Popular Mechanics July 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
my pop life

DAISY HERNANDEZ News Editor Waiting for my phone to stop ringing so I can go back to snapping pics of my pup. The Best Money I Ever Spent Definitely the money I used to take a trip to Iceland in 2017. Being there was surreal—like visiting an entirely new world. My Favorite POP Story So Far “Burning Out: What Really Happens in a Crematorium”—I’ve always been morbidly curious about undertaking. THIS IS SONNY She’s a three-month-old Australian cattle dog/Shiba mix we recently rescued from our local animal shelter. She spends half the day sleeping to recover from being insanely rambunctious the other half of the day CURRENT PASSION PROJECT A home reno! We closed on a home at the end of January and have been completely redoing the entire property. PRODUCTS I’M USING RIGHT NOW 1 Sony MDR-XB950BT Headphones Even after sweaty gym…

2 min
should your car have solar panels?

YOU CAN GET THEM ON THE NEW Hyundai Sonata Hybrid Limited ($35,300), which I tested one for a week, under existentially strange but mechanically ideal conditions. Except for a 10-mile drive to the grocery store and back, the car sat in the driveway, its 205-watt system earning free, clean power, I thought. Hyundai estimates that a day with at least six hours of good sun will gain two miles of range. But those figures are for a car in Los Angeles—where a lack of driving has cleared pollution. The cloud-covered northeast, where I was, wasn’t as efficient. During my week with it, if the panels were working, I couldn’t tell. Maybe they were gathering power to run the air conditioning and radio. But the car’s range calculator (552 miles) was the…

3 min
before there was white claw, there were highballs

IN THE BLAZING SUMMER HEAT, NOTHING feels quite so refreshing as a sparkling cocktail. Bartenders and the spirits industry have quenched our collective thirst with one fizzy drink after another, be it a scotch and soda, Aperol spritz, or most recently a White Claw. Canned hard seltzer—a low-ABV concoction of seltzer water, alcohol made from fermented sugars, and fruit flavors—became last summer’s unofficial drink, with sales skyrocketing by more than 286 percent, to $2.73 billion, from 2018 to 2019. Trendy? Definitely. But new to the drinking scene? Not exactly. “This is a drink that’s based off a long history of a similar drink,” says Derek Brown, who owns the award-winning bar Columbia Room in Washington, D.C. “This is not very new that people are consuming essentially what amounts to a highball.”…

1 min
three highballs perfect for summer sippin’

THE RED CLAW 1 oz. Campari6 oz. lime seltzerDash of Peychaud’s BittersOrange slice (optional) Fill a glass with ice. Pour in seltzer, followed by Campari and bitters. Stir briefly. Garnish with orange slice. HORSE’S NECK 1½ oz. whiskey (bourbon or rye)4 oz. ginger beerPeel from one lemon Place lemon peel into a Collins glass and fill with ice. Add whiskey, top with ginger beer, and stir briefly. For a twist, add a dash of aromatic bitters. ANGOSTURA PHOSPHATE ½ tsp. acid phosphate1 tsp. Angostura bitters1 oz. lemon syrup Soda water Combine the first three ingredients in a Collins glass. Add soda water and ice (if desired); stir briefly. Note: Acid phosphate adds a dry, tart flavor to drinks. You can buy it online To make the lemon syrup: Stir ¾ cup of sugar into the juice from four lemons. In…

3 min
the b-52 is america’s longest-serving plane—and the most badass

LIKE MANY OF AMERICA’S legendary aircraft, the B-52 was built to offset the Soviet threat that characterized the Cold War. The U.S. needed a bomber to reach far-flung Soviet targets, defeat their air defenses, and carry a massive atomic payload. Boeing’s initial 1948 designs included swept wings and six massive turboprop engines—a nod to the Soviets’ long-range bomber, the Tupolev Tu-95 Bear. But when one brash Army officer fielded Boeing’s proposal and told the aeronautical designers to ditch the props, they came back with an all-new, eight-engine jet bomber. One Boeing historian would later call it “the perfect form of the subsonic jet.” The first B-52 Stratofortress hit the skies on April 15, 1952, three years after the Soviet Union developed its first atomic weapon. It would take three more years for…

1 min
going the distance

How has the B-52 stood the test of time while other military aircraft haven’t? Because it was engineered to keep aerodynamic and payload forces in balance during missions, minimizing stresses that weaken other planes over time. Active B-52s aren’t patchwork quilts of structural components pilfered from retired airframes—they’re almost entirely the real thing, down to the flight controls, control surfaces, and cable linkages. The Air Force has also (mostly) held off on modifying the B-52’s core hardware. While it seemingly makes sense to upgrade the eight low-bypass engines with four modern, high-bypass engines, that requires a costly redesign of the entire wing, since the new engines’ weight and placement would have been dramatically different from the original Pratt & Whitney J57 turbojets, which hung in pods of two each. Now…