Popular Mechanics October 2018

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
work music

I HAVE a cheap RadioShack clock/radio in my basement workshop that stays on all the time. When I’m down there, it’s tuned to classic rock, and when my son is doing his woodworking or dismantling a Nerf gun, it’s on the pop hits station. I read once that the guys who operate the manual scoreboard inside the Green Monster at Fenway Park leave a radio on to keep rats away, and I figured my basement radio might scare away field mice and chipmunks. But that’s not the only reason it’s there. You have to have music while you work. We recently—you may have noticed—started running a little playlist on our Shop Notes page called “Songs to Clean the Garage To.” Shop Notes dates to the early days of Popular Mechanics (we…

1 min

AT THE BOOKSTORE CHECK OUT this year’s Best American Science and Nature Writing anthology, which includes senior writer Jacqueline Detwiler’s “It’ll Take an Army to Kill the Emperor.” The story, which was published in our June 2017 issue, follows the most innovative doctors and researchers trying to cure cancer. Buy Best American Science and Nature Writing at your local bookstore or on Amazon, starting October 2. THE PODCAST Have you ever had a great idea for an invention? (Remote-control cars that are also vacuums, anyone?) On the Most Useful Podcast Ever, we’re discussing inventions we wish existed, and how people make those ideas into a reality. Where do you start? How do you get a patent? Find out on the Most Useful Podcast Ever, available on Apple Podcasts. ONLINE Popular Mechanics has always been a…

3 min
a new twist on an old project

FOR AS LONG as he can remember, reader Eric Kaltenbacher’s father, Helmut, had talked about building a Swiss clock project featured in the August 1964 issue of Popular Mechanics. A trained wood patternmaker and builder, Kaltenbacher’s father had bought tools for the project over the years but never got around to completing it. This past winter, around Christmas, Kaltenbacher took matters into his own hands and decided to build the clock himself. He hoped to finish in time to present the gift on Father’s Day. “I went into it determined to finish,” Kaltenbacher said of the intricate project. “I wasn’t sure if it was going to be enough time or not, but I set that as a goal.” Kaltenbacher, an electrical and optical engineer, had a photocopy of the old article…

3 min
global hackers’ next target: startups

A Q&A WITH: BILL PRIESTAP, assistant director of counterintelligence, FBI LOST IN THE DIZZYING ESCALATION of multibillion-dollar tariff decrees is the fact that there are other ways to cripple international trade. Bill Priestap, assistant director of the FBI’s counterintelligence division and a 20-year veteran of the agency, says corporate espionage has moved beyond spy-versus-spy and into the realm of businessmen, scientists, and academics—and that it may increasingly target smaller companies that don’t have a security apparatus built in to their business plan. POPULAR MECHANICS: Which industries are the main targets of espionage by foreign countries? BILL PRIESTAP: China has this effort called Made in China 2025, in which the Communist party has identified ten areas where they want to become more self-sufficient. Things like artificial intelligence, robotics, biotechnology, energy, aerospace [which are all…

1 min
how startups can stay safe

COMPANY Medrobotics, a medical devices company LOCATION Raynham, Massachusetts WHY IT’S A TARGET After a decade and $200 million in fund-raising, in 2015 Medrobotics got FDA approval for a flexible robot that gives surgeons less invasive options for several procedures. WHY IT MIGHT RING A BELL Last year, CEO Samuel Straface was leaving the office one night and noticed an unfamiliar face in his conference room, sitting with a bunch of electronic devices. Straface asked the man who he was there to see. The man said the CEO. Straface said, “I’m the CEO,” and called the police. Charges against the intruder—Dong Liu, a Chinese and Canadian dual citizen—of attempting to steal trade secrets were eventually dropped. The Justice Department hasn’t said why. WHAT TO DO • Divide your offices into physical zones that each require clearance—that’s what kept Liu…

2 min
our favorite halloween costume

Ryan Weimer, a 39-year-old nurse in Woodburn, Oregon, began his Halloween tradition when his son Keaton, who has muscular dystrophy, was three years old and wanted to be a pirate. It was his first year using a wheelchair, and Weimer (below) wanted to make sure it was great. “I thought, well, this wheelchair is just as much a part of him as my legs are for me, so we should dress this thing up too,” Weimer said. He bought plywood and built a pirate ship for Keaton’s wheelchair. “It’s easy for kids with disabilities to be excluded, but that Halloween, he became the center of attention for a completely different reason than being a kid in a wheelchair,” Weimer says. “It was total, epic inclusion.” Weimer has since turned wheelchairs into…