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Popular Science November 2015

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United States
Camden Media Inc.
4 Issues

in this issue

2 min
in the line of fire

“OF ALL THE VARIABLES THAT COME TOGETHER TO FUEL A FIRE, WEATHER IS THE LEAST PREDICTABLE, AND THEREFORE THE MOST DANGEROUS. As our November issue went to press, the American West was on track to suffer its worst fire season in recorded history. At publication, about 8.9 million acres had burned, and the worst of California’s fire season still lay ahead. It will be months more before we understand the season’s true cost in terms of lives lost and dollars spent. With the deepening drought in the West, we at Popular Science had expected a bad fire season, and before it began, we got in touch with writer Kyle Dickman. Kyle knows wildfires. He is a former member of the Tahoe Hotshots, a wildfire-fighting crew. He also wrote On the Burning Edge,…

1 min

Jeremy Hsu Tech writer Jeremy Hsu admits he’s not a car guy. But the Bloodhound SSC, he says, “is guaranteed to quicken anybody’s pulse.” The jet-and-rocketpowered car will vie for the land-speed record of 763 mph next year. Hsu says he usually reserves his admiration for aircraft pilots, but after writing “A Fighter Jet on Wheels” (page 30), he says now he’s amazed by “the pioneers who push the envelope here on Earth.” Liz Kruesi Writer Liz Kruesi loves when art and science intersect. And so when we asked her to use origami in an engineering project for Manual (“Fold a Paper Robot,” page 59), she relished the task. Her border collie mix, however, was less than thrilled with the end product. “She jumped on the bed, then crawled under it, then circled…

2 min
peer review

RELATIVITY OR CALCULUS? On page 54, we honor the 100th anniversary of Albert Einstein’s theory of general relativity. We now ask you the same question we put to Neil deGrasse Tyson: Albert Einstein or Isaac Newton? Tweet your answer to @PopSci with #NewtonOrEinstein. See Tyson’s answer in the videos section of our Facebook page. TWEET OUT OF CONTEXT Can it snapchat? @SchulerJohnny UBER EXPENSIVE, OR CHEAP? In “Uber Powerful” [September 2015], we outlined the car service’s plan to one day launch a fleet of robotic taxis, thereby freeing people from the need to own cars. Some readers saw benefits; some did not: MICHAEL RYAN Autonomous cars will take years to fully implement. Roads have to be redesigned so the cars can read them. HENDRIK BERVOETS Maybe Uber is not the solution, but something like it is. I pay…

1 min

Biologists on Twitter had a #Cuteoff to determine the most adorable creatures known to science. We couldn’t resist contributing this nominee, called “unknown cute bee” in a book on global bee diversity featured on popsci.com. HEY, SIRI For the tech editors here at Popular Science, the Fall Apple Event is sort of like the Super Bowl: heavy with anticipation and subject to lots of morning-after commentary. To check out our thoughts on the big reveal—including upgrades to Apple TV and Siri, Apple Watch, iPhone 6S, and the iPad Pro with an Apple Pencil—go to popsci.com/tags/apple-fall-2015-event. Q: WHAT VEHICLE WOULD YOU RACE IN A GRAND PRIX? 1 I might not win, but give me an old Mustang or Camaro, and I’d be happy. 2 As long as we’re dreaming, I’d like to ride a Strandbeest (page…

1 min
a pint-size companion

PLEN Price $1,000 CPU 32 bit ARM7 chip Ports USB Battery Life 30 minutes Robots continue to show up in homes, factories, and hotels. So why not your desk? The 9-inch-tall Plen desktop bot is small enough to hang out next to your coffee mug and smart enough (thanks to a microprocessor and 18 tiny motors) to perform complex movements. It can disco dance, high-five, kick a small soccer ball, lift itself up when it falls over, and even hug another robot. You control Plen by way of a smartphone app. It comes programmed with hundreds of moves. If you get bored with Plen’s preset routines, you can drive it with a joystick on the smartphone screen. Because its software is open-source, coders can invent new moves. For those who can’t code, a software kit lets…

2 min

1 COIN 2.0 Few people enjoy storing a stack of credit cards in their wallet. Coin 2.0 trims the fat. It reprograms its magnetic strip during each purchase, allowing you to put different cards to use. Up to eight cards can be stored in the device at once. Plus it has NFC for tap-to-pay. $100 2 THING EXPLAINER The creator of famed Web comic xkcd is once again venturing into the physical world with his art. Randall Munroe’s newest book, Thing Explainer, tells how everything works— from ballpoint pens to the solar system. Required reading for the curious. $25 3 OAXIS INDUCTIVE SPEAKER Moments of silence while pairing friends’ phones to wireless speakers can kill a party’s buzz. Oaxis hopes to make the process smoother: Just lay your device on the stereo’s pad, and you’re…