Popular Science


The coolest concept cars from the 2018 Paris Motor Show

Popular Science

This electric muscle car (pictured above) stole the show, acting as a design showcase for the future of Peugeot (which, may or may not be coming back to the US someday) and also showing what a future fully autonomous car could look like on the inside. A throwback to the long-running Peugeot 504 coupe, the exterior design is breathtaking -- while the interior is crazy enough to remind you that the E-Legend is a concept and won't be hitting showrooms tomorrow. "Wood-look" panels, a massive 49-inch curved screen and a small, retractable (for autonomous driving) steering wheel mix and match the past and future.


This AI can help spot biased websites and false news

Popular Science

Keeping in mind the overall trustworthiness of the website itself--and checking its Wikipedia page, if it has one--is a good step for regular people, too. For example, in August, Facebook and a cybersecurity firm announced they'd uncovered "inauthentic" news coming out of Iran. One of the websites associated with Iran was called the Liberty Front Press; they called themselves "independent" but appeared to actually be pro-Iran. And tellingly, the site does not appear to have a Wikipedia page. Of course, the MIT research group aren't the only ones using AI to analyze language like this: a Google-made AI system called Jigsaw automatically scores the toxicity of reader comments, and Facebook has turned to AI to help augment its efforts to keep hate speech at bay in Myanmar.


The weirdest things we learned this week: Sheep on meth, hopping space robots, and the economy of "Frozen"

Popular Science

In 2018, ice is everywhere. You can make it yourself by putting a tray of water into the freezer. Or you can find one of those special fridges with an in-unit ice machine and wait for the cold stuff to simply plop out into your cup. But ice used to be much, much harder to get your hands on--and in the era before A/C, it was desperately desired. That's why, for much of the 19th century and into the 20th, ice was the cold, hard heart of an international economy called the "frozen water trade."


Mouser Electronics

Popular Science

Anki, founded in 2010, creates robots with personalities and even feelings; robots that are more human. Vector, "The Good Robot," will be available to consumers in early October, and he can tell you the weather, take photos, answer questions, and even challenge you to a game of blackjack. He has three of the five human senses: sight, hearing, and touch, he can also react to his surroundings, learn your habits, and adapt to it all. In addition to answering questions, he responds to commands: you can tell him to go to sleep or give you a fist bump, for example. Vector even knows when it's time to charge his battery.


Here's China's massive plan to retool the web

Popular Science

The following is adapted from LikeWar by P. W. Singer and Emerson T. Brooking, a book by two defense experts--one of which is the founder of the Eastern Arsenal blog at Popular Science --about how the Internet has become a new kind of battleground, following a new set of rules that we all need to learn. "Across the Great Wall we can reach every corner in the world." So read the first email ever sent from the People's Republic of China, zipping 4,500 miles from Beijing to Berlin. Chinese scientists celebrated as their ancient nation officially joined the new global internet. As the Internet evolved from a place for scientists to a place for all netizens, its use in China gradually grew--then exploded.


Dogs aren't especially smart, but they have a particular set of skills

Popular Science

Unlike recipients James P. Allison and Tasuku Honjo, most of us are unlikely to accept such an award in Stockholm. Neither are our beloved pet dogs, even though owners will swear their four-legged companions are geniuses. Sure, dogs are smart--at least when it comes to working with humans. But pigs, for instance, are smarter than you think. That's the contention of a new paper out today in the journal Learning & Behavior, which asks, "in what sense are dogs special?"


Oodles of virtual planets could help Google and NASA find actual aliens

Popular Science

The researchers at NASA's Frontier Development Lab (FDL) in Mountain View California just spent the summer working on out-of-this-world problems. They came from all over the globe and all different disciplines; computer science engineers, planetary scientists, even a particle physicist. For eight weeks they dug through data and maps, created worlds and atmospheres, sorted them, and tested their computer algorithms against the simulations. Their final products are still rough, but some hope they might contribute to our understanding of our own solar system, and overall efforts to find habitable--and maybe even inhabited--planets elsewhere in the universe. The FDL program itself is now in its third year.


The UE Megaboom 3 Bluetooth speaker got better because of a button

Popular Science

The $150 Boom 3 and the $200 Megaboom 3 are portable, battery-powered speakers that are waterproof and shaped in such a way that they throw sound in every direction. The Megaboom 3 is a physically larger speaker--imagine a fatter version of those tall Arizona iced tea cans you can buy at the gas station--that weighs in at almost exactly two pounds compared to the 1.34 pound Megaboom 3. Neither of these speakers can talk to Alexa like the Blast and Megablast speakers UE released last year, but there are some benefits to make up for the lack of digital assistant for those who don't want voice control in the first place. The top of the Megaboom 3 now plays host to what UE calls the "magic button," which allows you to control the music playing on the speaker without reaching for your phone. Pressing it once plays or pauses the music, while double-pressing it skips to the next track. If you use Apple Music or Android's Deezer platforms to stream your tunes, you can use the UE app to designate up to four playlists that you can play immediately by pressing and holding the magic button for three seconds.


Watch a movie made by a robot--on the surface of an asteroid

Popular Science

It was taken by Rover 1-B, one of two Japanese rovers currently hopping around on the surface of the asteroid Ryugu. The duo detached from the Hayabusa-2 spacecraft last week and quickly began sending back mesmerizing images of the asteroid's stony surface. The solar-powered rovers are small, just seven inches across and less than three inches tall, but they contain cameras and temperature sensors to give astronomers back home their best look so far at a C-type (carbon-rich) asteroid. The bots move autonomously, activating an internal motor that sends them just high enough to glide about 50 feet in 15 minutes. The hopping mechanism is carefully calibrated--Ryugu's low gravity means that a more powerful jump could send them soaring straight off into space.


How alcohol does--and doesn't--affect your memory

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On Thursday, Christine Blasey Ford will take the stand at the Supreme Court confirmation proceedings for Brett Kavanaugh, who she has accused of sexual assault when they were in high school. Several other women have also come forward with similar stories in recent days. At the center of the investigation is the question of how alcohol affects memory and the brain, and whether these women could reliably remember something that happened to them under the influence. The answer, experts tell Popular Science, is that while drinking can dull a person's recollection significantly, traumatic situations can indeed leave a lasting imprint no matter the level of intoxication. "It's a systemic effect," says William Barr, director of neuropsychology at NYU Langone Health, "So the alcohol is elevated in your blood levels and that's going to all parts of the brain, so general brain functioning is reduced."