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Popular Science September 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
power of inspiration

On a recent afternoon, I found myself standing with Neil deGrasse Tyson, staring at a model of DNA. Tyson is one of the world’s best-known scientists. He is the director of the Hayden Planetarium at the American Museum of Natural History and the host of StarTalk, the first science-themed, late-night TV talk show. But on this particular afternoon, he was playing the role of educator. “DNA has a chirality to it,” he said. In all known life, DNA’s double helix winds, by and large, only one direction—to the right. “This model winds to the left. That means it’s either wrong or,” he paused to give a broad smile, “from an unknown life-form.” We had asked Tyson over that day to photograph him for this month’s cover story, “How to Be an Expert…

1 min

Bob Parks For “Go Hack Yourself” (page 60), writer Bob Parks reported on people who implant devices in their flesh that allow them to do things like hear colors and see in the dark, and that led him to want a few superpowers of his own. He plans to implant a magnet in his fingertip so he can feel electric fields and dangle pins from his finger (a great party trick). Parks says, “My kids think it’s a stupid idea.” Erik Sofge Contributing editor Erik Sofge loves robots. His Twitter bio reads: “I am weak, and they are strong.” So when he heard that the car-service startup Uber had hired away dozens of roboticists from Carnegie Mellon— home to one of the nation’s top robotics programs—for a secret project (“Uber Powerful,” page 48),…

1 min
bounce imaging rolls out

In 2013, we gave an Invention Award to the Bounce Imaging Explorer. The rugged ball holds a panoramic camera that police can toss into potentially dangerous sites before entering. After testing 20 different models, Bounce Imaging released its first product to police departments this past July. SECRET EXPERTISE Clearly, we know how to put a magazine together, but it turns out some of us have a few other skills up our sleeves. An abridged list: • Licensed massage therapist • Professional clown • Outdoor guide • Figure-skating instructor • Fermentation enthusiast • Astronomer ROBOT HELPER GETS HIRED For our November 2014 issue, we sent a writer to Japan to meet the first wave of social robots. This June, Japanese telecom Softbank began selling Pepper, one of the robots we featured. The first 1,000 units sold out in one minute. LISTEN UP Ever…

2 min
peer review

JULY 2015 RETRO-FITTED I’d love to see more of Tavis Coburn’s artwork [July 2015] adorning the cover of Pop Sci. The bright colors and vintage texture seemed like a throwback to the optimism of the old days, when it was inevitable that science could solve everything. It got my heart pounding! BJ Hill, Leicester, Massachusetts A BETTER COMMUTE Instead of the hyperloop [“Hyped Up,” July 2015], a better/faster/cheaper transportation method would be a highway for driverless cars. Rarely mentioned in high-speed-transportation discussions is the time it takes to get to the terminal and make it through security. Is there anyone who doesn’t want to go 120 mph on a driverless highway? The only thing missing is a fancy name! Jeff Kotowski, Nevada City, California ETHICS OF COMBAT I loved the article “The Future of War” [July 2015] except…

1 min
greetings! my name is meccanoid.

MECCANOID G15 KS Height About 4 feet Parts More than 1,200 Servos 8 Motors 2 Price $400 MECCANOID G15 Height About 2 feet Parts More than 600 Servos 4 Motors 2 Price $180 Tinker Toys. Legos. Lincoln Logs. They’re all great. But none them can compare to the snap-it, screwit, city-building brilliance of the Erector set, which has inspired tiny tinkerers for more than a century. The latest kit from parent company Meccano is the Meccanoid—the smartest DIY bot to ever spill out of a box. The kit contains hundreds of parts that you can reassemble into countless forms—from scorpions and spiders and kid-size raptors to these lovable humanoids. (Awww.) Once assembled, Meccanoid can crack jokes, act on voice command, and be programmed with custom moves. You can do this in three ways.…

2 min
the future arrives by sedan

When the BMW i8 rolled off dealer lots this past year, the few gearheads who could afford one (sticker price: $136,500) were awed: Zero to 60 in 4.2 seconds, a carbon-fiber body, and a slate of futuristic features, including a no-blind-spot panoramic view of the road, made this three-cylinder hybrid a list-topper in several categories. Now BMW is pouring the i8’s feature set into its more classic and affordable models. The 2016 7-Series is the first. Its carbon-fiber body gives it similar athleticism to the i8—a huge benefit for a wide, but spacious, four-door sedan. 2016 BMW 7 SERIES 0-60 speed 5.6 seconds Engine 315 horsepower Fuel economy 22 miles per gallon Price $74,000 When the BMW i8 rolled off dealer lots this past year, the few gearheads who could afford one (sticker price: $136,500) were awed:…