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Popular Science Australia October 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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they’re watching, but watching what?

The rise of Google in the late 1990s and post the dot-com crash of 2000 changed something fundamental in our relationship with advertisers. Before then, advertisers still mostly ÿred off giant confetti cannons into the crowd, hoping at least some of us would be attracted to the sparkly bits. Google’s genius was to create something that all internet users need - an effective search engine - and then sell those searches to advertisers. With Google AdWords, you can get your ad to an incredibly speciÿc audience - grandfathers who like jetskis and are at home on Thursday afternoons, for example - for a fraction of the cost of a page in a magazine like this. And that was ÿne, for a while. But companies want more. When someone searches “comfy shoes…

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ready to assemble

The James Webb Space Telescope undergoes a suite of tests in a clean-room at the Goddard Spaceflight centre, Maryland. Designed to replace Hubble, the JWST will detect longer-wavelength infrared and near-infrared light to give new insight into distant objects in the universe. The telescope will orbit the Sun in Earth’s shadow, because its instruments require extremely low temperatures to operate most effectively. This has made construction of the JWST extremely challenging: After all, if the telescope is deployed and found to be faulty, it’s not exactly feasible to send a crew out to repair or upgrade it (as happened with Hubble). Although the telescope was originally scheduled to launch this year, problems in testing mean the next launch window won’t open until 2021. Still, when you’re spending billions and have…

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smart solar hot water

HOME SOLAR POWER SYSTEMS ARE NOW so popular, Australia has run into an almost embarrassing problem. There’s so much photovoltaic capacity, during the day the combined excess output of those panels on millions of houses, is now more than the grid can take back. This power is, quite literally, being wasted. So what do we do? Battery storage is one answer, but it’s still an expensive one, and requires space for yet another thing bolted on the side of your house. But you already have a hot water system, so why not use some of that excess solar power on that? Solahart has been a familiar brand in Australia for decades, and is associated with those roof-mounted hot water systems that take heat directly from the sun. Now the company has developed an…

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how it works: solahart powerstore

1 Smart Controller Electronics monitor water temps and power draw to switch the element on and off many times a day. 2 315L water heater Wrapped in a heavy insulation so water temp stays stable for longer, saving more power. 3 Triple-blade heating units Solahart claims these heat the water more ef›iciently and quickly. 44x sensors For quick response to temperature changes and heating requirements. 5 Smart monitoring Because everything has to have an app these days! 6 HEMS ready Home Energy Management systems can coordinate multiple devices.…

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one drone, two eyes

DJI’S MAVIC FOLDING DRONE CHANGED the pro-sumer drone landscape when it first appeared in 2016. Despite selling for $1000 less than its larger sibling, the Phantom 4, the Mavic was surprisingly well-equipped. And given its portability, even some professional users forgave it the smaller camera sensor and lack of obstacle-avoidance sensors. And now the sequel even fixes those shortcomings. The Mavic 2 gets side and top sensors (the original only had front and bottom), and a new camera joint-developed with Hasselblad with a one-inch CMOS sensor and f/2.8-f/11 variable aperture... ...or a 2x optical zoom lens with a 1/2.3-inch CMOS sensor. The version with the big camera is called the Mavic 2 Pro, and the one with the zoom is, well, the Mavic 2 Zoom. Thanks to its bigger sensor and expanded controls,…

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NOTE ON PRICING: Prices, where appropriate, are estimates at best. Some are in US dollars, some in Australian. It’s arbitrary, like the fiat currency system itself. Anyway, do you even care what any of these cost? If you’re the kind of person who loves this stuff, you don’t care about mere price. Shine on. Anki Vector www.anki.com $449 Last year, Anki’s Cozmo was marketed as a toy with surprisingly beefy “real robot” functionality. Now, Vector gets a black paint job and even beefier processing and network connectivity. Which means instead of being an overpowered toy, Vector earns its keep by working as digital assistant, like Google Home or Amazon Alexa. Plus it plays Blackjack! ZBiotics www.zbiotics.com $TBA Hangovers are nature’s cruellest jest. Enjoy a few beverages, and alcohol’s tendency to lower inhibitions may cause you to enjoy a…