Popular Science


Six gadgets that work with your smart speaker to automate your home

Popular Science

Dozens of gizmos will work with one or both of these speakers, and third-party manufacturers continue to bring out additional ones. If you'd like to see all of your options, Google has made a list of Home-compatible devices and Amazon has collected the Echo-compatible ones. With so much smart tech out there, it can be hard to figure out which device to buy first. So we collected six of our favorite gadgets for smartening up your home. Google's dinky streaming dongle works like a charm with Google Home.


In 1964, Popular Science answered 'stupid' questions about what you eat

Popular Science

In vegetables, for instance, important nutrients are stored in cells with walls of cellulose, a substance you can't digest. Don't throw away the water in which you boil the vegetables. It holds up to 50 percent of the minerals. Carrots are an excellent source of vitamin A, an important factor for night vision. If you suffer from night blindness due to a deficiency in vitamin A, carrots will help.


How to set up voice dictation on your computer and save your aching fingers

Popular Science

If you're using Microsoft's word processor on a Windows computer, you have several voice-recognition options. This section will address three of them, mostly focusing on the Windows Speech Recognition program built into this operating system. The integrated voice-recognition service will work on any Windows application, including Microsoft Word. To launch it, type "windows speech recognition" into the search box on the taskbar, then click the app when it appears. The first time you run this software, you'll need to teach the utility to recognize your voice.


17 gadgets and apps to make your dumb car smarter

Popular Science

Since 1996, most cars made for sale in the US have had what's known as an on-board diagnostics, or OBD-II, port. Located under the dashboard, this opening allows mechanics and manufacturers to access data about the vehicle's mileage and current state of health. By plugging a specialized sensor into this port and downloading an app to interpret its findings, you can bypass the pros and tap into this on-board information yourself. You can't go wrong with Dash, which provides both the free app (available for iOS and Android) and the hardware you'll need. In fact, it offers a variety of sensors, ranging in price from $10 to $99.


Heading a soccer ball might hurt women's brains more than men's

Popular Science

Repeatedly putting your head in the path of a fast-moving projectile isn't everyone's idea of a good time, but it's par for the course for soccer players. They might hurl their foreheads toward the soccer ball dozens of times during a single practice or game. But playing with your head can hurt your brain. The technique known as "heading" causes damage to the brain's white matter, and it does more damage to women than it does to men, according to research on amateur soccer players presented this week at the annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience. Similar amounts of heading appeared to cause changes in more areas of the female brain, and a greater overall volume of their brains were damaged.


The curious case of the Cortana speaker: Harmon Kardon Invoke review

Popular Science

If digital assistants were actual people, there would be no place to sit in my living room. Between Siri, Google Assistant, and Alexa, things are already pretty crowded. Now, Microsoft's Cortana wants in, and it brought its own home, a speaker called the Harmon Kardon Invoke. Where does it fit into the invisible assistant landscape? Microsoft first introduced its Cortana assistant back in 2013, naming its assistant after a similar, disembodied AI character from the video game Halo.


The physics keeping Star Wars' Cloud City afloat

Popular Science

Star Wars provides us with a perfect example of a science fiction floating city: Cloud City. Cloud City has an atypical backstory. Floating above the surface of the planet Bespin, the city was specifically designed to harvest tibanna gas rather than to house a displaced population. Tibanna gas is used in all kinds of technology in the Star Wars galaxy, including, but not limited to, blasters and repulsorlifts. Being one of the few sources of the gas, Cloud City enjoys financial success from its mining operations.


NASA's future Mars robot will take the fastest pictures yet of the red planet

Popular Science

Currently, to plan out a day's worth of work on Curiosity, it takes scientists at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) about eight hours to first process information gathered by the rover the day before, plan out the next day's tasks, engineer those projects, bundle them up in digital instructions, and send more instructions back to Mars. Engineers spend about a half hour to an hour alone processing the images that Curiosity sends back, stitching together wide angle photos, or lining up stereo images that let humans--or rovers--deduce information about depth from two-dimensional pictures. "For things like driving or operating the arm, we take a picture with the left camera and a picture with the right camera" Justin Maki, the imaging scientist for Mars 2020, says. "Then we match up pixels between the two images to create a 3D image of the terrain. Because we have these wider field of view lenses, we end up with better quality stereo terrain maps."


Exploring the Antarctic deep seas took me back in time

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"It has always been our ambition to get inside that white space, and now we are there the space can no longer be blank," wrote the polar explorer Captain Scott, on crossing the 80th parallel of the Antarctic continent for the first time in 1902. Fast-forward more than a century--and the deep ocean floor around Antarctica still offers a "white space", beyond the reach of scuba divers, only partially mapped in detail by sonar from ships and seldom surveyed by robotic vehicles. So I jumped at the chance to join a team from the BBC on an expedition to the Antarctic Peninsula for Blue Planet II, to help them as a scientific guide. Thanks to the crew of the research ship Alucia, we dived in minisubmarines to 1km deep in the Antarctic for the first time. And while we didn't face anything like the physical hardships endured by early polar explorers on land, those dives did give us the opportunity for some unique science.


Could brighter clouds make hurricanes less destructive?

Popular Science

Note: Below is the script for the video, above. You may want to just watch the video instead. While we have you, why don't you subscribe to Popular Science on YouTube? With all these major storms, have you ever wondered "Is there any way to slow them down?" Just imagine if Harvey, Irma, Jose, Katia, Lee, and Maria hadn't been so powerful... Well, Stephen Salter is working on a plan.