Popular Mechanics April 2017

Discover the latest in technology, engineering, and tools with Popular Mechanics. Plus, get essential advice on your home and car, useful DIY ideas, in-depth explanations on how things work, and more!

United States
10 Issues

in this issue

2 min
safety and freedom and magazines

The issue you’re holding represents a fortunate confluence of events. It started last fall, when I was having lunch with Mark Warren, a gifted reporter and writer, and Rob Vrabel, an Army veteran and a talented writer himself. We were talking about crowd control for some reason, specifically New Year’s Eve in Times Square. How does that work? How do the police protect all those people? Mark said he’d call John Miller, a former journalist— he was the last western reporter to interview Osama bin Laden, in 1998— and the current deputy commissioner of intellgence and counterterrorism for the New York Police Department. Meanwhile, I recalled that Rob had handled explosives-detection K-9s in the Army. I asked if he would consider writing about that. He said he’d dig up some photos of…

1 min
popular mechanics everywhere

ON THE WEB! The strangest cash cow we’ve ever heard of: horseshoe- crab blood. It’s used widely in the biomedical industry, where it can be worth up to $15,000 per quart. We follow a group of researchers tracking and studying the blood-drained crabs to see if they can survive the procedure—as some have claimed. Check out the fascinating—and weird— story at popularmechanics.com/horseshoecrab. INSTAGRAM! In honor of Throwback Thursday (#tbt), we’re posting weekly snapshots of some of the greatest engineering feats of all time. Check out this week’s photo and history lesson on Instagram, @popularmechanics. VIDEO! The new Mevo camera (reviewed on page 20) lets you shoot studio-worthy video with pans and cuts, all without the need for a production crew—or even a second hand. To test the camera’s capabilities, we used it to make videos…

8 min
what’s that, deep in the gulf of mexico?

THE SURFACE Two hundred thirty miles southwest of New Orleans, a vessel called the Turritella floats on the surface of the Gulf of Mexico. It’s an FPSO, which stands for floating production, storage, and off-loading facility—basically a cross between an oil platform and a tanker. This particular FPSO belongs to Shell Oil Company, and it is connected by very long pipes to the deepest oil and gas well in the world, in an area called Stones Field. There’s just one huge problem: In a strong storm, an FPSO like the Turritella can cut loose from the well and run. One and a half nautical miles away, a yellow sensor buoy called a metocean station monitors meteorological and oceanic conditions. This helps Shell protect the Turritella from unexpected storms, which could dislodge the…

1 min
the new yardwork essentials

Weed Killer That Can’t Miss Roundup’s new Precision Gel ($15) uses glyphosate to destroy a weed’s ability to process nutrients. Anything you touch—and only what you touch—is toast. Your New Favorite Grass Seed Thanks to the addition of shadefriendly Titan Rx seeds, the Seed Super Store’s new grass blend (Product SS1002; $64 for a ten-pound bag) handles intense sun as well as it does intense shade, and provides increased resistance to a variety of lawn pests. A Hose That Stands Up to Everything The Goodyear Max- Lite hose ($35) can handle scorching sun and hot water up to 165 degrees Fahrenheit, and still stays flexible even at 40 below. Get it in a bright color and you’ll avoid one of the few things the MaxLite can’t withstand: being run over by a lawn mower. Wetter Water Landscape…

3 min
cutting the cord

You’re not going to see the latest episode unless you plan around the broadcast or are willing to wait. I like to be in the loop. On Monday morning, I don’t want to be the guy at the office who doesn’t know what’s going on in Game of Thrones. Now that video apps like Hulu have added cablelike features, including live broadcasts, I’ve had to think about ditching my cable box for the world of Netflix and HBO Now. Young people who grew up with the iPhone and iPad, they’ve already cut the cord. For them, Netflix marathons have already replaced channel surfing, so the question of whether to quit cable is partly a generational thing. Me, I have the highest package you can get on Cablevision (now called Altice USA/ Optimum,…

3 min
things come apart

DISASSEMBLY REPORT BIOLITE CAMPSTOVE MODEL: BIOLITE CAMPSTOVE 2 PRODUCED: DONGGUAN, CHINA TIME TO DISASSEMBLE: 1 HOUR, 51 MINUTES, 17 SECONDS NOTES: The idea behind BioLite’s CampStove is simple: Build a fire, use the fire to generate electricity, then use a portion of the electricity to power a fan that helps the fire burn cleaner and hotter for longer, so it can keep making power. The guys who built the first prototype were mostly interested in using it for camping, so it’s about the size of a large can of pork and beans and weighs just a couple of pounds. But a fortuitous misadventure at a combustion conference led them to realize their simple idea could be useful in developing countries, so they also make and sell a larger version for cooking family meals and powering homes. BUILDING THE FIRE To…