Popular Science Spring 2019

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United States
Camden Media Inc.
5,27 €(VAT inclusa)
10,58 €(VAT inclusa)
4 Numeri

in questo numero

2 min
all aboard, even me

EARLY ONE MORNING THIS past summer, I rode my motorcycle out of New York City for what I expect was the last time. In fact, I’ll probably never ride in my hometown again. That’s too bad, because motorbikes used to be the best way to get around this burg: fast, cheap, and able to squirm through gridlock. Why? The recent influx of ride-hailing services like Uber and Lyft have made these streets way too mean. According to data from the New York Taxi and Limousine Commission, the city has added more than 70,000 for-hire vehicles between 2013 and 2018. And while it’s far easier to get a ride now—even if you’re in far-out Brooklyn or couldn’t historically flag down a cab based on the way you look—Ubers are making the city…

1 min

Andrew Blum As a youth in summer camp, Andrew Blum sailed Lasers: small, fast, wildly popular sailboats. On page 48, Blum, now the father of two young sailors, focuses on the history of this classic craft and the life of 90-year-old Bruce Kirby, the Canada-born designer who built the first Laser in 1970. The story—technical but deeply human—was a natural fit for Blum, whose first book, Tubes, told the tale of the physical structure of the internet and the people who constructed it. This June will mark the debut of his second book, The Weather Machine, which peers into the complex systems that bring the morning forecast to our phones, digital assistants, and radio DJs. While he sees technical explanations like these as a public service, he admits that a lot…

2 min
make bridges, not death traps

THERE ARE 614,000 BRIDGES IN THE U.S., AND NEARLY 1-IN-10 OF THEM IS FALLING apart. When Eisenhower signed the 1956 Federal-Aid Highway Act, establishing a 41,000-mile system of roads and bridges, there was roughly one car for every three people. Today, it’s almost 1-to-1. This influx of vehicles, plus shoddy maintenance, has taxed spans to the brink of collapse. This bridge is the sum of our worst missteps, and how to make them right. THEN 1 Limited lanes Designers of even the broadest 20th-century bridges didn’t plan past the new millennium. Despite the number of cars per person more than doubling since the ’50s, most commuters still rely on undersize infrastructure. When rain, ice, low visibility, or rush hour strike, the result is a long line. 2 Too weak A new four-door in 1987 weighed…

2 min
rove if you want to

OUR MOST STALWART celestial explorers are hitch hikers. Autonomous rovers such as Sojourner, the bouncing robots of Minerva II, and the crewed Apollo moon buggies might not log as much mileage as the rockets they ride, but the relatively wee lengths they travel cover the final legs of journeys into the unknown. On the surface of Mars, asteroids, and the moon, these intrepid travelers look for water, gather samples, and capture photos that showcase alien worlds to the Earth-bound. These are the tracks of six off-world trotters. SOJOURNER Distance: 0.06 miles Destination: Mars Date: 1997 Origin: USA Although Sojourner, the first rover on Mars, trundled only a short way, it managed to nab more than 500 pics while studying the composition of alien rocks and soil. MINERVA II 1A AND 1B Distance:0.25 miles Destination: Ryugu Date: 2018–2019 Origin: Japan These twin hexagonal…

2 min
body clocks

WHAT’S THE FASTEST ANIMAL ON EARTH? DEPENDS ON HOW YOU define quickness. By simple miles per hour, classic mega-fauna like cheetahs dominate the leaderboard. But if we measure velocity by the body lengths an animal travels per second, those quick cats have some competition. This race of proportions allows contenders from all kingdoms to go for gold. Here’s how a cross-section of critters achieves top speeds. 1. COMMON SQUID JET PROPULSION This cephalopod shoots through the ocean like a tentacled jet. It sucks water into a chamber in its 8-inch-long cone-shaped body, then contracts its muscles to push the liquid through a narrow funnel-shaped organ near its head. The flow blasts in one direction, launching the adult squid’s gelatinous form the opposite way at 10 body lengths per second. 2. CHEETAH SPEEDING SPINES Famous for sheer…

1 min
forest for the keys

WHEN YOU ROAD-TRIP TO DISNEY OR JET FIRST CLASS ACROSS THE country, you feel the sucker punch to your savings. Appreciating how it impacts the planet is more abstract. So we represented the carbon cost of a solo 1,700-mile trip from Chicago to LA as the area of trees needed to counteract it. (For reference, a sapling can eat up to 50 pounds of CO2 each year.) Depending on how you go, offsetting a trip could require a veritable forest. SOURCE: UCS GREEN TRAVEL REPORT, 2008; EUROPEAN COMMISSION WELL-TO-WHEELS REPORT…