ZINIO logo

Popular Science June 2015

This is the most exciting time to be alive in history. Get Popular Science digital magazine subscription today and see why. By taking an upbeat, solutions-oriented look at today's most audacious science and revolutionary technology, we forecast what tomorrow will be like. We deliver the future now.

United States
Camden Media Inc.
4 Issues

in this issue

2 min
toward a brighter future

A few weeks ago, our executive editor forwarded me an invitation to a discussion on the future of energy. From the sound of it, a bunch of engineers were gathering at a local bar to drink beer and delve into the nuances of base loads and grid smoothing. She wrote, “Cliff, this sounds like your idea of a great night out.” She was not being ironic—she was actually right on the mark. Of the many things I geek out on (and oh, there are many), few are closer to my heart than energy. Steam power sparked the industrial revolution; electricity helped usher in the machine age; and oil and gas make possible our current era of globalization. With every innovation in how we harness and use energy, we, as a civilization,…

1 min

Tyler Graham After years of back pain from snowboarding spills and endless desk work, writer Tyler Graham tried a new and unproven stem cell treatment. He wrote about his experience in “The Cure-All” (page 58). Graham knew it was risky, but so far, so good. “I feel great, but sometimes I hear Donald Rumsfeld's voice echoing in my brain,” he says. “When it comes to stem cells, what are the unknown unknowns?" Sarah Charley Sarah Charley majored in chemistry in college but was more interested in writing than lab work. An early assignment left her fascinated by particle detectors. “They let us look into a world that’s impossible to see otherwise,” she says. With help from the European Organization for Nuclear Research, she created instructions for a DIY version in “Build Your Own…

1 min
a bit about us

15K Estimated milligrams of caffeine in all the items on page 36—that’s the same as about 158 cups of coffee Bet you didn’t know… It would take 38 minutes to fall through a (hypothetical) hole from one end of the Earth to the other. Until recently, it was thought to be 42 minutes. What Have You Been Tossing in the Ocean? While reporting on ocean plastic (page 32), we came across a report by the Ocean Conservancy that highlighted the strangest debris found on the planet’s shores. Some of our favorites: •A 1904 typewriter •A lava lamp •A working iPad •A plastic eyeball •A trampoline •A washing machine MISTAKE OF THE MONTH An explosion in a drum containing nuclear waste last year is being blamed on cat litter. For years, lab workers have used it to soak up liquid nuclear waste. However, Los Alamos…

1 min
walking the walk

I read your article about taking a fish for a walk [“Teach a Fish to Walk,” April 2015]. In Pennsylvania I once caught a catfish, took it off the hook, and set it down on a rock. Believe it or not, when I turned back to pick up the fish, it was standing up and very slowly walking across the rock. It was incredible. I haven’t been able to keep any catfish after that afternoon. A BETTER BASEBALL Q: I’m surprised that in the description of the flat-seamed baseball [“How It Works,” April 2015] there was no mention of the effect on pitches. Aren’t the seams what cause a ball to curve or slide because of the way they affect the air flowing over the ball? Alan Bronstein, Elkins Park, Pa. A: The flatter…

1 min
show & tell

In this issue, we showcase absurd robots built to perform pointless tasks (page 68). Send us a picture of the most senseless machine you’ve encountered, and tell us what it’s designed to do. Email showandtell@popsci.com or tweet @popsci #showandtell. NERDY TWEET OF THE MONTH Sodium sodium sodium sodium sodium sodium sodium sodium sodium sodium sodium sodium sodium sodium sodium sodium Batman! @GroundedReason ON THE BRIGHTER SIDE In the April 2015 article “The Dark Web Revealed,” Marc Goodman lists almost exclusively the negative aspects of this portion of the Web and none of its positive ones. The Dark Web was started by our government and paid for with tax dollars, and it can provide a modicum of privacy for the average citizen writing an email or doing research with a search engine. William King, Poinciana, Fla. NOT-SO-CLEAN TECH Your claim that fuel-cell…

1 min
a grill that talks back

Searing steaks and veggies to perfection is a burden when you’re trying to chat with guests—or disappear into the den for a few innings. Luckily, the grill obsessives at Lynx have devised a way to get you off the hook. Their new SmartGrill is a voicecontrolled, WiFi– connected, appdriven stainlesssteel cooker that takes your order and executes it with precision. Start with a command: “SmartGrill, sear some radicchio.” The grill selects a recipe from its online data base and fires up the burners to the right temperature. It tells you where to place the food, and then automatic temperaturesensing probes work with motorized gas valves to ensure everything cooks evenly. When done, the grill shuts off the burners and sends you a text message. In time, its brain, an embedded…