Jacopo Zamboni

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Big Pic: Testing Spacesuits For Mars

Three Mars spacesuit designs hop through obstacle courses.<p>Last week, spacesuit designers tested whether their creations would be flexible enough for a mission to Mars. Teams in two continents suited up to hop over zigzag lines, set up tripods, take photos, and bag pretend samples.<p>Any future …

Deep-Space Engines

Propulsion systems that could carry astronauts to Mars and beyond.<p>STAR-48<p>The fastest chemical rocket ever, the Star-48 engine was built to launch satellites and was recently incorporated into the New Horizons probe, which took off in 2006. Powered by burning a mixture of ammonium perchlorate and …

Cosmic Concept: Laser-Powered Space Travel

To travel to outer solar system and eventually to the stars, we're going to need some big breakthroughs in propulsion, protection from cosmic radiation, and more. Our Cosmic Concepts series looks at the far-out ideas that will take us there.<p><b>Young K. Bae wants us to travel to the moon within hours</b>, …

8 Of The Year's Most Oddly Gorgeous Science Images

A water slide for worms, the glorious C. instagram, and more<p><i>Click here to enter the gallery</i><p>Is this the era of <i>C. instagram</i>? That's the clever name of a cellphone photo one undergraduate took of a plate crawling with <i>C. elegans</i> (it kind of rhymes). <i>Caenorhabditis elegans</i> are microscopic worms that …

Dust Off Your Motorcycle Skills This Summer

With the arrival of warmer weather, many motorcycle enthusiasts are tuning up their bikes. Motorcycle Safety Foundation President Tim Buche wants riders to tune up their skills, too.<p><b>"It can be crazy to think that we recognize</b> the need to tune up our motorcycle, but we don't tune up ourselves or our …

Why Don't We Have Fusion Power?

"Why Don't We Have" is a PopMech series that seeks to quickly explain just why some of the technologies promised by science fiction have yet to become fact. Today: fusion power.<p><b>Fusion energy, simply, is the exact opposite</b> of fission energy, which comes from splitting an atom and is widely used to …

Sun Shot

Beginning in May, a plane will fly across the United States on sunlight alone. In 2015, it will circumnavigate the world.<p>On the morning of March 21, 1999, Bertrand Piccard and Brian Jones landed their balloon in the Egyptian desert, completing the first such nonstop flight around the world. Amid …

The Impossible Dream Of The Hindenburg: How Airships Were Going To Change The World

76 years ago today, the Hindenburg crashed over New Jersey, killing 35 people and ending the era of the airship. From the Popular Science archive, what it would have been like to travel the world in a Zeppelin.<p><i>"Now You Can Fly Around The World," by John E. Lodge and excerpted below, originally</i> …

See Gravity Bend Light In New Telescope Images

A citizen science website wants your help to spot gravitational lenses in never-before-seen pictures.<p>Take an object that's massive enough, and it will bend light around it in what scientists call a gravitational lens. Want to see one for yourself? Maybe you can. Citizen science website Zooniverse …

Mastering the Art of the Motorcycle Slide

PopMech heads to the dirt track to learn the quickest way to get a bike around a sharp corner.<p>American Supercamp is the brainchild of ex-GP racer Danny Walker and seven-time AMA Grand National Champion Chris Carr. It's a two-day course in which riders learn the basics of riding flat track—first in …

College Students Make First-Ever Successful Flight And Landing Of A Concrete Airplane

"I was freaked, because I was really close to it and was worried it was going to hit me."<p>Throughout the storied history of aviation, humankind has fought to slip the surly bonds of Earth using heavier and heavier things. To do it, airplanes need to be lightweight, or have really big wings and a lot …

Make Your Own Miniature Wind Turbine

Wind power is one of the fastest-growing energy sources in the world. With this quick project by Michael Arquin of the KidWind Project, young engineers can build a working turbine in just a couple of hours.<p>Wind power is one of the fastest-growing energy sources in the world. With this quick project …

8 Electrocopters Coming to Conquer the Skies

Electric helicopters are much more than toys. Improvements in battery technology, flight controls, and electric motors are turning them into pocket-size devices for tactical reconnaissance, small machines for carrying medical supplies, and even full-blown

The Best Way to Wrap Your Headphones to Avoid Tangling

Headphone wires ievitably work themselves into a stubborn, knotty mess. Yet there is hope.<p><b>No matter what I do, my headphones end up tangled. Why? And how do I keep them knot-free?</b><p>Blame the second law of thermodynamics, which states that everything tends toward disorder. In this case: Every pair of …

Robotic Housefly Buzzes to Life

A decade-long Harvard project produces the smaller winged robot ever made, which flaps its wings at 120 times per second.<p><b>Flying insects are a pain this time of year</b>, but Harvard researchers couldn't be happier about the bug buzzing around their lab. A study published in <i>Science</i> today announced the …

Why Don't We Have Artificial Gravity?

"Why Don't We Have" is a PopMech series explaining just why some of the technologies promised by science fiction have yet to become fact. Today: artificial gravity.<p><b>One thing that nearly all spaceship-based</b> sci-fi movies have in common is their portrayal of an artificial gravity system. People walk …

4 Ways Eye-Tracking Technology Will Change Our Lives

Eye-tracking technology in our favorite devices can make browsing and gaming more fun, and even keep us safe, but what are the hazards of wandering eyes?<p><b>Those who preordered Samsung's Galaxy S 4 smartphone</b> will be getting more than just a 13 megapixel camera and the latest quad-core processor when …

A Brief History of the Roller Coaster

Russian daredevils, Ulysses S. Grant, and Ferrari have all contributed to the dizzying history of the roller coaster. Sit back and hold on

The Science of Iron Man 3's Free-Fall

Tony Stark is back and saving the world once again in Iron Man 3, now playing. In one of the most dramatic scenes, he saves a baker's dozen of passengers who fall from Air Force One. Is it even remotely possible? We asked a free-fall expert to find out. (Warning! Here be spoilers.)<p><b>A terrorist blows</b> …

Flying Unmanned Aircraft in the Face of Authority

Team BlackSheep, makers of thrilling YouTube aerial videos and antagonists of the FAA, tell us about the controversial art of first-person-view flying. (Originally published on May 7, 2013.)<p><b>Update, March 7, 2014</b>. A judge today threw out a $10,000 fine that the Federal Aviation Administration had …

Beyond the B-2: America's Next Stealth Jet

With billions of dollars committed to the B-2's replacement, the question is: What should this warplane be prepared to do?<p>America's airspace is crossed with invisible tracks, lanes with designated entrance and exit points that warplanes use for aerial refueling. Our track is No. 16, heading …

From WWII to the B-2, the Evolution of the Flying Wing

The design of the flying wing, an aircraft type with no distinct fuselage or tail, goes back to the early days of evolution. We retrace its flight path through history.<p><b>June 1946</b><p>Test pilot Max Stanley flies the XB-35, the distant grandfather of the B-2. It will take decades of engineering progress …

How the Next-Gen Stealth Bomber Will Work

With the help of pilots and military aviation experts, PopMech draws up our vision of the B-2's replacement.<p><b>Shun Specialty Parts</b><p>Mechanics at Whiteman Air Force Base gripe about the lack of suppliers for airplane parts—some small firms went out of business 15 years before their parts needed …

Unconventional Energy: The Good, the Bad, and the Unknown

A panel of experts discusses the facts on fracking and other new forms of energy recovery.<p><b>As the world's easy-access oil supplies dry up</b>, North America is increasingly turning to unconventional sources—such as drilling in the deep sea, mining oil sands, and using hydraulic fracturing (fracking) to …

Mars One: Nearly 80,000 Have Applied to Leave Earth Behind

The reality TV project has seen a flood of applicants for its proposed one-way trip to Mars.<p><i>Welcome home. Credit: NASA</i><p>There's a deflating sort of pain that comes from paying cash not for the thing you want, but just a chance at the thing you want. Think of application fees for trying to get an …

2013 Invention Awards: Family Flier

A homebuilt airplane designed with maximum efficiency in mind.<p>John McGinnis thinks ordinary families would rather skip the airport and fly themselves. So he is trying to reinvent the personal airplane with the help of his father, son, and a rotating crew of about two dozen volunteers. Unlike small …