Popular Mechanics May 2020

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
1 my pop life

TYLER DASWICK Associate Features Editor Once smuggled an entire rotisserie chicken into a movie theater. The Best Thing I Have on My Desk A cactus. I grew up in Phoenix, a world away from our offices in New York and PA, so this little guy reminds me of home. PRODUCTS I’M USING RIGHT NOW 1 Wüsthof 8-inch Cook’s Knife Delicate enough for dicing but strong enough to pulverize spices and butcher meat. 2 Lodge 10 1/4-inch Cast Iron Skillet It’s the only cooking vessel you need. I’ve used mine for steak, fish, and giant pancakes. 3 The Flavor Bible Instead of recipes, this provides an index of flavor combinations. It renders other cookbooks obsolete. 4 Kuchenprofi 12-inch Tweezers Don’t call these fussy until you’ve used them to pinch eggshells from a bowl. Tongs are for apes. CURRENT PASSION PROJECT I’m teaching myself to cook, but…

2 min
the pop mech riddle that defeated me

I ONLY MADE IT ABOUT HALFWAY through this riddle (right), the first installment from contributor Laura Feiveson. There’s a reason hers are so challenging. She has a Ph.D. in Economics from MIT. She worked at the IMF. And now, on days off from her job as an economist at the Federal Reserve, she creates math puzzles for Pop Mech. For the full explanation of the solution, go to popularmechanics.com/riddle. Trying to solve these kinds of puzzles brings back good memories of computer science and geometry classes. I liked using specific tools and principles to reason toward the answer, all while building a trail of evidence. Getting beat by a “moderate” riddle reminds me: Respect the heroes who use math and logic to solve huge problems. That includes economists like Feiveson, and the…

3 min
cracking the chip: how hacking the nes made it even better

IN 1985, AMERICAN VIDEO games languished in a wasteland. The gaming giant Atari had just folded in a wave of terrible and unplayably buggy third-party games. In its final throes, the company physically dumped millions of cartridges in the Chihuahuan Desert in New Mexico. Afterward, Atari was split up and sold off to competitors. But that fall, an 8-bit phoenix rose from these cartridge ashes: the Nintendo Entertainment System (or NES). Soon, the NES would be in one of every three households in America. In an effort to avoid Atari’s fate, the Nintendo corporation kept a tight grip on what games you could play on their system, so each console came with a top-secret lockout chip, a first for the gaming industry. Nintendo called it the 10NES. It worked like this: Every NES…

1 min
five new nes titles filled with 8-bit gaming greatness

HAUNTED: HALLOWEEN ’86 (2016) “It’s a beat-’em-up hybrid filled with kitschy horror and a combat system like nothing you’d have seen on the NES,” says game designer Caldwell. “We have the benefit of another 30+ years of video game history.” ROLLIE (TBD) Rollie is a shot of pure nostalgia. A woodland-critter Super Mario Bros. with a touch of Metroid movement. That’s why you’re dusting off your NES in the first place, right? MICRO MAGES (2019) Grab three friends and power up your old NES Four Score (the console’s original 4-player adaptor) for this delightful dungeon crawler. It’s a modern spin on the classic platformer genre, filled with the classic baddies: goblins, skeletons, traps, and snakes! DUNGEONS & DOOMKNIGHTS (TBD) A little bit The Legend of Zelda and a little bit Castlevania, this hack,…

3 min
the world’s best new brewers just happen to be robots

WE’VE SEEN artificial intelligence take over many tasks in the everyday world—f rom parking cars to stocking grocery store aisles. So it shouldn’t be a surprise that AI has found its way into the creation of alcoholic beverages, which often involves a host of different ingredients, flavor notes, and precise recipes. A Swedish distillery and a Philadelphia brewery are among the increasing number of manufacturers that have incorporated AI and other out-of-the-ordinary technology in their production. Why involve machines in these venerated crafts? Both companies saw it as an exciting learning experiment, but more importantly, they recognized technology’s ability to develop flavor profiles at lightning speed and standardize production. Just outside Gavle, Sweden, Mackmyra Whisky partnered with Microsoft and Finnish tech company Fourkind to create the world’s first AI-generated whiskey. The distillery…

1 min
a closer look at robot-generated beverages

1 DOCK STREET BREWING CO. SWARM INTELLIGENCE At 4.9 percent ABV, this drone-assisted pale ale was brewed with local orange blossom that’s been fermented out, leaving behind floral, fruity notes and a taste of honey. Ekuanot is the dominant hop, but you can also taste Mosaic and Chinook. 2 MACKMYRA WHISKY INTELLIGENS This Swedish single-malt whiskey, master blended by AI with supervision from D’Orazio, is described as fruity, oaky, and slightly salty with a dryish end. Mackmyra used smaller casks to produce a concentrated flavor. 3 BULLEIT BETA TEST COCK TAIL With the help of Austrian tech company Print A Drink, Bulleit Distilling Co. developed the Beta Test, a light and fruity 3D-printed cocktail. A robotic arm injects suspended beads of colored lemon oil into a mix of Bulleit bourbon, peach and grape juices, and…