Popular Mechanics March 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
from the editor

THE HELP REFLEX FRANCINE MAROUKIAN WAS up from the Philadelphia office the other day. We had to go over her ideas about craft distillers she wants to write about, we had to discuss the year ahead, and we had to eat lunch. For lunch we went to Capizzi, a pizza place tucked into a dusty block behind the Port Authority Bus Terminal. A couple of pizzas and the house red wine make you feel good about the world. Francine told me about a nascent phenomenon she had been noticing—Francine is an expert at noticing nascent phenomena. What she had been noticing: a surge in good citizenship. People— and businesses—acting with compassion. For example: She showed me a picture of the Arch Street Meeting House (@HistoricASMH), a Quaker gathering place near her apartment…

2 min
the reader page

PROJECT OF THE MONTH A DECK CHAIR TO LAST FOR AGES After the third repair, Eric Bleak of Washougal, Washington, was tired of having to fix his store-bought deck chair. So he decided to make his own—one that would stand up to the wind and rain of the Pacific Northwest. Inspired by a video on building furniture out of framing lumber, Bleak, a technical writer, designed a chair that would sit higher than a typical Adirondack, accommodate a standard 24-inch-square cushion, and rest on feet that wouldn’t rot in Washington’s wet climate. With the help of his nephew Dan, a glazier, and his great-nephew Isaiah, a journeyman carpenter, the multigenerational trio built the chair for less than $300 in four hours. With its solid construction and flush-folding-cushion tie-downs, the new seat gives…

1 min
calendar march

MONDAY 3/13 THIS MONTH IN MILITARY HISTORY In March 1942 the Army began its War Dog Program, known as the K-9 Corps. Throughout World War II, the military trained nearly 10,000 dogs for combat. Seven breeds (including German shepherds and Siberian huskies) were used as sentries, messengers, and mine detectors, and were often most valuable when they could warn patrols of surprise attacks. FRIDAY 3/17 HOW TO MAKE A HALF-AND-HALF A traditional Irish beer cocktail can double as a science experiment in density. Guinness, which is relatively lighter, will float on top of most ales. If you do it right. 1. Start with the proper tools: Bass Ale, a Guinness Draught, a spoon, and a pint glass. 2. Pour your Bass into the glass slowly, accumulating as little foam as possible. 3. Place an upside-down spoon…

1 min
popular mechanics every where

AT SEA! In an extraordinary effort to diversify the country’s energy options, Deepwater Wind built America’s first offshore wind farm in the chilly waters off Rhode Island late last year. We got the exclusive details on how engineers constructed the massive turbines and the specially designed European vessel that brought them to America. Check out the story, along with the rest of a special series on new American infrastructure, at popularmechanics.com/infrastructure2017 ONLINE! We know our readers are smart. Now you have the chance to prove it. Each week we’re posting a challenge to spur the technical side of your brain. Like this one: You have two ropes that will take exactly one hour to burn all the way through. They do not burn at constant rates—there are spots where they burn faster or slower,…

4 min
the iditarod air force

Every March, Iditarod mushers making the final push toward the finish line in Nome, Alaska, encounter the barren ice of Norton Bay. They’ve conquered 800 miles of sleep deprivation and bitter cold, but the bay— frozen, flat, white, a 50-mile dash in search of the horizon line—is a brutal test. Humans and dogs become disoriented; every year, teams stall on the ice. Some, in real need of help, decide to scratch. When this happens, in not too long and if the wind is not too oppressive, they’ll hear a dull buzz, slowly growing louder. A Cessna will descend, set down on its retractable skis, and a pilot will get out and load them inside, dogs and all. They will be safe. The Iditarod Air Force is a team of 30 or…

2 min
3d printing reaches the ocean floor

Alot has changed since Fabien Cousteau’s grandfather Jacques started teaching about marine conservation in the 1950s. Sixty years of warming oceans, overfishing, and pollution have left today’s ocean ecosystems significantly damaged. The World Wildlife Fund estimates that one quarter of the world’s coral reefs, for example, are damaged beyond repair, and two thirds are under serious threat. Luckily Cousteau—a self-described techie—can advance conservation with tools his grandfather never dreamed of. Inspired by advancements in 3D printing, Cousteau and a team of researchers from the Fabien Cousteau Ocean Learning Center, his nonprofit that focuses on awareness, education, and research in ocean conservation, are experimenting with printing coral reefs as a method of rehabilitation. This winter a team of divers installed the first artificial reef on the ocean floor off Bonaire, a Caribbean…