Popular Mechanics Jul/Aug 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

2 min
moon-landing deniers? i kinda get it

ASTRONAUT BUZZ ALDRIN punched a guy once. Specifically, Bart Sibrel, who says all moon landings were staged, and produced a movie to further that claim. In 2002, outside a Los Angeles hotel, Sibrel accosted Aldrin, told him to swear on a Bible that the moon landing wasn’t fake, called him “a coward, a liar, and a thief.” Then, Aldrin threw a right cross. The scene made me remember Paul Fisher, my high school science teacher. Not because he punched anyone, but because he made me realize how dauntingly complex something like basic orbital physics can be. Before teaching, he was a systems engineer at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. He worked on the Galileo mission to Jupiter, and the Cassini-Huygens mission to Saturn. Brilliant, funny, inspiring, way overqualified, he earns every superlative…

1 min
the space race is getting crowded

1. Jeff Bezos’s spaceflight company Blue Origin unveiled Blue Moon (pictured), its lunar lander. Popular Mechanics reporter Matt Blitz was in Washington, D.C., to cover the presentation, in which Bezos proposed O’Neill Worlds — giant, cylindrical space colonies, named after physicist and inventor Gerard O’Neill. 2. The Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) that Chandrayaan-2, the organization’s second unmanned mission to the Moon, would land its probe in September. It’s the organization’s second mission (the first landed back in 2008). 3. China’s space program is set to launch a probe into asteroid 2016 HO3, which orbits the sun on a path that lines up conveniently with Earth’s. The unmanned spacecraft will pull samples from it, send those specimens back to Earth, then continue on to comet 133P/Elst-Pizarro, located in the asteroid belt.…

1 min
the best headphones for a really long commute

Master & Dynamic MW65 ($500) Expensive, lightweight, and with a battery that lasted me through a week of rides and desk work before needing a recharge. An aluminum core makes them lighter than they look, and the leather covering over the ear cups makes them feel like a premium tech product. Powerbeats Pro ($250) For years, my suspicion was that Beats spent money on marketing that should’ve gone into engineering. The Powerbeats Pro bluetooth headphones, however, are the best in its class. Sweat- and water-resistant, the Pros’ quality justify their price. Apple AirPods 2 ($199) The upgrades are subtle: Wireless charging, and longer talk time—up to three hours. More importantly: Same as the old AirPods, the new model is as convenient as personal audio gets. The original model was such a feat that improvement is…

1 min
can this family suv go off-road?

LIKE DRIVE SAID Kia to Uwharrie National Forest, about 50 miles east of Charlotte, North Carolina, and enter the Daniel Trail, which the USDA Forest Service rates as “extremely difficult.” It’s a course that should’ve humbled a three-row family SUV, but the Telluride’s 17-degree approach angle and 8 inches of ground clearance kept it crawling. When the terrain lifted the left rear tire into the air (above), Kia’s traction control system prioritized power to the wheels still on the ground, as if the Kia had locking differentials like you’d find on a G-Wagen or Wrangler. “The Telluride summits Daniel,” Ezra writes, “possibly making it the first Kia ever to reach this particular place on earth.” On the descent, a sharp rock gave him a flat, but even with the donut…

1 min
meet the new guy!

ON HIS SECOND day of work, we asked Test Editor Brad Ford to introduce himself and offer some tips on assessing a tool like the rest of us do: by reading specs online or staring at it for 10 minutes at a big-box store. (As if he could say no.) I started out working on a farm, where I learned to weld, repair, and paint equipment. With those skills, I got a job at a classic-car dealer, servicing Rolls-Royces and Jaguars, and I amassed a collection of tools housed in one of those big, red, rolling toolboxes. I’ve built a barn with those tools, renovated a 200-year-old schoolhouse, repaired a septic system, and prepped some roughsawn planks just this morning for an upcoming tool test. A good tool lasts. But you have…

1 min
large photo of the month

This is a relatively calm scene for Katlyn Lewis (left) and Anna Cressler, members of the Wyoming interagency hotshot crew (IHC) that battled the Rankin Fire in South Dakota. Using handheld “drip-torches,” the hotshots light the grass in order to keep the larger, uncontrolled fire from spreading, “We are putting a black line to stop the wildfire. When it gets there, it won’t have anything to burn,” says Cressler. Wearing leather boots and flame-resistant Nomex shirts and pants, hotshots use the terrain to move their controlled fire toward the wild fire in order to starve it. They’re careful to get every bit of grass: “We’re doing cleanup,” Cressler says. “That’s why it doesn’t look like we’re in a very concrete lineup. Usually, it’s very structured, but here, we’re getting anything…