Popular Mechanics May 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
some silliness

WE NEVER HAD a dog growing up. We had a cat for a while—my older brother was walking home from sixth grade one day and passed a house where they were giving away kittens. Apparently the owners thought it was okay to give a kitten to an unaccompanied 11-year-old. We kept it hidden for a week before our parents found it. She was adorable and enjoyed puking and scratching people. We wanted a dog, but dogs are more work, and my mother says she knew that even with four kids in the house, she and my father would end up caring for a dog. (She can never prove she was right, and we can never prove she was wrong. But she was probably right.) A few months ago, my wife and I…

6 min
popular wisdom

THE PODCAST OUR MOST LAW-ABIDING INTERVIEW EVER We talk to the team behind a new book that chronicles the DEA’s efforts to take down a notorious cybercriminal. Paul LeRoux smuggled drugs, contracted killers, and was one of the world’s biggest arms dealers. We talked to two DEA agents on his case and the journalist who documented how he was brought to justice. Jacqueline Detwiler, host and senior writer: Elaine, how did you find this story? Elaine Shannon, author: I was in Afghanistan tracking the heroin trade and heard about this guy, a renegade tech mogul who was “disrupting” organized crime—in the Silicon Valley sense. I knew I had to chase the story, and along the way I found these gentlemen. Jacqui: When you’re hunting somebody like this, how movie-like does it get? Lou Milione, DEA team…

1 min
large photo of the month

That’s a horse’s mouth there, on the left. And on the right, that’s Lauren McPherson, one of just 4,125 practicing equine veterinarians in the United States, “floating”—filing down—the horse’s teeth with a battery-powered dental speculum. Most horses need the preventative procedure every 12 to 18 months to keep their sharp dental points from interfering with feeding. Summer is the Pickerington, Ohio–based vet’s busiest season, as people are “remembering they have horses” after the winter; she’ll make up to 40 visits a week. Her patient here is a recent addition to the herd at Bella Run Equine in Athens, Ohio, a nonprofit that rehabilitates old and unwanted horses before putting them up for adoption. After the last three U.S. equine slaughter facilities closed in 2007, the number of unwanted horses in…

7 min

Make Me Want to Do This Easy. Take a ride. ¶Most flight schools and small aviation companies will charge you no more than a couple hundred dollars for a taste—usually an hour ride, with an instructor. You get to grab the controls for part of the time, zip around, maybe fly over your house. It’s usually called a discovery flight.¶Do this. When you fly in a small aircraft at a low altitude, the sensation is not so much that the world below gets smaller. The overwhelming sensation is that the sky gets bigger. Bigger than you’ve ever seen it, even from some endless beach, or from out in the desert, or from out the multilayered polycarbonate window of a commercial airliner. The sky pulls you up and surrounds you—it feels as if…

2 min
going for smoke

Chef Westchester, NY It’s a known fact that smoking food can make you feel like a prehistoric superhero—and it doesn’t have to be intimidating. It’s easier than you’d think, but you can’t take shortcuts—you must earn the flavor of perfectly smoked food. All you need is some good meat, a little patience, and a lot of love. Over the years, I’ve smoked everything from pork belly and sausages to fish, beets, tomatoes, and cabbage. I recommend brining or curing your meat a day in advance and smoking as low and slow as time allows, so your finished dish is perfectly seasoned and juicy. That flavor-packed combo of sweet, sour, and smoky pairs perfectly with whiskey—American whiskey to be precise. Bourbon is made when corn, rye, wheat, and malted barley are distilled,…

4 min
tiny device can detect nuclear armageddon

THE TRAIN RIDE was as uneventful as the dozens of others the man had taken from Washington, D.C., to New York City. He watched the scenery change as he headed north past Baltimore, along the Delaware River to Philadelphia, through Newark, then into the long dark tunnel on the final approach to New York’s Pennsylvania Station. Throughout the trip, the device in his pocket—the size of a portable hard drive, all black, with a single button on the center of one side and a blinking blue LED light above it—remained silent. After getting off the train, the man moved with the large midday crowd toward the entrance to the subway. On the uptown platform, standing near a dark-haired woman in her late 40s, he felt his pocket vibrate insistently. He looked…