Popular Mechanics

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How To Cut Drywall With Just a Tape Measure and Utility Knife

Your guide to mastering that slick-looking method the pros use to save time.<p><b>I once saw union carpenters cutting perfect pieces of drywall with only a tape measure and a utility knife. How do I do that?—</b><i>Jarett R., Oakland, California</i><p>First thing you should do is watch the video that <i>Fine Homebuilding</i> …

What Is Going on With the Northeast's Weather?

This week will see the fourth nor'easter of the month. What the heck is going on?<p>This week, meteorologists are predicting that a nor’easter will hit the East Coast. If you’re keeping track, that makes the fourth this month alone, an inconvenient anomoly that will have you working out all your …

So You Want To Play Dungeons & Dragons...

Learn a roleplaying game that lasts a lifetime.<p>Call it fate, luck, or <i>Stranger Things</i>, but the wheel of time has turned and now, suddenly, <i>Dungeons & Dragons</i> is popular again.<p>According to game's publisher Wizards of the Coast, 2016 and 2017 were <i>Dungeons & Dragons'</i> most profitable years since its …

China Working on a New Heavy-Lift Rocket as Powerful as Saturn V

The Long March 9 is slated to fly to the moon sometime around 2030.<p><i>(Image: The heavy-lift carrier rocket Long March 5 moves to the launch tower at Wenchang Space Launch Center on October 28, 2016 in Wenchang, Hainan Province of China.)</i><p>China is working on a new generation of heavy-lift rocket …

The Original IBM Thinkpad Was a Literal Notebook

Not a lot of processing power here.<p>When you hear the name "Thinkpad" what comes to mind? A black, boxy, business-grade laptop with a tiny red nub for a mouse? Naturally, but that's not what the first thinkpad was in the slightest. As it turns out, the iconic computer line got its name from a much …

YouTuber Who Builds Extreme DIY Lasers Suspended From Site

Drake Anthony's channel is in danger of being permanently taken down.<p>Drake Anthony, a YouTuber who began his channel styropyro in 2006, posted a video today on an alternate channel explaining that he received a "strike" on YouTube banning him from posting to the site for two weeks. This is the …

Cars Need To Do the Boring Driving So We Don't Have To

Adventures in sort-of self-driving cars.<p>Self-driving cars got boring. We heard the hype about the world-changing benefits. We saw Google's plucky test cars venture out in the world. But somewhere along the way, autonomous vehicles drove into an expanse of indifference, the place where tech gets …

Uber Self-Driving Car Kills Pedestrian in Arizona

What could be a tragic first might have industry-shaping repercussions.<p>A pedestrian in Tempe, AZ has died following a collision with an Uber self-driving car, the <i>New York Times</i> is reporting. The incident might be the first known pedestrian death caused by the technology. Uber has suspended all …

This Drone Footage of an Awful Winter Storm Will Make You Pine for Spring

Winter can be gorgeous, but we're done.<p>There's a lot of beauty in this drone footage of a winter storm, but it's still hard watch and not yearn for warmth. As winter drags on, it gets harder to appreciate the continued cold and occasional snow. But at least this footage is a reminder that winter …

This Giant Harpoon Was Built to Clean Up Space Junk

It's one of several ways scientists are trying to clear the skies, before it's too late.<p>Space junk is a huge problem. In fact, if we don't do something about the more than 20,000 objects—from defunct satellites to paint chips—that are orbiting Earth, we may one day be unable to leave the planet at …

Sky Phenomenon 'Steve' Is Finally Explained

It looks like the northern lights, but Steve is different.<p>Amateur Canadian sky-watchers have spent years viewing and photographing a streak of light across the sky. Too far south to be the aurora borealis, or northern lights, the spectators named the phenomenon simply, "Steve," in an homage to a …

New York Town Bans Bitcoin Miners

They simply use too much electricity.<p>While the Bitcoin stumbles through its cycles of hype and crashing, in upstate New York, it's facing a new challenge: a ban on mining. The city council of Plattsburgh, New York has placed an 18-month moratorium on Bitcoin mining, believed to be the first such …

The Hilarious (and Terrifying?) Ways Algorithms Have Outsmarted Their Creators

Evolutionary algorithms can turn up ingenious, unexpected solutions. They also love to cheat.<p>Flying saucers have yet to land—at least, not that we've confirmed—but alien intelligence is already here. As research into AI grows ever more ambitious and complex, these robot brains will challenge the …

Watch These Cool GIFs Restore Ancient Ruins to Their Former Glory

The Parthenon leaps back to life.<p>Even in their ruined formed, the glory of the Parthenon in Greece and the Luxor Temple in Egypt draw myriad tourists every year. However, it can be hard to imagine what these buildings looked like in their dazzling original forms. That’s why Expedia recently showed …

All Galaxies Take a Billion Years to Rotate. Which Is Really Cool, and Totally Weird.

Big or small, dense or empty, it's one thing they all share.<p>Galaxies come in all shapes and size, and NASA's best estimates indicate there are more than 200 billion of them in the observable universe. According to the latest findings from the International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research …

Microsoft Laptops Are Up to 31.4% Off for Pi Day

Covering laptops from HP, Dell, Lenovo, and ASUS.<p>It's Pi Day and the brands are taking advantage, and in some instances, that can mean more than just an annoying tweet. Microsoft, for example, is offering models from HP, Dell, ASUS, and Lenovo for just $314, ranging in discounts from $35-$285.<p>But …

Pi Makes Perfect Sense in These Simple Animations

We all know pi is (roughly) 3.14, but where did that number come from?<p>When Isaac Newton computed pi to 15 decimal places in the 17th century, he wrote, "I am ashamed to tell you to how many figures I carried these computations, having no other business at the time." Interestingly enough, that is …

The Startup That Would Kill You To Let You Live Forever

Nectome has developed an embalming process to preserve a brain for future generations. The catch is you have to be alive for it to work.<p>For anyone who fears the abyss of death but also has a spare $10,000 lying around, there's a wild-sounding new way to (maybe) cheat the grim reaper. Of course, the …

We Now Have a Name for New Horizons' Next Target: Ultima Thule

The spacecraft will fly by the distant world on the first day of 2019.<p>New Horizons is speeding away from Earth at over 30,000 miles per hour, rapidly becoming one of the most distant objects humans have ever launched. The spacecraft has already visited Pluto, the farthest world any mission has ever …

The Risk of the Dakota Pipeline Is a Leak Just Too Small to For Tech to Notice

A technical report from the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe alleges the pipeline's leak detection tech is woefully insufficient.<p>Although oil has been flowing through the Dakota Access pipeline for 9 months, the fight over the project is not yet over. The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, whose protests against …

Whatever Happened to the V-Chip?

Long irrelevant, the small piece of hardware was once seen as a generational savior.<p>Twenty years ago today, the FCC formally approved what was seen as a sweeping step against violence, sex, and vulgar language in the media. On March 12, 1998, the agency announced the technical standards for …

People Are Attacking Driverless Cars

Both incidents happened in San Francisco.<p>One problem with self-driving cars is people.<p>The Los Angeles Times reports that of six crash reports filed in California so far this year, two involved a person attacking a robot car.<p>Both incidents happened in San Francisco, according to Department of Motor …

NOAA To Launch a Navy of Sailboat Drones to Monitor the Pacific Ocean

The drones will replace NOAA's aging network of buoys to monitor ocean currents and weather patterns.<p>The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration maintains a network of sensors across the world to monitor weather patterns, temperatures, ocean currents, and more. Part of this network is a …

8 Awesome New Electric Cars You Need To Know

The powerhouse EVs from the 2018 Geneva Motor Show.<p>The days of electric cars looking like toasters or science projects is over. At this year's Geneva Motor Show, all the hottest new EVs draw eyeballs with styling first and promise to become the next great driver's car or the next great super-luxury …

10 Vintage Motorcycle Ads That Will Make You Want to Buy a Bike Right Now

Keep Your Tools Organized With DeWalt's Storage Sale

If your garage or shed is looking a bit messy, this will help.<p>If you've got more tools than you can handle, a timely DeWalt sale is here to help. A bucket tool organizer, large ToughSystem case, and a ToughSystem tote all being sold for $77. That's $26 less than buying all of them separately.<p>Both …

Russian Cargo Plane Crashes in Syria, 39 Dead

The Russian An-26, with 33 passengers and six crew members onboard, crashed just 500 meters (1,600 feet) from the runway.<p>A Russian military cargo plane crashed as it was descending to land at an air base in Syria on Tuesday, killing all 39 people onboard, the Russian Defense Ministry said.<p>The …

Russia Introduces Two New Nightmare Missiles

One, a nuclear-powered missile, could conceivably fly anywhere and hit anything.<p>Russia has announced the existence two new nuclear-tipped missiles, including a previously secret nuclear-powered cruise missile. Unlike regular cruise missiles, which are powered by liquid fuel and gasoline engines, …

Florida Python Found With an Entire Deer Inside It

The deer was four pounds heavier than the 11-foot snake.<p>Researchers studying invasive Burmese pythons in Florida came upon something they'd never seen before: an 11-foot-long python had consumed an entire deer that weighed more than the snake itself.<p>The wildlife biologists tracking the slithery …

Watch an AI Beat Q*bert In a Way No Human Ever Would

It discovered a brand new bug in the 35 year old game.<p>German scientists studying evolutionary algorithms just published a paper describing what happened when one of their projects discovered a novel way to beat the 1982 Atari arcade game Q*bert.<p>If you're unfamiliar, Q*bert is a classic game in …