Popular Mechanics South Africa

Popular Mechanics South Africa August 2019

The South African edition of Popular Mechanics was launched in 2002 and has fast become the acknowledged voice of science and technology in South Africa. Underpinning its rich sci-tech content is an ever-changing mix of articles covering everything from automotive news and outdoor adventures to DIY projects. In essence, it explains how our world works

South Africa
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12 Números

en este número

2 min.
i’ll drive, thanks

THINK THAT the concept of vehicle autonomy needs a lot more discussion. The way forward, for now, should focus on merging the technology better with humans, rather than fully replacing us. The notion of having cars that entirely drive themselves sharing the roads with us has always frightened me a bit. Call me old-fashioned, but I find it comforting looking across while stopped at a red light, and seeing a human of some description sitting in a position of control behind the steering wheel. (Sure, these days, about 80 per cent of the time that person is staring down at their cellphone, but that’s another story altogether.) While I acknowledge that untold hours of research and development have gone into the technology that governs self-driving cars, until every vehicle in a…

6 min.
winning letter

The final frontier The May issue of PM that focused on space, how to get there, and how we might survive on the Moon and Mars had my imagination all fired up … again! I have always enjoyed science fiction – there’s something about the genre’s capacity to suspend belief in the ‘impossibility’ of what we cannot currently achieve, and it puts in place a few fictional constructs that allow us to reach beyond the confines of Earth and explore the vastness of space beyond our beautiful home. I reckon Elon Musk must have read a good few of the same books as I did, because his focus on getting to Mars ended up being the ‘Tony Stark’, gung-ho ‘get-it-done’ reality that I only dreamed of as a teenager. I went through my…

1 min.
time machine

1 AUGUST 1939 Fast Pleasure Cruiser Designed Like Plane In the year the Second World War began, we showed you the work of aeronautics designer Anthony HG Fokker: A streamlined ocean vessel powered by aircraft engines and designed with the characteristics of an aeroplane in mind. The boat was built using strong, lightweight materials such as plywood and Philippine mahogany. 2 AUGUST 1952 Movies on a Curved Screen Wrap You in Action Before the 3D and IMAX boom of today, cinemas experimented with a film projector that made use of three cameras to create a bigger and wider picture. The result was an audio and visual experience where moviegoers were completely immersed, feeling like they were really on the battlefield, or in a bustling city. 3 AUGUST 1960 Sculptured Gardens In the world of landscape…

3 min.
when you see a pack of motorcyclists with matching jackets, where are they going?

GREAT UNKNOWNS Big questions. Answers you can‘t find on the internet. ANYWHERE THEY WANT, PAL. And don’t ask questions. It’s disrespectful. End of column. Meet you back here next month, when we’ll help out someone who knows to mind his own business. In the meantime, pick your broken teeth up off the pavement. We don’t need any flat tyres. Relax – we’re kidding. Sort of. The world of motorcycle clubs (best not to call them ‘gangs’ unless you work for the Department of Justice) is a byzantine maze populated by diverse enthusiasts who organise themselves in a variety of ways to pursue disparate goals, all governed by an etiquette calculated to ensure everyone’s dental work remains intact. A full taxonomy is beyond the scope of this column, but the most important distinction is between clubs…

1 min.
how to make petrol from tea

BREW DR., the kombucha brand of Townshend’s Tea Company of Portland, Oregon, uses a unique method to lower the fermented tea drink from its natural 1 to 3 per cent ABV to below the 0.5 per cent legal limit for non-alcoholic beverages. Then it uses the by-products to help make petrol (and other stuff). Here’s the most interesting beverage production process in the US: This new helmet is ready to save your brain IF AT FIRST you don’t succeed, try at least 4 999 more times. That’s what it took to develop Trek and Bontrager’s safest helmet technology yet, WaveCel. They built a fake head and neck with nine accelerometers to measure head movement in all six degrees of freedom, and then they replicated the violence of bike crashes over and over…

3 min.
make yourself less trackable

THE I.T. GUY AMONG THE GEEKIER of my geeky habits is checking the log of an app I have called Disconnect. It analyses my data traffic and identifies and blocks tracking systems, recording what it does along the way. Usually after I search for something or use a Google product, under Disconnect’s Recent Trackers, I’ll see ‘paged.l.doubleclick.net.’ DoubleClick is a Google company that helps direct advertisements to the right people. In that same log, there are names such as AppsFlyer, Eyeview, and BidSwitch, all companies most of us have probably never heard of but that help run the modern internet economy of knowing lots about your audience’s habits. So many recent tech news stories have shared the same theme: Big Internet Company Creepily Watches Unsuspecting Users. We learned that Google Search and…