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Popular Science AustraliaPopular Science Australia

Popular Science Australia December 2018

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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are we just waiting for a sign?

And after all, that has always been Popular Science’s primary task: to give you, the reader, a handy monthly update on the state of the future. The magazine even used to have WHAT’S NEXT written on the cover. For the whole period between, say, 1920 and 1999, this was a pretty straightforward job. Inventors and industrialist across the world were building amazing new machines and developing innovative new methods of using them, almost faster than we could write. Every few years - certainly every decade - something came along that changed the world, and Popular Science helped the early adopters (and the merely intensely curious) to understand it. Electricity in every home? Could that be safe? Yes! we said. Does everyone really need a telephone in the house? Why not?…

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iconic scene gets a rematch

At one point in Working Dog’s 2000 film The Dish, bored local technicians play a quick game of cricket across the centre of the Parkes Observatory’s radio telescope. It was just a throwaway gag to show Australian irreverence, but it quickly became an iconic image. Which is why in early October, 50 young cricketers joined professionals Chris Lynn, Peter Handscomb, Alyssa Healy, Ash Gardner, and Nick Carey, to recreate the scene. The stunt’s purpose was to promote a new kid’s cricketing program from Cricket Australia, but it also reminds us that Australia still plays a significant role in astronomy and cosmology, thanks to our various telescopes and observatories. www.parkes.atnf.csiro.au…

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ride or die

TENS OF MILLIONS OF COASTAL residents face rising tides from earthquakes and tsunamis. Preparedness experts suggest infrastructure like evacuation centres and seawalls for protection, but proactive residents can also turn to the two-seater Survival Capsule, a 1.3 m (diameter) spherical escape pod. The orb is built to bob. Its aviation-grade aluminium shell should hold its shape, even when massive waves and debris pummel houses and cars. Water tanks and built-in seats (there are models to accommodate up to 16 passengers) concentrate the craft’s weight at the bottom, so, like a pontoon boat, the sphere stays upright. Evacuees seal themselves inside behind a submarine-style door—turning a wheel to engage locking arms that hold the hatch in place. And though the pod comes with a coated steel tether, Coast Guard–approved “marine orange” paint…

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why drones need parachutes

THE AGE OF DRONES IS UPON US AND WE HAVE TO DEAL with a sky full of quadcopters. Which means, inevitably, we have to deal with those quadcopters falling out of that sky from time to time, because no machine is perfect. Sure, when a consumer drone like DJI’s Phantom 4 crashes on a beach, the risk of serious injury to the public is relatively low. But some professional and industrial drone platforms can weigh as much as 300kg! You definitely don’t want one of those falling on your head. Which is where Israeli company ParaZero comes in. Their SafeAir system sounds simple on paper: a module on top of the drone deploys a parachute to bring the drone safely to the ground. But there’s more to it than that... ParaZero CEO…

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NOTE ON PRICING: How long can it be until the New World Order imposes a universal currency on us all as part of their terrible plan to end all wars and lift billions out of poverty? For now though, the internet seems to be getting better at detecting where you are and what your currency is. Prices are therefore in AUD. Helios Touch From $299 www.heliostouch.com Every gadget these days has to be touch-sensitive, and expand using magnets. Exhibit A: Helios comes in packs of 15 hexagons with magnetic hooks. Arrange them in the shape of your preference, plug one into the wall, and then touch each hex to light it. It gives a room a lovely late-80s TARDIS interior feel. For the extremely rich, Helios assures us that the system supports an…

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little bits are back (in a big way)

BACK IN 2011, A NEW YORK START-UP CALLED LITTLEBITS CAME UP with the idea of using small magnets as connectors for electronic building blocks. But instead of a slightly dry Dick Smith Electronics style (this is a resistor, this is a capacitor etc), littleBits used tech like accelerometers, Bluetooth modules, and even an Arduino, to offer kids more exciting projects - and to encourage further invention. Now littleBits has a new wave of inventors kits, which include new “bits” and even more functionality. NEW BITS, NEW TRICKS The Space Rover kit includes 15 different bits, and pre-cut card templates to build a basic rover that can be controlled via the littleBits app. The intention is that kids get inspired by the included projects, and then go on to mix the bits with…