Popular Mechanics October 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

1 min
how we see now.

For the first time ever, we’ve given the power of video to every story in our magazine. As you read, watch exclusive behind-the-scenes footage from U2’s latest tour, the life of an NYC garbageman, interviews with YouTube’s biggest stars, and more, all in one convenient place, popularmechanics.com/thevideoissue. Or unlock it right now from your phone, on any page that has the Shazam logo. (See below.) Our founders couldn’t have known how video would change the world 115 years ago. We think they would have been excited to be a part of it. We know we are. You probably already have the Shazam app. It’s how you found out that that song you really liked at Applebee’s was actually Nick Jonas. That same app will also immediately take you to the ten…

1 min
watching-paint-dry cam

Live-streaming video has proved to be a revolutionary use of technology that allows you to watch things happening in real time. Anything at all! Even drying paint. First, paint doesn’t dry as we typically think of something drying. Yes, the solvent evaporates from the wet film—but that’s where the similarity ends compared to something like, say, a wet sock. The sock after it dries is not changed. Paint is changed considerably. When you spread paint over a surface, you increase its surface area exponentially, causing rapid evaporation of the solvent in it, whether that be petroleum distillate or water. The paint molecules must then coalesce and interlock into a plastic film. Coalescing agents help it do that, as does the paint resin (the glue which holds the paint together and binds it…

2 min
save this issue

I ran into Casey Neistat in the men’s room at the Oscars, two Oscars ago. I recognized him from his vlog. He looked the same as he does on YouTube, except he was wearing a tuxedo and sunglasses instead of a T-shirt and sunglasses. He had a Samsung Gear 360, which at the time was a spanking-new, golf-ball-shaped camera that tech-type people were going crazy about because it promised to allow the masses to record virtual-reality video. Neistat’s was perched on a selfie stick, and he carried it around like it was a rare bird. “You got one?” I asked him, a little disbelieving, a little jealous. Eddie Redmayne, a nominee for best actor that year, smiled and squeezed by on his way to the row of urinals. “Yeah, Samsung’s letting me play…

18 min
the complete history of video

Shazam the code to watch comedian Travon Free lead you on a tour of the history of video. The history of video stretches across nearly two centuries of technology and culture, but the earliest videos—babies at the breakfast table, men falling down, and cats being cats—are no different from a modern YouTube playlist. Video technology has changed, but the people behind the camera haven’t. That’s because it is people, all of us, who define video. In addition to the cute and furry, we film world-changing events. It was amateurs who captured the JFK assassination, Rodney King beating, and the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami. Of course, we’re also shooting ill-advised taser stunts, exploding whales, and the occasional Sasquatch. Now with nearly 3 billion camera-equipped smartphones worldwide, there’s no better reflection or record…

4 min
war reporter for a day

Filming Delta Force operatives presents two problems. First, we can’t show their faces, lest any of their nefarious counterparts ID someone with whom they might have a mortal grudge. Second, and it’s an obvious one: Nighttime sneak attacks, a Delta Force specialty, happen in the dark. But we’ll make it work. My cameraman, Ed Ricker, and I are in a blackedout Chevy Tahoe blazing through North Carolina cornfields toward the Range Complex, a 1,900- acre training facility outside Fort Bragg. Our driver, name redacted, is an active Delta operative, one of the U.S. Army elite specializing in counterterrorism operations. Such as, say, hostage extraction. At night. Usually in countries that the U.S. might not actually be at war with, and thus bereft of available military vehicles. Those criteria make said Chevrolet…

1 min
cutting vinyl on the fly:

In a large brick alcove situated at the back of a 19th century Army fort, YETI and Third Man Records recently brought people together to sing and play—and cut their own record. At the 2017 Newport Folk Festival, at Fort Adams State Park on the coast of Rhode Island, musicians and fans had the opportunity hop in a 1960s recording booth maintained by Jack White’s Third Man Records. The interactive experience let festivalgoers sing and play guitar into the booth’s Elvis microphone while the machine cut grooves into a small 45 record to take home—a one-of-a-kind recording. The Newport Folk Fest recording booth combined YETI Music and Third Man Records’ passion for bringing vinyl back to prominence. The process of etching grooves into a vinyl disk—hence the term “to cut a…