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Popular Mechanics South Africa

Popular Mechanics South Africa October 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

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15 Numeri

in questo numero

2 minuti
one year on

I LOOKED ACROSS at the magazine holder on my desk this week and suddenly realised that this issue – October 2019 – marks one full year at the helm for me as editor of POPULAR MECHANICS. Well, I guess it’s actually one year plus one issue – my first edition was October 2018. Time really flies when you’re having fun (or when you’re constantly snowed under by monthly deadlines). During the past 12 months, I’ve been amazed at the number of interesting people I’ve got to engage with, the different projects and technologies I’ve learnt about, and the humbling response I’ve received from you, the readers. For the most part, you seem happy with the direction we’re taking the mag, and that’s what really matters to my team and me. One of…

4 minuti
winning letter

AVs: Stopped in their tracks I read Mark’s editorial on autonomous cars in the August issue with interest. I have not yet seen anyone highlighting the problem that may keep fully autonomous cars off our roads for a long time to come. It’s not a technical issue: developments in AI and ever-growing computer power will solve the guidance and decision-making problems, at least to the point where autonomous cars will be safer than human-driven ones. Well, safe in terms of avoiding accidents more consistently than humans can, that is. Where they will fall down is in being too polite and careful: That’s great in a world of polite and careful people, or at least one not populated by a percentage of people who are anything but. I see two brand new hazards…

2 minuti
time machine

1 OCTOBER 1957 ▸ The House That Stores The Sun As part of our annual section on housing, we brought you the story of a house 19 years in the making. A project spearheaded by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the goal was to build a structure that was both heated and cooled by solar radiation. The result was a family home with a roof made entirely of solar panels and equipped with a state-of- the-art water- and air conditioning system 2 OCTOBER 1941 ▸ Stop and Go at the Crossroads of the Skies Monitoring and directing multiple aircraft approaching and departing a major airport is no easy task. It’s up to a team of highly trained radio operators and supervisors to manage daily air traffic. We showed you what happens behind the scenes in…

1 minuti
the bigger picture

THE EXOMARS ROVER, named the Rosalind Franklin, will be Europe’s first planetary rover. It’s now in its final stages of assembly at Airbus’s bioburden clean room in Stevenage, a town in the UK about 50 km north of London. Its ‘eye’ – a high-resolution panoramic camera (PanCam) –has just been fitted and integrated. It’s a precision instrument capable of capturing 3D images to be used by the autonomous navigation system. The scientific team at the Rover Operation Control Centre will select a site for the rover using the imagery, and then Rosalind Franklin will determine its own safe path to travel there. The rover houses nine instruments that will assist scientists in conducting a step-by-step exploration of Mars, including PanCam, ISEM (Infrared Spectrometer for ExoMars – to assess mineralogical composition of surface…

1 minuti
popular wisdom

THE SPACE RACE IS GETTING CROWDED While we worked on our September cover story on the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 mission and the next era of exploration, space news just kept hitting. Among the biggest we covered: 1. Jeff Bezos’s spaceflight company Blue Origin unveiled Blue Moon (pictured), its lunar lander. POPULAR MECHANICS reporter Matt Blitz was in Washington, DC, to cover the presentation, in which Bezos proposed O’Neill cylinders – giant, tubular space colonies, named after physicist and inventor Gerard O’Neill. 2. The Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) announced that Chandrayaan-2, the organisation’s second unmanned mission to the Moon, would land its probe in September. It’s the organisation’s second mission (the first landed back in 2008). 3. China’s space programme is set to launch a probe into asteroid 2016 HO3, which…

5 minuti
cooking (& shrinking) the modern combat ration

THE ENTRANCE TO the US Army Natick Soldier Systems Center is busy and confusing. My Uber driver and I pulled up to the gate and, based on how much the soldier on duty was shouting at us, we were clearly not doing a great job of navigating that entrance. But after a few phone calls and with the help of our escort for the day, I was finally on my way down the long path to the correct building. Natick is an army base where the military scientists at the forefront of the development of food systems for all of the armed forces (as well as NASA!) are developing new technologies such as sonic agglomeration, vacuum-microwave drying (VMD), and sonic swab technology. The part of Natick I wanted to visit is…