Popular Science


Drones will fly into the path of the eclipse to study weather

Popular Science

For the atmospheric scientist however, the eclipse provides a shining opportunity to directly study how the sun influences weather patterns by heating the atmosphere. To that end, a team of researchers from Oklahoma State University and the University of Nebraska is going to spend Monday tracking changes in the atmosphere in the path of the eclipse. And to get just how the eclipse changes the weather in the low sky, the team will fly drones during the totality. "There's an impact during what we call the diurnal cycle, the night-day boundary, the sun comes out, starts heating up the ground, and that's where a lot of our unstable weather phenomena starts to form," says Jamey Jacob, a professor of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at Oklahoma State University.


Consumer drones are causing problems for the military

Popular Science

There are over 800,000 drones registered in the United States. For the Pentagon, this poses two challenges: the ubiquity of the cheap crafts is a potential risk to base security, and also raises questions about the reliability on the drones themselves as a military tool. In response, the Pentagon announced that bases are authorized to use force to disable drones near bases, and also ordered troops to stop using drones from China's DJI. There are also over 800,000 registered drones, and likely many more unregistered.


Elgato Eve Motion Review: A smart sensor to automate Apple households

Popular Science

Like most HomeKit accessories, the Eve Motion is a snap to set up. As with Apple's Home app, you can use the Eve app to create "scenes" that execute multiple actions simultaneously with a single command (An "I'm Home" scene could trigger all the HomeKit-enabled lights in your home to turn on when the Eve sensor detects motion, for instance). You can also create timers and rules to set scenes automatically at specific times or with specific motion triggers. To test the Eve Motion, we used it in various parts of our home--including the living room, basement, bedroom, and office--creating location-specific scenes, timers, and rules based on our movements.


Belkin WeMo Mini Smart Plug Review: Automate your dumb appliances

Popular Science

The WeMo Mini Smart Plug lets you control and automate nearly any device in your home. Plug the WeMo Mini into an outlet, then plug a lamp, fan, or coffee maker into it and you'll have control no matter where you are. The smart plug works with Alexa, Nest, Google Assistant, and IFTTT, which means you can also set up specific automation recipes and issue voice commands to your plugged-in devices. After dealing with an ever-changing landscape of smart home hubs, cloud storage subscriptions, and interoperability issues, the WeMo Mini Smart Plug was a refreshing change of pace.


Five advanced Google Chrome hacks to level up your browsing

Popular Science

The address bar, also known as the omnibox, sits up at the top of the Google Chrome interface. In fact, it has all the superpowers of the Google search engine. You can even flip a coin using the omnibox by searching for "flip a coin." For more detailed searches, enter your keywords and then type "site:popsci.com" The address bar improves on the Google search website because it can interact with the text on the page you're currently browsing: If you don't want to type out a search term, for example, you can highlight a word or a phrase on a webpage then drag it up to the omnibox to search for it.


Come see China's new hexacopters and self-detonating drones

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As part of its celebration of the People's Liberation Army, the Military Museum of the Chinese People's Revolution in Beijing is showing off a range of exciting exhibitions, offering a peek into the PLA's new self-propelled artillery, cruise missiles, ballistic missile launchers, and--perhaps most notably--tactical unmanned aerial systems. It is comparable to the American Aerovironment "Switchblade" used by Special Operations. At the Military Museum, a 4X4 armored fighting vehicle (AFV) is armed with a pop-up hatch that carries eight CH-901 pneumatically launch tubes. The CH-901 launcher is likely to be used by lighter units like Special Operations, or amphibious and airborne troops, which cannot always count on conventional air and artillery support.


There's something scarier than a grenade-toting drone

Popular Science

In this case, the aerial vehicle seems to have transported a Russian-made ZMG-1 thermite grenade. Describing the former, the U. S. Navy Small Arms and Special Warfare Ammunition manual says, "With imaginative use, the grenade can be an effective and versatile demolition tool." According to the same manual, the American grenade can destroy oil drums, shipping containers...and metal ammunition boxes. With light weapons like these, even hobbyist drones can transform into deadly weapons.


Scientists know how to make mice angry--but mice know how to keep their cool

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Researchers at Stanford University Medical Center have taken a closer look at the roots of this rage in the mouse brain, and in a study published today in Neuron, they pinpoint the brain cells that give rise to male territorial aggression. "It's a needle in a haystack compared to the 80 million neurons in the mouse brain," says Nirao Shah, senior study author and a professor at Stanford University. When scientists activated their clusters of VMH neurons, the mice still aggressively defended their cage against intruders. But when placed in a different mouse's cage, they didn't attack, even when the VMH neurons were activated--these mice knew they were guests in someone else's home.


Ring Video Doorbell 2 review: Higher res and easier to recharge, but just as bulky

Popular Science

Ring's second-generation video doorbell adds a quick release rechargeable battery and boosts video resolution from 720p to 1080p. It remains one of the only video doorbells that can provide its own power instead of relying on your home's existing wiring. Like the previous version we tested, we set up the Ring Video Doorbell 2 in its wireless configuration, mounting the unit in the same, somewhat awkward, location outside our front door. Once again, we tested the video doorbell with the Chime Pro, a $49 plug-in chime and Wi-Fi range extender that boosts the Ring's network signal and provides its own sonic alerts when someone rings your doorbell.


From our archives: Chasing eclipses in the 19th and 20th century

Popular Science

In 1905, three naval ships took an American expedition to Spain to view an eclipse, where astronomers set up an entire camp complete with a telegraph to make detailed observations. The author, noted astronomer Samuel Alfred Mitchell, describes the expedition in detail, including asides about the number of rounds of ammo used in diplomatic salutes in Gibraltar (152), bullfighting, and how friendly the Spaniards were--even as the American delegation mangled their language. By June of 1918, researchers had learned more about the Sun's corona. During this eclipse, which also cut across a large swath of the United States, researchers hoped to observe flickering shadows that had been reported but not captured on film.