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Popular Science Australia January 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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cheap power is a tricky concept

Don’t get me wrong, nuclear reactors do generate very cheap electricity... for a certain part of their lifecycle. Speciÿcally, the part after the start-up costs are paid off, and before the costs of handling all the spent fuel rods kick in. As our feature from 1995 indicates, a ÿx for the nuclear waste issue has always been just around the corner. The article explains how a site called Yucca Mountain will be set up and ready to handle all of America’s (and Australia’s, as it turns out) nuclear waste by 2010 - with an editorial comment that no one really expects it to be ready by 2010, it will take a few years longer. Of course, as you probably guessed, here in 2018, Yucca Mountain isn’t operating and all funding for the…

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2018 best of what’s new engineering

Climate Tile by Tredje Natur A SIDEWALK THAT STOPS FLOODS As climate change brings stronger storms, the risk of flash floods from overflowing sewers balloons. In the past two years, for instance, Ellicott City, Maryland, has endured two “thousand-year” drenchings. Soon, communities will be able to replace impervious sidewalks with absorbent ones. Climate Tile pavers, first tested along a 20-metre stretch in Copenhagen this year, can divert about 30 per cent of rain away from otherwise overwhelmed drainage. The wet stuff passes into 42 5-mm pores that dot the surface of each concrete block, then runs into horizontal channels that funnel the flow from tile to tile and into underground storage, which also collects roof water. H2O eventually feeds into permeable landscapes, such as tree roots beside walkways. The excess winds up in…

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2018 best of what’s new securit y

Onyx exoskeleton by Lockheed Martin EXOSUIT TO DOUBLE ENDURANCE A tired soldier is a target—for both injury and attack. Hauling 45-plus kilos of gear, climbing rough terrain, and coping with heat, cold, or damp leads to fatigue and compromises readiness. When strapped to a trooper’s hips, the Onyx powered exoskeleton can double their fortitude. Onboard processors crunch inputs from accelerometers throughout the frame to analyse a person’s stride and direction of movement; the controller then activates motors at the wearer’s knees for an assist. The battery-powered skeleton might not make soldiers any stronger, but it will help them last longer. In trials, a user donning the Onyx could do 72 squats under an 83-kg load; without it, they could muster only 26 squats. High Energy Laser Weapon System by Raytheon LASER›SHOOTIN’ ATV An enemy can easily outfit…

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2018 best of what’s new entertainment

Fortnite by Epic Games THE GAME THAT BROKE DOWN PLATFORM BARRIERS About 78.3 million people log into Fortnite’s cartoonish landscape—peppered with ridable golf carts and coveted treasure chests—to try and pummel friends or strangers in a last-player-standing Battle Royale. The game set the record for most concurrent players (8.3 million) and game-streaming eyeballs on Twitch (1.46 million). Those are in part thanks to the fact that the game is the first available to every tribe within the button-mashing clan: high-end PC gamers, console devotees, and mobile-phone tappers. To bring everyone together, developer Epic Games orchestrated massive in-game events, like a rift appearing in the sky or the arrival of a massive and mysterious cube, that help the game transcend whatever screen it’s on. Master Series A9F TV by Sony A TV THAT DOESN’T COMPRESS YOUR CONTENT Lots…

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2018 best of what’s new recreation

Forge boots by Tecnica CUSTOM-FIT HIKING BOOTS WHILE YOU WAIT Tecnica designed the Forge with a mouldable material called thermoplastic polyurethane in the footbeds and uppers, so an in-store “technician” can customise them to the shape of your paws in just 20 minutes. When heated, the footbeds become more flexible. Then, with the insoles under your feet, the store tech applies an pressurised-air system that moulds the material to you. They repeat the process with the uppers. The custom fit means fewer, if any, blisters on the track. Radius Zone Mosquito Repellent by Thermacell NO STINK, NO FLAME, NO BUGS Summer means meat, mates—and mozzies. Most options for keeping those flying menaces away can be unpleasant: Citronella candles are hazardous during bushfire season and they stink. Those coils are just too old-school, and they stink. Thermacell’s Radius…

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2018 best of what’s new home

Flo by Flo Technologies QUICK DETECTION FOR HIDDEN LEAKS The sooner you detect and fix a hidden leak in your plumbing, the better off your house will be. So slap Flo on your main water supply line. Its sensors monitor your home’s H2O flow, pressure, and temperature, looking for changes that indicate the system might have sprung a pinhole leak. When it spots a problem, the connected device pings your phone so you can call the plumber early. If Flo detects a major issue, you can use the app to remotely shut off the water. Post-it Extreme Note by 3M UNSHAKEABLE STICKIES 3M’s new Extreme Post-its can cling to the surface of rough materials such as plywood and concrete. That’s thanks to a new adhesive made of tiny spheres, which give the glue extra stretch to better…