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Popular Science Australia

Popular Science Australia

February 2019

This is the most exciting time to be alive in history. Discovery and innovation are reshaping the world around us, and Popular Science makes even the most complex ideas entertaining and accessible. By taking an upbeat look at today's most revolutionary science and technology, we forecast what tomorrow will be like. We deliver the future now!

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in this issue

3 min.
sic transit gloria futurae

Since speciÿcity is so important in science, I’ll point out it’s only this separate Australian edition of Popular Science that will cease publication, while the 147-year-old institution will continue to steam boldly in the direction it has always travelled: toward the future. After you read this, you’ll be able to get your PopSci ÿx from popsci.com, where familiar names will continue to bring your all the futuristic news and long-form journalism you’ve come to expect. Just delivered in a more futuristic way! Australian Popular Science began publication in 2009, so it’s worth reflecting on how much the world has changed since then. Back in 2009, the cutting-edge of smart-phone tech was the iPhone 3GS. Intel was still two years away from introducing the “ultrabook” speciÿcation for super-thin notebook PCs. The Holden Commodore was…

1 min.
china’s moon dynasty

The Chang’e 3 Moon lander touched down on Mare Imbrium on 14th December 2013, and to this day still responds to commands from China’s mission control. It makes Chang’e 3 the longest-operating lander in the history of lunar exploration. A rover, named Yutu (or “Jade Rabbit”) worked for two years, but lacking Chang’e 3’s shielding, it eventually succumbed to radiation. The lander’s Lunar-based Ultraviolet Telescope remains a valuable tool for Chinese astronomers, and amateur radio operators can routinely pick up Chang’e 3’s signals. A NEW JADE RABBIT On the 3rd of January 2019, Chang’e 4 landed on the far side of the Moon, in the South Pole-Aitken Basin. Three years later than planned, it successfully deployed the Yutu-2 rover. China’s exploration of the Moon goes on.…

4 min.
2019: year of the impossible burger

VEGAN BEEF TARTARE IS A DIFFICULT CONCEPT TO visualise. It conjures images of a pile of beans, or perhaps a slab of tofu served with some nicely charred crostini. But at the 2019 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Impossible Foods showed off its new plant-based ground beef replacement. And we had to be the judge. By offering a selection of foods from traditional sliders to the ambitious tartare, Impossible Foods at least showed its concoction has some versatility. And thanks to a change in formula, the new Impossible Burger 2.0 goes beyond simple patties and aims to take on ground beef with every recipe, from lasagna to tacos. The fi rst tastes are very promising. Here‛ our take. WHAT’S NEW? Back in 2016, the original Impossible Burger debuted as a veggie…

1 min.
lumber party!

FORESTRY IS THE MOST DANGEROUS CIVILIAN JOB IN THE US, thanks to hazards like heavy machinery and falling limbs (after you sever them with the heavy machinery). The controlled environment of your backyard can be a safer place for you to take down old trees and chop up the pieces. You might not aspire to be Paul Bunyan, but you can still grab tools—similar to what lumberjacks use in competitions— to become a suburban log slayer. 1 Axe The 2.7-kg head on the Precision Competition Chopping Axe has a 190-mm hand-sharpened edge. The steel slices deep into timber without sticking, and it absorbs vibrations. 2 Gloves A pair of Husqvarna Functional Chain Saw gloves provides extra protection for your nonsawing hand. The left side has two layers of goat leather to shield it during…

4 min.

NOTE ON PRICING: Many of the items this time were unveilled at the Consumer Electronics Show where the tendency is to get everyone all worked up and excited about the thing before admitting it actually costs $10,000 and there will be a $5000 one in six months. Other prices are in $AUD. VAVA Mobile Pet Cam $223 www.vava.com There appears to be a substantial market for selling gadgets to people who worry about their pets being lonely at home while they, the owners, are at work. This little robot trundles around trying to convince the cat to come out from under the couch and play with it, and will even vomit up a treat if suitably pawed. The promotional videos, in which the pets are clearly terrified of this robot, are worth a watch. ASUS…

2 min.
escape artists

IN AN IDEAL WORLD, EVERYONE WOULD WALK AROUND WITH a Batman-style utility belt. When peril presents itself, we’d have grappling hooks, smoke screens, or whatever gizmos necessary to POW! our way to safety. Superhero attire probably won’t come into vogue anytime soon, but at least you can stash these instruments where you might need them most. 1 In your upstairs bedroom Smoke and flames can block safe second-floor egress, making a window your best way out. The 4-metre Kidde Fire Escape Ladder hooks over a sill. Its flame-resistant nylon webbing and anti-slip steel rungs support an entire family: up to 450 kg. 2 In your car If your ride skids into a lake or flips over, you’ll want a LifeHammer nearby. One end of the roughly 19-cm-long tool is a double-sided hammer for breaking…