Popular Mechanics South Africa

Popular Mechanics South Africa November 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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12 Numeri

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2 minuti
meat of the matter

I’M NO BIG meat eater, but I definitely enjoy a juicy burger or steak every now and again, and biltong is my go-to snack when I’m out hiking or rock climbing. But the fact that the rearing of cattle (yes, the source of most of our meat) is one of the most harmful industries when it comes to the issues of environmental degradation and global warming is something that plays heavy on my mind. According to findings from a study by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the total anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions (in other words, those created by human activities) from livestock now account for about 14.5 per cent of the total figure. In simple terms, it has an immense impact. Incredibly, 17.7 kg of CO2…

2 minuti
winning letter

Lofty project WRITE TO US At the impressionable age of 10, my super-handy dad roped my two brothers (12 and 14 at the time) and me in to build the wooden floor and staircase in a double-volume area of our house. The new upstairs rooms were to be our study and my eldest brother’s bedroom. As young boys, we were fortunate to know that we’d built those rooms, which left us with the conviction that, if we could do this as kids, we could surely do almost anything. And so, when my two boys (aged six and eight) needed more space in their room, I jumped at the opportunity to impress upon them and my daughter (aged 10) the same sense of achievement and accomplishment. After getting some sound advice from a…

3 minuti
what’s on your mind?

FUNDAMENTAL FORMULA I read with interest the article in the August issue entitled ‘The importance of being square’. I love using precision tools when I have access to them, but most of those mentioned in the article are out of reach for us old pensioners. This is where the ‘Pythagoras 3:4:5 triangle’ comes in – 3 × 3 = 9 : 4 × 4 = 16 : 5 × 5 = 25 … 9 + 16 = 25. (Editor’s note: A Pythagorean triple consists of three positive integers a, b, and c, such that a2 + b2 = c2.) The beauty of this principle is that its application requires only the simplest of equipment – a good-quality steel tape measure. If you make your marks carefully, you can construct very accurate 90°…

1 minuti
time machine

1 NOVEMBER 1967 ‘Tiger Sharks’ Strike In the Vietnam Swamps Late 1967 saw us take a closer look at a series of Air Cushion Vehicles (ACV) deployed by the United States Navy in Vietnam. Pilots described how these military hovercraft, equipped with armour plating and machinegun turrets, could reach speeds of up to 110_km/h as they travelled across flooded wetlands. 2 NOVEMBER 1940 Seaplaning – Three Sports In One Thanks to a growing number of landing facilities, more and more people were turning to seaplanes for recreation (as it essentially combined the three sports of flying, powerboating and sailing all into one), and a starting point for learning how to fly. We talked about the aircraft, and the enthusiasts flying them. 3 NOVEMBER 1950 Give Santa a Hand With the festive season just around the corner, what better…

1 minuti
the bigger picture

AS HURRICANE DORIAN approached the Florida coastline in early September – and with it the threat of serious infrastructure damage – NASA’s 115-metre-tall mobile launcher (ML) was moved indoors, into the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) at the Kennedy Space Center. ML is rated to withstand winds of up to 180 km/h, but wind-speed predictions for the hurricane far exceeded that threshold. After spending a week and a half indoors, ML was moved back to Launch Pad 39B (with the storm having passed 110 kilometres to the east), mounted atop Crawler-transporter 2. Crawler-transporter 2 (CT-2) is a colossal vehicle, and weighs north of 2.7 million kilograms – equivalent to approximately 13 Statues of Liberty, or 2_000 double-cab Hiluxes. It’s able to transport a payload of nearly 8.2 million kilograms (the weight of…

3 minuti
the us navy’s $7.8 billion ship killers

THE USS ZUMWALT and her two sister ships are undergoing a dramatic change of mission just three years after the first ship was commissioned. The destroyers, originally meant to provide naval gunfire support for the US Marines and to bombard targets far inland, are now being reoriented as ship killers. The Zumwalt class of destroyers, which also includes the USS Michael Monsoor and the USS Lyndon B Johnson, was intended to dramatically boost the fleet’s firepower. After the retirement of the four Iowa-class battleships in the early 1990s, the US Navy studied a number of solutions before deciding on the Zumwalts. Each ship would be equipped with two 155 millimetre Advanced Gun Systems, each firing a precision-guided Long Range Land Attack Projectile (LRLAP) to ranges of up to 83 nautical miles. The Navy…