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Popular Mechanics South AfricaPopular Mechanics South Africa

Popular Mechanics South Africa January/ February 2019

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
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12 Issues


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plane and simple

MY FAVOURITE PIECE of furniture is a bench-cum-coffee table that my father made for me, which has pride of place in our lounge. It’s made of reclaimed oak, it has a wonderful natural knothole in the supporting cross-beam underneath, it features meticulously hand-sawn dovetail joints on each end, and is lovingly inscribed on the underside, including the year it was made – 2013. My next favourite item is our dining-room table. It’s a simple piece, fashioned from reclaimed pallet wood. Glasses don’t balance too well on top, but I love the warm and comfortable vibe it gives off. It’s also where my special people and I sit around eating together, laughing, and sometimes drinking too much red wine. Then (and lastly in the furniture favourites ranks) comes our bed (well,…

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WINNING LETTER BONDING MATERIAL My dad is a fixer, a builder, an inventor, a saver of perished things, but most importantly, he is my dad. Ever since I could remember, he’s been buying Popular Mechanics. I used to think, ‘What a boring, typical dad magazine,’ until a year ago when one of your bright and colourful covers caught my eye. So I picked it up to have a look… From that day, whenever my dad buys the month’s issue, I sneakily steal it without him knowing, and get so excited to see what new things I can learn. Since then, I’ve found out about the honeycomb satellite being built for outer space, I’ve learnt about the latest tech gadgets, and how a number of movie stunts were filmed. Your magazine is not just for…

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time machine

1 DECEMBER 1974 Calculators Get Smaller, Smarter and Cheaper By the end of ’74, things were heating up on the calculator market, and their prices were dropping. We focused on how to choose the right one, considering features like floating decimals, number of digits, ‘ feel ’ of the keys, and power supply. Scientific calculators were cutting edge, with the ability to perform trigonometric and logarithmic calculations. 2 MAY 1954 13 000 Feet Under the Sea In the French Bathyscaphe We covered the bathyscaphe, a crude submarine used by two French seamen in the Atlantic Ocean off Dakar to descend to the record depth of 4 049 m. Designed for deep-sea research (and not just record-setting), the vessel’s superstructure comprised mainly tanks filled with gasoline. 3 AUGUST 1964 Chair That Climbs Stairs ‘Steep stairways needn’t be agony for…

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large photo of the month

In November 2018, construction broke ground in Dubai on a R550 million, 12 000 square metre vertical farm, the largest in the world. For now, however, the Newark, New Jersey, headquarters of AeroFarms (pictured) still holds that title: At 6 500 square metres, with lightweight plant beds stacked under a custom array of LED lights, the facility yields 900 000 kg of greens per year. That’s 390 times more productive than a traditional farm would be with the same amount of land – while using 95 per cent less water. When water and arable land are scarce, or import costs are steep, this new kind of farm offers a way to grow fresh, local, and environmentally sustainable produce.…

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packaging is killing us

Between Thanksgiving and New Year in the US in 2017, USPS, FedEx, and UPS together delivered around 2 billion packages, many of them composed of plastic and cardboard shipping material. We know one-use packaging has a big energy footprint. And a UN study found that if we don’t dramatically cut greenhouse gas emissions, we could see severe food shortages, intense droughts, and more wildfires by 2040. So why isn’t this getting any better? PACKAGING WASTE IN PERSPECTIVE In 2015, ¼ of paper and cardboard made in the US ended up in a dump. 68 million tons of new cardboard in 2015 Same impact as 94 coal-fired power plants running for 1 year Recycling 1 ton of cardboard Energy equivalent to 400 litres of petrol TOTAL VOLUME (MILLIONS OF SQUARE METRES) WHY IS THIS GRAPH SO BORING? Since e-commerce sales…

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there could be hope after all

1/ A BETTER KIND OF STYROFOAM. The mushroom-based packing material Ecovative makes only requires ⅕ to ⅛ the energy used by a similar piece of plastic foam. Mycelium samples grow through and around agricultural waste like wood chips to form fully compostable padding – pretty much the opposite of polystyrene, which can take more than a million years to biodegrade. 2/ A MAILER YOU CAN REUSE FOR TEN YEARS. That’s ten years with no new boxes. The customer just folds up Limeloop’s waterproof mailer – which used to be a vinyl billboard – and sends it right back to the vendor for the next shipment. The firm will be testing a pilot programme this year in collaboration with companies including Toad & Co., MAIKA, and Western Rise.…