Popular Mechanics March 2019

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
we got a tree

YOU’RE PROBABLY READING this in February. Everyone can stop saying Happy New Year now. But I just took our Christmas tree down recently. We left it up longer than usual this year, because we didn’t get it until almost Christmas Eve, because— Well, I’ll tell you. We’d had to have some work done on the house, which required that we move out for a few months. Three weeks before Christmas, our contractor said we probably couldn’t move back in until late January. We begged. It would mean a lot to be able to spend the holidays at home, we told him. And our kids wanted to have a party at the “new” old house—before Christmas, we told him. He shrugged and said he would try. He sent a swarm of guys seven days a week…

1 min
popular mechanics everywhere

ONLINE The expendable Saturn V rocket propelled the first successful unmanned test flight into space. Also the first manned lunar landing. And the other five. But before all its triumphs, how was this astronomical heavyweight conceived, tested, and ultimately cleared for takeoff? And what exactly did Wernher von Braun have to do with it all? The background story, tracing the path from Sputnik to Apollo, is online at popularmechanics.com/saturn-v. LUNCH WITH A TORCH ON VIDEO If Jacqueline Detwiler’s guide to torching your sad leftovers on page 22 inspires you to upgrade your own desk lunch, make sure to look up her video guide to successfully (and safely… and quietly) using a brûlée torch in the office at popularmechanics.com/torch-lunch. ON TWITTER WANT TO KEEP TRACK of our latest tests, adventures, DIY guides, and investigations? Follow us—and tweet…

2 min
the reader page

Ludicrous Mode: The Response to Our Elon Musk Story In the essays collected for our November 2018 cover story, “In Defense of Elon Musk,” ten writers and entrepreneurs weighed the contributions of this controversial man. Unsurprisingly, the piece itself was also controversial. The Atlantic criticized our story for “buy[ing] into… the perceived importance of genius, and the moral compromises that society should be willing to endure in the name of progress.” Slate ran a delightful parody of the piece that invoked the plot of the 1973 dystopian movie Soylent Green. People argued in Reddit threads, and tweeted at us in both frustration and agreement. But the responses we most cared about were from you. Because He’s Making Science Fiction a Reality THE FIRST TIME I saw the rocket booster come down and land…

1 min
how your world works

Shortly after World War II, a British veteran raised funds to build the Mayflower II, a full-scale replica of the ship that carried the Pilgrims to Plymouth Rock in 1620. The vessel was gifted to Massachusetts’ Plimoth Plantation museum in 1957 to celebrate the U.S.–U.K. wartime alliance; in 2016, it sailed down to the Mystic Seaport Museum, an authentic re-created whaling village in Connecticut, for the ship’s first major restoration. The two museums spent several years scouting suitable timber to replace planks and framing members that had deteriorated: Most of the wood needed for the lower frame was salvaged from trees damaged by Hurricane Katrina or donated by homeowners in the South, where live oak is most abundant. “This project is catapulted into a place where true traditional methods are…

1 min
the all-conquering mountain machine

Pro-Lite Seat Mountain sleds need a long track, but use a short seat so it’s easy to move from one side to the other. Dashboard A GPS-linked speedometer automatically logs top speed. Check it later, when you’re bragging back at the cabin. Carbon-Fiber Reed Valve Petals Reed valves, particular to two-stroke engines, allow the air–fuel mixture into the cylinder without blowing back into the intake. The petals flex millions of times over an engine’s life cycle, so they need to be light, springy, and durable. The 850 Patriot engine’s reed valves use carbon fiber—expensive, but the perfect material. SLS Springs The front suspension stance is adjustable from 36 to 38 inches, so riders can tailor the degree of lean in deep powder. The Walker Evans Monotube Impact-Extruded Shocks use steel coil springs that, thanks to a patented…

2 min
what i’m looking forward to

1 / Porsche’s Electric Vehicle The Taycan will have a range of 310 miles and go from zero-to-60 mph in under 3.5 seconds. But the spec that has my attention is the 350-kilowatt charger that, Porsche says, gives 62 miles of range in four minutes—a Tesla on a Supercharger takes ten minutes to do the same. That’s the difference between having to kill a little time at a rest-stop Starbucks and having enough range before your drink is ready. 2 / The Freewrite Traveler This distractionfree writing tool is basically a key-board and e-ink screen, similar to what you’ll find on an Amazon Kindle. It shows you nothing except what you’re typing, then sends copies of that to your Drop-box, Google Drive, wherever you want to stash what you’ve written. It’s the kind…