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Popular Mechanics


12 hour 59 minute

The Moon's Most Mysterious Feature Now Has an Origin Story

Lunar swirls are beautiful optical anomalies on the surface of the moon that occur without any defined shape and exist in various sizes. These peculiar delights have puzzled scientists who tried to figure out their exact origin story. Scientists at Rutgers and University of California Berkeley have now investigated the origin of these anomalies and come back with new insight into the history of the moon. The most famous lunar swirl is Reiner Gamma. Around 40 miles long and visible through most telescopes on a clear night, it's a popular spot for backyard astronomers. This is an image of the...
13 hour 5 minute

Hurricane Blackout: How to Survive When the Power Goes Out

A Category 4 hurricane brings with it some serious anger. As Hurricane Florence approaches the Carolinas and Virginia, there is a good chance that its wave of destruction could knock out the power in large areas of the South. When the power goes out after a huge storm or natural disaster, you should be prepared to live without power for at least a day or two, and possibly a few weeks. But you don't want to spend all that time sweating it out in candlelight, so take a look at our blackout survival guide. Have a Flashlight: If you haven't...
14 hour 23 minute

This Robot Helped Uncover the Flying Secrets of Fruit Flies

Robot research has been looking to the animal kingdom for inspiration—and a new bio-mimicking robot tackles one of nature's most irritating pests to prevent their real life counterparts from pestering plants. In research published today in Science, a new fruit fly-inspired bot, called the DelFly Nimble, tested the capabilities of robots flying without tails as rudders. In the process, they discovered how fruit flies and other similar insects can stay aloft without a rudder-like tail. "The robot is inspired by flying insects, such as fruit flies, in the way it is controlled," says Matěj Karásek of the Delft University of...

15 hour 49 minute

Here's Why Race Cars Have Roll Cages

In case you were wondering why modern race cars are required to have such overbuilt roll cages, this video is a good reminder. It's footage of a brutal rally crash that leaves an Opel Astra completely destroyed—save for the section protected by the cage. This wreck happened on the second stage of the Multia Rally last weekend in Finland. Driver Kari Kallio and co-driver Markus Oksanen came into a downhill right-hander when their Opel Astra hatchback oversteered mid-corner. Kallio overcorrected, and couldn't stop from getting sucked into the ditch on the outside. The car rolled multiple times before finally coming...

First Man: Here's What We Know About the Neil Armstrong Biopic

On July 20, 1969, one man stunned the world as he walked on the surface of the moon. Nearly 50 years later, the legendary story of Neil Armstrong is finally getting the Hollywood treatment. The new space-based biopic, directed by La La Land's Damien Chazelle, is based on the biography First Man: The Life of Neil A. Armstrong by James R. Hansen. Amazon First Man: The Life of Neil A. Armstrong amazon.com $12.10 Buy Now The film premieres in theaters October 12.What's It About? As the latest trailer (above) suggests, First Man cinematically fits snuggly between Philip Kaufmann's The Right...

This Dad Rigged a Video Game To Be Powered by a Rowing Machine

CAD designer Jeremy Fielding builds things from scavenged materials including vacuums and treadmills and posts about them on his YouTube channel. The idea for this project—a video-game system rigged to draw its power from a rower—came after Fielding noticed his kids playing on their Nintendo Wii for several hours at a time. Here are the components he used. Rowing MachineI removed the impeller and used a generator to replace that resistance, then used a grinder and cut-off wheel to cut a section from the mesh guard so the drive belt could fit through, and then fitted a pulley to the...

Camera Tricks: How the Dazzling iPhone XS and XR Photos Features Work

With today unveiling of the iPhones XS, XS Max, and iPhone XR, Apple took aim at having the best camera on a smartphone. And all this new technology is exemplary of a greater trend: better photos through software.Depth Control Apple Yesterday, Apple’s Phil Schiller showed off two new key photo features. One is called Depth Control, which can blur or sharpen the background on an existing photo that was taken in Portrait Mode. An audience member let out an audible “No!” during the demo, as in, No way, is that what I think it is? It was, and the demo...

The Air Force Will Treat Computer Coding Like a Foreign Language

Capt. Mike Kanaan woke up at 3 A.M. with an idea. The 29-year-old U.S. Air Force intelligence officer had been mulling a familiar challenge, the problem of finding coders and computer-savvy airmen, who are in high demand and short supply all across the Pentagon. His wee-hour solution: Treat computer coding skills like the service does any other mission-critical foreign language. The Air Force prides itself on its global reach, and so the service fosters and rewards foreign language skills. The Air Force measures linguistic aptitude with tests to determine an airmen's existing fluency, or his or her capacity to learn...

Maybe NASA's Next Space Station Doesn't Need the Astronauts

NASA is no stranger to see people bash its plans for human spaceflight. The latest target: the Lunar Orbital Platform-Gateway, a new space station to succeed the ISS. The Trump administration has said this new station could be in place as early as 2024, and is expected to ask industry for power and propulsion ideas soon. NASA says the gateway will enable exploration of the solar system, but critics call it a colossal waste of money and effort. But what if there were a way to salvage the idea—and it involved forgetting about the astronauts?The Lunar Gateway Explained Digital recreation...

Watch an 11,000-HP Dragster Engine Get Rebuilt In Seven Minutes

Rebuilding a drag racing engine is no small feat. These engines are complex, hugely powerful, and need to be rebuilt often. But what does it take to rebuild one, you ask? Well, here's a seven-minute time lapse of a complete teardown and rebuild of an 11,000-HP supercharged top-fuel dragster engine.Typical street-car engines can run for hundreds of thousands of miles, but top-fuel dragster motors need rebuilds after every quarter-mile run. That might seem ridiculous, but the seals only last one full-throttle pull, and the spark plugs disintegrate during the run. According to Hagerty, most teams can completely disassemble then reassemble...

My 72 Hours With the Tesla Model 3 Performance Edition

A few weeks ago, when I went on local TV to chauffeur a news anchor who didn’t have a license and explain why the Tesla Model 3 won our magazine’s Car of the Year award, I screwed up in two ways.First, I failed to say “Popular Mechanics” on air, which I’m told I should do whenever possible. Second, I talked about the car like a car salesman on his first day. Without much criticism I rattled off all the stuff it could do, the way its price would influence the electric vehicle market, and how it made me a better...

Casio's G-Shock Gets Bluetooth and a New Look

Counting steps in metabolic equivalent levels now comes without your usual price shock with Casio’s new G-Shock GBD800 trainer watch.Releasing this October for just $100, the new watch is part of the company’s Men’s Power Training Series, and these black/red and black/neon green wrist computers now come with Bluetooth connectivity to pair with a G-Shock app and increase your training know-how. Already known for its rugged looked and ability to handle extreme environments, the GBD800 was geared toward athletes and active lifestyles with a step tracker function that breaks down daily steps taken in five metabolic equivalent levels, displayed via...