Popular Mechanics July/August 2017

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
this “buy american” thing

American-made things I have purchased in the last 12 months (abridged): •1 Hamilton dress shirt, gray check (made in Houston) •12 weather-tight window inserts by Indow (made in Oregon) •2 USA Pan Pro Line nonstick baking sheets (made in Pittsburgh) •1 youth Under Armour baseball mouth guard (made in Baltimore) •1 pair 6-inch Original Chippewa boots, size 11 (made in Wisconsin) •3 Fisher Blacksmithing garden tools (made in Bozeman, Montana) •Several bottles (give or take) Taconic Distillery bourbon (made in Stanfordville, New York) Growing up, buying American was big in our house. Plenty of good cars made here, my dad would say. We had a Chevy station wagon, then a Dodge Caravan, then an Oldsmobile Cutlass, then a GMC pickup. This was in the 1970s and ’80s, before manufacturing had completed its almost total exit from this country.…

2 min
about those flags on the cover

If you bought this issue at the newsstand, your cover features one of three custom-made American flags. We commissioned them from three very different types of makers. If you’re a subscriber, however, your cover features musician, maker, and longtime Popular Mechanics reader (his mom brought the old issues to prove it) Jack White. And you’re probably wondering what all this flag talk is about. MAKER: Ben Aroh, Aroh Co. LOCATION: Louisville, Kentucky MATERIAL: Wood Aroh used a CNC router to cut the stripes for the flag and a laser cutter to create the stars. For the colors, he didn’t want to rely on stain. “When you stain a piece of wood, it loses some of its natural beauty,” he says. Instead, he used American hardwoods with distinct coloration: light-colored maple for white, dark walnut…

3 min
the military’s new workhorse

Keep your hands looseon the wheel. I remind myself of this as we fly across a section of foot-deep ruts at 20 mph. You want to let the independent suspension do the work and give the steering wheel freedom to move. In almost any other vehicle, I’d have lost steering control, plowed the front end, and possibly rolled over. As one of the first civilians allowed behind the wheel of the military’s new Joint Light Tactical Vehicle, built by Oshkosh Defense, I’m nervous. I’m driving a 14,000-pound armored truck that costs $399,000, and I’m doing it in front of the engineers who designed it. The JLTV will slowly phase out AM General’s iconic Humvee in U.S. Army and Marine Corps vehicle fleets. (See: “A Eulogy for the Humvee,” December/January 2016.) When it…

2 min
do you (still) need a real camera?

Lynsey Addario brings her camera to places where photographs matter. She brought it to Afghanistan before September 11. She brought it to Libya to document the 2011 revolution, and it got her captured by pro-Qadda fiforces, who held her hostage for six days. She brings it to South Sudan, to ISIS strongholds in Iraq, to the dark corners of the world where Syrian refugees hide. She has no formal training in photography, but she does have a Pulitzer Prize for her work at The New York Times, and she regularly reports for National Geographic and Time. The title of her excellent 2015 book answers the question people always ask about why she keeps carrying her camera into danger: It’s What I Do. She thinks smartphone cameras are well and good,…

2 min
the apes are coming

In the latestPlanet of the Apes sequel, War for the Planet of the Apes (in theaters July 14), apes and humans battle for supremacy—and the future of their species. Again. For the effects company responsible for the simian half of the battle, Weta Digital, the stakes felt nearly as high. “Every movie feels like a startup,” says visual effects supervisor Dan Lemmon, who was nominated for an Oscar for each of the first two Apes films in the current reboot series. Weta can’t just use the same technology from the prior movies. It has to be better. This time, they’ll even have to do it in the snow. 1 THE SNOW Before Weta started on the film, director Matt Reeves gave the creative team a warning: There is going to be snow.…

2 min
north korea: how big a threat?

North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un can launch a short-range missile with a nuclear warhead, but the United States remains at a relatively safe distance. For now. North Korea enjoyed several milestones on the way to a nuclear intercontinental ballistic missile in 2016, including a warhead test and the successful launch of a satellite. According to John Schilling, an aerospace engineer and consultant to the North Korea–monitoring website 38 North, Kim could achieve “initial operational capability in late 2021.” Which, when you’re dealing with a maniac, is much closer than we’d like it to be. NUCLEAR WARHEAD Ready: now or soon Experts surmise that North Koreans put nuclear warheads on short-range missiles in 2013. That technology can be used on an ICBM. “Most North Korean nuclearcapable missiles seem to have a payload section about…