Popular Mechanics September 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

5 min

I’ll say right off the bat: It was my fault. I’m the one who left the key fob on the roof of the car and then drove away. Okay? I did that. But. If I may: I would contend that the car should not have been able to operate when the key fob—the thing that is required to start the engine—was sitting on the roof of the car. Key fob technology is not new—in 2002, Cadillac became the first U.S. manufacturer to come out with a fob that allowed you to start your car without inserting a metal key into the ignition. It was progress for humankind, I guess—except that the key was kind of a nice safeguard against you getting into your car, driving 20 miles through the rain to take…

1 min
popular machanics everywhere

WHAT WE’RE UP TO BEYOND THESE PAGES ONLINE! For the first time since 1979, all 48 contiguous states will be able to see a total solar eclipse, on August 21. But before you go outside, go online. We’ll tell you where you can see the eclipse best, how to view it safely, and, of course, how to take great pictures for your Instagram. Find it at popularmechanics.com/eclipse. PODCAST! For all of the useful information we couldn’t fit in this issue, check out the Most Useful Podcast Ever. Every two weeks, hosts Jacqueline Detwiler and Kevin Dupzyk teach you essential skills—how to keep hackers from infiltrating your computer, how to stay safe in the wilderness, and how to log roll. Yep, log roll. Find out more—including why log rolling is useful— by subscribing to the…

3 min
underwater power tools?

Last summer, two men attempted to fix the busted reel used to wind up and store a pool cover. Although the reel was mounted barely an inch over a filled swimming pool, those idiots—my brother, Mickey, and me—decided not to empty the pool. Instead, we wrapped a 120-volt wired electric drill in layers of garbage bags. Our horrified family gathered as we awkwardly attempted to drive a series of screws without accidentally dunking the drill and electrocuting ourselves. That nightmare is why I was so interested when I heard about Nemo Power Tools, a Hong Kong–based company run by entrepreneur Nimo Rotem. This year, Nemo is launching an expanded series of handheld power tools that are completely waterproof— and, in my case, idiot-friendly. They power through any type of water, even…

5 min
a humongous rocket that just might work

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk has made it pretty clear he wants to die on Mars (just not on impact!). He believes we should be a multiplanetary species, and SpaceX has been marching toward that goal since its founding in 2002. Every new rocket engine, every launch, every trip to the International Space Station is not just a business transaction but also an opportunity to upgrade SpaceX’s engineering savvy and expand its portfolio of launch capabilities. Because before Elon can retire overlooking Olympus Mons, the company is going to need to get a lot of people and payload into space. That’s why, before the year is out, they hope to launch what will be the most powerful rocket on the planet: the Falcon Heavy. It will be a challenge unlike any…

2 min
tvs that hang like paintings

In approximately two years, your 32-inch television will be as thin as a matchstick, as clear as real life, liberated from wires, and cost $400. And it will be a direct descendant of these. LG SIGNATURE OLED 4K WALLPAPER ($8,000 for 65-inch; $20,000 for 77-inch) It measures 0.15 inches, including the wall mount. That’s thinner than the drywall screws you’ll use to hang the mounting bracket. How’d they...? LG put all the ports, speakers, and circuitry in the soundbar-like appendage, which connects to the display with a single flat cable (which you could run behind your wall, for full minimalist effect). And 4K with HDR means that the visuals are the best you can get in 2017. This isn’t the first TV to get thinner by externalizing hardware. But with narrow bezels and…

6 min
tech industry, meet donald

Tesla, SpaceX • KEY DONATION: $5,000 to Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee in 2015 • TWITTER: “Good grief, I’m not ‘working’ for Trump. I’m trying to provide advice that helps take things in a more positive direction.” 2/15/2017 • INSIDER’S VIEW: “Elon Musk and Peter Thiel, next only to the bankers, speak Trump’s language. It’s all about these weird, exceptional, crazy people. ‘The world’s been standing in our way.’ ” —Technology think tank fellow • ASSESSMENT: After months working with the administration, withdrew from advisory boards after the president withdrew from the Paris climate accord. Founders Fund, Palantir Technologies • KEY DONATION: $1 million to the Defeat Crooked Hillary PAC • INSIDER’S VIEW: “Who has held the most power since Inauguration Day? The Thiel operation would be the obvious front runner . . . Best million dollars he…