Popular Mechanics South Africa January/February 2021

The South African edition of Popular Mechanics was launched in 2002 and has fast become the acknowledged voice of science and technology in South Africa. Underpinning its rich sci-tech content is an ever-changing mix of articles covering everything from automotive news and outdoor adventures to DIY projects. In essence, it explains how our world works

South Africa
RamsayMedia (PTY) Ltd
12 Issues

in this issue

2 min
let’s get moving

BY THE TIME you read this, I will either be out on the trail, or would have already completed the five-day hike some of my friends and I have planned to celebrate the end of 2020, and the dawn of the new year. And I’m sure I’ll hear no objections from you that getting to the end of 2020 in one piece definitely deserves some celebrating. It was most certainly one for the record books. Reminding my body and legs about physical exertion, in the weeks leading up to our hike, has taken quite some effort. The global health crisis and ensuing lockdown, among many other things, resulted in the majority of us being a lot more inactive for the past nine months or so. It turns out that walking from…

6 min
great balls of fire

WRITE TO US popularmechanics@ramsaymedia.co.za AFTER READING the letter in last year’s March edition, I thought of the projects that I enjoy doing with my children, and the value of the time spent together as a family. I remember how I, as a child, would spend hours in my grandfather’s workshop, and the love it kindled in me for creating and innovation. I hope I’ll be able to convey some of this to my children, which can be a challenge, considering the instant-information world we now live in. This letter might be useful to other readers looking for an easy family project. My kids thoroughly enjoyed the whole process, and in the end it was wonderful to see the satisfaction on their faces – that expression of ‘We made this ourselves, and it…

1 min
it made per fect sense at the time

1 JANUARY 1905 Duluth Aerial Bridge Ferry More than 100 years ago, this cover story told of the Duluth aerial ferry, which was the first structure of its kind in America. The steel-trussed superstructure spanned the Duluth shipping channel, and loads of up to 50 US tons could be transported from tower to tower by means of powerful electric motors. 2 FEBRUARY 1911 The New Vault at the United States Treasury A full-page photo in this article showed the impressive steel door of the vault designed to guard half a billion dollars in the US Treasury. The ‘largest and finest safe in the world’, only unlockable by two trusted employees, was located below ground in Washington DC, and cost more than $34 000 to install. 3 JANUARY 1940 Testing the Warships of Tomorrow World War II had started…

3 min
a quantum leap in the classical world

PHYSICISTS HAVE LONG struggled with a perplexing conundrum: Why do tiny particles such as atoms, photons and electrons behave in ways that bacteria, bees, and bowling balls do not? In a phenomenon called quantum superposition, for example, individual units (say, of light) exist in two states at once. They are both waves and particles, only settling on one or the other if you specifically test for it. This isn’t something that will happen to an object like your desk. It won’t turn solid when you set your coffee cup on it, or liquid if you try to drink it. Superposition has only been observed in the smallest units of matter, which made physicist Markus Arndt of the University of Vienna curious about where the line is. Does quantum weirdness stop at…

3 min
electric shocks might be the secret to better gluten-free bread

WITH THE RISING popularity of gluten-free bread, there is more demand for it lately. The catch? It takes longer to make. But scientists from the Institute of Food Technology of the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences (BOKU) in Vienna, Austria, may have come up with an energy-saving fix: using electric shocks to cook it from the inside out. They believe a concept called ohmic heating could save energy and time during the manufacturing process, according to a paper published in the journal Food and Bioprocess Technology. Ohmic heating passes an electric current through food to generate heat and cook it. This is possible through what’s known as Ohm’s law, where electrical energy is dissipated into heat ‘The heat is generated instantaneously within the complete dough,’ professor of food technology at…

1 min
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