tions.” Last year, Santarsiero traveled to

MORE STEM SCHOOLS WE LOVE:


V i r g i n i a Te c h B l a c k s b u r g , V i r g i n i a

The Future of
Science Classrooms
VIRGINIA TECH HAS a his- counters, letting students
tory of excellence, highly move tables and equipment
competitive engineering to suit their needs, such as
teams, and, according to performing simultaneous
our student interviews, one chemistry and microbiol-
of the friendliest campuses ogy tasks. “We designed
in the world. And despite and synthesized gold and
being tucked away below silver nanoparticles to carry
the rolling, green Allegheny medication, and could even
Mountains, Virginia Tech test if the particles worked,”
maintains strong ties to top says former ISC student
employers across the coun- Dominique Ngo.
try like Lockheed Martin, Of the academy’s three
Morocco to work with Dar Si Hmad, an Amazon, and GM. That all majors, its flagship, com-
makes the solid foundation putational modeling and
NGO that installed fog-harvesting nets to
of a great institution— data analytics (big data),
bring water to communities where women and the public-school is what drew senior
and children previously spent hours trav- tuition is nice—but Rachel Szabo. Her
eling for water. “It’s cliché, but I gained Virginia Tech major blends math,
Virginia Tech is
perspective on what’s really important.” stands out as a
opening a three-
statistics, and
Students can research abroad three national leader for computer science,
million-cubic-foot
times, and, starting this year, every its innovative sci- and the CMDA
drone park for
ence curriculum. Club competes in
incoming freshman receives a $5,000 Virginia Tech’s
students this fall.
data-analysis com-
scholarship for a Global Research Project. most notable devel- petitions, making
The program is part of a larger philoso- opment is its Academy sense of massive data
phy that removes required coursework of Integrated Science. The sets such as hotel-booking
in favor of a hands-on education, says school opened with the habits. “I feel like I can easily
Arthur Heinricher, dean of undergrad- goal of providing hands-on branch out and go to a com-
classes drawing from multi- puter-science job fair,” says
uate studies. “Technically there are no ple departments to develop Szabo, who has. “Recruit-
required courses for graduation.” The collaborative and critical- ers are impressed by your
goal is to get students to make an impact, thinking skills with research variety of skills when every-
solving real-world problems, as well as experience. If technology one around you is narrowly
learning how to learn—one of the top employers could create the focused.”
skills recruiters say they look for. perfect college graduate in
a lab, this is the skill set they ALSO GREAT
would choose. (See “How to
ALSO GREAT Get the Job,” page 71.) University of Florida,
Any student can apply Gainesville: The big state
Clarkson University: The New York for the two-year (freshman school is investing heavily
STEM school stresses entrepre- and sophomore) Integrated in undergrad research.
neurship so engineers can pitch and Science Curriculum, which
finance their designs. combines chemistry, math, North Carolina State
physics, and biology into University: The Wolf-
Vaughn College: Small, specialized learning modules on sub- pack leads in outreach
school in Queens, New York, with jects like solar energy and and retention of under-
a world-champion VEX U robotics nanoparticles. The ISC labs represented students in
team. depart from traditional engineering.

Northeast Cooper Union, MIT, Lehigh, Bucknell, Carnegie Mellon, Harvard, Syracuse, Columbia, Rensselaer,

@PopularMechanics NOVEMBER _ 2017 67


HOW TO TAKE A
CAMPUS TOUR
Official tours are a
must—some note
attendance—but
stopping there is
like letting a used-
car salesman pilot
the test drive.
Here’s what to look
for and ask about.
Get off campus. Can
you see yourself in the
surrounding town? asks
Andrew Belasco, CEO
of College Transitions
admission counseling.
“And try taking public
transit.” A great town
won’t be a factor if you
can’t get there.
Go deeper into
campus. If your tour
doesn’t visit them,
check out the places
you’ll spend most of ASU SESE student
your time: dorms, dining Hannah Shamloo
uses a 10-ton press
halls, classrooms, fitness to study magma
centers, libraries, com- formation.
puter labs (check hours),
and bathrooms.
Read the boards.
The student newspa-
per is a reliable window
into a school’s culture,
but also note what fly- A r i z o n a S t a t e U n i v e r s i t y, Te m p e Te m p e , A r i z o n a
ers are posted to gauge
what’s important: new
classes, research, jobs,
The Research Giant
and clubs. Disguised as a Party School
Stop random
students and ask: ASU IS A PREMIER research institu- ical development disorders like autism
How accessible are tion and gold mine for curious students with mice.
their professors? Are
classrooms arranged to
willing to reach out to faculty. “It’s a big Across the palm-filled campus in
encourage discussion? school and you have to search for oppor- the School of Earth and Space Explo-
tunities, but the faculty is really open, ration, recent ASU grad (computer
Arrange ahead
and once you’re linked in, this school science ’16) Jack Lightholder says he
to meet faculty
and ask: is a steal,” says Shiv Shah, a biological also felt welcomed and encouraged by
How does being an sciences junior. Shah also considered professors, despite not majoring in an
undergrad compare to Johns Hopkins and Northwestern but SESE program. Lightholder studied how
graduate students? Are says he chose ASU for the tuition and interstellar space dust clumped to form
there research opportu- research opportunities. Through the planets, and with guidance and fund-
nities? What are the job
School of Life Sciences Undergraduate ing from ASU, led an experiment on
or grad-school place-
ments for your Research Program, Shah holds a paid NASA’s microgravity plane (a.k.a. the
prospective field? student researcher position, studying Vomit Comet). Lightholder credits his
the proteins and pathways of neurolog- work at ASU for his post-grad intern-

Cornell, NJIT, Brown, SUNY-ESF, Penn Southeast Georgia Tech, Florida Tech, Duke, Johns Hopkins, Alabama–

68 NOVEMBER _ 2017 P O P U L A R M E C H A N I C S.C O M


U n i v e r s i t y o f To r o n t o To r o n t o , O n t a r i o

The World-Class
Engineering School
You Haven’t Heard Of
NOT MUCH NEWS on this Bennewies joined the
public university seems Vehicles team for its mix
to cross the border, but of engineering theory and
technology companies are hands-on experience, but
ASU’s School of well aware of the excep- says the greater appeal of
Earth and Space tional students graduating University of Toronto is that
Exploration has from Toronto. Recently, there’s a club for everyone.
participated in 15 the school was one of eight Toronto’s research pedi-
NASA missions. North American universities gree also runs impressively
selected by GM to compete deep. The computer-science
in its AutoDrive Challenge— department was an early
a three-year competition leader in machine learning.
to make a Chevy Bolt fully And the electrical and com-
autonomous. puter engineering program
The team, with roughly 40 is home to Steve Mann, who
members, is just starting up, has been developing aug-
but it builds on the school’s mented reality for 40 years.
past success in student-led
clubs. Toronto’s Human- ALSO GREAT
Powered Vehicles team
has broken multiple world University of Waterloo:
speed records, including One of the world’s largest
ship at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab, which hitting 88 miles per hour on co-op programs to give
later turned into a job. “ASU has a party its aeroshell-covered bike. students work experience.
school reputation and was originally my The group is now pursuing
backup,” he adds. “But the way faculty human-powered subma- University of Quebec,
rines. Why? “Mostly because École de Technologie
involved and engaged students showed
it’s difficult,” says aerospace Supérieure: Focuses on
me it was the right decision.” engineering major Evan practical work and
Also of note for future aerospace Bennewies. “We have lots of dominates student
engineers: The ASU CubeSat team has passionate students.” competitions.
launched two satellites, with a third in
the works to map urban heat islands.
Toronto’s Auto-
And SESE professor Phil Christensen, Drive autonomous
along with student researchers, is devel- vehicle team adjusts
a sensor on their
oping a thermal camera for NASA’s Chevrolet Bolt.
Europa Clipper mission to Jupiter’s
smallest Galilean moon.

ALSO GREAT

University of Texas, Austin: All-


around excellence amid Austin’s
tech and startup hotbed.

Texas A&M: Rooted in agriculture


and petroleum, but with an impres-
sive array of STEM majors.

Huntsville Southwest Rice, New Mexico Tech, Tulsa Canada McGill, British Columbia, Queen’s University

@PopularMechanics NOVEMBER _ 2017 69


Purdue has
500,000 square
feet dedicated
to STEM labs,
clinics, and Colorado
study spaces. School of Mines
Golden , Colorado

The Most
Eccentric
Engineering
School in
the West
DESPITE THE ANTIQUATED
name, School of Mines is
a standard STEM-focused
undergrad and graduate insti-
tution. But understand, it’s not
a normal engineering school.
Mines will offer the world’s
Purdue students test first space resources (asteroid
a piece of a rocket mining) program next fall and
engine that could has the nation’s only university-
travel to Mars.
sponsored recreational
explosives club. The latter was
formed by a mechanics engi-
neering student who sought
money to “play with things that
start on fire.” The club per-
forms fireworks displays and
P u r d u e Un i v e r s i t y We s t L a fa y e t t e , In d i a n a has simulated gunfire and shells
from helicopters and tanks.
The Biggest The mountainside school
attracts outdoorsy students
Playground for Makers with a passion for engineer-
ing, energy, and earth sciences.
This fall, the public university opened an honors college dorm with its own It’s a world leader in petro-
maker space, but the bigger jewel on campus is the new Bechtel Innovation leum engineering, but student
research in renewable energy
Design Center. The 32,000-square-foot buffet of workshops—auto bay, 3D
is also booming. One of Mines’
print lab, woodshop, metal shop—was opened so that any student can walk premier extracurriculars, the
in and build anything they have the imagination and energy for. Parents, Solar Decathlon team, strives
relax: The Bechtel staff assesses every student’s technical skill before their to build a net-zero-energy-
first project, and trains them on heavy equipment like the five-axis CNC, consumption house for the
MIG welder, water jet, and laser cutter. Department of Energy’s 2019
event. The group already built
Purdue’s resources, in addition to its reputation, are what drew electrical
a 220-square-foot proof-of-
engineering junior Jonathan Bayless to the school. “The strong extracur- concept tiny house to test
ricular programs have definitely been a highlight,” he says. Bayless is the theories and construction.
president of Purdue’s competition robotics team (ranked sixth in the world
last season), having joined his freshman year. “I found a really good balance ALSO GREAT
of opportunities to learn from the
ALSO GREAT older members and to build and University of Nevada, Reno:
lead the robots’ development.” From champion concrete
Rose-Hulman: Small, fiercely inno- One more fact we love: Pur- boats to earthquake labs,
vative school that actively opens due is also the most accessible it’s a playground for civil
hands-on experience to freshmen. engineers.
university in the nation for pro-
University of Illinois at Urbana- spective astronauts. Since the University of Utah: One of the
Champaign: A top STEM researcher dawn of NASA, 23 alumni have nation’s leading video-game-
built on multidisciplinary centers. visited space. design programs.

Midwest Wisconsin, Northwestern, Michigan, IIT, Notre Dame, Minnesota, Michigan Tech Rockies Colorado–

70 NOVEMBER _ 2017 P O P U L A R M E C H A N I C S.C O M


How to Get
the Job You
Want, Where
You Want,
Nine months out,
94% of Cal Poly

from the
grads are work-
ing, continuing
school, or involved
in another inten- People Who
tional pursuit.
Work There
Take Facebook University
Cal Poly’s QL+ made
a prosthesis for Levi after your freshman year,
Lawrence (left) that and apply as early as Octo-
let him ride a bike. ber or November of your
first semester. Sophomore
year take data systems
courses and apply for an
internship. After your junior
year, hopefully you’re looking
Ca lifor n ia Poly tech n ic at a full-time offer.
Sa n Lui s O b i s p o, Califo r n i a —Genevieve Grdina,
communications manager,
Facebook
The Best Campus to
A good school and good
Get Your Hands Dirty grades don’t differentiate
you. At Ford it’s important to
give back. We’re looking for
CAL POLY IS a school for doers cal engineering grad. For his
students engaged in their
and makers, says aerospace senior project, he worked
communities, like helping
engineering senior Will Sut- with QL+ to build a wheelchair
a nonprofit with a creative
ton. “You don’t just learn to be suspension for a Marine who
solution.
an engineer, you get to be one lost both legs in Afghanistan.
—Julie Lodge-Jarrett, chief
here.” Sutton leads PROVE The labs and resources
learning officer, Ford
Lab, a student group formed dedicated to PROVE Lab,
to build the world’s fastest PolySat, and QL+ aren’t
I look for candidates with a
non-battery solar car. It has unusual at Cal Poly. The
mindset for learning. Tech-
drawn support from companies almost-coastal school
nology is evolving so fast, it’s
including Honda and Lockheed (ten miles from the beach)
not important if they know a
Martin. “The standing record doesn’t offer doctorate
particular programming
is 56.5 miles per hour, and we programs, leaving the weight
language. I want to know
plan to obliterate it,” he adds. of research to be loaded onto
how they went about learn-
Cal Poly is also home to Poly- its eager undergrad popula-
ing it. They need curiosity
Sat, the student-run research tion. “I started research my
and passion that translates
lab that helped to develop the junior year that I don’t think
to their work.
CubeSat—a small, low-cost I could do at any other
—Joy Chik, Microsoft
satellite. Working with NASA, school,” says Darke.
the team has built and launched
GM needs people to help
eight satellites into space. ALSO GREAT solve mobility issues, not
Another favorite student
build cars. We look for aca-
group: Quality of Life Plus University of Washington: demic athletes, students who
(QL+). Working in the St. Jude– Leads in research spend- are strong team members
backed biomedical engineering ing, plus connections to and work across disciplines.
lab, students develop custom nearby Boeing, Amazon, Entrepreneurship programs
prostheses and mechani- and Microsoft. are one great example that
cal solutions for veterans and
signal these skills.
community members. “Seeing University of California, —Michael Arena,
this club when I toured was a Davis: Makes STEM more chief talent officer, GM
big reason I came here,” says accessible without sacri-
Jim Darke, a recent biomedi- ficing standards.

Boulder, Colorado State, Montana State Pacific Caltech, Harvey Mudd, Stanford, UC Berkeley, USC, Deep Springs.

@PopularMechanics NOVEMBER _ 2017 71


ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE
has been misunderstood for
as long as it has existed.
Herewith, the definitive
Popular Mechanics guide to
what A.I. is, what it isn’t,
who’s responsible—and how
you can get involved.
CALL TO ACTION I’ve been interested in A.I. since I was a kid. I focused
my Ph.D. on it. My first novel was a parable about the
THE POTENTIAL OF dangers of being fearful of it. For over 20 years, I’ve
ARTIFICIAL worked to help people understand it. ¶ The field of
INTELLIGENCE A.I., of using computers to perform complex tasks
as well as a human, is not new. People have been
By Astro Teller using deep learning with neural networks, a major
subfield of A.I., for 40 years. A car used it to drive
itself across the United States in 1995. But things
started to change in 2010 and 2011, when a new
set of academic papers identified the potential for
machine learning models to become much better
with scale: hundreds of times as many parame-
ters for the algorithms and thousands of times as
much data to train on. Computer systems working
on a massively increased scale could produce not
just quantitative growth, but a qualitative improve-
ment in what machine learning could accomplish.
¶ And they did. In 2012, a neural network running
on 16,000 computer processors taught itself to rec-
ognize cats by looking at millions of YouTube videos.
While it’s easy to laugh, this proved the academic
papers were on to something important. A.I. could
make everyday products more useful. ¶ In the years
since, A.I. has left in its wake this set of things that are changing the world, but that we no lon-
ger consider A.I. For example, systems that understand handwriting aren’t called A.I. It’s optical
character recognition. An app that uses A.I. to translate languages is just...translation. A.I. is a
powerful ingredient, not the end in itself. ¶ When you consider the ways A.I. meets or supersedes
human performance, it is a normal reaction to be anxious of the change that represents. As with
most new technologies, when people sit and think about what’s going to happen, they don’t make
lists of the good stuff. And we have to have compassion for that. We cannot ignore the challenges
presented by A.I. ¶ But we should also list the ways it will amplify and ennoble us. Take self-driving
cars. There would be fewer drivers, yes. But the ride might be safer and half the cost. That would
be life-changing for the millions who can’t get to jobs or the doctor because they can’t drive. Imag-
ine that problem solved by self-driving cars. ¶ No one would go back 90 years and say, “Down with
bulldozers!” and get out the shovels. Every time humanity has invented a new bulldozer, we’ve
been able to go bigger, deeper, faster. A.I. will do the same. It will be a lever to help human minds
solve problems the world faces.
ASTRO TELLER is the head of X, the division of Alphabet that builds delivery drones, self-driving cars, and internet balloons.

@PopularMechanics NOVEMBER _ 2017 73


01
W H E R E YO U ’ L L
A L R E A DY result for the massively popular
The Dark Knight Batman movie,

FIND A .I.
rather than the lesser known 2017
art film Dark Night.

The places artificial intelligence Self- Improvement


Acoustic and language models con-
is quietly improving your life. stantly adjust to how people use
them. That’s where A.I., specif-
ically machine learning, comes
in. “When you barge in on Alexa,”
Prasad says, referring to when
users have to rephrase or spec-
VOICE RECOGNITION ify a command or ask Alexa to
stop, “we know we must’ve done
something wrong. That’s a cue to
The Acoustic Model: you’ll see the transcription swap learn.” For example, if you say,
Sounds Into Data out words as you speak. That’s the “Play The Martian,” the device
Your voice is measured by frequency, software comparing the words it will consider whether you want
the wavelengths of sound at a thinks you’ve said to its stores of the audiobook or the Matt Damon
specific moment. When you example sentences, which inform movie. If the device needs to ask
speak to Alexa, the software how it understands syntax and which one to play, and the num-
breaks down your command vocabulary. “The language model ber of users requesting the movie
into 25-millisecond slivers, is trained on billions and bil- far outweighs the audiobook, the
then converts each wavelength lions of words of text,” says Rohit device might later default to play-
measurement into digestible Prasad, the head scientist behind ing the movie.
numbers. The software compares Amazon’s Alexa division. “The
those sonic signatures to its cata- web, catalogs, our assets, all of What’s Coming Next
log of sounds until its confidence that goes into the language model “Somebody who worked for one of these
scores are high enough that it that judges how likely one word is big companies told me that one of
can assume that you said, “Order to follow in a sequence.” His exam- the most fascinating things you
more dog food.” ple: “Play music by Sting” is far can do with all this data is to find
more likely than “Play Sting music out what people are asking about
The Language Model: by.” Also, the software consid- that the system doesn’t do,” says
Getting Meaning ers context to be more accurate. professor Alan Black of Carne-
Watch your phone screen while using Ask “Who is in the cast of Dark gie Mellon University’s Language
Siri or Google Assistant, and Knight?” and it will read the Technologies Institute. “When
the thing says, ‘I can’t do that,’
you find the words recognized,
and discover that it’s something
really interesting.” Responding
to unpredictable requests is part
of the goal for student research-
ers competing for the $2.5 million
Alexa Prize. The challenge: pro-
duce a chat bot that will converse
with a human—ask intelligent
follow-up questions, add new
information—for 20 minutes.
That’s not difficult for a cus-
tomer-service chat bot that’s
only concerned with khakis, but
in this situation, as with conver-
sations between humans, there
are digressions and spontane-
ity. A program capable of that will
mean a huge leap for A.I.

74 NOVEMBER _ 2017 P O P U L A R M E C H A N I C S.C O M


EVERYDAY LIFE A.I. MOVIE
CHARACTERS,
NO MORE FASTER LONGER
IN ORDER OF
SPAM NE TFLIX BAT TERY LIFE SCARINESS
Thanks to machine learn- Ever stream a movie over Your iPhone will analyze
ing and years of email bad Wi-Fi? The video gets app use and motion-sensor CAN BE KIND
data, Google says that pixelated as the app tries to data to predict what you’re OF MEAN
Gmail is now accurate to use less data and keep play- doing throughout the day.
99.9 percent when iden- ing. To prevent this, Netflix Say it needs to pull lots of
tifying (and quarantining) built software that identi- data for a software update.
spam or phishing emails. fies how visual a scene is, The phone will use that
The next application for then decides how to divvy data to figure out when
email is context-specific up bandwidth. So when you’re likely to be driving
automatic replies. Gmail you’re watching a climactic to work. So rather than
analyzes the message Marvel movie battle, Netflix tax your phone’s battery David,
you’ve received (“Meet on will use all available signal to search for cell towers to the kid Haley Joel
Tuesday or Wednesday?”) strength for the scene. pull all that data, iOS waits Osment plays
and automatically generates Family Guy reruns? It won’t until you’re likely asleep in the Spielberg
responses to choose from strain your LTE to show and the phone is plugged in movie A.I. (2001).
(“Let’s do Tuesday”). Stewie in 4K. and near decent Wi-Fi.

FACIAL RECOGNITION
Maschinenmensch,
the cunning
How It Was Developed female robot
Dr. Joseph Atick, a physicist and mathematician, in Metropolis
helped create the first facial-recognition sys- (1927). C-3PO
tems in the early 1990s. “Back then, we used was loosely based
statistical analysis to classify facial features on her.
as a set of patterns,” he says. “It’s all pattern
recognition. You detect faces by detecting the
coincidence of a set of local features—eyes,
nose, the edges of your mouth. The chances
of these things coming together are very
low.” Twenty-five years later, computers can
do this on their own through deep learning, Roy Batty,
a multilayered system of pattern-recogni- the replicant that
Harrison Ford
tion software. With the billions of pictures we
hunts in Blade
upload every day to Google, Runner (1982).
Snapchat, and Facebook,
those computers have an
endless supply of data.
Zooey Deschanel or
Katy Perry?

Gort,
the alien robot in
The Day the Earth
Stood Still (1951)
FAQ We’ve asked Google, Amazon, and Apple whether that vaporizes
their devices are listening before you turn them on with guns, tanks, and
a wake word. The answer is always no. That said, we’ve humans breaking
also asked an Air Force general if he has an Echo. Also, no. the peace.
IS ALEXA Conclusion? An internet-connected microphone is always
EAVESDROPPING? a risk for certain professions. For us civilians, using an Echo
isn’t much different from using a spam email filter. Software,
KILLER
ROBOTS!
not humans, is what’s primarily analyzing your speech.

@PopularMechanics NOVEMBER _ 2017 75


THE
How It Works 02 C O M PA N I E S
After analyzing a still or video
image, the computer con- A.I. IN LIFE DRIVING
verts it into a digital file, A.I.
called a face print. This
is a searchable measure Names you should
of the size of facial fea- FACEBOOK
Tag your friend David? know.
tures and the relationship
between them. The soft-
THE DMV
ware collects as many as 40 New license pictures auto-
data points, but they aren’t matically run through the THE SILICON
always used: “The more DMV database to check for POWERING IT ALL
distinguishing the face—a duplicates and aliases.
Jay Leno chin, a monstrous
nose,” Atick says, “the PHONES
No need for a fingerprint Partly by fate, partly by design, how
fewer features the com-
when you look into the cam- one company built the A.I. boom.
puter needs to identify it.” era to unlock your Samsung
If you grow a beard or get a hair- S8.
cut, the software adapts. o understand why Nvidia (en-vid-ee-
The computer knows hair AIRBNB uh) made so much money in the past
can change, so it blocks it You can confirm your iden- few years, we need one bit of jargon:
out. What’s truly impor- tity in the app by taking GPU. The graphics processing unit is
a selfie, which is checked
tant to identification is the a bit of silicon and transistors found in
against the driver’s license
center of your face: a trian- you scanned when you cre- every laptop and smartphone. Unlike the central
gle between your temples, ated your account. processing unit (CPU), which balances resources
down to a point just below to run browser tabs and email apps simultaneously,
your mouth. That is the DRIVING the GPU is focused, made for splitting up and pro-
essence of an ID. In late 2016, New York cessing masses of similar data quickly. It’s a deli
Atick compares these digital governor Andrew Cuomo slicer to the CPU’s Leatherman.
proposed installing cameras
representations to a city For years, GPUs like the kind Nvidia made were
that will capture faces at
map. “If I start telling you bridges and tunnels in New used for rendering pretty graphics, as in Call of
about landmarks—Grand York City and in Pennsyl-
Central Terminal, Union vania Station, the city’s
Square, the Statue of Lib- commuter train hub.
erty—and where they are
relative to each other, you’d MINNE APOLIS
realize I was talking about Delta is currently testing a
system that scans your face
New York, not London.” and compares it to your
There are other statues in passport photo to automate
the world, but they aren’t the bag-check process.
the same size as the Statue
of Liberty, or they’re far- GERMANY
ther from a church. We all A billboard playing a beer ad
have noses and eyebrows, only runs when it senses a
woman walking by.
but they’re not all identical,
nor is their location.

FAQ
The advice we hear from the people who build the A.I. we use on phones and smart speak-
HOW CAN I ers: Keep using it. Even when Alexa gets it wrong, repeat your question. Correct a mistagged
photo on Apple Photos. Flag a priority email. Your annotations feed back to the software on
MAKE A.I. Google’s and Amazon’s servers and help the systems improve for everyone. And if you haven’t
already, make your own user profiles for services like YouTube and Spotify. You’ll get better
BETTER? recommendations, and when you sit down to watch Gladiator for the fiftieth time, you won’t have
to scroll past Dora the Explorer episodes.

76 NOVEMBER _ 2017 P O P U L A R M E C H A N I C S.C O M


Graphic processing units
were originally designed
for computer graphics, but
the design is ideal for deep
learning and other A.I. FAQ

WHAT HAPPENED
TO WATSON?

Since the mid-2000s, Watson has


been the name for IBM’s artificial
intelligence system, most famous
for beating Jeopardy champ Ken
Jennings in 2011. In the years
since, IBM has built up partner-
ships with medical organizations
like Memorial Sloan-Kettering and
medical-test giant Quest Diagnos-
tic to develop software capable
of quickly and accurately diagnos-
“It’s not like they got blindsided by ing patients. But as one doctor we
spoke to who worked on Watson
it, but it just so happened that comput-
put it, “It’s way further behind
ing moved in their direction,” says Alex than I thought it would be.” Other
Duty or an Audi infotainment system. But Kolicich, a partner at 8VC, a venture- people we interviewed had similar
in the mid-2000s, researchers realized that capital firm where he specializes in A.I. suspicions of Watson’s relevance
the GPU’s design was useful for processes investments. “If you look over the last in the face of progress made at
like deep learning. Later, advances in train- year or year and a half, Nvidia’s stock places like Google and Facebook.
To its credit, IBM has access to
ing voice- and photo-recognition software has exploded for this exact reason.” Now,
loads of medical data that could
showed even more of a need for hardware Google and Apple are building their own turn into useful systems in medi-
that could quickly process a ton of unvary- GPUs, but Nvidia is far ahead. Pick almost cine. But we’re still waiting on
ing information, the same stuff used to anywhere that’s doing important work convincing evidence of Watson’s
make 3D graphics. So Nvidia started build- with A.I.—Facebook, Microsoft, Amazon, usefulness.
ing GPUs specifically for A.I. Tesla. Nvidia is the hardware running it.

video flowing through Facebook, Insta-


recognizes that the glossy rectangle is a gram, Twitter, traffic cameras, 911
THE phalanx of police with riot shields. Then, call centers, police radios, and weather
someone sets a car on fire. No one has reports.
ALL-KNOWING tweeted or Instagrammed that, but since A few years ago, Banjo software
A.I. Banjo suspects that something might be informed a local news station that an
happening here, it checks the feed from Amazon data center had caught fire. The
nearby traffic cams. The orange and red broadcast went out, and Amazon stock
Why Banjo’s Navy veteran slivers are real flames, Banjo’s image- fell slightly.
founder turns down acquisi- recognition system concludes, much But Banjo knew it first, which is why
bigger and more lethal than you’d see in this particular use of A.I. is of interest for
tion offers from the biggest
a video of a stovetop or a beach bonfire. any industry in which being first means
names in Silicon Valley. The software starts listening to police money. “Our biggest focus is the media
radio for codes—and so on as Banjo pulls industry and broadcasters,” Patton says.
he protest is escalating, more and more information until it can The company also just opened an office
so a witness starts a Face- confidently send a push notification to in Park City, Utah, dedicated to invest-
book Live video. It shows its subscriber: We have a riot. ments in futures.
a shouting mass standing “We call it multi-source detection,” Sounds ominous, but Banjo says it
in the middle of a major says CEO Damien Patton. “Using dif- strips users’ personal information from
street. Banjo’s software sees it, then ferent data sources to corroborate that social-media data. And Banjo does not
checks local news sites to see if there something is real and happening right work with any government or govern-
are any parades scheduled for today. now.” Banjo’s humble job: Take the same ment entities. Why? “We don’t want
No. This is unusual. One of the protest- type of image and voice recognition you’d this technology to be used for Minority
ers tweets a photo, geotagged to the find in Google Photos or an Amazon Report–type surveillance and monitor-
same neighborhood as the Facebook Echo, and apply it to the incomprehen- ing,” he says. “We’re an A.I. company.
Live video. Banjo analyzes the photo and sible volumes of text, audio, photos, and And A.I. can be used for good, or evil.”

@PopularMechanics NOVEMBER _ 2017 77


A .I. TERMS
03
YO U S H O U L D
U N D E R S TA N D
The subfields defining
modern technology are less
complicated than you think.

Machine all impressively inter-


Learning connected, neural nets
A WORD OF CAUTION Writing software used to usually work in layers.
mean that its human Each neuron considers
How rich tech guys like creator had to predict elements of the infor-
and outline all possi- mation it’s been given
Elon Musk (above) are protecting us
ble inputs, and each (ear shape, fur texture,
from artificial intelligence. respective output— whether there’s a tail),
if this happens, do and feeds its conclusions
f I were to guess at what our biggest that. Instead, machine to the next layer, and the
existential threat is,” the man said, learning software ana- next, until the software
referring to artificial intelligence, lyzes examples, or data comes up with a prob-
“it’s probably that.” He continued: sets, and infers how ability vector. That’s a
“We’re summoning the demon.” It’s to react to an unfore- fancy word for how con-
a quote you’d expect from a TV news guest or a science- seen input. Rather than fident the neural net is
fiction author. But that was Elon Musk, the guy running explicitly instructing that the photo is of a cat.
Tesla while testing rockets and planning Mars coloni- the software, “If you see
zation. He has A.I. hysteria, too? a photo with pointy ears,
So, in typical Musk fashion, he did something about fur, a tail, paws, identify Deep
it. He gave $10 million to the Future of Life Institute, it as a cat,” a machine Learning
where board members like Stephen Hawking and learning system looks A branch of machine learning
Morgan Freeman focus on ensuring that new artificial- at photos of cats. It and neural nets in which
intelligence systems are designed to benefit humanity, identifies the common neurons are replaced by
not narrow interests. Then, Musk, along with eight distinguishing features layers of even more neu-
other backers, put $1 billion into OpenAI. Its mission: (pointy ears, fur, tail), rons. Or, simply, really
to design A.I. that prioritizes humans, and ensure that uses those criteria to huge neural nets.
everyone has access to it. look at a photo that it has
“It’s not self-evident that you want to share the rec- never seen before, and
ipe for building these very powerful systems,” says Ilya concludes that, yes, that Convolutional
Sutskever, a cofounder of OpenAI and head of research. is a cat. Neural
At 31 years old, he’s also among the youngest of the A.I. Network
scientists responsible for the deep-learning break- A neural net that uses a spe-
throughs of the early 2010s. And, as with Musk, his Artificial cific mathematical
concerns would sound alarmist coming from anybody Neural Network process (convolution)
else. “We are focused on building A.I. that will be not A neural net is a way to orga- to analyze images. This
only capable, but act in our best interests.” Today, that nize machine learning math is particularly
means building software for tasks like identifying false software, so named good at accounting for
news stories. But the far future is on his mind. “There because the software’s imperfect source mate-
are disagreements among experts about the speed of nodes, or intersection rial—a photo of a cat
progress,” he says. “But we are talking about systems points of information, that’s partially obscured
that are going to be dramatically smarter than humans are arranged simi- by yarn, for example.
in every respect—better artists, better scientists. And larly to neurons in the This benefits apps like
when you have systems that are clever, creative, and human brain. Unlike Apple Notes (hand-
knowledgeable, they will have extreme power.” brain neurons, which are writing transcription),

78 NOVEMBER _ 2017 P O P U L A R M E C H A N I C S.C O M


H OW TO
Facebook (tagging via second network’s job is
04
B E A PA R T
facial recognition), or
Tesla Autopilot (iden-
to say whether the first
is showing it a cat, or
OF A . I .’ S
tifying a pedestrian in
a crosswalk). This is
something that just kind
of looks like a cat. The
FUTURE
all part of a larger field result: The generative
called computer vision. network gets better and
Here’s what
better at creating realis- you need.
tic cat images, while the
Generative discriminative network
Adversarial gets better at spotting
Building A.I. systems means
Networks counterfeits. This is use- learning to code. “Python is
(GANs) ful for medicine, or any the place to start,” says Alex
Typically, neural nets require situation in which there Teichman, CEO of A.I. startup
a set of labeled data—a is limited data (pho- Lighthouse—he also par-
photo of a cat that some- tos of cancer cells, etc.) ticipated in the 2007 DARPA
Challenge while getting his
one has classified as a available. It’s a con-
Ph.D. from Stanford. “It’s
cat photo. This is called cept that Yann LeCun,
LE ARN A super easy to get into and
supervised learning, head of Facebook’s A.I.
and it requires human Research, says is “the
L ANGUAGE it’s concise.” Download the
Python app from Python.org.
input and lots of data. most interesting idea If you’ve already got Python
GANs reduce the need in the last ten years in down, it’s on to C++, which
for both by pitting two machine learning.” gives better control over
large amounts of information,
competing networks essential when working with
against each other in a large data sets. Ideally, you’ll
battle of wits. One net- learn the basics of both.
work generates images
of cats that it shows to
another network. That Sebastian Thrun’s A.I.
research is a big part of
why the term “self-driving
GO TO car” exists. But he’s also the
cofounder of an online educa-
CL ASS tion company called Udacity
that has (often free) video les-
sons on machine learning or
the aforementioned Python.
FAQ
TensorFlow is free machine
WHY ALL learning software made by
Google. With a few lines of
THE CATS? code and some example data
(handwriting samples, cat pic-
tures), TensorFlow will do all
the hard work. You’ll end up
In 2012, a team led by Stanford professor Andrew Ng
with an app that can recog-
built a deep-learning system that analyzed 10 million
YouTube video stills and, without any human input, cre-
GE T THE nize handwriting or identify
ated a correct understanding of a cat. The experiment SOF T WARE cats in photos. “Everybody
uses TensorFlow,” says Alex
was a big success partly because cats are an espe-
Kolicich, the venture capital-
cially difficult subject for computers to identify—they
ist specializing in A.I.—he also
deform into different shapes, and have nuanced traits
helped build Google Street
like fur patterns. Which is why, if you ask a computer
View. “If you can code,” Kolic-
scientist to explain A.I., there’s a good chance he’ll
ich says, “you can learn it in a
bring up cats.
week or two.”

@PopularMechanics NOVEMBER _ 2017 79


A great tool does more than cut or tighten.
It endures. Take this Roper Whitney punch. In 104 years we haven’t
found a better way to put a hole in metal by hand.
Like all the tools here, it’s stunning in both form and utility.
You’ll want to display it as much as you use it—which will be a lot.
These are all modern heirlooms waiting to be passed down.
But only after you exhaust their possibilities.

PAGE
BY R OY PHOTOGR A PHS BY
BERENDSOHN 80 STEPHEN LEWIS

I L L UST R A TIO NS BY
DAV I D S PA R S H O T T
Roper Whitney No. 5 JR Kit
Hand Punch

Cast iron, tool steel,


carbon steel
Invented in 1913
(SEE PAGE 86)
Transform Wood Like a Professional
You can make anything with a router and a pile along a template with a top-bearing straight bit.
of wood. We didn’t go that far with our technique We love the Bosch’s beechwood knob handles.
primer below, but you can see how a woodshop But more impressive is the whopper of a 2 ¼-hp
workhorse like Bosch’s 1617EVS router ($220) can motor that allows you to control its speed with the
contribute to a classic project like a blanket chest. turn of a red thumbwheel. The Bosch doesn’t roar.
It can cut the dovetails for the drawer or even the With a sharp carbide bit, that big motor just purrs
case sides. It can cut the groove for the drawer bot- as the router leaves a gleaming, crisply shaped edge
tom. And it can shape an attractive ogee on the top. in its wake. It’s a wonderful thing to behold, and
For the ultimate in woodworking precision, you can as power tools go, it’s a classic that makes every
rout each bracket foot to exact shape by running amateur look good.

A
T E C H N IQU E S
FOUR WAYS TO ROUT B D

A Straight Groove B Dovetail Joint


Grooves appear Dovetailing with
everywhere in a router requires
woodworking. For two things: a dove-
example, use one to tail template and a
seat a drawer bot- corresponding bit.
tom in drawer sides, You perform two
front and back. To operations with
make a groove with the template. With
a router, use a fence one you cut the
accessory. Set the dovetail and the
fence the required other you cut the
distance from the pins. Push the two
bit and set the bit’s parts together with
depth. Not much wood glue between
more to it than that. them and you have
a nearly unbreak-
able joint.

C Routered Edge D Template Cut


A router can cut any The fastest way
decorative edge on to make exact
a workpiece, from duplicates of a
a simple rounded part, such as four
corner to a series bracket feet for a
of curves in a single blanket chest, is
pass with a Roman to use a pattern
ogee bit. These and a top-bearing
shaping operations straight bit. The
may be guided by bearing rolls along
a ball-bearing bit the pattern as the
or a bit minus the straight bit carves
bearing. With either the wood.
method, take a test
run on scrap before
working on the
actual piece.

82 NOVEMBER _ 2017 P O P U L A R M E C H A N I C S.C O M


Bosch 1617EVS Router

Aluminum, wood, and


glass-filled nylon
Invented in 2001
Kalamazoo Industries S4 Belt Sander

Steel, cast-iron, single-phase motor


Invented in 1963
Shape Any Material
Machines like the S4 belt sander by Kalamazoo Industries ($620) restore any lost faith in Ameri-
can shop machinery. This isn’t an impostor that brags about what it’s not. No, this is the real deal,
every bit as at home in a foundry or a fab shop as in your basement or garage. Its Baldor ½-hp motor
spins a 4-inch-wide, 36-inch-long belt at 3,450 rpm. In doing so, it makes wood, metal, and plastic
vanish before your eyes. It’s both amazing that way and scary at the same time.
Sand a guitar neck, grind a knife to shape, or do any of the myriad metal fabrication jobs such
as square up tubing to build a smoker, a trailer, or a log splitter; bevel the end of a pipe to make a
welder’s sawhorse; or round the corners on a wrought-iron handle bracket. Use the sander with
the belt turned vertically or horizontally. In either position, the 46-pound machine will do a day’s
work and will wear you out long before you wear it out.

T E C H N IQU E S
THREE USEFUL ME TAL GRINDS

Bevel and Deburr Square an End Round Flat Corners


Pipes are common building materials It’s important to put a square, burr-free Rounded corners not only look nicer
because of their high strength-to-weight end on a piece of square tubing prior than square ones, they’re safer
ratio. To use them effectively, fabrica- to using the material for a trailer frame because a sharp corner is removed
tors typically bevel and deburr the ends or the stand for a smoker. Ideally, you and stronger because a radiused edge
after they are cut to length. This is simple want to cut the tube square, but if you better dissipates structural stresses.
on the S4. Lay the pipe at an angle to the haven’t, simply square up the tube on a Round corners by simply pivoting the
belt and spin it into the rotating belt. belt sander by pushing it into the belt. piece left and right into the belt.

@PopularMechanics NOVEMBER _ 2017 85


(FROM PAGE 81)
Punch Perfect Metal Holes
A funny thing happens when you use a Roper Whit- The American-made tool is a cast-iron beauty with
ney hand punch ($83). One click of its mighty handle hardened steel die parts in 3/32, 1/8, 5/32, 3/16, 7/32, ¼, and
and suddenly you feel like a metal craftsman, as you 9/32 inch sizes. It can reach up to 1 ¾ inches in from
deliver an astonishing 1.2 tons of punching force with the edge of the work and, thanks to the adjustable
its die. The result is a flawlessly round hole without stop, you’re assured of uniform spacing from the
a trace of distortion or even the slightest hint of a edge at every hole. If you’ve ever wondered how hot
burr around its edge. Use this tool once, and you’re rodders, aircraft mechanics, and sheet-metal magi-
hooked. You find yourself walking around the house cians get that perfect line of rivet, bolt, and screw
and shop looking for metal that could be improved holes perfectly aligned along the edge of a control
with a few holes in it. panel, this is the tool that does it.

T E C H N IQU E S
HOW TO TRIM A TREE

Wind blowing over cross-


Trees often develop ing branches will cause
a codominant stem the two branches to rub
that competes with together, damaging their
the main one. If the bark. Prune away one or
errant stem isn’t both crossing branches.
removed, the tree
will have a weakened
multi-forked trunk.

Prune With
Surgical
Precision

The Felco F-2 pruner proves the old saying


Remove upward- and that only cheap tools are expensive. After
downward-pointing many years of use and much sharpening, it’s
branches that emerge still my workhorse pruner. Every part of it
from an otherwise can be replaced. But unless you’re a master
healthy lateral branch. gardener, you’re unlikely to wear anything out.
These oddly angled Cost analysis aside, the Felco pruner
branches are trouble Trim a broken
($48) is a joy to use. The deadly sharp edge
for the lateral branch, branch as soon as
makes short work of creating a swag for
liable to weaken, not possible to produce
your front door or, more importantly, prun-
strengthen it. a clean stub and to
ing cuts. I’ve noticed that when properly
reduce the chance
sharpened, a Felco cut heals very quickly.
of fungal infection
Suckers, small perpen- A clean cut increases plant health. And I’ve
entering through a
dicular branch-like shoots done enough surgery on my plants, and on
ragged break.
that come out of the tree’s those of my neighbors, to know.
trunk, make it look unat-
tractive and are prone to
breaking. Prune them
close to the trunk.

86 NOVEMBER _ 2017 P O P U L A R M E C H A N I C S.C O M


Felco F-2 Pruner

Tool steel, spring steel,


forged aluminum
Invented in 1948
Milwaukee Super Sawzall 6538-21 Reciprocating Saw

15-amp motor, glass-filled nylon housing,


hardened-steel counterweighted drive
Invented in 1991
We were almost ready to cut the fram-

Cut Everything ing members for each window. Before we


did that, however, we nailed down a long
piece of 2 x 4 to the barn floor to form a
sill. This would provide a consistent hor-
izontal surface. And since it was new,
clean lumber, it would allow us to mark
The Super Sawzall is imaginatively like a locomotive’s drive rod powering the location of the window-framing
named, but it’s fitting. With the excep- its wheels. Since its inception in 1951
members on it. Later on, the sill can be
tion of concrete, it can saw all common (the Super came in ’91), the saw has
building materials: lumber, lumber empowered carpenters, plumbers, and used to continue framing.
studded with nails and screws, sheet electricians to do the heavy cutting Now we had three things working in
metal, steel bar and rod. And it cuts demanded in demolition and repair our favor. We had an accurate horizontal
nasty stuff, too: tree roots, clay chim- work. And it’s just as useful outside reference line, we had a consistent sill,
ney tile, and crud-filled pipes—steel the construction world, whether it’s and we had consistently sized and accu-
and cast iron. in the hands of an auto-parts salvager
rately built barn sashes. In theory, those
Milwaukee Electric Tool’s iconic or a fire department. The saw was an
Super Sawzall ($150) was the first instant success and launched a product elements should be enough to make a
commercially successful portable saw category that—having tested it against neat installation.
that cut with a reciprocating motion, all comers—I can say it still leads. But here’s where things get tricky.
Yes, we had done everything we could to
impose accuracy on our barn, but this
job was still a long way from modern car-
pentry where you cut multiple pieces to
the same length and assemble the parts.
1. This is a barn we’re talking about. It’s
difficult enough to do this sort of remod-
P R OJ E CT
Frame it up. eling on a house of that era. But a barn?
The only way would be to measure and
TWO WAYS
BY RICHARD ROMANSKI
cut each window-frame piece individu-

T
ally. Then you try it in the space. If it fits,
TO INSTALL his was the first improvement of any great. If the part doesn’t fit because it’s

A BARN SASH
kind since the barn was built. We knew too tight, you cut it again. When it fits,
that, down the road, the owner might you plumb or level the piece and nail or
want to go beyond the windows—have screw it in place.
an inside wall or board to hang woodworking or Our next step was to take a 6-foot
Our 19th-century metalworking tools. So we said, okay, let’s frame level and drop a vertical plumb line
barn needed sash the windows like a conventional house, with 2 x 4s. down from the horizontal reference to
Then later, they can continue the framing to add mark the location of the vertical fram-
windows. Our insulation and walls. We just needed a reference ing. We cut and fit the vertical members
two experts had point to start. of the rough opening, then we cut the
At an interior midpoint, we placed a laser-line horizontal members to fit between
very different level that projected along the existing interior face them. Finally, we cut three cripple studs
philosophies. of the barn, and made a record with a chalk line. That to fit below the lowest horizontal mem-
was an important tool, because over that great dis- ber of the frame. It wasn’t standard
tance—the 24-foot width of that wall—it would’ve load-bearing framing technique, but
been difficult with a smaller level to set a line. we did arrive at a neat, square, and
This barn has gone through winters, it has gone plumb frame.
through hurricanes, and it has survived. It’s very Once that frame was set in place, we
charming and looks great, but what we found was carefully took out a 6- to 8-inch-long half-
that the horizontal beam above where the windows inch twist drill, and placed it against the
would go had sagged at the midpoint. That lowest framing members on their inside cor-
point of the beam indicated to us where we would ners where the opening would go. We
be able to have a headline: the top of a rough open- then employed a Sawzall, and that little
ing for each of these windows. hole on the upper-left-hand side was our
In theory, the windows would be equally spaced lead. If you hold it properly—not wiggling
from the corners of the roof. So we transferred the it back and forth like a handsaw—and
dimensions for that along that laser line, and we keep that blade along the edge of that
were in good shape: We had a line at the top that rep- 2 x 4, gravity’s going to help and you’ll
resented the highest part of the window. be all the way down before you know it.

90 NOVEMBER _ 2017 P O P U L A R M E C H A N I C S.C O M


Frame it up. Stick it in.
The simplest method of
installing a barn sash (near
left) is to screw it to the
barn’s siding. If that’s not
possible, as when the siding
itself is weak and weath-
ered, build a frame for the
window out of 2 x 4 lumber
(far left). In both cases, the
Sawzall cuts a neat opening.

datum from which everything was refer-


enced. It’s very direct. There’s no math
involved, there’s no calculation, there’s
no theoretical whatever. Got a level line?
That’s all you need.
To put my first window in, I had to
extend the laser line through a parti-
Then we went to the right-hand side and was in there, right on top of each other. Tearing tion that stuck out from the wall and
did the same thing; then a flush cut again that stuff out so that we could get at the barn sid- blocked the beam. I did this with a string
across the bottom; and on the ladder, ing? It was miserable. line. First, I drilled a little hole in the
very carefully, the same thing at the top. There was no plumb line, level surface, or square partition. Then I tacked a nail next to
Then we cleaned up the corners, and corner in that barn. Once a structure becomes that it in the siding and stretched the line
now you can poke your head out. It’s compromised, once the discrepancies are as large through the hole and over to where my
taken 170 years, but somebody’s con- as what we found here, we had to establish a true window would go. I made a level line
nected the outside world to the inside. horizontal reference. We took a laser level and shot from that, marked two side lines and
This next part was a two-person a beam along a wall to give us a datum—which is the bottom of what would be the rough
operation. As soon as I got to the top of good whether you install 2 x 4 framing around the opening. Then we used that rectangle to
that ladder outside, I had the window window or not. saw through the siding. Using a circular
rest on that nice level sill. Then I just My point was, we should involve the barn as little saw and a Super Sawzall, you can make
pushed and it fit right in, no more than as possible. At this stage, all we want is light and air a clean, precise hole, and then the barn
about a ¼-inch gap in that opening. provided by the windows, and it has to look aesthet- sash just fits in.
And then it was a matter of Roy hold- ically neat. Someday, there’s going to be insulation You simply insert the window into
ing the inside of the window as I applied and other things going on inside the barn. But we’re its hole, and the window’s casing forms
screws through the casing, that 1-inch still a long way from that point. Just installing the a flange that rests against the siding.
old siding, and finally into those verti- barn sash through the siding doesn’t affect what With one guy holding the window from
cal framing members. you’re going to do later on; that’s neutral. the outside, I leveled the window and
Go back inside, take the lighting With a classically framed barn like this, you made it plumb from the inside using
down, open it up, call it a day. We’re done. have gigantic posts and these beams. Unless you cedar shingles as shims. That’s the chal-
cut into them—which we did not do—you’re not lenge: to get this square or rectangular
interrupting the load path, you’re just punching thing into this hole and have it operate

2. a hole. The framing doesn’t do anything for you,


really, and it becomes so labor-intensive to do a neat
properly. Then the guy on the outside
drives trim-head screws through the
Stick it in. job in this out-of-control structure that you’re bet-
ter off simply cutting a hole in the barn siding, and
casing into the barn siding.
That one was so fast, it only took
BY ROY B E R E N D SO H N
just attaching the window, which is what I ended up an hour to install. Richard’s framed
doing on the two windows I installed. It simplifies three were an all-day affair, on and off,

W
matters: You mark a level line, that’s your datum, for three guys. They’re all nicely done,
hen we came in, and you just make a rectangular hole. certainly I have no regrets, but both
there was all kinds Even when you build a modern house, you can methods are viable. You don’t have to
of lumber and scrap be only so precise with construction lumber. So you be a master craftsman to get this right.
wood—back in the make what they call a “rough opening”—comfort- It’s a nice old barn. I’m kind of blasé
day, someone had nailed up some fruit ably larger than the door or window you’re going about its structural qualities, but it’s
and vegetable crates, plus sheet metal, to insert in it, because no matter how careful you stood all this time with no input from
and covered the wall with tar paper. are, there’s going to be some discrepancy. So Rich- Roy Berendsohn and I don’t expect that
Every kind of nail you could imagine ard’s laser line on the back wall of the barn was the will change, thank you very much.

@PopularMechanics NOVEMBER _ 2017 91


E A S Y W AY S
TO DO
HARD THINGS

Your iPhone Has


a Sleep Timer
If you like falling asleep to music or podcasts
but don’t want to drain your iPhone battery,
open the Clock app and set a timer for the
amount of time until you drift off. Then tap
“When Timer Ends” to go to the menu for
selecting the alarm tone and tap “Stop Playing”
at the bottom of the list. Instead of playing a
sound, the alarm turns off your audio.

DUCT-TAPE PULL TAB

A Patio Table Immune


to Blustery Days
After losing three glass-and-plastic patio tabletops to storms—
and having to pick glass shards out of his pool—reader Ray Williams
Instead of keeping rolls of duct tape
of Simonton, Texas, devised a better outdoor surface. He got a sheet of with the end folded over, contribut-
vinyl lattice and cut it to the shape of his tabletop. Then he used cable ing editor Richard Romanski attaches a
ties to secure it to the frame (and scrap aluminum angle strips for rein- wood chip. It’s a pull tab. When he uses
forcement, where necessary). The holes in the lattice make it hard for the tape, he removes the chip, avoiding
wind to pick the tabletop up, and with the cable ties, it isn’t sitting unse- the waste of a fold-over.
cured atop the frame the way the glass-and-plastic surfaces were.

Sandpaper: A Guide to Grades


The number on sandpaper, indicating coarseness and what it’s used for, may or may not be preceded by a P. That’s because there are two
grading scales—CAMI, traditional in the U.S., and FEPA, typically European. Sometimes they’re the same. Not always. This chart sorts it out.
I L LU S T R AT I O N BY M O R N I N G B R E AT H

COARSE MEDIUM FINE

CAMI 36 60 80 100 120 180 220 240 320 360 400

FEPA P36 P60 P80 P100 P120 P180 P220 P280 P400 P600 P800
Strip- Paint General; Final sand- Leveling
ping away stripping/ leveling ing before paint
heavy level- wood filler; painting; or clear
finishes; ing; rust easing cor- deglossing finishes
floor removal ners; first a varnished between
sanding pass on surface coats
raw wood

92 NOVEMBER _ 2017 P O P U L A R M E C H A N I C S.C O M


AMERICAN FIELD
THE NATIONS LEADING
MARKETPLACE FOR EMERGING
AND INNOVATIVE BRANDS AND
THE PEOPLE BEHIND THEM

OUR 2017 MARKETS

Boston
Sept 16 & 17

D.C.
Sept 30 & Oct 1

Don’t waste valuable time when you’re working in the dark.


Brooklyn LIQUID WRENCH® Pro Penetrant and Lubricant powered by
FlashSight™ Technology breaks through the toughest rust,
Nov 11 & 12
grease and corrosion by combining the utility of a built-in
LED light with the power of a fast-acting, pro-grade formula.
Now rust has nowhere to hide.

LIQUIDWRENCH.COM
A MERICANFIELD.US
CORDLESS Although they don’t have the power of a gas saw, cordless
electric chainsaws are lighter, quieter, and simple to start. Plus:
ELECTRIC no fumes! Perfect for pruning, yard cleanup, and light cutting.

CHAINSAWS BY RICHARD ROMANSKI

Stihl MSA 200


C-BQ
WEIGHT
10.25 lb
MOTOR: 36 volts
BATTERY: 6 amp-hours
BAR: 12 inches
LIKES: The Stihl provides impec-
cable cutting performance in line
with the company’s gas chainsaws.
Its bar-oil reservoir spans the saw’s
front so you can check oil level at
a glance, and you access it with an
easy-to-use quarter-turn cap. The
chain sprocket cover and chain
tightness-adjustment wheel are
tool-free and simple to use.
DISLIKES: None.
$570

OUR TEST
• Dozens of pruning cuts on soft-
wood trees
• Test discs and firewood-size pieces
cut from oak and ash
up to 18 inches in diameter

94 NOVEMBER _ 2017 P O P U L A R M E C H A N I C S.C O M


Five-Word
DeWalt DCCS670X1 EGO CS1604 Reviews
WEIGHT WEIGHT
11.25 lb 12.5 lb
MOTOR: 60 volts MOTOR: 56 volts
BATTERY: 6 amp-hours BATTERY: 5 amp-hours Echo CCS-
BAR: 16 inches BAR: 16 inches 58V4AH
LIKES: Formidable and fast-cutting. LIKES: Impressively quiet, with a large $300
The chain-tightening system and dial to tighten the chain. It zoomed
sprocket cover removal are both through our ash log in 20 seconds and Smooth. No
tool-free and well-designed, as is the it comes with a five-year warranty. vibration. But
access to the bar-oil filler neck. DISLIKES: The filler neck for bar oil heavy.
DISLIKES: The top of the wrap- is narrow and easy to overfill. The cap
around handle needs a bit more of an isn’t tethered to keep it from getting
angle to reduce wrist fatigue. lost or rolling around in the dirt.
$350 $300 Oregon
MAX CS300
$364
Makita XCU03Z Husqvarna 120i
WEIGHT WEIGHT
10.25 lb 10 lb Kinda slow.
Impressive
MOTOR: 36 volts MOTOR: 36.5 volts self-sharpening
BATTERY: 5 amp-hours BATTERY: 4 amp-hours feature.
BAR: 14 inches BAR: 14 inches
LIKES: Clever features such as a large LIKES: Lightweight and easy to
P H OTO G R A P H S BY H E N R Y H U N G

and easily accessible recessed screw handle. This is the only saw we tested
on the bottom of the saw that adjusts that is equipped with a low-speed fea-
bar-oil output. The Makita cuts without ture that conserves power on small GreenWorks
vibration, and has a convenient flip-up branches. When you’re ready for big- Pro GCS80420
handle that removes the chain sprocket ger cuts, flip it back to normal mode. $349
cover and the chain-tensioning dial. Its light weight makes it easy to handle.
DISLIKES: Not particularly fast. It took DISLIKES: Although the saw cuts at Balanced,
23 seconds to saw through an 11-inch a consistent rate, it is slower than the good for the
ash log. others. inexperienced.
$390 $300

@PopularMechanics NOVEMBER _ 2017 95


OU R
BU I LD E R :
Seven-year-
old Theodore
Hoffman, from
Pennsylvania.
DIRECTIONS

KID PARENT PARENT


AND KID

Crosscut the piece


1
of ¼-inch wood to
produce a 3-inch by 1-inch
wooden base. Mark the
curved sides with a pencil,
and use a coping saw or
jigsaw to cut the curves.

Use a 3⁄32-inch twist drill


2
bit to make the two holes
spaced about ½ inch apart
near the top of the base.

Center the battery pack


3
approximately ¼ inch
up from the base’s bottom
edge. Use a hot-glue gun to
attach the battery pack to
the base.

Cut the wires com-


4
ing from the battery
pack to 1 inch long and strip
¼ inch of insulation from the
ends. Cut two 12-inch pieces
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What’s the likelihood that a national


U.S. election could be hacked?

he electronic voting machine, now used to some and insecurities in internet voting, it’s not something we should
degree in all 50 states, is the functional equiva- even begin to consider in the next ten years,” says Princeton Uni-
lent of an unoccupied Lamborghini left running versity professor of computer science Andrew Appel. Consider
at midnight in the Bronx. With vanity plates that that in one infamous test of an online absentee voting system, a
say STEALME. This summer, hobbyist hackers team from the University of Michigan was able to get the cartoon
with no specialized expertise who attended a convention called robot Bender from Futurama elected to the Washington, D.C.,
Defcon were able to compromise four different voting machines, school board, which, to be fair, might have been an improvement.
one in less than 30 minutes. “Unfor- Every expert we interviewed
tunately, they were much easier than, stressed that electronic vote-tallying
say, a home router or mobile device,” systems need a low-tech backup—
says Defcon organizer Jeff Moss. such as a paper ballot that’s optically
Voting machines often run on scanned by the voting machine.
antiquated operating systems with While a machine counts the votes, the
known vulnerabilities (think Win- paper ballots are retained and may be
dows 2000), and are not typically used to audit the results. “Physical
updated with the latest or even basic fail-safes are what you want,” says J.
security patches and precautions, Alex Halderman, director of the Cen-
says Lawrence Norden, deputy direc- ter for Computer Security and Society
tor of the Democracy Program at at the University of Michigan (and the
New York University School of Law. man who led the test assault on D.C.’s
Experts gave examples of all sorts of online ballot system). “You want the
possible mischief: reprogramming brakes in your car to work even if the
the machines’ firmware, insert- computer goes haywire. It’s common
ing malicious code, swapping out sense. When you can avoid having to
memory cards, thereby producing completely trust computer systems to
virtually any result. Even voting behave correctly, you should.”
machines not connected to the inter- Fortunately, approximately 70
net are vulnerable, as each election requires that machines be percent of votes cast in 2016 were associated with some form
programmed with the ballot. Hack the software that records of paper ballot that could be checked, Halderman says. Less
votes, and you’ve hacked every machine. The list goes on, and fortunately, only a few states assiduously audit their electronic
becomes littered with terms like “deep ROM dumps” and “shell results, and ten states use so-called direct-recording voting
injection vulnerability,” neither of which sounds like something machines—which are essentially just touch screens, with no
Thomas Jefferson would have looked upon favorably. paper component and therefore no means to validate results
Online voting is hardly a fix. “There are so many problems independently. We’d vote to change that. The sooner the better.

Do you have unusual questions about how things work and why stuff happens? This is the place to ask them.
Don’t be afraid. Nobody will laugh at you here. Email greatunknowns@popularmechanics.com.

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