Popular Mechanics April 2018

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

3 min
from the editor

A Different Kind of Travel Issue THIS ISSUE—which is mostly about discovering parts of the earth you haven’t seen, and meeting people you haven’t met—happened by accident. It was unplanned. I think it started when senior editor Jacqueline Detwiler just kind of mentioned off-hand one day that she was taking a weeklong vacation by herself to a surfing camp on the Pacific coast of Nicaragua. Around that time, field editor James Lynch said, Hey, are we gonna run that essay he wrote a while back about him and his buddy canoeing the length of the Hudson? Then along came Alex George, our technology editor, saying that he too was taking a solo vacation, to South America, where he would be in the deep Amazon, observing howler monkeys and measuring piranhas as a…

1 min

WHAT WE’RE UP TO BEYOND THESE PAGES THE PODCAST Are you reading this in a secure location? Okay, good. We’re writing to inform you that the Most Useful Podcast Ever has produced a special episode all about the art of espionage. Hosts Jacqueline Detwiler and Kevin Dupzyk interviewed CIA-veteran-turned-writer Jason Matthews, whose book was turned into the spy thriller Red Sparrow (out March 2). Meanwhile, Popular Mechanics staff has been testing spy gear and techniques to figure how to be the best office spy. Get more critical information about this and other useful topics on the Most Useful Podcast Ever. ONLINE CREMATION IS NOW more popular than burial in the United States. For the morbidly curious, writer Caren Chesler visited a crematorium to find out the science behind the process, and why it’s become…

1 min
beer, brats & bocce

Popular Mechanics joined forces with Eddie Bauer and Stranahan’s Colorado Whiskey to celebrate America’s largest outdoor industry trade show, held in Denver. Attendees mingled with outdoor adventurist Brendan Leonard of Semi-Rad, tasted our 1902 Pre-Prohibition Lager made with Blue Point Brewing Company, and sipped on Stranahan’s custom cocktails. Guests received tons of great gear for the season. JOIN US THIS SUMMER! AF | AMERICAN FIELD BROOKLYN, NY JUNE 2-3, 2018 BOSTON, MA JUNE 23-24, 2018 Shop the AF marketplace featuring a curated selection of innovative brands and the talented makers behind them. For more information, visit shopaf.co. NATIONAL TRAILS DAY JUNE 2, 2018 Visit americanhiking.org to find an event near you, and learn where you can repair trails with Popular Mechanics. THE LODGE COMING TO PORTLAND SUMMER 2018 Popular Mechanics will host a day of unexpected experiences, interactive demos and live entertainment for…

2 min
behind the smartphone backlash

ANTERIOR CINGULATE CORTEX People who do more media multitasking—such as looking at a smartphone while watching TV—perform worse on cognitive control tasks and have a smaller density of gray matter in the anterior cingulate cortex, a brain region associated with executive function. —Loh and Kanai, PLOS One, 2014 RIGHT PREFRONTAL CORTEX In comparison with non-users, heavy smartphone users show impaired attention, lower ability to process numbers, and reduced excitability in the right prefrontal cortex, an area associated with decision-making. —Hadar et al., PLOS One, 2017 NUCLEUS ACCUMBENS A higher daily frequency of checking Facebook on a smartphone was associated with smaller gray matter volumes in the nucleus accumbens, a brain region associated with tracking rewards such as food and sex. —Montag et al., Behavioral Brain Research, 2017 SENSORY INTEGRATION People who do more media multitasking may have…

7 min
what happened to smartphones?

We used to love smartphones. We used to wait in line for them and dress them up in pretty cases and show them off to our friends. Many of us still do, but things seem...different. People are using words like invasive, co-dependent, junkies, addiction— serious language meant to suggest our total submission. In the last six months, a backlash against smartphones has arisen from all corners of the country—from luminaries and musicians and even former tech executives. Now, for the first time, several of them have spoken to Popular Mechanics about why, exactly, they chose this moment to use their considerable power to try to stop devices from turning our society into a Mad Max hellscape. “Last year was a pivotal year in our relationship with technology,” says author Arianna Huffington,…

3 min
technology, science, and the daca debate

BEFORE THE THREE-DAY government shutdown in January, more than 100 business leaders signed an open letter to Congress, urging it to find a way to extend the protections for the 800,000 people who immigrated to the United States illegally as children, but who are allowed to remain and work in the country under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals legislation. Fifty-four of those signatures—including Mary Barra of GM, Jeff Bezos of Amazon, Tim Cook of Apple, and Brad Smith, president and chief legal officer of Microsoft— represent companies in the fields of science and technology. Among the group’s concerns: “The imminent termination of the DACA program is creating an impending crisis for workforces across the country.” Political opinions aside, the fact remains that without DACA’s protection, many members of the…