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POPULARMECHANICS.

COM | FEBRUARY 2010

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PM FEATURES
VOLUME 187 NO. 2

54
Can Robots Be Trusted?
Humanoid machines have long been a
sci- aplebut soon well be meet-
ing them face to face. As social robots
enter our lives, should we be wary of
liking them too much?
BY ERIK SOFGE

70 74
62 Like a Rolling Home WHAT WENT WRONG :
Panama Digs 66 With sophiicated hydrau- Disaster on
a Bigger Ditch Taking a Fall lics and old-fashioned muscle, the Yenisei
With supersize ships plying Tumbling out of an airplane movers can pick up a house, On Aug. 17, 2009, an explo-
the oceans, the undersize at cruising altitude and liv- transport it down the sion at Russias large
Panama Canal risked becom- ing to tell about it may seem reet (or across the ate) hydroeleNric power plant
ing a backwater. A massive impossiblebut it does hap- and settle it into a new killed 75 workers and caused
upgrade, now underway, will pen. Heres how to increase addresswithout so much $1.3 billion in damages. Why
ensure the waterway remains your chances of walking as a cracked piece of plaer. did it happen? And could the
a global crossroads. away from a free-fall landing. Heres how its done. same disaer rike here?
BY DAVID DUNBAR BY DAN KOEPPEL BY JIM GORMAN BY JOE P. HASLER

Its no Terminatorin faB, humanoid social robots


like Sarcos, seen here, could soon be xtures in our daily lives.

Gregg Segal photographed Sarcos exclusively for the POPULAR MECHANICS feature ory Can
ON THE Robots Be Trued? (page 54) in Salt Lake City on Nov. 18, 2009. Te social robot, owned by
COVER Sterling Research, a spino of the University of Utah, also appears courtesy of Raytheon Sarcos.

PHOTOGRAPH BY GREGG SEGAL POPUL ARMECHANICS.COM | F EBRUA RY 2010 3


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P M D E PA R T M E N T S

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81

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41 Segment Buster 81 Early Risers


Hondas new Accord Crosour ashes sporty moves Jump-art your summer
without ditching comfort or utility. garden by making a simple
Plus: Fir look at the 2011 Muang; we pull an easy 170 mph in Lexuss cold frame now.
supercharged LFA.
84 Homeowners Clinic
How to add safety fri;ion to
slippery oors and eps. Plus:
Building your own closets;
drill-bit basics.

qq

89 Saturday Mechanic
How to swap out a cooked
radiator unit for a fresh one.

92 Car Clinic
Calibrating an antique torque
wrench. Plus: Banish car-body
scratch marks; trace a
myerious coolant leak.

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I L L U S T R AT I O N S B Y S U P E R T O T T O ( L I T T L E G U Y ) ; D O G O ( C O L D - F R A M E B O X )
15 One-Wing Flight 50 The Myth of 97 Desktop
An unmanned, single-wing Clean Coal Recording Studio
aircraM mimics maple-seed Editor-in-chief Jim Meigs says Even a musical novice can
aerodynamics. Plus: Risky claims that we can quickly create toe-tapping tunes with
plans to op global warming. turn our mo abundantbut this easy setup.
dirtieenergy source into
eco-friendly fuel dont add up. 100 Digital Clinic
q
 De dangers of URL shorten-
52 Ill Try Anything ers. Plus: Behind the
27 Chain Reaction Are gyroplanes the mo fun Barnes & Noble Nooks
Stihls new carbide-tipped you can have in the airor are e-book lending syem.
chain saw cuts the toughe they deathtraps? PM takes
jobs down to size. Plus: Hand one up for a ride to nd out.
LISTED ON
vacuums face our Abusive Lab THE COVER
Te; setting up the ultimate
home theater. 66 Surviving a 35,000-Foot
Fall / 50 Myth of Clean Coal
/ 54 Can We Trust Robots?
/ 52 Gyroplane! / 34 Home
Xeater Setup / 74 Russian
Dam / 32 Best Gadgets
34

q!q  How to Reach Us 8 / Letters 10 / This Is My Job 108

6 F EBRUA RY 2010 | POPUL ARMECHANICS.COM


James B. Meigs EDITORIAL
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51591-0763. Reprints E-mail PMreprints@hearst.com.

8 F EBRUA RY 2010 | POPUL ARMECHANICS.COM


Its intended to remove oil, but
it works equally well in reverse.
PHILIP HEINE
SPOK ANE, WA

Cordless Showdown
I have always enjoyed the DIY
Home seEion in your maga-
zine, and Decembers Bantam-
weight Slugfe did not
disappoint. Pe cordless drill
critiques provided me with an
excellent view on which drill to
buy, since your tes represent
an average persons use. Plus,
the author also commented
about how the drills felt, their
ease of use and their perfor-
mance. Keep up the good work.
PM LETTERS
OLIVER STRINGHAM
NORTH ARLINGTON, NJ

Aviation Safety conduMing a feasibility udy CALLING ALL


I read with intere your on the use of deployable data HOMETOWN HEROES
analysis of the crash of Air recorders for airplanes. Do you know someone who
France 447 in Decembers has contributed in a positive
Anatomy of a Plane Crash. Netbook OS Wars way to your community?
Failing to recover that planes I read with great intere So Maybe a handyman who
black box indireEly threatens You Want to Buy a Netbook. volunteered to rebuild a
the lives of all overseas plane I love the teardown of the orm-damaged school, or a
I S S U E
passengers for years to come, computer and the look inside. tech-savvy citizen who rigged
since we dont have specic
data on the cause of the crash.
ZvpW One comment about operating
syems: You say theres no
up a Wi-Fi network for the local
library. POPULAR MECHANICS is cur-
I believe engineers could Mac netbook yet. Pough rently accepting nominations
Readers
help prevent untraceable black responded to an
technically true, there are for our 2010 Hometown Hero
boxes in future crashes by analysis of aviation several websites where Apple Awards. If you know someone
designing a mechanism that safety, a netbook fans describe hacking into a who ts the bill, he or she could
buyers guide,
would ejeE the box and oat it gonzo shop tips netbook and inalling working be honored in the magazine.
to the surface in the case of a and tool tes. versions of OS X Leopard. For more details and to submit
crash over water. Pe black box Apparently its very easy to do if your nomination, visit
would be positioned closer to one has the proper knowledge. popularmechanics.com/
the aircrabs skin, under a LUK E R ADEMACHER hometownhero.
hatch controlled by a simple NOVI, MI
depth gauge. Pe hatch would CORRECTION: In the December
be programmed to be released Shop Guerrillas issue, Anatomy of a Plane
at a specic water-depth Mike Allens Pe Guerrilla Crash should have ated that
reading by compressed air, Mechanic, about DIY solutions there was one survivor from
which would also inate a around the shop, suggeed the crash of Northwe 255.
small balloon or otation using a quart-size freezer bag Run Silent, Run Sleek should
device attached to the box. to rell a transmission case. Id have ated that pilot Steve
MICHAEL SCRIVEN also sugge an oil-suEion gun, Fossett plummeted from the
POINT REYES, CA which holds about a pint of oil. skies over California.

EDITORS NOTE: He National


Transportation Safety Board, Write to Us Include your full name, address and phone number, even if
what you correspond by e-mail. Send e-mail to popularmechanics@hearst.com.
the Federal Aviation Adminis- do you All letters are subjeI to editing for length, yle and format.
tration and the Department of think? Subscribe Please go to subscribe.popularmechanics.com.
Homeland Security are

10 F EBRUA RY 2010 | POPUL ARMECHANICS.COM


AUTOMOTIVE SCIENCE
TECHNOLOGY HOME
HOW-TO CENTRAL VIDEO

!

Digital Hollywood

VISUAL EFFECTS As technology continues to


blur the line between computer-generated and
live-shot movies, PM is there to explain whats
real (the gigantic explosion in Michael Bays
Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen) and whats
not (the human army attacking the elf-like
charaRers in Avatar, direRed by James Cameron,
seen above).

HOLLYWOOD FACT CHECK When a shadowy,


radioaRive moner that can turn people into du
makes a prime-time television cameo, its obviously
a Rionbut PMs Digital Hollywood asks, is there
a basis in reality? Whether its debunking
lightsabers in Star Wars or explaining the
modern-day reality of brain puppetry in Surrogates,
PM goes to real-life scientis to get the skinny on
fringe research and out-there sci- concepts.

3D TECHNOLOGY Will the NFL ever broadca in


3D? Will you notice the dierence between a
movie that was shot for 3D and one that was
converted? How can someone set up a theater at
home without buying an expensive new television?
If you have 3D tech queions, look no further. PM
provides the inside scoop on DIY 3D rigs and how
to be enjoy 3D in the theater and at home.

popularmechanics.com/digitalhollywood
NEWS + TRENDS + BREAKTHROUGHS

U#jNRRY8q
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Valuable raw materials needed
to manufa>ure high-tech
produ>s are oDen available in
only a few locations. Any
political or economic changes
in these resource capitals are q#R#jq:?q|wVN8q
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BY JOE PAPPALARDO

Helium Lithium Tantalum


30%
66%
of the worlds
of the worlds tantalum was
50% produced at one mine. It
helium supply is
manufa0ured within a shut down in 2008exacerbat-
of the worlds ing a worldwide shortage of the
250-mile radius of Amarillo.
lithium supply is found metalbut will reopen in 2010.
ere is a global shortage of helium,
in one salt at in Bolivia. Uses: EleYronics capacitors; lab
which is diilled from natural gas at
Lithium deposits, called salares, equipment.. Future Supply: A
reneries. Uses: Coolant for nuclear
are mainly concentrated in brine Canadian company is preparing to open
reaYors and superconduYing magnets;
found beneath South American salt mines in British Columbia to tap a
a medium to grow silicon cryals used
ats. Uses: Batteries for laptops, reserve that could supply
in computer chips. Future Supply:
cellular phones and eleYric cars.. 10 percent of the expeYed
Nine new helium-plant projeYs are
Future Supply: Bolivias president, global demand for
scheduled for artup before
Evo Morales, has vowed to keep 28 years.
2015; two are in the
foreign companies from its natural
United States.
resources, which will likely
hamper produYion.

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+ ousands of megawatts worth
of proposed wind farms in the
U.S. have been blocked because
BENEFICIARIES
OF THE DEATH
OF ANALOG TV
aviation radar confuses the spinning + High-speed
|qq turbines with aircra<. British defense wireless Internet
R?{qq has arrived in
ws4LNVkYV rm QinetiQ and Danish turbine-maker
Claudville, Va.
Veas have produced a turbine that
(population 916).
minimizes radar returns by coating the Under an
turbines tower with radar-absorbent experimental
material and integrating ealthy license from the
composites into the blades. FCC, Florida-based
SpeYrum Bridge is
using white space
MAKING SOUND Researchers at the magnify a detailed ONE WING IS vehicle. A propeller in the television
SEE BETTER University of but short-lived ALL YOU NEED causes the main speYrum le<
+ Sound waves can CaliforniaBerkeley portion of the + Aerospace grad wing to rotate fa vacant by analog
create images of created an acouic sound wave to udents at the enough for the TV broadcas to
the things they hyperlens that create an image; University of aircra< to hover. provide wireless
bounce o of but produces images of such detailed Maryland have ese UAVs could service to homes,
cant reveal any objeYs 6.7 times resolution could copied natures be deployed from hospitals and
details smaller than smaller than the revolutionize the design of maple airplanes or from schools that were
their wavelengtha sounds wavelength. use of medical ultra- seeds by developing the ground to too remote to
barrier known as e syem uses sound and naval a single-wing provide quick, receive it
the diraYion limit. 36 brass ns to sonar syems. unmanned aerial covert surveillance. previously.

I L L U S T R AT I O N B Y K A K O POPUL ARMECHANICS.COM | F EBRUA RY 2010 15


Hubbles ASTRONAUTS ON A MISSION TO
RESCUE A SPACE TELESCOPE

3D Closeup M O O N L I G H T A S C I N E M AT O G R A P H E R S .
BY ERIN MCCARTHY
T E C H W A T C H

During the pa 20 years, the


Hubble Space Telescope revealed
the age of the universe (about 14 billion
years), shed light on dark energy and
captured galaxies in all ages of
evolution. Few pieces of scientic
equipment rise to Hubbles level of
celebrity, and lm direSor Toni Myers
felt the telescopes nal upgrade in May
2009 was worthy of full Hollywood
treatment. We result is Hubble 3D, to
be released in April. A remote-control
camera, operated by aronauts in
space, lmed the Atlantis crew as they
captured Hubble with a robotic arm and
conduSed spacewalks to repair and
refurbish it. We crew were quick
udies. Ive never met an aronaut
who wasnt brilliant, Myers says.
Weyre the be learners in the world.
IMAX technicians modied their
ereoscopic camera so it could survive
in space and t inside the shuttles cargo
bay. We cameras typically employ two
Aronauts rips of 65-mm lm recording at 24
repairing frames per secondone for the le_ eye,
Hubble in one for the rightbut lmmakers opted
May 2009.
to shoot on a single rip of lm that
held both views and recorded twice as
fa; technicians separated the le_ and
right eye images on Earth.

space ation
communicate with
you guys?
No. Our agreement
with IMAX was
PM: Does operating the f-op using a challenge was that this couldnt
the IMAX 3D laptop inside of deciding when the interrupt our
q

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qqksjYV#ws eep learning aEually art. We is one scene where

j?GqYLVkYVqL#kqk?jy?:q curve? PM: What were had limited lm, but [aronaut] Drew
#kq#q#y|qDNGLs?jqPY4Q8q#q When I went into some of the we didnt direE the Feuel is parallel
s?ksq\NRYsq#V:q#Vq this, I was thinking, challenges of spacewalker to to the Earth on the
#?jYk\#4?q?VGNV??j`qVq thisll be fairly shooting? change out a end of the robotic
LNkqR#s?ksqUNkkNYV8qL?q raightforwardIll Lighting was a big sensorthey do it arm, and he knew
#RkYqk?jy?:q#kq#q:Y4wU?VM ju hit a button and one, because as you per their timeline. we were trying to
s#j|q4#U?j#U#VqNVqk\#4?`q itll take a scene. orbit around the Many things in get that on lm. If
But it was far more Earth, you have a space happen we moved the arm
complicated than I sunrise and sunset slowly, so you didnt in a way that
thought. De camera every 90 minutes. want to art only to wasnt obvious to
was in the payload Usually we were shoot 10 seconds of him, he knew that
bay, aimed at getting earthshine nothing happening. would be okay. He
Hubble, and it had light that went to wouldnt say, Why
three lenses. I had the Earth and came PM: Did the are you taking me
to seleE the lens, back up to the aronauts xing down? I need to
the focal length and telescope. Another Hubble outside the get going here!

16 F EBRUA RY 2010 | POPUL ARMECHANICS.COM


A Geo-Engineered !e term geo-engineeringdire% technological interventions to reshape the
planetcalls to mind the dark laughter of a science-%ion villain. But research-
World ers are pondering ways to use geo-engineering to counter the ee%s of global
SCIENTISTS ENVISION RADICAL warming. ?is pa year, three European initutions released reports on the
IDEAS TO RID THE PLANET OF benets and risks of climate engineering. Recommendations vary, but the reports
T E C H W A T C H

GLOBAL WARMING ILLS, BUT THE


each conclude that the mo promising technologies should be teed on small
CURES WONT COME WITHOUT
R I S K S . BY ERIK SOFGE scales. Scientis worry that some nations future unilateral geo-engineering proje%
could cause frightening side ee%s that cross national boundaries. If a countrys
leaders feel some exiential threat, they might resort to desperate measures, says
Ken Caldeira, a senior scienti at the Carnegie Initution at Stanford University.
What if Greenland is sliding into the ocean? And what if you could op it?

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READY FOR
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Obje8ive: Block solar Obje8ive: Decrease Obje8ive: Suck carbon Obje8ive: DeeU solar
radiation to drop Earths the amount of dioxide out of the radiation to cool the
surface temperature. sunlightand heat atmosphere, reducing surface of the planet.
Proposal: Unmanned absorbed by cloud cover. greenhouse gases that Proposal: Inalling
airships or air-buring Proposal: Funnel contribute to warming. white or otherwise
artillery rounds injeU salt water into the air Proposal: Deploy va reeUive roofs on
sulfur-dioxide particles with robotic ships, algae farms on land and buildings and replacing
into the ratosphere. A brightening clouds to at sea. Strips of algae less reeUive crops with
former Microso\ cool specic areas, such could be built onto ones engineered to be
executive proposes as the ArUic. buildings, and miles of glossier could lower
lo\ing a hose with Blowback: Ve algae-lled plaic bags summer temperatures in
helium balloons to pump taUic is likely to alter could retch across an the U.S. by nearly 2 F.
liqueed sulfur dioxide weather patterns, oceans surface. Blowback:
into the sky. nudging rainfall from Blowback: To work Large-scale genetic
Blowback: Global one region to another well, a continent of modication of crops
temperatures could in unprediUable ways. algae is needed, and could face i resiance,
spike as soon as Ve good news is that thats more pricey than and there might not be
treatments op. Seeded seawater droplets cycle other carbon-capture enough roo\ops to make
areas may see redder, out of clouds within schemes. a dierence.
F O L I O A R T. C O . U K

hazier skies. a few days. Proposed by: NASA Proposed by:


Proposed by: Proposed by: (algae farms); Initution University of Briol, U.K.
Copenhagen Consensus Copenhagen Consensus of Mechanical Engineers, (crops); U.S. Secretary of
Center Center U.K. (buildings) Energy Steven Chu (roofs)

18 F EBRUA RY 2010 | POPUL ARMECHANICS.COM I L L U S T R AT I O N B Y R U I R I C A R D O


T E C H W A T C H

millions of heat/cool
cycle the pulleys. cycles. Now we can
Imagine a pack get the material in
of cigars wrapped large quantities and
around the exhau with predi:able
pipe, and you have a shape-changing
General Motors are good idea of what chara:eriics,
working on an the proposed Aase says.
energy-scavenging generator will look Ae researchers
device that could like. Ae cigars are hope that the unit
convert that a:ually tubular will produce enough
exhau heat into pulleys arranged in juice to power all of
qq q q q ele:ricity. two sets. Ae hot a cars ele:rical
 M!qqqq Ae key is the set is next to the accessories
q
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qq use of a shape- pipe, while the cold including ele:ric
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!` memory alloy (SMA), one is oset and power-eering
|q#jj|q?,ks?jq explains Jan Aase, cooled by fresh air. pumpsallowing
dire:or of GMs Ae SMA wire coils the engine to burn
Vehicle Develop- around the pulleys. less fuel. GM R&D
Its hard to look at ment Research Lab. As the material la year received a
a cars tailpipe and When you heat it expands and $2.7 million
not be depressed. up, it shrinks to its contra:s, it causes government grant
A\er all, even the original length and the pulleys to spin, to pursue the
mo ecient gets ier, he which drives a technology, which
internal-combuion says. When you generator. GM is could potentially
engines use only cool it, you can working with harness energy from
30 percent of the retch it out. So if California-based fa:ory smoke-
fuels energy to you wrap shape- Dynalloy, a company acks and house
propel the vehicle. memory-alloy wire that recently furnaces, as well as
Much of the re around two developed a process from automotive
exits out the rear as pulleysone hot, to produce a tailpipes. GM hopes
wae heat. Now, one coldthe nickel-titanium SMA to have a prototype
researchers at material will a:ually capable of repeating ready by late 2010.

L O C K S M I T H S C O U L D R E A L LY B E N E F I T F R O M T H E K E Y I M P R E S S I O N E R .
U N F O R T U N AT E LY, S O C O U L D T H I E V E S .
Inventor Steve Randall spent a college summer working for his fathers lock-
smith shop, watching the pros make replacements for lo car keys. Lacking the
identication codes, called bittings, that tell them which patterns to cut into
PHOTOGRAPH BY GETTY IMAGES

blanks, locksmiths mu rely on trial and error to make a perfe> t. Late la year,
Randall unveiled a solution: the Ele>ronic Key Impressioner. Ee Impressioner has
a sensor that nds the tumblers locations inside the lock; the information is then
matched with a vehicles make and model to glean a corre> key pattern. Yes, the
device could make reselling olen cars easierbut Randall says that only licensed
locksmiths would be able to buy one, and adds that he could shut down any rogue
syems remotely. Despite this, the crowd at a recent tech conference tittered
when Randall introduced his device. Ee inventor says the technology might be
accepted if it served another purpose. Weve been trying to gure out what else
to use it for, he says. If youve got any ideas, let us know. S . E . K RA M E R

20 F EBRUA RY 2010 | POPUL ARMECHANICS.COM


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T E C H W A T C H

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Federation biologi
Fred Whoriskey is
tracking sh
migration using
arrays of receivers
moored to the
seaoor to tally
passing sh
implanted with
Biologi Martin sonic pingers. He
Wikelski glues
found a salmon
lightweight
tracking devices superhighway
[ 1 ] onto the between Newfound-
thoraxes of land and Labrador
migrating inse*s where sh gather en
[ 2 ] and then route to foraging
tracks them with grounds near
receivers [ 3 ] . Greenland. I think
this research is
Z v t showing us that
theres a social
dynamic to sh
populations that
weve been
underplaying,
Whoriskey says.

R??\|q
V#Q?k
Biologi
Jonathan Mays
surgically implanted
Unraveling Chasing inse*s in airplanes is ju part of
Martin Wikelskis job description as direJor of
radio transmitters
into black racer
Natures Social migration research at the Max Planck Initute for
snakes in Maine. He
discovered that
Networks Ornithology. In an attempt to discover migration
rategies shared by various ying creatures, the
females travel up to
3 miles to lay eggs
BIOLOGISTS USE TINY TRACKING and that the snakes
D E V I C E S T O T R A C E P AT T E R N S I N
German researcher glued 0.3-gram radio transmit- hibernate beneath
UNSEEN ANIMAL INTERACTIONS. ters onto the thoraxes of 14 dragonies and open grasslands, not
in wooded ravines as

I L L U S T R AT I O N B Y L O G U Y ; P H O T O G R A P H S B Y C H R I S T I A N Z I E G L E R
BY MURRAY CARPENTER followed them in a single-engine Cessna. Ye bugs
survival techniques became clear as he observed previously thought.
individual inseJs day a[er day: Yey refuse to y Y4N#Rq
when conditions are too windy; they schedule re days and travel only \#jjYzk
during warm daylight hours. Hanging a battery-powered transmitter on A team of
the ear of a 500-pound grizzly bear is one thing; inalling a similar rig on a scientis at the
University of
lightweight bird or inseJ is harder. In recent years, eleJronic transmitters
Washington is
have become miniaturized enough to t on even the mo diminutive outtting song
creatures. Researchers can assign a frequency or identication number to sparrows with tiny
each tag so that individual animals can be identied. Scientis are using microprocessors and
transceivers. As
more advanced tracking devices to gather other kinds of data. Proximity these Encounternet
tags the size of a quarter, created by a team at the University of Washing- tags intera] with
ton, exchange their unique codes when they come within a preset range, one another, they
document the social
then ore the event as an encounter. Ye data is ored on the base intera]ions between
ation until a eld assiant retrieves it. Ye information is then used to the birds.
create models of which animals are hanging out with each other. Yis is
especially useful in charting the movements of sick animals or discerning
how ospring learn behavior from their elders.

22 F EBRUA RY 2010 | POPUL ARMECHANICS.COM


+ Researchers at iRobot Corporation and the University of Chicago, working on
a Defense Department program to develop robots that can squeeze through
small holes, oered a glimpse of their progress at a recent robotics conference in
St. Louis. Ke team created a technique called jamming skin-enabled locomotion,
in which a robot that looks like a semi-inated volleyball expands and contraRs a
exible silicone shell to push itself around. Kat shell contains air pockets packed

T E C H W A T C H
with particles. When the air is removed, the air pressure equalizes and the particles
inside the pockets shiT, changing the blobs shape. Ultimately, the researchers
hope to produce a robot that can t through openings smaller than its own
dimensionsa useful trait for discreet reconnaissance missions. ALEX HUTCHINSON

Bringing the Hurt e Pentagon has been


researching nonlethal pain rays
NONLETHAL ENERGY-BEAM BLASTERS since the mid-90s, but nding a vehicle
C O U L D F I N A L LY F I N D A H O M E I N S I D E to carry them has proven to be a
S P E C I A L O P E R AT I O N S G U N S H I P S .
challenge. Researchers have mounted
BY DAVID HAMBLING
these microwave weaponswhich
repel people by heating water
molecules ju under the skin,
q#GV?sN4qq 1
q N?R:qYNRkq reportedly without damaging tissue
on trucks, guard towers and Humvees,
qNjjYjkq
but the U.S. military has never
deployed them for real-world use.
(Using such weapons on civilians in Iraq
or Afghanian is not seen as a good
2 way to win hearts and minds.)
qYRR?4sYjqq qR?4sjYVqq
qYNRkq 3 q
wVq Undaunted, the Air Force is now trying
to inall pain rays on Special Opera-
tions gunships, which are 98-foot-long
qN#UYV:qq
qNV:Yzq
AC-130 aircraT originally designed to
haul cargo. Ke Airborne ARive Denial
Syem would require a beam
generator of unprecedented size, says
4 Diana Loree, manager of the program
q#NVqq at the Air Force Research Lab.
q#|q
Megawatt microwave generators
(called gyrotrons) already exi,
producing intense heat in plasma-
research laboratories and faRories
How that need to melt glass or composite
Gyrotrons materials, but the military program
Work requires a generator twice as large as
1 2 3 4 any exiing model. AFRL a hope to
An ele?ron gun res As the beam meets Mirrors eer the Re ele?ron beams demonrate a giant gyrotron during
a particle beam the magnetic eld, microwaves through excess energy is ground tes in 2014, Loree says.
through a vacuum the ele?rons bunch a window made of deposited in the Special Ops forces might welcome an
tube wrapped with up and gyrate, diamond. Re gem is coils of a colle?or.
rong magnets. producing high- used for its overhead nonlethal weapon that
power microwaves resiance to heat disperses mobs or ops people from
at set frequencies. and for its clarity. advancing on downed aircraT. Also,
the use of an energy weapon during a
 
q  qA?ive Denial Syem (ADS) microwave weapons work clandeine mission would be less
well in tes but dont get used much. Re U.S. Armys Project Sheriff mounted ADS prone to public outcry.
on a light armored vehicle, along with dazzling lights and sonic blaers; the hardware
was ready in 2005 but was never elded. In O?ober, Raytheon said it sold a
lower-power version of ADS called Silent Guardian to a foreign buyer and to a U.S.
law-enforcement agency, but will not identify the cuomers.

I L L U S T R AT I O N B Y D O G O POPUL ARMECHANICS.COM | F EBRUA RY 2010 25


GEAR + TOOLS + TOYS

Chain
Rea1ion
3e tinie brush again asphalt or
concrete is all it takes to ruin mo
chain-saw chains. Not so with the Stihl
MS 230 C-BE Duro Chain Saw ($330).
Because carbide tips are braised into
each cutter, the chain is tough enough to
handle short run-ins with paved surfaces.
3is durability also makes it suitable for
the sort of dirty jobssuch as cutting
pressure-treated timber and clearing
frozen orm-damaged woodthat
would op lesser chains in their tracks.
BY SETH PORGES

A spring-loaded arting mechanism


allows you to art the chain saw with-
out rapidly jerking the recoil handle.
STUDIO D

PHOTOGRAPH BY PHILIP FRIEDMAN POPUL ARMECHANICS.COM | F EBRUA RY 2010 27


the
vacs
U P G R A D E

Black & Decker FHV1200 Flex ($70) Dyson DC31 ($220) Makita BCL180W ($150)

 

P M

When Black & Decker released


the original Dubuer 30 years
ago, the company essentially
created the mass-market hand-
held vacuum cleaner. Today,
zNkLqRNks

cordless hand vacs use advanced


batteries and motors to pull with
more power than ever. We took
three new modelsincluding
Black & Deckers late Du-
buer successor, and one that
uses a power-tool batteryand
pitted them again a gantlet of
spilled snacks and workshop
detritus. BY HARRY SAWYERS

the
tests

q q  q q  !q 


We vacuumed up a(er a To simulate a workshop To te the tools amina,
aged Super Bowl cleanup, we pitted the we measured charge time
bashpopcorn and vacs again a mound of and total chamber loads
Doritos crushed into 20 sawdu, screws, tacks per charge.
square inches of carpet. and at washers.

PHOTOGRAPHS BY PHILIP FRIEDMAN/STUDIO D (VACUUMS)


q'q7qCrushed q'q7qSmaller q'q7qAlthough
food clogged the hose, which particles swept through the the Nickel-Cd battery pack took
had a tendency to regurgitate hose easily, but an odd 21 hours to charge, it sucked
crumbs out the nozzle. Gross. atic-cling ee` made it ju four lls of its 503-ml tank.
!7qSmaller crumbs were dicult to dump the sawdu. !7qA 3.5-hour charge on
no problem, but some larger !7q>e cyclonic sucking its 22.2-volt lithium-ion battery
kernels got jammed in the hit its prime when swirling up sucked and dumped 341 mls
nozzle (it was nothing a pencil the du and hardware. Even worth of gunk an impressive
poke couldnt clear out). the heavie screws shot 52 times.
 7qNo jams, and no raight up the hatch.  7qUse of a andard
problems. >e Makita gulped  7q>e vac ingeed our Makita power-tool battery and
down whole kernels and large nuts and bolts with ease, but charger ensured long life
chip shards with ease. It lled, its opaque plaic shell made it (59 loads) and a quick charge
dumped and did it again as fa dicult to tell when the (ju 15 minutes).
as we could twi o the canier was full.  7qMakita
650-milliliter container.  7qDyson
 7qMakita, by a mile

q  >e Makitas long-laing battery and imperviousness to clogs helped it pull o a r-place nish.
And while the Dyson came in a close second, the B&Ds clog-prone hose made it a diant third.

28 F EBRUA RY 2010 | POPUL ARMECHANICS.COM PHOTOGRAPH BY J MUCKLE


E-Booking It
Amazons
Kindle has barely
changed in the two
years since it was
r released. Me
Barnes & Noble
U P G R A D E

Nook E-Book
Reader ($260)
represents a
massive upgrade in
terms of what an
e-book reader can
Hitting the Hardwood do. Like the Kindle,
it has a 6-inch
Inalling a nail-down oor is equal parts E Ink screen and
P M

whacking and draggingwhen youre not the ability to


whacking the pneumatic nailer with a hammer, wirelessly
youre dragging its 11-pound o-kilter mass to download books
the next spot. So at only 9 pounds, the Hitachi over a 3G network.
NT50AF 2-inch Flooring Nailer ($450) lightens Unlike the Kindle, it
the load by a welcome margin, allowing you to tosses in the ability
to wirelessly beam
zNkLqRNks

focus exclusively on ring o its 150 rounds of


2-inch, 16-gauge cleatsbecause laying in books to friends
for borrowing, and
-inch to -inch solid hardwood should be, if a small color touch-
anything, all about the whacking. screen for
navigating
menusa dash of
color that makes
the device far more
fun. In the future,
things could get
even better. Me
Nook is based on
Googles Android
operating syem,
meaning Barnes &
Noble could easily
open it up to
third-party
developers who
want to add apps.

File this one under quickly that youd in Europe in 2008,


so good, it should swear it was ored but as of press
be banned. If you on your computers time, the company
havent heard of hard drive. It even was ill in
Spotify yet, ju has a mobile app for negotiations with
know that it could on-the-go liening. record labels for a
soon change the Me six-million-song- U.S. debut. Mat
 ! way you lien to and-growing catalog should take place
music. Me gi: Its is awe-inspiring. (We soon, and when it
a free and legal did manage to does, we exped
music-reaming ump it with a few millions of peoples
service that plays of our more obscure musical horizons to
virtually any song favorites, and some expand, and the
you can think of, on major artis, such music indury to
demand and so as the Beatles, have be transformed
opted out of again.
reaming their
entire catalog.) Me
service was launched

30 F EBRUA RY 2010 | POPUL ARMECHANICS.COM


Droid Rage
A er riding the success of hit
phones such as the StarTAC and
the Razr to market dominance,
Motorola has ruggled to nd its
footing in a po-iPhone world.
Well, the companys slide is
ocially over. He Motorola Droid
($200 w/contraO) is the be
phone the manufaOurer has ever
madeand a godsend for Verizon
cuomers who love their net-
works blazing speeds but loathe
its weak lineup of touchscreen
superphones. He phone, which
runs on Googles Android operating
syem, has both a touchscreen
and a slide-out keyboard, and it
NAS and roared through our lab tes. Be
Quiet of all? Free turn-by-turn auto
Network-
navigation built right in.
attached orage
(or NAS) drives
allow users to
easily back up their
data and access
media les from
multiple computers
across a home
network. But mo
of them have a
serious aw: Deir
spinning platters
and churning fans
are too loud for a
device thats
supposed to sit
unnoticed in the
background. De
Iomega Stor- Mobile Melter
Center ix2-200 Typically, welders are corded, and so
NAS Drive ($270 bulky that they need to be ationed in carts
for 1 terabyte, or car trunks. But not the new Hobart
$370 for 2 TB, Welders Trek 180 Battery-Powered MIG
$700 for 4 TB) Welding Package ($1800). Its portable
brings the screech and battery-operated. In faP, the entire
down to a wire-feeding welder rig weighs ju over
whisperit may be 50 pounds, including batteries, and comes
the quiete NAS packed in a luggable suitcase. Sure, the size
drive weve ever of your job is limited by the life of its
used. One way it lead-acid batteries, but thats more than
knocks o decibels: enough juice for 90 percent of a home-
Unlike mo NAS owners welding needs.
drives, which have
perpetually spinning
fans, this drives
fans turn o when
they arent needed.

POPUL ARMECHANICS.COM | F EBRUA RY 2010 31


vZ When gadget manufa-urers want to
make a blockbuer announcement, they
usually do it in one place: the Consumer
U P G R A D E

Ele-ronics Show in Las Vegas. Bis annual


gathering of geekery gives us a sneak peek at
what the year has in
ore for tech ends. Heres a r look at
some of the shows andouts, which we
can expe- to trickle into ores over the
coming months. BY SETH PORGES
P M
zNkLqRNks

4
1 2

4. Garmin
ecoRoute HD
($150)
Pulling info from
3 a cars diagnoic
1. Canon Vixia HF port usually
S21 Camcorder involves plugging
($1300) in a scan tool and
During closeups, the 20-hour matching obscure
even image- outdoor charge problem codes
abilized time (good for up with liings in a
camcorders have a to 12 hours of book. Ois small,
hard time telling tunes) is doubled hidden box plugs
the dierence when the devicee is
is into the diagnoic
between accidental u
charged inside. But port and beams
hand jitters and that cash could the info, presented
intentional also buy an as a visual
panning. Ois exceptional at readout, direRly
camcorder has a screen. to a Bluetooth
new powered device such as a
image-abilization 3. Intel i5 and i7
7 GPS or phone.
mode that tells it Computer Chips s
that all movements Intels new chipss
are miakes, automatically
allowing the lens to monitor aRivity
lock up to across all their
tripod-like levels of cores. When
eadiness. certain cores are e
R
idle, the chips aR
2. Regen ReVerb like automatic
Solar iPod overclockers,
Speaker ($2230) reallocating
Ois 3-foot-tall available power to o
iPod speaker dock boo the speed d of
o
features built-in the remaining
solar panels that aRive cores.
power its 60-watt
speakerseven
when its indoors.
Ju be patient;

32 F EBRUA RY 2010 | POPUL ARMECHANICS.COM


speakers never 7-inch display is as manufa5urers
have enough juice. easy as sending planning their own
Dis padded an e-mailthe takes on the tech.
USB-powered Wi-Fi-conne5ed Dis convertible
lapdesk is the r frame has its own tablet (it has a
one that has both a address. Send a keyboard that can
5. LG eXpo Phone built-in cooling pi5ure to it from a be completely
(price not set) fan and built-in (and PC or phone, and covered by the
Nearly two years surprisingly the shot pops up swiveling 10-inch
a*er the r powerful) speakers. on the screen. touchscreen) is
microproje5or was part of a new
released, 7. Kodak Pulse 8. Lenovo breed of machines
manufa5urers are Digital Frame IdeaPad S10-3t that take
nally beginning to ($130) (arts at $500) advantage of
build the Uploading new All signs sugge Windows 7s
technology dire5ly photos to digital that 2010 will be built-in multitouch
into other devices frames is a the year of the capabilities.
such as cameras nuisance. Stashing touchscreen tablet
and phones. But shots on this PC, with multiple
even the smalle
microproje5or
adds bulknever a 5
good thing when
youre dealing with
pocket-based
gadgets. Dis
phones solution: a
microproje5or
thats oered as a
snap-on accessory,
allowing you to
shave o the extra
mass when its not
needed.

6. Logitech
Speaker Lapdesk
N700 ($70)
Two of our bigge
gripes with
laptops: Dey get
too hot, and their
6

POPUL ARMECHANICS.COM | F EBRUA RY 2010 33


U P G R A D E
P M

v
t

E
o

PHOTOGRAPHS BY J MUCKLE I L L U S T R AT I O N S B Y S U P E R T O T T O
JUST WHEN YOU THOUGHT YOUD MASTERED THE One of the engineering challenges of the digital age is that even
MESS OF WIRES, PLUGS AND PORTS REQUIRED FOR though mo homeowners get their TV and Internet from the
HDTV AND MULTICHANNEL SOUND, THE NEW ERA OF same provider, the two services are usually set up in dierent
NETWORKED HOME ENTERTAINMENT IS CHANGING parts of the house. Je cable box is in the living room or den, while
EVERYTHINGAGAIN. HERES WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW the broadband Internet modem is ationed in the home oce.
TO HOOK UP THE ULTIMATE HOME THEATER.
Increasingly, though, home theater gear wants in on that
BY GLENN DERENE
broadband conne1ion. Gaming syems such as the Xbox 360
and PlayStation 3, as well as Blu-ray players and HDTVs from
Samsung, LG, Sony, Panasonic and Vizio, can tap into online
services for content. Whats more, many of these devices

THE
CONNECTED
HOME THEATER

A modern home
theater is part of a ?R?yNkNYVq#V: Y:?U Yws?j
Vs?jV?sq?jyN4? zpNM N
home network. Je
jYyN:?jk
ideal setup uses
both wireless and
wired conne1ions.
And there are
several ways to Nj?R?kk sL?jV?s Yz?jMNV?
bridge the gap jN:G? #,R? ?szYjQq:#\s?j
between computer Jis device Je fae Power-line adapters
#\sY\
and AV equipment. (available from conne1ion is use the ele1rical
D-Link or Linksys through a Cat 5e wiring in your house
by Cisco for about Ethernet cable. To to transmit
$100) taps into an serve multiple datayoull need
THE exiing Wi-Fi devices, youll want two of them.
PRODUCTS network and to inve in a (Available from
?szYjQ
ss#4L?:qsYj#G? provides one or multiport Ethernet Belkin, D-Link and
1. Vizios 55-inch ?yN4? more Ethernet switchexpe1 to Netgear for around
TruLED LCD HDTV ports for AV gear. pay $50 to $100. $110 to $150.)
($2200) can dim
se1ors of the
screen for
increased contra.
2. Je AppleTV
($230) syncs with
computers running
iTunes on a local
network and can be #,R? YVV?4s?: sL?jV?s RwMj#|
Y{ ?sMY\ zNs4L R#|?j
used to purchase Y{?k
content from the
iTunes ore.
3. Sonys
HT-SS360 5.1-
Channel Home
Theater System
($350) has 1000
watts of power and 
#U?
three HDMI inputs. |ks?U
4. Both a game
console and an AV YU?
reaming device, L?#s?j
the Xbox 360
(starting at $200)  q 
a1s as a hub
 
between a home Vs?VV# jY#:4#ks
Y#{N#Rq#,R?q
theater and a #sqE?qsL?jV?sq
network. Nj?R?kk
5. Je Roku HD-XR 
Digital Video
Player ($130) can
ream HD movies
from Netix and
Amazon.
6. Je Samsung THE PRODUCTS THE CONNECTED HOME THEATER HOW TO MOUNT A FLAT-PANEL TV
 
BD-P3600 Blu-ray CALIBRATING YOUR TV WHATS A WIDGET? CABLE GUIDE
Player ($300) can
ream movies
from the Internet or
networked PCs.
POPUL ARMECHANICS.COM | F EBRUA RY 2010 35
depend on conneVivity for soIware updates and of Cat 5e cable) that allow these devices to shake hands.
patches. For better or worse, the new model of basic Ye good news here is that patching AV gear into a computer
eleVronics maintenance requires a direV Internet link. network opens up a whole new set of options in terms of
Ye tough news is that it can be a mind-bending exercise to content. PiVures and audio and video les can be accessed from
hook it all together. Look at the diagram on page 35 and youll computers or networked drives in any room in the house and
see ju how complex a fully networked syem can get. Some viewed on your TV, and online content can be reamed direVly
U P G R A D E

of your home theater equipment can natively tap into a Wi-Fi to your living room using a more TV-friendly interface.
network, but mo modern AV gear is riVly an Ethernet Internet movie and music services such as Netix, Amazon
plug-in proposition. So to make all of your computer gear Video On Demand and Apples iTunes Store are pretty
cooperate with your home theater, you need to explore the sophiicated and user-friendly. Mo of these services allow
tools (wireless bridges, power-line networking or long throws you to rent, buy or ream audio and video direVly to a variety
of AV equipment.
Yings get a bit trickier when you try to colleV and manage
video les among computers and networked drives on your
P M

Most HDTV manufacturers suggest home network. Yere is no andard format for HD videothe
that customers leave wall-mounting to confusing le extensions include .avi, .mov, .mkv, .m4v, etc. Ye
MOUNTING A pro installers, but PM believes that a
FLAT-PANEL TV careful DIYer can do just as good a be advice we can provide is to make sure all of your equipment
job. Hardware from companies such is certied by the Digital Living Network Alliance (DLNA), which
as Sanus and OmniMount can will ensure that all the devices can see one another. Yen
 articulate along any axis. Regardless
acquire a transcoding soIware package, such as Badaboom
k?sw\qGwN:?

Mo TVs have of how you want your set to tilt or


andard mounting swivel, pick a mount to fit your TVs ($30) from Elemental Technologies, which translates uncoopera-
points on the back. size and weightfor anything over tive les to formats that your equipment can underand.
50 pounds, attach the hardware to
Ye bolts used to two studs. Most important: Before
attach the TVs adding the weight of your TV, give
and are usually the mount a good tug. If anything
the same as those feels loose, start over.
for the mount. Still,
check the
compatibility of  
your TV before you Mounts generally Depending on the
buy a mount. come in two pieces: size and weight of
a bracket that your television, the
attaches to the mounting plate
wall, and a should be anchored
mounting plate that to either one or two
bolts to the back of uds. Use a digital
your TV. Ye two ud nder to mark
pieces are inalled the edges of each
separately. Yen the ud, then drive lag
TV is locked onto screws into the
the mounting plate. center for a rm
anchor. Tru us,
you dont want to
anchor to the edge
of the ud.


4j?z:jNy?jqpqY4Q?sqj?V4Lqpqsw:q NV:?jqpqq
Yj:R?kkqjNRRqjNy?jqpq?#kwjNVGq#\?
CALIBRATING
YOUR HDTV
YjU#RqN?zNVG YyN?k \Yjsk
 Z  Z  Z
TV calibration is a complex art that is be leI to
the professionals. But if you dont feel like paying E F o `q

o oE `q
a pro, youll get 90 percent of the benet by ju n
`q
q]q!^
E E E
setting your TVs levels according to this chart.

Many new TVs come with Internet connectivity built in. The most widespread system, Yahoo
TV Widgets, is now found on Sony, Samsung, LG and Vizio TVs. The widget interface is still
WHATS A WIDGET evolving, but currently you can set up multiple accounts on a single set, letting each
AND WHAT DOES IT DO? member of the family tap into his or her own Twitter feed, Flickr photos and Facebook
account or get real-time info from sources such as USA Today and CBS Sports.

36 F EBRUA RY 2010 | POPUL ARMECHANICS.COM


CABLE
GUIDE

THE LINES BETWEEN DATA, AUDIO AND VIDEO CABLES ARE NOW COMPLETELY
BLURRED, BUT THAT DOESNT MEAN THE WORLD OF WIRING IS SIMPLER. THERE

P M
ARE MORE CABLES THAN EVERHERES HOW TO USE THEM.

 E? 

U P G R A D E
is cable conne+s e current king of
every device to AV cables, HDMI
your home carries an
network, allowing uncompressed
you to diribute 1080p video
movies, music and signal and up to
photos from PCs eight channels of
to HDTVs. digital audio.

q q
e andard wire is three-plug
for conne+ing PC analog technology

k?sw\qGwN:?
peripherals is also can carry HD video
used for game- up to 1080p, but
console controllers. cannot handle
audio.
Nqq
qq M q
Many home theater Back in the days
receivers integrate of DVDs, S-video
iPod docks or USB was the highe
inputs that quality video
interface dire+ly conne+or you
with iPods. could get,
but it is limited
 q to an analog signal
Some PCs now of 480i.
have built-in AV
conne+ors, but  q
DVI, a video-only is video cable
screen output, is can only carry a
ill the mo andard-def
common way to image, but it is
get HD images out common on older
of a computer. equipment.

   q


is optical cable Two-plug analog
transmits a purely RCA jacks are ill
digital audio signal the mo common
from components way to conne+
and computers to audio components.
receivers.
 q
  q Not to be
Mo commonly confused with
used for head- coaxial audio, this
phones, this analog is the cable
ereo audio behind the cable
conne+ion is also indury. It carries
the default audio both multichannel
output for portable video and Internet
devices. into your home.

 qq q q


q q Great big spools
Like optical SPDIF of this traditional
audio cables, wire need to be
coaxial audio run throughout a
cables carry pure room to carry
digital audio sound from an AV
signals from receiver to
components to AV surround-sound
receivers. speakers.

POPUL ARMECHANICS.COM | F EBRUA RY 2010 39


THE
TURNS ANY WET-DRY VAC
INTO A SUPERHERO

CleanStream Pro Filters transform mild-mannered work


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INSIDE: qq 


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aa

Segment Buster
!e Honda Accord Crosour doesnt t neatly into any one vehicle
segment. Yet its several notches closer to car than mo crossovers.
7e Crosour uses mo of the components of the V6 Honda Accord,
so it drives more like a family sedan than a utility wagon. In faE, this
might be one of the mo rewarding crossovers to drive. 7e 271-hp V6
is powerful and smooth, the rev-matching ve-speed automatic
performs supple shiLs, and the suspension and eering are surpris-
ingly well-suited to spirited driving. But when it comes to real hauling,
the Crosour doesnt oer quite as much room inside as some of its
rivals, nor can it tow quite as much weight. Still, if driving passion is
more important to you than hauling, the Crosour is a comfort-
ableand even fun to drivefamily wagon. BEN STEWART

8Wi[Fh_Y[0)*"/&&

POPUL ARMECHANICS.COM | F EBRUA RY 2010 41


PM Test Driven
N E W C A R S

1
P M

aa
2010
VW Golf
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22010
Toyota 4Runner aa

1 2

Eciently Enjoyable Purebred

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If the sixth-generation VW Golf were e traditional midsize SUV may have
a piece of soRware, odds are it would be been the denitive vehicle of the 1990s, A panel above the
called the Golf 5.2. Zats because the but now its an endangered species. rearview mirror on 4Run-
ner Trail models houses
visible changes between the Rh and Whiling right pa that SUV graveyard the controls for two new
sixth generations are so slight that some is the new Toyota 4Runner o-road technologies.
might have a hard time diinguishing the a full-frame rock crawler. In faK, the Crawl Control manages
two. Still, the news under the hood is 4Runner drives a lot like a Land Cruiser. the throttle and brakes
over dicult terrain so
quite signicant. For the r time, the Buy one in white, throw some U.N. the driver can focus on
Golf is available with VWs 140-hp ickers on the front doors, and youre eering. Multi-Terrain
2.0-liter turbodieselthe same one ready for a mission in Africa. Even though SeleN allows the driver
weve been enjoying in the Jetta for the new 4Runner hasnt changed much to dial in wheel-slip
control to match the
over a year. Zis torquey diesel delivers dimensionally from its predecessor, it trailmore slip for sand
30 mpg city, 41 mpg highway and a feels heRier and more planted. A 157-hp and mud, less when driv-
relentless surge when the right pedal is 2.7-liter four-cylinder engine is available ing on rocky terrain.
pressed rmly to the carpet. A 2.5-liter on 2WD models, but mo 4Runners will
gasoline engine is available too, but wed use a 270-hp 4.0-liter V6. Sorry, V8 fans,
opt for the more pricey $21,990 diesel the Six is the large engine in the lineup.
model. Zough the new Golf may be one Zats okaythe V6 is never rained by
or two genes o from la years model, the 4Runners heR, the unobtrusive
the car retains all the traits we dug the transmission doesnt have to hunt for
la time around: a spacious, nely the right gear, and shiRs are creamy
craRed interior, ecient motoring and smooth. But o-road is where the
buckets of driving fun. JAMES TATE 4Runner is a unner. Tug the lever into
low range, and experienced o-roaders
will have the 4Runner oating over the
Rubicon Trail. JOHN PEARLEY HUFFMAN

42 F EBRUA RY 2010 | POPUL ARMECHANICS.COM


PM Test Driven
1
N E W C A R S

2011
Kia Sorento

aa
P M

3 2010
Bentley Continental
s?ksq:jNy?k

Supersports

aa

2 2009
Suzuki TU250X
aa

1 2 3

Secrets of Success RETRO BARGAIN Recession-Proof

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Every now and then, a
Other automotive brands have been hit motorcycle manufaIurer e new Bentley Continental Super-
hard by the recession, but Kia has decides to keep it simple. sports pounds out an aonishing 622 hp
aIually increased its market share. Its be $3799 retro-yle and comes with equipment youd never
surge has been fueled, at lea in part, by Suzuki TU250X expeI to see in a Bentleylike racing
riking design. And while the new (available in every ate bucket seats and carbon-ceramic brakes.
but California) is a hip
Sorento doesnt and out as much as And although a 204-mph Bentley is no
bike for beginners or
the boxy Soul, its certainly handsome. those who simply yearn recipe for eco-motoring, the new ex-fuel
Besides the unibody chassis, the to get a tae of the pa Continental Supersports can run on E85.
$20,000 (e.) 2011 Sorento now oers without a huge outlay of To create the Supersports, Bentley
full-time all-wheel drive. In other words, cash. Swing a leg over trimmed 243 pounds from the Continen-
this is Kias r midsize crossover. be the TU250X, and youll tal GT Speed by nixing unnecessary
be welcomed by a nice,
ride is smooth, and the cabin provides a low seat. be TU250X
equipment like, say, back seats. Its hard
quiet, relaxing environment for road trips. isnt quick, but at speed to wrap your mind around the faI that a
be 273-hp V6 has plenty of power and the Suzukis mild car this huge can be so fa. Power from
oers 28 mpg highway. Four-cylinder acceleration couples that big W12 is boundless, pouring
models deliver 1 mpg better. be with quick, nimble through the drivetrain to all four of the
suspension wont inspire you to seek direIion changes. Its very fat tires. And as impressive as the
aIually fun to ride,
twiy two-laners, but its perfeI for the thanks to the bikes raight-line launches are, Bentleys work
daily commute. be optional third-row feathery 328-pound curb on the cars suspension is absolutely
seat is handy, but think kid-zone only. weight. Its tossable, and remarkable. Body roll is all but nonexis-
With the second row folded, there are a joy to ing around the tent, and the handling is incredibly
almo 73 cubic feet of orage space tight curves. However, precise. But before you say, Well, it
this is a small bike, so
nearly be in class. KEVIN A. WILSON should be, in a $270,000 car, remember
larger riders might nd
the ergonomics a bit too that the Supersports ill weighs 4939
compaI for their frame. pounds. It drives as though it weighs
BASEM WASEF exaIly 1 ton less. J.T.

44 F EBRUA RY 2010 | POPUL ARMECHANICS.COM


1

PM Test Driven
aa
20 1 0
Dodge Ram Heavy Duty
N E W C A R S
P M
s?ksq:jNy?k

aa

2011
Lexus LFA
2
1 2

Hardcore Hauler Stealthy Supercar

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As part of Fiat-Chryslers turn- Ten years ago, Toyota inru1ed its
around plan, CEO Sergio Marchionne has Lexus luxury division to art bottling up 0e LFA will run to 60
made Ram its own brand going forward. enough tech to build the ultimate sports mph in 3.6 seconds and
hit a top speed of 202
We cant think of a more tting line of machine. One glance at the spec sheet is mph. Only 500 of the
rigs to sit atop the division than the new enough to conrm that much blood and $375,000 supercars will
Ram HD pickups. Cey may look new treasure have been expended on the LFA be built globally. At lea
from the outside, but much of the big (short for Lexus Future Advance). Ce part of that price can be
blamed on the carbon-
trucks foundation remains the same. 552-hp 4.8-liter V10 peaks at an ber conruSion that
Underhood, theres a 380-hp 5.7-liter V8 ear-splitting 9000 rpm. Cat V10 burs helps the LFA weigh
or the 350-hp Cummins diesel with a into life and whines into an absurdly high ju 3263 pounds. From
mountain-moving 650 lb-P of torque. idle speed like an indurial fan heater. the chassis to the body
panels, all the carbon
Over the course of our 120-mile two-lane Pull the right-hand shiP paddle into r ber was developed and
highway romp through central Texas, we and the car pulls away relu1antly, as if produced in-house at
saw an average of 16.2 mpg in a 2WD the single-plate clutch were sparing you Toyota. Impressive.
3500 duallynot too bad. But our the full force of the engine. Speed up a
favorite was the Power Wagon. Cis whole lot more, however, and you art
special o-road package comes with to realize ju how super the LFA a1ually
better gearing, a moner winch, locking is. Cat V10 dominates the experience,
dierentials and a front sway-bar with a hammering, band-saw engine note
disconne1 that allows the suspension to that feeds back dire1ly into the cabin
ex like a contortioni over obacles. and your synapses. Power delivery is as
Oh, and we dig those at black graphics at as a sportbike. Out on the new
on the bodywork too. MARK WILLIAMS Nrburgring grand prix track, we saw
170 mph and it was ill pulling incredibly
hard, that V10 howling away. We want
onequite badly. ANDREW ENGLISH

46 F EBRUA RY 2010 | POPUL ARMECHANICS.COM


2010
Suzuki Kizashi

aa

2010
aa
Acura ZDX

3 4

Bold Mover Defying Classication


e new Suzuki Kizashi may be the The crossover vehicle class has
be car the automaker has ever 3e new Kizashis splintered into yet another subsetthe
produced. 7e company undertook a optional all-wheel-drive sporty, all-wheel-drive four-door coupe.
syem isnt ju for
rigorous design and development snowy-weather security.
7ough capable of hauling ve passen-
program targeting the be midsize 3e i-AWD, as Suzuki gers, the $46,305 Acura ZDXs layout
sedans, and its engineers le= no faener calls it, is integrated with lends more space to the front passen-
unturned in their que for class-leading the ability control and gers, with cargo capacity reaching 55.8
has rategies that com-
dynamics. All of Suzukis painaking bine with the usual brake
cubic feet when the rear seats are folded
chassis work has produced a seriously operation to abilize down. 7e 300-hp 3.7-liter V6 provides
competent sedan. In slalom and a wayward Kizashi. For only mode boo o the line, but the
lane-change tes set up by Suzuki at example, it can transfer surge gets more forceful when the V6
torque to the front
Portland International Raceway, we wheels in the event of a
retches pa the 5000-rpm mark,
compared the Kizashi to several models. rear-wheel slide. oering a heightened punch. Low
And the $19,000 Kizashi turned in with eering eort and sharp throttle
more crispness, resied roll with more response enable the ZDX to feel lighter
determination and exhibited way less than its 4424 pounds, and that
undereer than mo of its competitors. sensation of nimbleness was evident as
Some of its secrets were revealed by a we hit Malibus tight canyon roads. 7e
seNioned body shell, with numerous ZDXs driving dynamics oer a reason-
gussets and welded-in bridges. 7is is able balance between luxury and
one i ruNure. 7ough the Kizashis sportiness. Other crossovers may oer
185-hp four-cylinder provides only more praNicality, but few will turn as
mode thru, a big V6 is on the way. If many heads. BASEM WASEF
the Kizashi is indicative of Suzukis future
cars, we cant wait to see whats next.
BARRY WINFIELD

POPUL ARMECHANICS.COM | F EBRUA RY 2010 47


FIRST
LOOK
N E W C A R S
P M

1 2 3

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Crossovers might dominate Toyotas new Sienna retains Next year, Fords legendary Hyundai is on a roll these days.
the suburban landscape, but the current 3.5-liter V6, while Muang muscles up. Fe cars Fe all-new Sonata promises to
Lexus believes that some adding a 2.7-liter four-cylinder ancient 210-hp 4.0-liter V6 will take a larger bite from Camry
buyers ill want a rong ladder that boos value and economy. be replaced by a tech-heavy and Accord sales, with a look
frame and the V8 power of an Both are paired to six-speed 305-hp 3.7-liter V6 paired to that sugges designers
SUV for serious towing. Fe GX automatics and should beat six-speed manual and performed a mind meld with
460 may oer all the usual the current Siennas 24-mpg automatic transmissions. Fe Lexus. A new dire]-inje]ed
Lexus luxuries, but it can also highway. Fe new Sienna is company says the V6 Muang 198-hp 2.4-liter four-cylinder
handle a whopping 6500-pound hipper and more luxurious than will hit 30 mpg highway. A new will deliver 35 mpg. Fe top
trailer-towing capacity, thanks its forebears. And Limited 5.0-liter V8 will also debut in engine will be a turbocharged
to its new 301-hp V8 and models include lounge the Muang GT, packing right Four that will debut later in the
six-speed automatic. seatingwith an ottoman. around 400 hp. year along with a hybrid model.

M"qpq  

In a nation of dira)ed drivers, theres good reason


for reri2ions on in-dash navigation screens. Cur-
rently, the U.S. doesnt allow front-seat passengers to
view video media unless the car is parked. But the
new Mercedes-Benz SplitView screen, debuting on
the S400 Hybrid, provides a novel work-around. He
8-inch Bosch-developed screen can show two pi2ures
simultaneously by using a lter to mask the display,
allowing driver and passenger to view dierent
images at the same time.

48 F EBRUA RY 2010 | POPUL ARMECHANICS.COM


E N E R G Y

WILL COAL
BECOME THE
CLEAN, GREEN
FUEL OF
THE FUTURE?
N O T S O F A S T.

target of proposals to cut air pollution


and carbon-dioxide emissions.
Until now. Just in time to skirt the
various plans to cap or tax CO2, coal is
getting rebranded. The new buzzword
is clean coaland its being por-
trayed as the high-tech, low-emissions
fuel of the future. Senators John Kerry,
D-Mass., and Lindsey Graham, R-S.C.,
recently wrote a New York Times op-ed
piece calling for the United States to
become the Saudi Arabia of clean
coal. U.S. energy secretary Steven
Chu has called on his counterparts
THE MYTH OF CLEAN COAL around the world to promote the
widespread affordable deployment
> B Y J A M E S B . M E I G S
> I L L U S T R AT I O N B Y PAU L B L OW of clean-coal technology. A current
climate bill in the U.S. Senate pro-
poses a complex regime of taxes and

C
subsidies intended to cut Americas
greenhouse gas emissions by 20 per-
cent by 2020. But the bill effectively
oal is pretty amazing u. A single fist-size lump gives the coal industry a pass on cut-
of bituminous coal contains about 12,000 Btu ting emissions until sufficient com-
enough energy to power a 75-watt bulb for two days. mercial-scale clean-coal technology
Its relatively easy to dig out of the ground and dirt- has been deployed. Why try to reduce
cheap: about one-sixth the cost of oil or natural gas our dependence on coal today, the
per Btu. Most of the modern industrial world we see reasoning seems to be, when fabu-
around us was built with coal power. lous, guilt-free clean coal is just
But coal has issues. Each lump can contain large around the corner?
amounts of sooty particulates, sulfur and nitrogen Theres just one problem with this
compounds (which cause acid rain), and traces of scenario: Coal will never be clean. It is
mercury and other toxic metals. Although coal-fired possible to make coal emissions
power plants are cleaner than they used to be, they cleaner. In fact, weve come a long way
are still bad news for the environment and human since the 70s in finding ways to
health. A recent study concluded that coal emis- reduce sulfur-dioxide and nitrogen-
sions contribute to 10,000 premature deaths in the oxide emissions, and more progress
United States each year. And coal is by far the larg- can be made. But the nut of the clean-
est single source of greenhouse gases in the U.S. So coal sales pitch is that we can also
it is no surprise that coal has long been the primary bottle up the CO2 produced when coal

50 F EBRUA RY 2010 | POPUL ARMECHANICS.COM


is burned, most likely by burying it infrastructure of pumps, pipelines a politically favored constituency
deep in the earth. That may be possi- and wells quickly enough to hit the while actually worsening the problem
ble in theory, but its devilishly diffi- ambitious targets the climate bill it seeks to solve.
cult in practice. envisions? Serious plans to engi- The focus on mythical clean coal is
Carbon dioxide is not some minor neermuch less financesuch a vast particularly frustrating because prac-
byproduct of coal combustion. project arent even on the table. tical, cost-effective alternatives do
Remember your high school chemis- Heres a final problem: We dont existand I dont mean just wind and
try: When coal burns, oxygen from the know if the gas will stay buried. We solar power. Natural gas is plentiful in
air combines with the carbon in the could easily spend hundreds of bil- the U.S., and gas-fired power plants
coal in an exothermic (heat-releasing) lions injecting CO2 into the earth only produce only about half as much CO2
reaction. Because of the addition of to have it start leaking out again in a as coal. Not only that, but once its
oxygen, the resulting CO2 weighs few decades. None of this means that ready, the CCS technology envisioned
more than the carbon alonewhich CCS is impossible to achieve. But it is for coal plants would be even more
means that each pound of coal pro- a dangerous gamble to assume that it effective if used with natural gas. Tiny
duces about 2.5 pounds of CO2. will become technically and economi- gas-fired cogeneration plants in indi-
Keeping that CO2 out of the atmos- cally feasible any time soon. vidual homes could also help. Because
phere requires a process known as At the moment, the Senates cli- these mini electrical generating sys-
carbon capture and sequestration mate bill is on the back burner. And tems use their waste heat to drive the
(CCS). It works by forcing the exhaust many Americans remain dubious homes climate control systems, they
from a power plant through a liquid about both the causes of and the avoid the huge energy losses involved
solvent that absorbs the carbon appropriate solutions for global warm- in making power at distant facilities.
dioxide. Later, the solvent is heated ing. (Recent revelations that several This technology exists today. Nuclear
to liberate the gas, much the way a climate scientists apparently tried to power is another proven, low-CO2-
bottle of soda releases its dissolved
CO2 when opened. The CO2 is then
compressed to about 100 times nor-
RUNNING TODAYS POWER PLANTS ON SO-CALLED
mal atmospheric pressure and sent
away for storage.
CLEAN-COAL TECH WOULD MEAN FILLING
So far, so good. But CCS has two 30 MILLION BARRELS WITH LIQUID CO2 EVERY DAY.
major hurdles. First, it consumes
energya lot of it. While estimates
vary, a coal-fired power plant would
have to burn roughly 25 percent more
coal to handle carbon sequestration
while producing the same amount of squelch legitimate debate certainly emitting optionand despite public
electricity. That would mean a vast dont inspire confidence.) But concern fears, U.S. nuclear plants have been
expansion in mining, transportation over greenhouse gas emissions will paragons of safety compared with the
costs and byproducts such as fly ash. continue, and the pressure to regulate harm done by coal-fired plants.
But thats the easy part. The harder them is growing. Wouldnt it be a The cleanest energy option of all is
challenge would be transporting and shame if we created a policy that bur- also the closest at hand: conservation.
burying all of this high-pressure CO2. dens American consumers with As clean-energy guru Amory Lovins
American Electric Power recently higher energy prices and yet does vir- has shown, its almost always cheaper
began a CCS project at its Mountain- tually nothing to reduce our CO2 emis- to save energy than to mine or drill for
eer Plant in West Virginia. The opera- sions? By embracing the clean-coal it. And there are still massive efficien-
tion captures a few hundred tons of myth, that loselose scenario may be cies to be found almost everywhere
CO2 a day. Thats a startbut a typical exactly what we stand to achieve. energy is used. Boosting incentives
500-megawatt power plant produces Sadly, although it might make little for insulation, next-gen LED lights
about 10,000 tons daily. Collectively, economic or scientific sense, the polit- and ultraefficient smart appliances
Americas coal-fired power plants ical logic behind clean coal is over- could do more than carbon sequestra-
generate 1.5 billion tons per year. whelming. Coal is mined in some tion to reduce CO2 emissions in the
Capturing that would mean filling 30 politically potent statesIllinois, coming decades.
million barrels with liquid CO2 every Montana, West Virginia, Wyoming Lets be clear. We should continue
single dayabout one and a half and the coal industry spends millions research into making coal cleaner
times the volume of crude oil the on lobbying. The end result of the that fuel will be a vital part of our
country consumes. It took roughly a debate is all too likely to resemble energy mix for decades. But lets not
century to build the infrastructure we Congresss corn-based ethanol man- allow clean-coal myths to divert us
use to distribute petroleum products. dates: legislation that employs appeal- from real-world energy alternatives
Could we build an even bigger CCS ing buzzwords to justify subsidies to that work today. FC

POPUL ARMECHANICS.COM | F EBRUA RY 2010 51


I L L T R Y A N Y T H I N G

PM contributing
editor Je Wise in
the Rotary Air Force
2000. <e gyroplane
kit cos $45,105.

35 gyroplane instructors in
the United States. He has
been teaching for 17 years,
and I figure that if hes sur-
vived that long, he can
make it through a few
more gyro flights with me.
We meet at the towns
sleepy, rural airport, where
Fritts introduces me to his
vehicle of choice, the Rota-
ry Air Force 2000. Like all
of todays gyroplanes, its
available in the U.S. only as
a kit. Yet for a homebuilt
craft, the RAF looks reas-
suringly snazzy, with shiny
purple pushrods and a
T H E G Y RO P L A N E D I L E M M A doorless bubble canopy.
Anyone with a rotorcraft
> B Y J E F F W I S E
sport pilots license can
ARE GYROPLANES operate the two-seater,
AIRBORNE DEATHTRAPS which has a 130-hp Subaru

H
elicopters and gyroplanes: OR FLYING FUN automotive engine that
Its a contentious family MACHINES? THERES powers a three-blade push-
ONLY ONE WAY
rivalry. Both have spinning er propeller.
TO FIND OUT.
rotors and are highly maneu- Like a helicopter, a
verable at low speed. Gyros gyroplane generates lift
were invented in the early 1920s, but ever since with a set of spinning rotor blades. But
helos were introduced in the 1940s, theyve in a helicopter, the engine spins the
upstaged their older cousins. The main difference rotor. In a gyro, the engine is connect-
is that gyroplanes are unable to take off and land ed to a propeller, which pushes the
vertically. But fans say gyros have many other admi- craft forward. That forward motion
rable qualitiestheyre mechanically simple and spins the rotor blades like a pinwheel.
cheap to operate, for example. Its time, they argue, The outer edge of the blades generates
for a new appreciation of this long-overlooked form lift, and that keeps the gyro in the air.
of flight. Detractors, however, are having none of it. We strap in and Fritts starts the
They say gyroplanes are deathtraps. engine. Pushed by the blast from the
In order to find out which of these diametrically prop, we taxi to the edge of the run-
opposed views is correct, I travel to Fond du Lac, way, where Fritts talks me through a
Wis., to meet with Dofin Fritts, one of only about procedure called pre-rotation, which

52 F EBRUA RY 2010 | POPUL ARMECHANICS.COM


mals. Fritts asks me to take my hands then gradually reduce engine power
off the controls. I do, and the RAF put- as I pull back on the stick as if to
ters along straight and level all by climb. The airspeed indicator slides
itself. Next I try some gentle turns, left down past 40 mph, 30, 20, all the way
and right. Although it looks like a to zero. The landscape is frozen in the
helicopter, the gyro flies like a super- windshield, then starts to move in
naturally agile plane. Fritts takes the reverse. Were being carried backward
controls and pushes the stick hard to by a headwind as we sink through the
the left. As we shoulder into a steep air, our spinning rotor acting like a
gets the rotor blades spinning by tem- bank, it feels like were not so much parachute. We could ride all the way
porarily connecting them to the turning as pivoting in place. to the ground like this. Wed hit hard,
engine. With the engine at idle, I The crucial task in flying a gyro- but the impact would be survivable.
squeeze a lever to engage the clutch. plane is managing the energy of the To restore lift, Fritts takes the con-
Whoosh ... whoosh ... whoosh. I squeeze rotor. If you fail to keep air flowing trols and adds power, gently pushing
tighter to increase power. The blades through it, its speed drops, and so the stick forward. Then we head back
spin faster. Whoosh. Whoosh. Whoosh. does the rotors ability to provide lift. to the airfield to practice landings.
I let go of the clutch, release the wheel Careless pilots sometimes find them- The approach is steep, but at the last
brakes and add power to the propel- selves in this situation when they minute Fritts pulls the nose up; the
ler. We roll out onto the runway. climb too steeply, lose airspeed and gyro touches down like a bird settling
Throttle to full! Whooshwhoosh- try to gain velocity by pushing the on a perch. Compared to airplanes,
whoosh. Now the only thing driving stick forward. This can result in some- gyros can make ridiculously short
the rotor is the flow of air from our thing called a power pushover, in landings. With the right wind, you can
forward motion. The blades acceler- which the aircraft lurches violently stop within the width of the runway.
ate to a blur. Rolling along at 50 mph, forward and plunges into the ground. Which brings us back to the origi-
the gyroplane abruptly lifts into the Hence the deathtrap reputation. nal question: Are gyroplanes death-
sky, climbing much more steeply than But in other ways gyroplanes are traps or overlooked marvels of the air?
Im used to in the small fixed-wing actually safer than airplanes. They True, gyroplanes have a relatively high
planes that I normally fly. cant stallthat is, undergo the cata- accident rate. But with proper train-
We level off at 1000 feet. The cock- strophic loss of lift that results from ing, the risk can be minimized. Brian
pit swings beneath the rotor blades as flying too slowly. To demonstrate, Pagn, a graduate student in engineer-
we bump along in the afternoon ther- Fritts asks me to fly straight ahead, ing at the Eindhoven University of
Technology in the Netherlands, has
analyzed 20 years of gyroplane crash
statistics. There was nothing in my
findings to indicate that gyroplanes
are particularly dangerous, he says,
Gyroplane pilot
Don Fritts dem- as long as you follow the rules.
onrates how the During our second flight together,
machines control Fritts heads west of the airport, then
ick works.
;e author at the eases us down to low altitude to fol-
controls, banking low a winding stream that cuts across
into a eep turn the rural patchwork of farm fields. We
to the le@, high
over central Wis- bank left and right, following a corri-
consin farms. dor through a canyon of trees. We
Fritts comes in for
a short landing at ease down lower and zoom along at
Fond du Lac. stepladder height, dodging and weav-
ing around bushes, then crank
around in a steep turn and head
straight for a gap between two stands
of trees thats barely wider than we
are. I only have an instant to think
impossible!before were through,
the green whipping by so close I could
reach out and grab a branch. Then
were climbing, banking to the left,
veering downward again. Want the
stick? Fritts asks. And thats when I
know Im hooked. FC

POPUL ARMECHANICS.COM | F EBRUA RY 2010 53


Humans have feared
a robotic uprising
since the machines
first appeared in
science fiction.
Today, experts
caution against a
more insidious threat:
We might like living
with them too much.

by erik sofge
photographs by gregg segal

Being hacked by a robot requires much less hardware than I expected. Theres no need
for virtual-reality goggles or 3D holograms. There are no skullcaps studded with elec-
trodes, no bulky cables or hair-thin nanowires snaking into my brain. Heres what it
takes: one pair of alert, blinking eyeballs.
Im in the Media Lab, part of MITs sprawling campus in Cambridge, Mass. Like
most designated research areas, the one belonging to the Personal Robots Group
looks more like a teenage boys bedroom than some pristine laboratoryit bursts
with knotted cables, old pizza boxes and what are either dissected toys or autopsied
robots. Amid the clutter, a 5-foot-tall, three-wheeled humanoid robot boots up and
starts looking around the room. Its really looking, the oversize blue eyes tracking
first, and the white, swollen, doll-like head following, moving and stopping as though
focusing on each researchers face. Nexi turns, looks at me. The eyes blink. I stop talk-
ing, midsentence, and look back. Its as instinctive as meeting a newborns roving
eyes. What do you want? I feel like asking. What do you need? If I was hoping for dis-
passionate, journalistic distanceand I wasI never had a chance.
Right now its doing a really basic look-around, researcher Matt Berlin says. I
think its happy, because it has a face to look at. In another kind of robotics lab, a
Capable of geuring and speaking, Sarcos was built in 1997 to talk about
technology with children at the Carnegie Science Center in Pittsburgh.
Social robots like it are expe@ed to be a $15 billion indury by 2015.

POPULARMECHANICS.COM | FEBRUARY 2010 55


humanoid bot might be motivated by a specific physical goal When a machine can push our Darwinian buttons so easily,
cross the room without falling, find the appropriate colored dismissing our deep-seated reservations with a well-timed flut-
ball and give it a swift little kick. Nexis functionality is more ter of its artificial eyelids, maybe fear isnt such a stupid reac-
ineffable. This is a social robot. Its sole purpose is to interact tion after all. Maybe weve just been afraid of the wrong thing.
with people. Its mission is to be accepted.
Thats a mission any truly self-aware robot would probably Robots began scaring us long before they existed. In 1921, the
turn down. To gain widespread acceptance could mean fight- Czech play R.U.R., or Rossums Universal Robots, simultane-
ing decades of robot-related fear and loathing. Such stigmas ously introduced the word robot and the threat of a robot
range from doomsday predictions of machines that inevitably apocalypse. In a proclamation issued in the plays first act, the
wage war on mankind to the belief that humanoid robots will robots, built as cheap, disposable laborers, make their inten-
always be hopelessly unnerving and unsuitable companions. tions clear: Robots of the world, we enjoin you to exterminate
For Nexi, arguably the biggest star of the humanrobot inter- mankind. Dont spare the men. Dont spare the women. The
action (HRI) research field, fame is already synonymous with origins of the evil robot can be traced back even further (see
fear. Before visiting the Media Lab, I watched a video of Nexi page 59), but R.U.R.s new species of bogeyman was all the rage
thats been seen by thousands of people on YouTube. Nexi rolls in the pulp sci-fi of the 40s and 50swell before the actual
into view, pivots stiffly to face the camera and introduces itself research field of robotics. In fact, I, Robot author Isaac Asimov
in a perfectly pleasant female voice. If the goal was to make Nexi coined the term robotics at the same time that he began
endearing, the clip is a disaster. The eyes are big and expressive, developing ethical laws for robots in his short stories.
the face is childish and cute, but everything is just slightly off, By the time Arnold Schwarzeneggers T-800 gunned down
like a possessed doll masquerading as a giant toddler. Or, for an entire police precinct in the 1984 movie The Terminator, the
the existentially minded, something more deeply disturbing robot insurgency had become one of pop cultures most
a robot with real emotions, equally capable of loving and despis- entrenched clichs. The film has since become shorthand for a
ing you. Viewers dubbed its performance creepy. specific fear: that artificial intelligence (AI) will become too
Now, staring back at Nexi, Im an instant robot apologist. I intelligent, too obsessed with self-preservation. The Terminator
want to shower those clips with embarrassingly positive com- colors the way we think about robots, AI and even the booming
ments, to tell the haters and the doubters that the future of HRI business of unmanned warfare. The Office of Naval Research,
is bright. Theres no way seniors will reject the meds handed to among others, has studied whether ethical guidelines will be
them by chattering, winking live-in-nurse bots. Children, no needed for military robots, and in a 2008 preliminary report
doubt, will love day-care robots, even if the bots sometimes fail the authors tackle the bleakest possible endgame: Terminator
to console them, or grind to an unresponsive halt because of scenarios where machines turn against us lesser humans.
buggy software or faulty battery packs. To turn todays faceless But according to Patrick Lin, an assistant professor of phi-
Roombas into tomorrows active, autonomous machine com- losophy at California Polytechnic State University and an ethics
panions, social robots need only to follow Nexis example, tap- fellow at the U.S. Naval Academy, the need for ethical bots isnt
ping into powerful, even uncontrollable human instincts. restricted to the battlefield. Social robots probably pose a
Thats why Nexis metallic arms and hands are drifting greater risk to the average person than a military robot, Lin
around in small, lifelike movements. Its why Nexi searches for says. They wont be armed, but we will be coming face to face
faces and seems to look you in the eye. When it blinks with them, quite soon.
again, with a little motorized buzz, I realize Im That, of course, is precisely the kind of quote
smiling at this thing. Im responding to it reporters work hard to publish. The media
as one social, living creature to another. homes in on juicy details about the hypo-
Nexi hasnt said a word, and I already Nexi thetical danger of self-organizing AI,
want to be its friend. The first in a proposed class of MDS, or and the prospect of amoral robots
As it turns out, knowing your Mobile Dextrous Social, robots, Nexi is the gunning down civilians. But the real
brain is being hacked by a robot most high-profile project in MIT's Personal threats posed by robots may have
Robots Group. It is part of an approach,
doesnt make it any easier to resist. pioneered at MIT, called embodied AI
nothing to do with the Terminator
And perhaps thats the real danger artificial intelligence that, like human scenario. Because compared to
of social robots. While humans intelligence, is tied to the workings and even the dumbest armed insurgent,
have been busy hypothesizing limitations of its own body. robots are practically brain-dead.
about malevolent computers and Take Nexi, for example. Consid-
the limits of rubber flesh, roboti- ered to be one of the most advanced
cists may have stumbled onto a more social robots in the world, Nexi can
genuine threat. When face to face with understand only the most basic vocal
actual robots, people may become too instructions. During my visit, it couldnt
attached. And like human relationships, even do thatit was in the process of being
those attachments can be fraught with pit- loaded with behavioral software developed
falls: How will grandma feel, for example, for another MIT robot, the fuzzy, big-
when her companion bot is packed off for an eared Leonardo. Now in semi-retirementits
upgrade and comes back a complete stranger? motors have gone ricketyLeonardo learns

56 FEBRUARY 2010 | POPULARMECHANICS.COM



Social robots probably pose a greater risk
to the average person
than a military robot, Lin
says. They wont be
armed, but we will be
coming face to face with
them, quite soon.

from humans such lessons as which blocks fit into a given puz- fears, it threatens to drown out a more rational debate, one that
zle, or which stuffed animal is good and which it should be stems from the fact that robots fall through nearly every legal
afraid of. The implications are of the mind-blowing variety: a and ethical crack. If an autistic patient charges a robot and
robot that listens to what we say and learns to crave or fear what tries to damage it, how should the robot respond? asks Lin,
we tell it to. Programmed with Leonardos smarts, maybe in a who is also planning to develop ethical guidelines for social
year Nexi will be able to have a conversation with you thats very healthcare bots. Should it shut down? Its an expensive piece
boring, MITs Berlin says. But it may be pretty interesting if of equipmentshould it push back? When the robots arrive
youre trying to escape a burning building. in force, are we prepared for the collateral damage, both physi-
If David Hanson, the founder of Hanson Robotics, has his cal and psychological, they could inflict?
way, the Texas-based companys latest social robot, Zeno, could
be talking circles around Nexi by the end of this year. At $2500, When our eyes see a robot, one that we think is autonomous
the 23-inch-tall humanoid robot would be a bargain, not moving, acting, functioning under its own powerour mirror
because of its hardware but because of the code crammed into neurons fire. These same neurons activate when we watch
its cartoonish head. The intelligent software can be aware of another animal move, and neuroscientists suspect theyre
multiple people in a room, Hanson says. It builds a mental associated with learning, by way of imitation. Mirror neurons
model of who you are, what you like and what you said. Were could care less about a wax statue, or a remote-control drone.
getting to the point where it can hold an open-ended, open- Its the autonomous robot that lights the fuse, tricking the
domain conversation. Hanson plans to roll out a $250 mass- mind into treating a mechanical device as a living thing.
market version in 2011 or 2012, with the same facial- and vocal- And yet, like many aspects of humanrobot interaction, the
recognition capabilities. His goal is to provide a powerful full repercussions are unknown. Science-fiction writers may
testbed for researchers, while also harnessing AI algorithms to have spent a half-century theorizing about the long-term effects
make a robot toy thats actually fun for more than 15 minutes. of living with robots, but science is only getting started. While
But for all of Nexis and Zenos social skills and painstaking the field of HRI goes about the business of collecting data and
simulation of emotional life, the bots are creatures of instinct, sorting out its methodologies, drawing solid conclusions can
not introspection. Tracking software finds the human whos be impossible, or at least irresponsible. Take those mirror neu-
speaking, a keyword triggers a scripted response, and when rons, for example. Neuroscientists can watch them flip on, but
you leave the room, they dont imagine where youve gone, the exact purpose of those neurons is still up for debate.
whether the conversation helped or hurt you, or how to over- Another, more common example of the brains mysterious
throw your government. Its very difficult for an artificial intel- response to robots is often referred to as the uncanny valleya
ligence to project in a physical sense, says Kevin Warwick, a poetic way of saying, robots are creepy. Proposed in a 1970
professor of cybernetics at the University of Reading in Eng- paper by roboticist Masahiro Mori, the uncanny valley
land. A robot can think about eventualities, but it cant think describes a graph showing that humans feel more familiar
even one step ahead about the consequences of its decisions. with, and possibly more comfortable toward, humanoid
There are, of course, researchers who foresee rapid progress machines. Until, that is, the machine becomes too human-like,
in computational neuroscience leading to inevitable strong tripping the same psychological alarms associated with seeing
AI, or artificial intelligence thats not simply finishing your a dead or unhealthy human. At that point the graph collapses,
sentence in a Google search box, but mimicking and then rises again with the response to a real human
human thought. IBMs Blue Brain Project, for being, or, theoretically, a perfect android.
one, is energizing doomsayers with its goal of Whether this is a distortion of our fight-
creating a virtual brain, potentially as soon or-flight instincts or something more
as 2019. Still, without a neurological Zeno complex, Moris word choice was
map of our own sense of consequence Zeno is more of a business plan than a importantthe uncanny is not naked
or morality, the breakthroughs that stand-alone humanoid, an attempt by fear, but a mix of familiarity and fear,
would allow for a truly power-hungry Hanson Robotics to channel the company's attraction and repulsion. Its a
breakthroughs in artificial skin and social-
or evil robot are nowhere in sight. learning algorithms into a hybrid robot toy
moment of cognitive dissonance
Contemplating them is a little like and dirt-cheap research testbed. If Zeno that the brain cant reconcile, like
debating the ethical pitfalls of catches on with kids, it could be the worlds encountering a talking Christmas
unregulated teleportation. Until biggestand least controlledexperiment tree, or a laughing corpse.
in humanrobot interaction.
someone builds the Enterprise, why By academic standards, its
worry if Scotty is going to drunk-dial evocative, exciting stuff, describing
himself into your house? what appears to be a widespread phe-
Robots will not rise up en masse nomenon. Nexis unnerving YouTube
anytime soon. Nexi wont be e-mailing clips seem like textbook examples,
Zeno the exterminate all humans flier and the robot has plenty of unsettling
from R.U.R. to distribute among the worlds company. The Japanese social bot CB2
Roombas, Predators and assembly-line weld- (Child-robot with Biomimetic Body), with its
ing machines. Its a fantasy, or, at best, a realistic eyes, child-like proportions and gray
debate for another century. And like many robot ot skin, evokes near-universal horror among

58 FEBRUARY 2010 | POPULARMECHANICS.COM


Fear of a Bot Its not the hardware that makes the evil robot one of Western
Planet cultures most powerful myths. Its the software, the artificial
intelligence (AI) that turns machines into monsters. Here are the
most iconic examples of malevolent AI with the fears each inspired.

1600s 1818 1921 1950

Golem of Prague Frankensteins Monster Radius The Machines


Taught us to fear: unable Taught us to fear: articial genius Taught us to fear: organized Taught us to fear: a less deadly
articial intelligence robotic insurreFion but more secret insurreFion
A doomed, romantic sociopath,
In folk tales, the Golem of Prague the moner in Frankenein had a Like Frankeneins moner, the In his short ory De Evitable
was sculpted from river mud and whip-smart mind that was his own robots in the play R.U.R. are ConiF, science-Fion writer
animated with magic, but its undoing. He learns to speak and esh-and-blood murderers. De Isaac Asimov granted the
design is robotic to the corebig, read in months and to resent his dierence is scale: Dese robots machines control of the world
impossibly rong and emotion- creator ju as quickly. Critics call are mass-produced from economy. Dey proved over-
less. Its AI is also familiar in its this the worlds mo inuential faFory-grown organs, and they zealous. Hollywood eventually
limitations: De Golem oods a evil-robot ory. Frankenein succeed in wiping out the human supplied the melodrama, turning
house when no one tells it to op refuses to build a mate, fearing a race. De robot leader, Radius, AIs quiet nancial coup into the
fetching water. In later versions superior, malevolent race that doesnt mince words, saying, I mass house-arre of mankind in
of the myth, it loses its mind. would deroy mankind. wish to be the maer of people. the movie I, Robot.

1968 1984 1987 1999

HAL 9000 T-800/Skynet ED-209 The Machines


Taught us to fear: AI-controlled Taught us to fear: networked, Taught us to fear: armed, Taught us to fear: everything in
syems self-organizing AI autonomous robots >e Terminator, and robot slavers
De singsong condescension in Skynet never appears on camera In RoboCop, ED-209 has the De machines of >e Matrix are a
HAL 9000s voice should have in >e Terminator, but the movies cognitive powers of a very smart deliriously twied race of AIs.
been a warning sign. But by the eponymous enforcer bears its police dog and the repower of Dey turn prisoners into battery
time 2001: A Space Odyssey message: De planets not big an attack chopper. And, like dogs packs, craW va virtual worlds to
leaps from sci- to horror, its too enough for biological and articial trained for violence, ED-209 keep us occupied and, as
latethe AI jettisons the human intelligence. We also dont see sometimes bites the wrong evidenced by Agent Smith, are
crew members it considers to be the advanced defense computer person: In one of the movies capable of abjeF hatred. De real
a liability to the spacecraWs becoming self-aware. Inead, the mo memorable scenes, the horror of >e Matrix (sequels
mission. Like Asimovs machines, movie shows the smoldering security bot botches its own aside) is the prospeF of machines
HAL isnt malicious, ju a little aWermath of war, giving an old sales demo by gunning down an not only conquering mankind, but
too smart for our own good. myth its mo powerful update. unarmed civilian. toying with our defeated species.

I L LU S T R AT I O N S BY S P L I T I N T O O N E
bloggers and reporters. Another Japanese robot, KOBIAN, fea- Even if the uncanny valley ends up being more of a shallow
tures a wildly expressive face, with prominent eyebrows and a trench, one thats easily leveled by actually meeting an android,
set of fully formed, ruby-red lips. It, too, was instantly branded the success of Nexi and company only raises a more profound
creepy by the Western press. The designers of those social bots question: Why do we fall so hard for robots?
were actually trying to avoid the uncannyAsian labs are It turns out that were vulnerable to attaching, emotionally,
packed with photorealistic androids that leap headlong into the to objects. We are extremely cheap dates, says Sherry Turkle,
twitching, undead depths of Moris valley. director of the MIT Initiative on Technology and Self. Do we
But just as the Terminator scenario withers under scrutiny, really want to exploit that? Turkle has studied the powerful
the uncanny valley theory is nowhere near as tidy as it sounds. bond that can form between humans and robots such as Paro,
Based on those YouTube clips, I had expected my meeting with an almost painfully cute Japanese baby-seal-shaped therapy
Nexi to be hair-curling. Instead, I can see my grin scattered bot that squirms in your arms, coos when caressed and
across computer monitors in the Media Lab. Nexis forehead- recharges by sucking on a cabled pacifier. She has also docu-
mounted, depth-sensing infrared camera shows my face as a mented assumptions of intelligence and even emotion reported
black and gray blur, and the camera in its right eye portrays me by children playing with robotic dolls. The effect that Paro, a
in color. I watch as I slip from the monitors, Nexis head and therapy bot thats little more than an animatronic stuffed ani-
eyes smoothly tracking to the next face. I am not creeped out mal, had on senior citizens only reinforced her concerns. Tell
Im a little jealous. I want Nexi to look at me again. me again why I need a robot baby sitter? Turkle asks. What
There are some very practical things that we do to make are we saying to the child? What are we saying to the older per-
our robots not creepy, Berlin says. The secret to Nexis suc- son? That were too busy with e-mail to care for those in need?
cess, apparently, is within arms reach of the robot: a slightly To researchers like Turkle, the widespread deployment of
battered hardcover book titled The Illusion of Life: Disney social robots is as risky as it is inevitable. With some analysts
Animationrequired reading for the Personal Robots Group. estimating a $15 billion market for personal robots by 2015, the
Were making an animation, in real time, Berlin says. Like demand for expressive machines is expected to be voracious. At
many animated characters, Nexis features and movements are the heart of Turkles argumenta call for caution, essentially
those of exaggerated humanity. When it reaches for an object, is the fear of outsourcing human interaction to autonomous
its arm doesnt shoot forward with eerie precision. It wastes machines. Even more alarming are the potential beneficiaries of
time and resources, orienting its eyes, head and body, and robotic companionship, from children in understaffed schools
lazily arcing its hand toward the target. Nexi is physically inef- to seniors suffering from Alzheimers. Enlisting an army of
ficient, but socially proficient. robots to monitor the young and the elderly could be a bargain
How proficient? In interactions with hundreds of human compared to the cost of hiring thousands of teachers and live-in
subjects, including residents of three Boston-area senior cen- nurses. But how will the first generation to grow up with robotic
ters, researchers claim that no one has run screaming from authority figures and friends handle unpredictable human rela-
Nexi. Quite the opposite: Many seniors tried to shake the robots tionships? Without more data, a well-intended response to man-
hand, or hug it. At least one of them planted a kiss on it. It power shortage could take on the ethical and legal dimensions
interacts with people in this very social way, so people treat it as of distributing a new and untested antidepressant.
a social entity in an interpersonal way, rather than a machine- One possible solution is to scale back the autonomy and
like way, Cynthia Breazeal, director of the Personal use social bots as puppets. Huggable, another robot
Robots Group, says. In studies with Nexi, weve from MITs Personal Robots Group, is a teddy
shown that if you have the robot behave and bear whose movements can be controlled
move in ways that are known to enhance through a Web browser. The researchers
trust and engagement, the reaction is Kobian plan to use it to comfort hospitalized
the same as it is with people. Youre This Japanese invention is the intellec- children; family members or doctors
pushing the same buttons. tual love child of a pair of earlier Waseda would operate it remotely. When
That principle has proven true University robotsone was an expressive I see Huggable, its actually a teddy
head, the other a humanoid body. The
for CB2 and KOBIAN as well. The result is what its creators call an emotional bear skeleton. The furry coat,
research leaders of both projects humanoid, able to express emotions with which will eventually be replaced
claim that the apprehension its entire body, potentially allowing personal with one that includes pressure-
directed at their robots online and robots to better communicate with humans. and touch-sensitive sensors, sits in
in the media never materializes in a heap next to the bot as it fidgets.
person. With the exception of one An open laptop shows the opera-
AP/WIDE WORLD PHOTOS

Thai princess, everyone who encoun- tors view through Huggables cam-
tered CB2 liked it, according to Osaka era and a menu of simple commands,
Universitys Minoru Asada. A Japanese such as raising and lowering its arms,
newspaper brought a group of elderly to or aiming its head at my face.
visit KOBIAN. They were deeply pleased For now, Huggable has no identity of its
and moved, Atsuo Takanishi, a professor of own. Its a high-tech ventriloquists dummy
mechanical engineering at Waseda Univer-- cchanneling the voice of its operator, not a
sity, says, as if the robot really had emotion. full-fledged
ul
fu social creature. In a recent paper

60 FEBRUARY 2010 | POPULARMECHANICS.COM


describing the dangers of parent modes in Jap-
anese robotic toys and the temptation to use
robots as nannies, Noel Sharkey, a professor of
artificial intelligence and robotics at the Univer-
sity of Sheffield in England, cited Huggables
lack of autonomy as a selling point. Such robots
do not give rise to the same ethical concerns
as exclusive or near-exclusive care by autono-
mous robots, he wrote with a co-author. Semi-
autonomy might not cut payrolls, but it could be
a safer way to roll out the first wave of social bots.
Sharkeys and Turkles ominous point of view
overlaps uncomfortably with the climate of fear
that has always surrounded robots. And yet,
nearly every researcher I spoke with agreed on a
single point: We need ethical guidelines for
robots, and we need them now. Not because
robots lack a moral compass, but because their
creators are operating in an ethical and legal
vacuum. When a bridge falls down, we have a
rough-and-ready set of guidelines for apportion-
ing out accountability, says P.W. Singer, a senior
fellow at the Brookings Institution and author of
Wired for War. Now we have the equivalent of a
bridge that can get up and move and operate in
the world, and we dont have a way of figuring out
Cynthia Breazeal, the dire0or of MITs Personal Robots
whos responsible for it when it falls down. Group, says social robots require syems that are
In a debate steeped in speculation and short savvy and intelligent in their intera0ions with people,
on empirical data, a set of smart ethical guide- not simply compatible with obje0s.
lines could act as an insurance policy. My con-
cern is not about the immediate yuck factor:
What if this robot goes wrong? says Chris Elliott,
a systems engineer and trial lawyer who contributed to a recent long-standing, irrational fear of robots and head off any risk of
Royal Academy report on autonomous systems. Its that peo- a Luddite backlash, it might be up to robots such as Nexi.
ple will go wrong. Even if the large-scale psychological impact While Im eyeing the gears and servos along Nexis exposed
of social robots turns out to be zero, Elliott worries that a single back, a tour group shows up in the Media Lab unannounced. A
mishap, and the corresponding backlash, could reverse years crowd of kids, maybe fifth or sixth graders, approaches the
of progress. Imagine the media coverage of the first patient robot. Nexi is tracking their faces when one of the boys gets a
killed by a robotic surgeon, an autonomous car that T-bones a little too close. The robots eyebrows swivel inward. The eyelids
school bus or a video clip of a robotic orderly wrestling with a narrow as the head tilts down. And the worm motors that con-
dementia patient. The law is way behind. We could reach a trol Nexis fingers whine like electric drills as its fists clench.
point where were afraid to deploy new beneficial robots Whoa! the kid in the lead says, and they all backpedal.
because of the legal uncertainty, Elliott says. Is it getting mad? one girl asks the researchers.
The exact nature of those guidelines is still anyones guess. Then Nexis face softens and, instantly, theyre laughing.
One option would be to restrict the use of each robotic class or So do you give robots emotions? another girl asks.
model to a specific missionnurse bots that can visit with I remember something Breazeal told me earlier: that for kids
patients within a certain age range, or elder-care bots that watch who grow up around robots, the uncanny valley could be irrele-
for dangerous falls but arent built for small talk and snuggling. vant and The Terminator little more than a quaint story. Vulner-
In the long run, David Hanson believes AI should be explicitly able or not, children interact with these machines differently.
programmed to cooperate with humans, so that when robots Understanding the limits and strange potential of robotics
self-evolve they have what he calls the wisdom not to harm us. might be as simple as letting them meet the models most like
Cynthia Breazeals take is more hard-nosed. Now is certainly themthe ones built to live at their sides. Maybe Nexi could act
the time to start hammering things out, she says. People as that first, limited exposure, a vaccine against the wild fears
should have a serious dialogue before these robots are in con- and warped perceptions the rest of us have grown up with.
tact with vulnerable populations. The kids provoke Nexis anger response again, laughing
Philosophers, ethicists, lawyers and roboticists have only more this time. When its eyebrows level, the lead boy jabs his
begun the hard work of fleshing out Asimovs early code of friend and points at the robots impassive face.
robo-ethics. In the meantime, if theres a way to dismantle our Its smiling at you! Its smiling! FC

PHOTOGRAPH BY MARK MAHANEY POPULARMECHANICS.COM | FEBRUARY 2010 61


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HANDLE THE WORLDS BIGGEST SHIPS, DOU-
B L I N G T R A F F I C O N T H E H I S T O R I C W A T E R W A Y.

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the Pacific and the Atlantic into a regional backwater. Hence the current $5.25 billion expansion pro-
gram designed to keep the canal relevant in future maritime trade. The existing three sets of locks
handle vessels up to 965 feet long and 106 feet wide (so-called Panamax ships). When the seven-year
modernization plan is completed during the canals centennial, those facilities will be complemented
by a slightly longer third lane of traffic with two new sets of locks and approach channels that can accom-
modate post-Panamax ships up to 1200 feet long and 160 feet wide.
Heres how the upgrade will work. A post-Panamax freighter from Asia bound for, say, Norfolk, Va.,
will nose into the canal west of the existing Pacific entrance and head up a new mile-long channel to

At Cerro Goyo, northwe of the Pedro Miguel Locks on the Panama


Canal, a 1400-hp hydraulic shovel claws 22 cubic yards per swipe. Part
of a $5.25 billion expansion, this excavation will conneU a new set of
locks to the exiing waterway.

POPULARMECHANICS.COM | FEBRUARY 2010 63


three-step locks. (Excavation crews will use 85 percent of an earlier dig that was halted by World War II.) The
lock will lift the vessel 85 feet to another new channel that parallels the current Miraflores and Pedro Miguel Opposite: )is vehicu-
Locks. Beyond Pedro Miguel, old and new waterways will merge in a widened, deepened channel that will lar bridge is part of a
diversion proje9 that
knife through the Continental Divide at the Culebra Cut. Five miles on, the supersize ship will enter man- now sends the Cocoli
made Gatun Lake, which it will cross in a 45-mile-long expanded navigation channel to reach a new three- River down to the
step lock complex and water lane east of the existing Gatun Locks and channel. (Crews will use all of the Pacic. )e river used
to ow through the
World War IIera excavation here.) Two miles laterand, depending on traffic, 8 to 10 hours after entering site of a new access
the canalthe freighter will reach the Atlantic, with Norfolk less than a week away to the north. FC channel that will
carry po-Panamax
vessels between the
ocean and new three-
PANAMA CANAL EXPANSION 20072014 ep locks near the
exiing Miraores
Locks. )ree
basins at each lock
AT L A N T I C Culebra Cut chamber will recycle
)e canal will breach the 60 percent of the
water used for tran-
narrow neck of land separating siting ships.
the Atlantic Ocean and Gatun
Lake with three lanes of Cerro Goyo
tractwo in the exiing An Atlantic-bound
channel and one in a new, Panamax container
wider, deeper channel. Pedro Miguel Locks ship (below, far leM)
that has cleared the
Pedro Miguel Locks
ATLANTIC eases pa the Cerro
Goyo excavation en
route to Gatun Lake.
Panamax refers to
Current the current maximum
Gatun Lake size of a vessel that
channel New channel
the canal can accom-
Miraores Locks modate: 965 feet
long, with a beam of
106 feet and a draM
Culebra Cut of 39 feet. Expansion
New three- will boo po-
ep locks Panamax dimensions
with recycling to 1200 feet, 160
Gatun basins feet and 50 feet.
New three-
Locks ep PACIFIC
locks with
recycling Current Uncovered during
basins channel excavations at
PAC I F I C New
channel Cerro Goyo, a dredge
A new larger channel with bucket and iron
a total length of 5 miles railroad wheels date
will link the Pacic Ocean, from early-20th-
a new lock complex and century American
the exiing navigation excavations. Prior to
Gatun Lake the U.S. dig, a French
channel beyond the Pedro company attempted
Miguel Locks. a sea-level canal
that is, a lockless
waterwayacross
the ihmus. Some
20,000 workers died
in the failed eort. In
1904 the U.S. paid
France $40 million
for its equipment
and excavations and,
in 1914, completed
a canal with dams
and locks. In 1999,
the U.S. transferred
control of the canal
to Panama.
POPULARMECHANICS.COM | FEBRUARY 2010 65
6:59:00 AM

tE8q
D??s
YOU HAVE A LATE NIGHT AND AN EARLY FLIGHT. NOT
long after takeoff, you drift to sleep. Suddenly, youre
wide awake. Theres cold air rushing everywhere, and
sound. Intense, horrible sound. Where am I?, you think.
Wheres the plane?
Youre 6 miles up. Youre alone. Youre falling.
Things are bad. But nows the time to focus on the
good news. (Yes, it goes beyond surviving the destruc-
tion of your aircraft.) Although gravity is against you,
another force is working in your favor: time. Believe it or
not, youre better off up here than if youd slipped from
the balcony of your high-rise hotel room after one too
many drinks last night.
Or at least you will be. Oxygen is scarce at these
heights. By now, hypoxia is starting to set in. Youll be
unconscious soon, and youll cannonball at least a mile
before waking up again. When that happens, remember
what you are about to read. The ground, after all, is your
next destination.
Granted, the odds of surviving a 6-mile plummet are
extraordinarily slim, but at this point youve got nothing

67 FEBRUARY 2010 | POPULARMECHANICS.COM

www.storemags.com
to lose by understanding your situation.
There are two ways to fall out of a plane. To slow your descent, emulate a sky
The first is to free-fall, or drop from the diver. Spread your arms and legs,
sky with absolutely no protection or
means of slowing your descent. The sec- present your chest to the ground,
ond is to become a wreckage rider, a
term coined by Massachusetts-based
and arch
amateur historian Jim Hamilton, who developed the Free Fall
grass. Haystacks and bushes have your back
Research Pagean online database of nearly every imaginable
human plummet. That classification means you have the
cushioned surprised-to-be-alive
free-fallers. Trees arent bad, and head
advantage of being attached to a chunk of the plane. In 1972,
though they tend to skewer. Snow?
Serbian flight attendant Vesna Vulovic was traveling in a DC-9
Absolutely. Swamps? With their
upward ...
over Czechoslovakia when it blew up. She fell 33,000 feet,
mucky, plant-covered surface, even But don't
wedged between her seat, a catering trolley, a section of aircraft
more awesome. Hamilton docu-
and the body of another crew member, landing onthen slid-
ments one case of a sky diver who, relax.
ing downa snowy incline before coming to a stop, severely
upon total parachute failure, was This is
not your
injured but alive. saved by bouncing off high-tension
Surviving a plunge surrounded by a semiprotective cocoon
wires. Contrary to popular belief,
of debris is more common than surviving a pure free-fall,water is an awful choice. Like con-
according to Hamiltons statistics; 31 such confirmed or plau-
crete, liquid doesnt compress. Hit- landing
sible incidents have occurred since the 1940s. Free-fallers con-
ting the ocean is essentially the
stitute a much more exclusive club, with just 13 confirmed or
same as colliding with a sidewalk,
pose.
plausible incidents, including perennial Ripleys Believe It or Hamilton explains, except that
Not superstar Alan Mageeblown from his B-17 on a 1943 mis- pavement (perhaps unfortunately)
sion over France. The New Jersey airman, more recently the sub- wont open up and swallow your shattered body.
ject of a MythBusters episode, fell 20,000 feet and crashed into a With a target in mind, the next consideration is body posi-
train station; he was subsequently captured by German troops, tion. To slow your descent, emulate a sky diver. Spread your
who were astonished at his survival. arms and legs, present your chest to the ground, and arch your
Whether youre attached to crumpled fuselage or just plain back and head upward. This adds friction and helps you
falling, the concept youll be most interested in is terminal maneuver. But dont relax. This is not your landing pose.
velocity. As gravity pulls you toward earth, you go faster. But like The question of how to achieve ground contact remains,
any moving object, you create dragmore as your speed regrettably, given your predicament, a subject of debate. A 1942
increases. When downward force equals upward resistance, study in the journal War Medicine noted distribution and com-
acceleration stops. You max out. pensation of pressure play large parts in the defeat of injury.
Depending on your size and weight, and factors such as air Recommendation: wide-body impact. But a 1963 report by the
density, your speed at that moment will be about 120 mph Federal Aviation Agency argued that shifting into the classic
and youll get there after a surprisingly brief bit of falling: just sky divers landing stancefeet together, heels up, flexed
1500 feet, about the same height as Chicagos Sears (now Wil- knees and hipsbest increases survivability. The same study
lis) Tower. Equal speed means you hit the ground with equal noted that training in wrestling and acrobatics would help peo-
force. The difference is the clock. Body meets Windy City side- ple survive falls. Martial arts were deemed especially useful for
walk in 12 seconds. From an airplanes cruising altitude, youll hard-surface impacts: A black belt expert can reportedly
have almost enough time to read this entire article. crack solid wood with a single blow, the authors wrote, specu-
lating that such skills might be transferable.
7:00:20 AM The ultimate learn-by-doing experience might be a lesson

vv8q
D??s
from Japanese parachutist Yasuhiro Kubo, who holds the world
record in the activitys banzai category. The sky diver tosses his
chute from the plane and then jumps out after it, waiting as
BY NOW, YOUVE DESCENDED INTO BREATHABLE AIR. YOU long as possible to retrieve it, put it on and pull the ripcord. In
sputter into consciousness. At this altitude, youve got roughly 2000, Kubostarting from 9842 feetfell for 50 seconds
2 minutes until impact. Your plan is simple. You will enter a before recovering his gear. A safer way to practice your tech-
Zen state and decide to live. You will understand, as Hamilton nique would be at one of the wind-tunnel simulators found at
notes, that it isnt the fall that kills youits the landing. about a dozen U.S. theme parks and malls. But neither will help
Keeping your wits about you, you take aim. with the toughest part: sticking the landing. For that you might
But at what? Magees landing on the stone floor of that considerthough its not exactly advisablea leap off the
French train station was softened by the skylight he crashed worlds highest bridge, Frances Millau Viaduct; its platform
through a moment earlier. Glass hurts, but it gives. So does towers 891 feet over mostly spongy farmland.

68 FEBRUARY 2010 | POPULARMECHANICS.COM


Water landingsif you mustrequire quick decision- 7:02:25 AM

q
D??s
making. Studies of bridge-jump survivors indicate that a feet-
first, knife-like entry (aka the pencil) best optimizes your
odds of resurfacing. The famed cliff divers of Acapulco, how-
ever, tend to assume a head-down position, with the fingers of THE GROUND. LIKE A SHAOLIN MASTER, YOU ARE AT PEACE
each hand locked together, arms outstretched, protecting the and prepared. Impact. Youre alive. What next? If youre lucky,
head. Whichever you choose, first assume the free-fall position you might find that your injuries are minor, stand up and smoke
for as long as you can. Then, if a feet-first entry is inevitable, the a celebratory cigarette, as British tail gunner Nicholas Alkemade
most important piece of advice, for reasons both unmention- did in 1944 after landing in snowy bushes following an 18,000-
able and easily understood, is to clench your butt. foot plummet. (If youre a smoker, youre super extra lucky, since
No matter the surface, definitely dont land on your head. In youve technically gotten to indulge during the course of an air-
a 1977 Study of Impact Tolerance Through Free-Fall Investiga- liner trip.) More likely, youll have tough work ahead.
tions, researchers at the Highway Safety Research Institute Follow the example of Juliane Koepcke. On Christmas Eve
found that the major cause of death in fallsthey examined 1971, the Lockheed Electra she was traveling in exploded over
drops from buildings, bridges and the occasional elevator shaft the Amazon. The next morning, the 17-year-old German awoke
(oops!)was cranial contact. If you have to arrive top-down, sac- on the jungle floor, strapped into her seat, surrounded by fallen
rifice your good looks and land on your face, rather than the holiday gifts. Injured and alone, she pushed the death of her
back or top of your head. You might also consider flying with a mother, whod been seated next to her on the plane, out of her
pair of goggles in your pocket, Hamilton says, since youre likely mind. Instead, she remembered advice from her father, a biolo-
to get watery eyesimpairing accuracyon the way down. gist: To find civilization when lost in the jungle, follow water.
Koepcke waded from tiny streams to larger ones. She passed
7:02:19 AM crocodiles and poked the mud in front of her with a stick to

Zq
D??s
scare away stingrays. She had lost one shoe in the fall and was
wearing a ripped miniskirt. Her only food was a bag of candy,
and she had nothing but dark, dirty water to drink. She ignored
GIVEN YOUR STARTING ALTITUDE, YOULL BE JUST ABOUT her broken collarbone and her wounds, infested with maggots.
ready to hit the ground as you reach this section of instruction On the tenth day, she rested on the bank of the Shebonya
(based on the average adult reading speed of 250 words per River. When she stood up again, she saw a canoe tethered to
minute). The basics have been covered, so feel free to concen- the shoreline. It took her hours to climb the embankment to a
trate on the task at hand. But if youre so inclined, heres some hut, where, the next day, a group of lumberjacks found her. The
supplemental informationthough be warned that none of it incident was seen as a miracle in Peru, and free-fall statistics
will help you much at this point. seem to support those arguing for divine intervention: Accord-
Statistically speaking, its best to be a flight crew member, a ing to the Geneva-based Aircraft Crashes Record Office, 118,934
child, or traveling in a military aircraft. Over the past four people have died in 15,463 plane crashes between 1940 and
decades, there have been at least a dozen commercial airline 2008. Even when you add failed-chute sky divers, Hamiltons
crashes with just one survivor. Of those documented, four of tally of confirmed or plausible lived-to-tell-about-it incidents is
the survivors were crew, like the flight attendant Vulovic, and only 157, with 42 occurring at heights over 10,000 feet.
seven were passengers under the age of 18. That includes But Koepcke never saw survival as a matter of fate. She can
Mohammed el-Fateh Osman, a 2-year-old wreckage rider who still recall the first moments of her fall from the plane, as she
lived through the crash of a Boeing jet in Sudan in 2003, and, spun through the air in her seat. That wasnt under her control,
more recently, 14-year-old Bahia Bakari, the sole survivor of last but what happened when she regained consciousness was. I
Junes Yemenia Airways plunge off the Comoros Islands. had been able to make the correct decisionto leave the scene
Crew survival may be related to better restraint systems, but of the crash, she says now. And because of experience at her
theres no consensus on why children seem to pull through falls parents biological research station, she says, I did not feel fear.
more often. The Federal Aviation Agency study notes that kids, I knew how to move in the forest and the river, in which I had to
especially those under the age of 4, have more flexible skeletons, swim with dangerous animals like caimans and piranhas.
more relaxed muscle tonus, and a higher proportion of subcuta- Or, by now, youre wide awake, and the aircrafts wheels
neous fat, which helps protect internal organs. Smaller people have touched safely down on the tarmac. You understand the
whose heads are lower than the seat backs in front of themare odds of any kind of accident on a commercial flight are slim-
better shielded from debris in a plane thats coming apart. mer than slim and that you will likely never have to use this
Lower body weight reduces terminal velocity, plus reduced sur- information. But as a courtesy to the next passenger, consider
face area decreases the chance of impalement upon landing. leaving your copy of this guide in the seat-back pocket. FC
By Jim Gorman
Photographs by Micheal McLaughlin

HOUSE MOVING REQUIRES HARD WORK, BOLDNESS AND A SENSE OF TIMING. IT DOESNT
HURT TO HAVE A BIG TRUCK AND A MASSIVE HYDRAULIC RIG AS WELL.
he abracadabra moment comes late on a winter after- watching 25 tons of historically significant lumber hovering
noon, when Jay Thompson pulls a lever on the Jahns several feet in the air, its tempting to credit him with some
Structure Jacking System. As pressurized hydraulic fluid degree of wizardry. Everything we do is based on moving prin-
surges to carefully positioned jacks, the shingled cottage on ciples used since the ancient Egyptians, Thompson says. Even
New Jerseys Long Beach Island parts ways with the brick foun- the most gigantic load can be skidded a short distance, rolled
dation that has held it earthbound for the past 120 years. A over a long one or levered the last fraction of an inch until its
barely perceptible gap grows until daylight is plainly visible position is perfect. Lighthouses and airport terminals have
under the house. been transported that way. Those big, bold moves grab the
Thompson, of Atlantic Structure Movers, has performed spotlight, but a small relocation like this cottage is standard
this levitational act thousands of times. Theres no magic to fare for structure movers, who suddenly find themselves bask-
moving a house, he claims, just lots of gritty labor. But while ing in a green glow. After all, whats more environmentally
friendly than reusing a house rather than scrapping it?
While its physically possible to move almost anything, it
isnt always economically feasible. The cost of disconnecting
power lines, moving traffic signals and streetlights and trim-
ming overhanging tree limbs mounts quickly. In the congested
eastern U.S., a move of more than a few blocks is often impracti-
cal. In the less populated Midwest and West, a move of 40 miles

70 FEBRUARY 2010 | POPULARMECHANICS.COM


can make sense. It costs $12 to $16 per square foot to move a the cottage a block and a half to a prepared site.
house. Of course, that price doesnt include a new building lot, The real action occurs once the house has been cut loose
a new foundation or building-code-related improvements. from water, sewage, electricity and other utilities. Thompson
But there are times when history trumps economics. Known and his crew punch holes through the foundation, slide steel
locally as the Fishermans Cottage, the little wood-frame struc- beams under and alongside the house and use hydraulic jacks
ture was completed in 1880 and is among the last of the islands to lift the structure on this steel frame. Our methods are easy
simple, original dwellings. It stands in sharp contrast to the on the house, Thompson says. Weve moved homes with all
rambling Victorians that wealthy summer residents were the furniture inside and pictures hanging on the walls.
already then building. The houses owner sold it to the local his- Since the jacks are not tall enough to raise the house in one
torical society for $1, and it will get a new lease on life as a small pass, its jacked up and supported on cribbing, then the jacks
museum. The task for Thompson is straightforward: Transport are positioned on the cribbing and the house is raised again.

STEEL FRAMING JACKING UP CRIBBING

ompsons crew faens the H-beams


1 under and along the house with indurial-
duty, drop-forged C-clamps. e movers 2 3
tighten the clamps with a wrench, which Hydraulic jacks To keep a house safely supported, ompson
makes the hardened point of the clamps operating at (below) and his men position and reposition
screw bear down with thousands of pounds 6000 psi are posi- tons of cribbing, each a 4-foot-long
of force. Once the eel is positioned and tioned at regular 6 x 6. Buildings are unevenly weighted; the
rmly clamped, the house is ready to be intervals along each trailer-mounted hydraulic syem behind
liBed o its foundation. H-beam. e house ompson can be adjued to compensate
is raised in 1-foot for those variations and ensure that the
increments. house ays level as it is liBed.

I L LU S T R AT I O N BY S P L I T I N T O O N E
When the house rests on cribbing piers of adequate height, At the new lot, Thompson again positions the house on
Thompson takes the wheel of a 2-ton trucka former Army cribbing. Then he resorts to a trick that only a structure mover
deuce and a half. He backs its trailer under the house, which would know. To fine-tune the cottages position, he uses tilted
is then lowered onto the flatbed. Thompson coaxes the struc- jacks that rest on rolls of foam padding. As the jacks take on
ture forward, unfazed by its tilt even though the only thing weight, they straighten and shift the house into place. If I get
holding it in place is friction. It appears more dramatic to all four jacks tilted in different directions, Thompson says, I
onlookers than it does to us, he says. A small angle at the can rotate the house.
trailer is enough to produce quite a lean on a tall building. At last, the cottage is oriented. Once the foundation is com-
Then the trailer crawls down the street to the houses new pleted inside the cribbing perimeter, Thompson will jack up the
location. Its not the cottages first move. In 1890, mules hauled house again to remove beams and cribbing, then lower it on the
it a short distance over logs to where it remained until today. foundation. There it will remainuntil its next move. FC

TRUCKING PRELIMINARY POSITIONING FINAL POSITIONING

Movers rub bar


4 5 6 soap on high-
density plaic that
Its 21 feet from the reet to the houses At the new lot, they place on top of
peakhigher than a 13-foot-tall tra=or 9ompson posi- the cribbing. 9ey
trailerso utility crews ay busy moving tions the trailer lower the house
wires. Still, theres no rush. We move at a above a footing onto these soap
crawl, 9ompson says. You take your foot built earlier by a boards and slide
o the gas and push in the clutch, and the masonry contrac- the ru=ure into
truck comes to an almo immediate op. tor. He jacks up the its nal position.
cottage and drives Below, the cottage
Otherwise, its man versus machine as 9omp-
out from under the awaits its new
son wreles the truck in and out of tight ru=ure.
spots. 9e truck is equipped with what we foundation and a
call arm-rong eering, he says with a laugh. second life as a
small museum.
LOCATION : S I B E R I A , R U S S I A
EVENT: SAYA N O - S H U S H E N S K AYA
HY D RO P OW E R P L A N T E X P L O S I O N
DATE: AU G . 1 7 , 2 0 0 9

M O S C OW
S AYA N O - SHUSHENSKAYA

J
UST BEFORE 8 AM ON AUG. 17, 2009, WORKERS ON THE
morning shift stepped off a clattering Soviet-era tram and made
their way past security and into position at the Sayano-
Shushenskaya hydroelectric power plant in south-central Siberia. In
the 950-foot-long turbine hall, custodians mopped the stone floors
and supervisors handed out assignments. On the roof, a technician
began installing a new ventilation system. Above him soared a con-
cave dam 80 stories high and more than half a mile wide at the crest.
When operating at full capacity, the plants 10 interior penstocks fun-
neled water from the reservoir behind the concrete barrier to the hall
below him, where it tore past the blades of 10 turbines, spinning them
with tremendous force before being flushed out of the hydro plant
and down the Yenisei River.
Completed in 1978, the Soviet-era hydro station is Russias largest,
with enough output to power a city of 3.8 million. It was undergoing
extensive repairs and upgrades that morning, so more workers were in

74 FEBRUARY 2010 | POPULARMECHANICS.COM


BY JOE P. HASLER

Rescue workers clear debris and search for vi4ims near the wreckage of Sayano-Shushenskaya hydroele4ric dams Turbine 2. ?e
1500-ton piece of equipment exploded out of its seating and ew 50 feet in the air on Aug. 17, 2009; 75 people died in the accident.
the hall than usual: 52 on the main floor and another 63 lower levels and eventually submerging other turbines.
down in the bowels of the plant. Nine of the 10 turbines The plants automatic safety system should have shut

PHOTOGRAPHS BY REUTERS (PREVIOUS SPREAD), GETTY IMAGES (THIS PAGE)


were operating at full capacityincluding the trouble- down the turbines and closed the intake gates on the pen-
some Turbine 2, which had been offline but was pressed stocks at the top of the dam, but Turbines 7 and 9 still
back into service the previous night when electricity pro- operated at full speed, in excess of 142 rpm, triggering the
duction dropped because of a fire at the Bratsk power sta- crackling short circuits that darkened the plant. Amateur
tion, 500 miles to the northeast. A few minutes into his video footage taken downstream at the time of the acci-
shift, the technician felt the roof begin to vibrate. The dent shows bright flashes and a huge explosion in the
vibrations grew louder and gradually turned into a thun- vicinity of Turbines 7 and 9 as a wall of water spews from
derous roar. Alarmed, he scrambled off the roof. the structural breach near Turbine 2.
At 8:13 am, two massive explosions rocked the hall. As the water level rose, employees stampeded toward
Security guard Aleksandr Kataytsev told English-language the main entrance. Fearing a total collapse of the dam,
news station RT that he was one level below the turbine hall many phoned relatives downstream and urged them to
when he heard a loud thump, then another one, like an seek shelter in the surrounding Sayan Mountains. Among
explosion, and then the room went pitch-black. the fleeing workers were several supervisors in charge of
Turbine 2a 1500-ton piece of machinery topped by safety and emergencies, which added to the confusion.
a power generatorblasted through the floor and shot On the fourth floor, shell-shocked midlevel operators tele-
50 feet into the air before crashing back down. The pen- phoned up the chain of command for a contingency plan.
stock water that had been spinning the turbine geysered No one answered.
out of the now-vacant shaft at a rate of 67,600 gallons Using his mobile phone as a flashlight, security guard
per second. Like a massive industrial waterjet, it tore Kataytsev found his way to an exit and made for higher
down the metal joists over Turbines 1, 2 and 3; the roof ground. At the crest of the dam, he and several other
there crumpled like aluminum foil and collapsed in a employees struggled to manually close the penstock
tangle of glass and metal. intake gates. By 9:30 am they had sealed all the gates, and
Water continued to pour into the hall, flooding its the destruction below ceased.

ANATOMY OF A TURBINE FAIL U R E


!is photograph of the Sayano-Shushenskaya hydroele6ric power
plant, located 2000 miles ea of Moscow in Siberia, was taken a@er
the Aug. 17, 2009, accident that deroyed a se6ion of the 950-foot-
long turbine hall (circled in white). Water from the Yenisei River ows

through 620-foot-long penocks to power 10 turbines, which generate
up to 6400 megawatts. Turbine 2 had been oine until the previ-
ous night, when it was brought online to compensate for energy lo
because of a re at another plant. Heres how the disaer unfolded.

q 

 

In the wake of the accident, rescue crews mobilized to Sayano-Shushenskaya has made other nations wonder:

T H E I N V E S T I G A T I O N
search for survivors. RusHydro, the partially state-owned Are other hydropower plants at risk?
utility company that operates Sayano-Shushenskaya,
assembled 400 employees to pump out the flooded tur-
bine hall and pick through the twisted debris. Russian IMMEDIATELY AFTER THE ACCIDENT, RUSSIAS
president Dmitry Medvedev dispatched Sergei Shoigu, his Federal Service for Ecological, Technological, and Nuclear
emergencies minister, and Sergei Shmatko, the energy Supervision (Rostekhnadzor) launched an investigation.
minister, to oversee rescue efforts. Environmental clean- The official report, released on Oct. 3, blamed poor man-
up crews attempted to contain the oil spill that stretched agement and technical flaws for the accident.
50 miles down the Yenisei River and killed 400 tons of fish According to the report, repairs on Turbine 2 were con-
at trout farms. Over two weeks, 2000 rescuers removed ducted from January to March 2009, and a new automatic
177,000 cubic feet of debris, pumped 73 million gallons of control systemmeant to slow or speed up the turbine to
water and pulled 14 survivors from the wreckage. But 75 match output to fluctuations in power demandwas
workersthose trapped in the turbine hall and in the installed. On March 16, the repaired turbine resumed
flooded rooms belowwerent so lucky. operation. But it still didnt work right: The amplitude of
For Russians, the catastrophe called to mind the 1986 the machines vibrations increased to an unsafe level
disaster at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant in Ukraine, between April and July. The unit was taken offline until
which was then part of the Soviet Union. Speaking on a Aug. 16, when the Bratsk fire forced managers at Sayano-
Moscow radio station, Shoigu called the hydro dam acci- Shushenskaya to push the turbine into service.
dent the biggest man-made emergency situation [in] the Back in operation, Turbine 2 vibrated at four times the
past 25 yearsfor its scale of destruction, for the scale of maximum limit. As the control system decreased the tur-
losses it entails for our energy industry and our economy. bines output on the morning of Aug. 17, the vibrations
Some commentators have called the events at Sayano- increased. The unit acted like the engine of an automobile
Shushenskaya the Russian Chernobyl. And just as Cher- being downshifted on a hill, shuddering violently and
nobyl raised questions globally about nuclear safety, stressing the fatigued metal pins holding it in place. LMZ,

   qv  


 
Explosions Severe Nearly 73 Hree
spill 40 tons vibrations million gal- turbines are
of oil in the precede the lons of water deroyed;
Yenisei. catarophic ood the seven are
failure. turbine hall damaged.
and lower
levels.

1
Fatigued by vibration, Turbine
2s faening pins break at 8:13
am. Water rushing down the
penock forces the 1500-ton
unit through the turbine-hall
2
A geyser of water owing at
67,600 gallons per second
deroys the roof and oods
the turbine hall. Power out-
ages occur and communication
3 He automated safety syem
also fails. Turbines 7 and 9 con-
tinue to operate even though
they are submerged, causing
short circuits, explosions and
4 Employees close the intake
gates at the top of the dam at
9:30 am, and the immediate cri-
sis ends. In the following days,
14 people are rescued from the
oor and 50 feet into the air. syems fail. ruLural damage. debris; 75 lose their lives.

I L LU S T R AT I O N S BY S P L I T I N T O O N E

the St. Petersburg metalworks that manufactured the approximately $1.3 billionbut a pair of nearby alumi-
plants turbines, gave the units a 30-year service life. Tur- num smelters, property of global aluminum giant RusAl,
bine 2s age on Aug. 17 was 29 years, 10 months. Investi- cant wait that long. They consumed 70 percent of the sta-
gators determined that the power failure after the initial tions output and need replacement power to maintain
explosion had knocked out the safety system that should production. RusAl and RusHydro are pressing the govern-
have shut down the plantand a malfunction turned ment for additional financing to accelerate completion of
into a catastrophe. a joint venture at Boguchansk on the Angara River, now in

C O U L D I T H A P P E N H E R E ?
Officials from RusHydro and the government have its 29th year of construction.
called for more stringent oversight of hydropower plants,
but economic pressures may still put financial consider-
ations ahead of safety. Six days before rescue efforts were THE U.S. HAS AN INSTALLED CAPACITY OF NEARLY
halted on Aug. 29, repairs at Sayano-Shushenskaya were 100 gigawatts and an annual production of 250 terawatt-
already underway. Rebuilding will take five years and cost hours, which make it the worlds fourth largest hydroelec-
tric producer. Yet even with a water-
power history dating back to the
19th century, and more than 2000
such plants in operation, the U.S.
PHOTOGRAPH (OPPOSITE) BY AP/WIDE WORLD PHOTOS, ANDREY KORZUN/HTTP://4044415.LIVEJOURNAL.COM

has never had an event to match


Sayano-Shushenskaya.
Experts agree that a similar acci-
dent is unlikely to occur here
because American equipment is
held to more stringent performance
standards and rigid inspection
regimes. The Bureau of Reclamation
manages 58 hydropower plants,
which produce 44 billion kilowatt-
hours per year. Dan Drake, chief of
the Hydraulic Equipment Group, the
unit responsible for upkeep at iconic
Western dams like Hoover, says
bureau turbines are taken offline at
the first sign of abnormal perfor-
mance, and redundant automatic
systems are in place. If a unit were
experiencing violent or abnormal
BEFORE (Above): /e turbine hall vibrations, Drake says, it would shut down, and the gate
housed 10 640-megawatt turbines. at the top of the penstock would close. Regular equip-
Normally, 12 people manned the hall,
but because of repair work, 115 people ment repairs and replacement also keep dams safe.
were on site on the day of the accident. Russias immediate solution to its power problem is to
AFTER (Opposite): In the wake of
the accident, 2000 rescuers removed
build more dams, but that wont fix a bureaucratic culture
debris, pumped water out of the ooded that seems to devalue safety. If they were running a tur-
turbine hall and searched for survivors. bine with known deficiencies, in essence, theyre putting
economic concerns before human-life safety factors, says
Eric Halpin, the special assistant for dam and levee safety
for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Americas largest
hydropower operator. The principles we use are just the
opposite. If its not safe, if theres a risk of failure, all other
benefitsbe they economic, environmental or anything
elsethose all go away. FC

POPULARMECHANICS.COM | FEBRUARY 2010 79


diy

Spring is ill many weeks away, Essentially, a cold frame is a minia-


Early Risers
THE GROWING SEASON CAN
but you can get a art on a bountiful
summer garden by building a cold
ture greenhousea bottomless box
with a clear lid that captures sunlight,
START LONG BEFORE WARM frame now, in the depths of winter. Its insulates plants and warms the soil.
WEATHER HITSALL IT TAKES IS A a simple carpentry projeP that takes Lynn Ocone, a gardening expert and an
COLD FRAME. B Y J O S E P H T R U I N I advantage of passive solar heating to author, uses her cold frame every year
eePively turn the calendar ahead. at her home in chilly Burlington, Vt.

I N S I DE  q qaq  
qqaq M q 

PHOTOGRAPHS BY ZACH DESART POPUL ARMECHANICS.COM | F EBRUA RY 2010 81


P M D I Y H O M E /// 1 2
COLD FRAMES

Long before spring arrives,


I art plants indoors under
grow lights and then move
them out to the cold frame
after the last of the hard
fros, she says. Ocone has
two recommendations for
3
late-winter or early-spring
gardeners. Fir, position the
cold frame with its clear lid
facing south. A south-facing
cold frame captures the
mo solar energy and helps
keep plants warmer longer,
she says. Second, make it
light enough to be portable.
Most people put a cold
frame in one spot and never 4

move it, which is ne, Ocone


says. But occasionally its
nice to be able to move it
into the garden and art the
plants right in the soil.

Cutting the Parts


The body of the cold Cold Frame assembled, attach
frame I built for my own Conru)ion the hinge cleat.
backyard is made up of [5] Saw the lid
[1] Mark a line
groove using a
tongue-and-groove red cedar 1 x 8 lum- panels. I then trimmed each side panel combination
across the panels
ber held together with screws and verti- to 25 degrees with a circular saw. rip-crosscut blade
for the batten's
cal 1 x 4 cedar battens. Ne material is I cut six cedar 1 x 8s to 46 inches oset. Hen screw on a table saw.
[6] Bore 332-inch
lightweight and naturally resiant to rot long for assembling the cold frames the batten in place.
[2] Saw the sloping
pilot holes before
and bugs. Ne lid is 2 x 2 cedar, grooved rear and front panels. As with the sides, driving lid
edge on the side
to accept a clear acrylic plaic panel. I arted by ripping the groove o two panels. Cedar is assembly screws.
I arted by using a power miter saw 1 x 8s, but I also bevel-ripped the tongue [7] Attach the
soL and easy to
cut, and a cordless automatic lid
to crosscut 1 x 8s for the two side pan- o two other 1 x 8s to serve as the top opener mounting
saw works well.
els. For each panel, I cut three 30-inch- boards. Ney provide a sloping edge for [3] Faening the
brackets to the lid
long 1 x 8s and one 15-inch 1 x 8. the lid to re again. sides from two rail and to the front
direRions produces panel and slip the
Next, I used a table saw to rip o the opener into place.
groove from the bottom edge of two of Assembling the Cold Frame a rong, weather-
resiant joint.
the 30-inch-long 1 x 8s, but you could I began assembly by using 2-inch- [4] With the sides,
ju as easily use a circular saw. Nose long decking screws to faen the two back and front
grooveless pieces serve as the bottom front boards to the side panels. I drove
panel on the sides. screws through the front of the boards the rear panel. Ne top edge of this cleat
Nen I formed each side by tapping and into the edge of the 1 x 4 battens. I is sawed at an angle to match the sides,
together three 30-inch 1 x 8s, topped also drove screws through the side and the lid hinges are screwed to it.
with one 15-inch 1 x 8. panel and into the ends of the front- Nen I cut two small shelf cleats and
Next, I attached two cedar 1 x 4 bat- panel boards. This double-direction attached them to the rear batten. By
tens to the inside of each side panel method creates an incredibly strong, placing a small 1 x 4 shelf between the
using waterproof carpenters glue and long-laing corner joint. Ne same tech- cleats, I can t another row of plants
1-inch galvanized decking screws. nique was used to attach the rear of the into the cold frame, increasing its or-
Its important to position each batten cold frame to the side panels. age capacity without unduly shading
inch from the edge of the sides. With the body of the cold frame the plants below. Its a simple trick that
Nat recess accepts the front and rear completed, I screwed the hinge cleat to a r-time builder may overlook.

82 FEBRUARY 2010 | POPULARMECHANICS.COM


/ " x 5/8" groove
18

2" Acrylic panel


trim-head
deck 2" x 2" inserts into
screws 45" long groove " a pair of 2-inch trim-head
(typ.)
2" x 2" Silicone decking screws at each cor-
31" long ner joint. I bored pilot holes,
to avoid splitting the 2 x 2s,
and reinforced the lid with a
1" galv. 2" x 2" 48" long 3 x 3inch metal bracket in
deck
screws each corner.
(typ.) Acrylic panel
32" x 46" Next, I squeezed a con-
Proje$ tinuous bead of clear silicone
2" x 2" Plans
31" long adhesive into the grooves
in the frame parts and
All across the upper surface of
corners the bottom rail. I slid the
are
double- acrylic panel into the grooves
faened
until it was flush with the
bottom rail, and then
clamped it and allowed the
silicone to cure overnight.
46" 26 116"
2" galv.
deck
screws
Finishing Up,
(typ.) Digging In
30" I faened the lid to the
cold frame with two 3-inch
galvanized butt hinges, each
of which was attached to
5 7
the beveled back cleat. I then
set the lid onto the cold frame and
screwed the hinges to the cleat.
A cold frame is designed to proteI
plants from the cold, but the interior can
get so hot that the plants will die. Je
mo common way to avoid this prob-
lem is to simply prop open the lid with a
ick. However, a more convenient way
to ventilate is with an automatic cold-
frame opener ($60 at www.master
6 gardening.com; Item: TOO-1023), which
automatically raises the lid when the
temperature inside gets too high.
Je opener has a liquid-lled pion
that expands when warm and contraIs
when cold, opening and closing the lid
in the process. It can be adjusted to
expand at any temperature between 60
and 140 F. It has a liXing capacity of
15 pounds and will open the lid up to
18 inches high.
Next, I began work on the lid by cut- bottom rail thinner than the other parts With the opener inalled, I dug the
ting cedar 2 x 2s to length. Using allows the clear acrylic panel to overlap cold frame into the lawn against a
the table saw, I cut a 18-inch-wide x the bottom rail. That way, rain will south-facing one wall. Je wall pro-
58-inch-deep groove into the two side cascade right o the lid without dam- vides a little wind proteIion, but I ill
I L L U S T R AT I O N B Y D O G O

pieces and top rail, but not into the bot- ming up against the bottom frame dug down about 4 inches to keep the
tom rail. Its important to note that the member. Not only would that puddle wind from blowing in from underneath
grooves arent centered on the 2 x 2s, eventually rot the lids bottom rail, but it and to increase heat retention.
but inead are positioned 38 inch from also could cause a leak at that point Jen I arted adding plants. Its a
the top surface. and then the dripping water might dam- satisfying feeling on a chilly day to put
I then ripped the bottom rail to age the plants inside. your next crop into a cold frame. Spring
1 inch thick, and heres why: Making the I faened the lid parts together with doesnt seem so far away aXer all. FC

POPUL ARMECHANICS.COM | F EBRUA RY 2010 83


by Roy Berendsohn

Slippery When Wet


My garage oor is slippery when slush melts o the
Q cars, which is bad news because I back the cars out
and use the garage as a shop. Will painting the oor make
it less slippery? Ie step on my garden tractor is also slick,
especially when wet. Im used to it, but my wife skinned
her shin when she slipped on it. Now she wont use the
tractor. Please suggest some solutions. Ianks.

A It makes sense to correct these


problems. Slip-and-fall accidents
kill thousands of people every year
Adding a and injure thousands more. In 2004,
pound of sand that amounted to about 18,000
to a gallon
of oor paint deaths, according to the National
creates a Safety Council, a nonprot organiza-
slip-resiant
coating.
tion dedicated to eliminating these
and similar hazards.
Fortunately, the x is easy.
From an engineering point of view,
theres required fri^ion [the fri^ion a
person needs to walk safely] and the
available fri^ion [the fri^ion the oor
surface presents to the person], says
April Chambers, lab manager at the
University of Pittsburghs Human
Movement and Balance Laboratory.
Your r goal to prevent a slipping
accident is to ensure that available fric-
tion is greater than required fri^ion.
Translation: Add fri^ion, add safety.
How aggressively you treat the sur-
face depends on the severity of the slip
hazard. In the case of your garage oor,
I would treat it very aggressively,
because a smooth concrete surface
that has slush and water on it is almo
as slippery as a surface can get. One
solution is to apply rows of nonslip
STUDIO D

tape that has a very coarse, abrasive


particle bonded to its face. One of the
be is 3Ms Safety-Walk; its available

84 F EBRUA RY 2010 | POPUL ARMECHANICS.COM PHOTOGRAPHS BY PHILIP FRIEDMAN


in various levels of coarseness to suit use 2 x 4 lumber for this job. Iis fram- in position. If the wall plates at the ceil-
the specics of the application. Id use ing is wider and ronger than is needed ing dont fall where theres framing, use
the 700 series because it has the rough- for a closet, and you gain square inches hollow wall faeners to anchor them.
e surface and it resis moiure. You of closet volume by using 2 x 3s.
can also use it on the footing surfaces of Fir, carefully measure the oor-to- Cold Storage
tra>ors and trailers and on boat decks ceiling height in several places and Im in the process of building a 10 x 12
and docks. Porous surfaces need to be make the wall uds 3 inches shorter nonheated shed to ore my lawn
sealed with 3M Safety-Walk primer than that dimension. Iis accounts for mower and yard tools, and Im
before the tape is applied. the thickness of two horizontal wall wondering whether I can ore hand
Chambers cautions, however, that plates and inch of air space to pre- and power tools in there, too,
you never want to increase fri>ion in vent the wall from getting uck in place especially cordless tools. It gets cold
a manner that creates a false sense as you pivot it into position (which can here in Minnesota, sometimes going
of security. Iat is, taping one se>ion lead to oor and ceiling damage). If the down to minus 40 F.
of a slippery oor but not another can oors and ceiling look wavy, allow for A shed is good for oring a lot of things,
a>ually increase the chance of a fall more airspace than inch. Not to bela- but not hand and power tools. Ive had
as someone eps from a secure high- bor the point, but its not a bad idea to cordless and corded tools survive nights
fri>ion surface to one thats slippery. cut a te ick from a piece of 2 x 3 (to in an ice-cold truck, job site or garage.
A good way to uniformly increase serve as a model of the wall being But those tools also died an early death.
the friction of a large area is to add raised) and try pivoting it into place Why subject expensive tools to the
abrasive particles to oor paint. Skid- along several locations where the closet wide swings of heat, cold and humidity
Tex is a ne-grained silica sand that you walls will be built. Ie lumber wont be that a shed experiences? Iat amounts
can add to oor paint at the ratio of wasted. Removing 3 inches from it to an accelerated wear cycle, a bit like a
1 pound per gallon. You simply ir it in turns it into a wall ud. torture te in a lab.
and then paint as normal. Shim the walls into place so that Another compelling reason not to
they are plumb and drive screws into ore hand and power tools in a shed is
Adding Space the oor and ceiling to hold everything that if you need them when its really
Like mo 1950s houses, ours is short
on orage space, so I want to build a
couple of closets. Should be pretty
simpletwo walls and a door. Right?
Yes. Building closets is simple, and the qq!q
proje> is pretty much as you describe
it. Before you build closets, though, be
Dont SlipInead, SLP
sure that youve made maximum use of
Some years ago, I was cutting dovetails in a mahogany
exiing closet space. Iere are lots of
che. Ie oor was littered with blocks of wae wood. I
ways to do this, from building ecient
slipped on one and fell forward while holding the dovetail
plywood shelving and dividers to inall- saw in my right hand. Ie saw raced down my leP forearm,
ing fa>ory-made orage hardware. over my wri, down my hand and over the tip of my index
Assuming you go ahead with the nger, splitting the nail in half. To avoid slips, ju remember
proje>, there are a few things to keep SLP: Sweep up, light up and pick up.
in mind. Fir, if youll be using fa>ory-
made closet hardware inside the closet, Sweep Up. Light Up. Pick Up.
size the closets length and width Dont let sawdu, A dimly lighted area Stow boxes, work
accordingly. Also, if you use a andard planer shavings, conceals hazards, materials and
wood chunks, especially at oor subassemblies on
hinged door, you have to account for
metal lings or level. Iats shelves and 3M's Safety-Walk
the doors sweep into the room. Your demolition debris particularly sawhorses. It is like a coarse
other alternatives are bifold doors or accumulate where dangerous in a work seems range to sandpaper that you
hanging closet doors, more pra>ical ick to slippery
you work. Take a area where youll think of the humble surfaces to
alternatives for mo rooms because break and clear the likely be handling sawhorse as a improve traBion.
they dont take up additional floor oor as you work, power tools. Light safety aid, but it is.
space for a swinging door. and again when should be dire[ed I build extras at
A dark closet isnt particularly useful, the job is done. from above and every opportunity
so youll have to think about lighting it. from one side to ll and use pairs of
Go to popularmechanics.com and see in shadows. them ju to keep
u o the oor.
the article Your 6-Step A>ion Plan to
Brighter Closets.
Framing the closets will be raight-
forward carpentry. Its unnecessary to

POPUL ARMECHANICS.COM | F EBRUA RY 2010 85


cold, you have to bring them inside and
let them thaw out before using them.
Finally, most sheds are used to
shelter lawn and pool chemicalscor-
rosive subances. I recently pulled out
a garden trowel that was ored near
some fertilizers and herbicides. The
trowels blade was severely rotted, and
the tool was ruined. Lesson learned.

q q !q 

Splendor in
the Grass

Some people have a


knack for nding
money, four-leaf
clovers or arrow-
heads. With me, its tools. It
arted one day when I was a kid
walking in the woods behind my
house. I caught a glimpse of an
odd shape and shed out a ruy
ball-peen hammer from the
leaves. I went home and cleaned
it up with sandpaper, painted the
head and applied linseed oil to its
handle. Sen I presented it to my
dad, who hung it on the pegboard
above the workbench that we
built together.
Heres another one: a
linesman screwdriver I found
lying on the shoulder of the road.
Se tool was brand spanking
new, and I was pleased to see
that it had a shaU running fully
through its handle. Not needing
another screwdriver, I put it to
work as painting equipment. I
admit, thats not particularly
tting for such a well-built tool,
but it really pops a paint-can lid,
and the butt of its handle thumps
the lid down. Sere are othersa
PHOTOGRAPH BY J MUCKLE/STUDIO D

tack puller I found in a gutter and


pliers I found under a dryer.
Found tools have rounded out
my tool colleZion, especially with
u I wouldnt have bought. So
keep a sharp eye cocked for a
glimpse of shiny eel or ru. It
may be the next great addition to
your toolbox. R.B.
Drill Down P M D I Y H O M E /// H O M E O W N E R S C L I N I C Q + A
I need to buy some drill bits, and
Im wondering what kind I should
get, especially for drilling metal. larger repair. A fro-proof faucet (its not the house to a point where water at the
Would you agree that cobalt really freeze-proof; under truly deep-freeze base of the em will not freeze.
bits are the be? conditions, even a well-prote]ed faucet On the end of the em is a washer,
Your be bet is to get a set of general- might freeze) is like a standard faucet, which bears again a faucet seat. If the
purpose twist drills made from M2 except that its an exceptionally long- washer is worn, water will leak pa it
high-speed eel (HSS). It contains a tting one. When you turn the handle on even though the handle has been turned
rich blend of eel-improving elements, the outside of the house, youre also turn- down tightly. He x is to shut o water
such as carbon, tungen, molybde- ing a em (a rod to which the handle is leading to the faucet, then remove the
num, chromium and vanadium. connected). The stem may be 6 to 30 em and replace either it or ju the bib
Sounds exotic, but its really pretty inches; thats long enough to reach into washer on its end. FC
common u, widely used in cutting
tools. It ju so happens to be excep-
tionally tough and wear-resiant and
ideal for drill bits. Here are two other
types of HSS eel used in drill bits:
M7 and M42, both designed for indus-
trial users, especially the M42 variety,
which contains cobalt. Hose bits are
tough enough to drill quickly into
tough materials like cast iron and
ainless eel. While that sounds like
a handy capability, it comes at a price.
Cobalt bits co ve to six times what
andard M2 bits co.
For almost all homeowner pur-
poses, the garden-variety M2 HSS type
works ju as well and doesnt co a
fortune. A set of 13 bits from 1/16 inch
to inch (in 1/64 -inch increments) cos
about $10. For your money, you also
get a fold-down case, so the bits dont
get lo and dulled rolling around in the
bottom of your toolbox. Hese bits are
typically sold with a cone-shaped tip
that measures 118 degrees, a good
general-purpose tip.

Dripping Faucet
I have a freeze-proof faucet on the
side of my house that drips. How do
I repair it?
Now that cold weather is settling in,
this is one repair you better hop on,
because if that dripping water freezes,
it can damage the faucet and lead to a

Got a home-maintenance or
repair problem? Ask Roy about it.
Send your questions to
pmhomeclinic@hearst.com or to
Homeowners Clinic, Popular Mechan-
ics, 300 W. 57th St., New York, NY
10019-5899. While we cannot
answer questions individually,
problems of general interest will
be discussed in the column. ?
diy

degree of difficulty 

 q
 

Keep Your Cool


IF YOUR ENGINES TEMP GAUGE IS PEGG ED, IT MIGHT BE TIME FOR a range whi of something. Its
A NEW RADIATOR. HERES HOW TO MAKE THE SWAP. B Y M I K E A L L E N an unnaturally sweet and puzzling
odor. But aTer you round the next
A competent Saturday Mechanic corner, its gone. As the road raight-
can relatively easily diagnose auto- ens out again, its back. Its like some-
motive maladies that are heard or one has set a towel soaked in maple
feltbut smells are more difficult. syrup on fire. Within a few more
Say youre cruising along and notice miles, that whiff of sweetness has

I N S I DE  qaqq q qaqqqc

PHOTOGRAPHS BY CHAD HUNT POPUL ARMECHANICS.COM | F EBRUA RY 2010 89


P M D I Y A U T O /// R A D I A T O R R E P L A C E M E N T and-brass radiator, it might be repair-
able at a radiator shop. Either way, save
some money by doing the removal and
inallation yourself.
become cloyingly overwhelming. Soon, ator and the plastic end tanks. The
its clear what the problem is: That repair involved uncrimping the steel Let It Bleed
ench is coolant, leaking underhood nger clamp holding the two together, Start by draining the coolant. Now,
somewhere from the cooling syem. replacing the tank or O-ring and crimp- do I need to tell you to let the car cool
Sure enough, before you manage to ing it all together. (I even have a special o r? Didnt think so. Youre sup-
scoot home, the temperature gauge pair of uncrimping-crimping pliers in my posed to recycle this u, and mo
arts to creep upward and small curls toolbox for the job.) This repair has GM dealerships have a coolant-recy-
of eam are peeking out of the grille. become less common because radia- cling machine. (GM is big on recycling
A@er letting things cool o for a half- tors are now far less expensive than and made all its dealers buy coolant-
hour, you gingerly open the hood, they once were. recycling machines a few years back.)
expeDing to see something obvious, Bottom line: If you have a bad Dont use the same drain pan you use
like a loose cap or a split hose. plaic-tank radiator, you might as well for oil and transmission uideven a
Not a chance, pal. Feres dragon- ju buy a new one. If you have a copper- few drops of oil will contaminate used
vomit-green coolant everywhere. Next
ep, hose everything down with fresh
water and let it all dry o. A quick cou- 1. 7e Suburban
ple of quarts of water added to the radiator we
transplanted for
radiator will let you art the car with- this ory, like those
out baking the engine. But before you of many vehicles,
put the hose away, water arts to drip has a radiator drain
from the radiator. Its immediately cock that is cleverly
aimed direOly at a
apparent where the leak isbilious frame rail, which
 qq
green coolant is seeping from a crack makes the ream  q
in the plaic end tank. Your radiator is of coolant splash 
and dribble over a
(sorry) cooked. 1-yard-wide area.
Youd need a kiddie
You Cant Patch Plaic pool to catch it all.
2. Loosen the
When aluminum-and-plaic radia-
clamps on the
tors r hit the market a generation coolant hoses and
ago, people actually tried to repair carefully pry the
them. Fere was the obvious x of sim- hoses o the spouts
on the end tanks.
ply epoxying up the crackshey, its Consider changing
ju plaic. If I can patch a plaic gas the hoses, which
tank, fender or even a windshield have a normal
service life of ve to
washer reservoir, I should be able to seven years.
plug up a little crack less than an inch 3. 7e eel cooler
long, right? lines are attached
Wrong. Trust me, Ive tried this with thin eel or
brass hex ttings.
usually late at night when I needed to Its always be to
get something back on the road and the use the right
parts were ill days away from arriving. toolin this case, 1
a are-nut wrench
Its a waste of time. The plastic tank that will grip all
exes too much with the heat and pres- six of the ttings
sure, and any adhesive ju gives up. corners, not
ju two.
Besides, the tanks glass-reinforced
nylon ruDure has likely grown brittle
over the years. Another crack will
appear nearby fairly soon.
Again, when plaic-tank radiators
were r introduced, a lot of dealer-
ships tried to fix them. One failure
mode, in addition to our aforemen-
tioned cracked tank, was in the long
O-ring seal between the aluminum radi- 2 3

90 FEBRUARY 2010 | POPULARMECHANICS.COM


coolant, which then has to be disposed ping, swap drain pans. Mo automatic the radiator raight up and out without
of as hazardous wae. Call your local transmission vehicles have a transmis- actually removing the shroud. Dont
department of public works or fire sion-oil cooler in the radiator, and our bend the fan blades, and watch for rub-
department for advice on disposal. photo truck also has an engine-oil ber radiator-mounting cushions trying
Flushing it down the drain or using it to cooler. Remove these lines, either by to escape by jumping under the car.
kill weeds isnt acceptable. undoing the hose clamp on the ttings Unbox the new radiator and give the
Dont leave any used coolant lying or unscrewing them. Cap these hoses old and new radiators the hairy-eyeball
around. @e glycol-based liquid has a to keep foreign matter out and expeI a side-by-side treatment to be sure you
syrupy-sweet taste, and children and few ounces of ATF or oil to dribble from have the correI one. Carefully drop the
pets need inge only a few spoonfuls the lower port on the radiator into your new radiator in place. Dont bend any
to kill them. Mo coolant on the market catch pan. Stubborn radiator hoses fins; youll reduce the new radiators
today has been treated with an may need to be cut o. ability to rejeI heat.
extremely bitter tae to prevent fatali- Button up the clamps, reinall the
ties. Soak up any small spills with kitty Easy Out hoses and cooler ttingsits time to
litter, sawdu or sand, and dispose of See if there are any fan-shroud top everything o. If the hoses wont
the sweepings properly. pieces to remove, but you might only slip over the spigots, try lubing with a
When the coolant has opped drip- need to undo the faeners and sneak little bit of coolant. If that doesnt make
them slip on relatively easily, its time
for new hoses.
4. Mo radiators coolant. Look up
are only clamped your cooling FiVy-FiVy
into place. Remove syems capacity O en, you can ju top o the sys-
the clamp bolts in the owners
manual. It might
tem, fire up the engine and go. But
and li7 the rad out.
5. 9ese cracks, be as little as 12 many vehicles have specific bleeding
the typical failure or as much as 22 procedures, requiring that bleeder t-
mode of plaic quarts. Divide this tings be, well, burped. In some
radiator tanks, are in half, and add
not repairable. that much raight, inances, the front of the vehicle mu
6. No matter how undiluted coolant. be raised up to get all the air out of the
long you let it drip, Top o with system. Thats because the pressure
there are ill demineralized or
several quarts of diilled water,
cap is below the highe point in the
liquid lurking in the ensuring youve engine where coolant ows. Failure to
syem. Now got the correL get a pocket of air out of the cylinder
would be a good mixture. head could cause overheating, so be
time to ll with
water and ush sure to follow procedure. Top o the
out any old, nay overow tank to the COLD line, too.
Now its time to art up the engine
and look for leaks. Top o the transmis-
sion and engine if you spilled any when
4 you disconneIed the cooler lines.
@ere used to be one kind of coolant
on the market. @ese days, there are
more than a half-dozen, in a rainbow of
colors. Your cars manufaIurer has a
specic recommendation, which should
be followed. Sharp-eyed readers will
note that were relling this GM vehicle
with conventional green coolant,
instead of the factory-recommended
orange long-life Dex-Cool that GM
inalled at the faIory. For whatever
5 reason, a previous owner had changed
over to green, and we eleIed to con-

tinue that praIice. Dex-Cool can take a
long time to provide corrosion protec-
tion when it hasnt been used in the
syem for a while; the anti-corrosion
additives in conventional coolant work
6 immediately. FC

POPUL ARMECHANICS.COM | F EBRUA RY 2010 91


by Mike Allen


qq
qq


Highly Calibrated
I inherited my grandfathers torque wrench. Its
Q still in good condition, but when I showed it to my
mechanic, he said the wrench was so old that it was
probably out of calibration and that I should just hang
it on the wall as a curio. What do you think?

A Id get a new mechanic, because


although torque wrenches do need
to be calibrated annually (more oBen if
theyre in daily operation or used for really critical applications like engine assembly), Safe Scratch Treatment
your wrench should work ne aBer an adjustment and a little TLC. And Id bet this guy Whats your take on using rubbing
isnt getting his torque wrench calibrated as oBen as he should, either. Expect to pay compound to eliminate scratches? Is
$25 to $35 for a decent shop to calibrate your wrench properly. I used to have both of it even possible to eliminate them? My
my torque wrenches, a 0-to-50 B-lb and a 0-to-150 B-lb, calibrated regularly by a fel- car is only two years old and looks like
low who did them for all the mechanics at the local dealerships. He had a truck with it has light, hazy scratches all over it.
the calibration gear in it, and on the day he would come by the dealerships, all the So Im not sure if the brush at the
mechanics lined up like they were buying burritos from the roach coach. He charged a carwash had something in it or what.
princely 10 bucks. Sadly, the price has risen, so I ju picked up a Powerbuilt Digital ae x for light scratches used to be
Torque Adapter. Its a small battery-powered gadget that will let you calibrate your rubbing compound, back in the days
own wrench, and it costs about $50. The Powerbuilt will also work in a pinch as a before clear-coat paint. Aggressive
torque wrench itself, in concert with a ratchet or a ex handle. But I prefer to use my compounding can completely polish
favorite clicker wrench and save the torque adapter for calibrating it. through the thin clear layer over the
Keep your torque wrench clean and lubricated, and always return the scale to pigment, requiring respraying. And uh,
zero aBer every use to keep the internal spring from taking a set and letting the yes, this would be a Bad aing. aere
calibration driB. are other remedies for your patina of

92 F EBRUA RY 2010 | POPUL ARMECHANICS.COM PHOTOGRAPH BY CHAD HUNT


scratches, involving less-aggressive within a few months. Yours have had 20 cant access the rear of the area, youll
polishes and wax to fill in small years of cruy buildup. Penetrating oil be forced to drill the screw head o.
scratches. Several products include usually doesnt help much. Start by Warning: :ese screws are hardened
Mothers California Gold Scratch using a proper No. 1 or No. 2 Phillips, and dont drill easilyin spite of the fa=
Remover, Turtle Wax Scratch & Swirl depending on the size of the screw. Give that they rounded off as easily as a
Remover, Autoglym Paint Renovator yourself a break by using a relatively new block of margarine in the hot sun. Use a
and Meguiars Deep Cryal. screwdriver, not one thats already been sharp drill and moderate speed or youll
used to round o hundreds of screws ju melt the plaic tab.
Frozen Faeners during its diinguished career. Remem- And when you are purchasing
I ju got a sealed beam to replace the ber to push hard again the screwdriver replacement hardware to put this all
old headlight in my 1988 Pontiac to keep it seated in the screw head. Of back together, I have only one word of
Firebird. I need to remove the frame course, theres the danger of pushing advice: ainless.
that holds the light in place, and my hard enough to break the tab on the
screws are uck. I used WD-40 on plaic trim piece, so be careful. Water Shortage
the screws to try and loosen them, When that doesnt work, and it ree months ago, my seldom-used
but they ill wont come out. e probably wont for at lea a few of the 1985 Chrysler New Yorker eamed
screws seem to have a small clamp screws, you may have to resort to twi- up under the hood. When it cooled o,
behind them. Whats the be way to ing the screw with Vise-Grips. No, not I discovered that all the coolant had
get a driver on these buggers? the screw head itselfthats recessed gone. AAer relling and checking it
Those tiny Phillips-head trim screws 2 inches into a -inch-diameter hole. regularly, I found none was leaking on
are always a pain to remove. Theyre Try twiing the shank of the screw from the ground. Yeerday the same
cheaply cad-plated, and they ru solid behind the clip it screws into. If you result: no coolant. Where does it go?
Presumably it disappears only when I
am driving.
:at coolant is leaking, for sure. And its
leaking one of several possible ways. It
q!qq  could be going into a combuion cham-
Spark Plug Teer ber and leaving as eam through the
exhau ports. Or its leaking into the oil.
A small leak would leave the oil moly
I turned the old pickups
key and knew inantly water-free, as the PCV syem will pull a
it was dead. Bere was lot of moiure out of the syem if the
no juice leE in the vehicle is driven far enough to warm the
battery. Someone had oil to around 180 F and keep it there.
rescued a garage-nd One other possibility is that, once hot,
dead battery, charged it its leaking in small amounts either
and shoehorned it into as eam or onto a hot spot (like the
the truck on the cheap. exhau manifold), where it will evapo-
Be bad battery fried the rate without leaving a wet spot. Also, a
aging alternator, and it
tiny leak in the intake manifold gasket
wound up in my shop for
a charging-syem might get into the manifold itself, where
transplant. Hours later, teer, crank the motor plugs. Its a huge a small amount of coolant could simply
aEer a new battery and and look for spark time-saver. I ju had to be sucked into the combuion cham-
alternator had been jumping the gap, right? hold the probe near any of bers, turned into eam andbuh-bye.
inalled and Id chased a Beres an easier way: the plug wires while You hope thats the case, because the
couple of parasitic drains, the OK Spark plug teer. someone cranked the other possibilities would mean pulling
the engine ill wouldnt Ju hold the teers engine. I found my the cylinder heads to replace the head
art. Id been tinkering probe near a plug wire (or problem in the injeVion gaskets, which would probably cost
around in the fuse box, so even near a coil-on-plug harness easily, knowing more than the car is worth.
I gured I had jiggled coil assembly) and you for certain I had spark. OK
There are ways to chase these
some of the shaky wiring can tell if the plug is ring. Spark means you dont
harness loose. In these It will even deteV a have to pry ubborn plug leaks. :e easie is to pressurize the
situations, one of the r fouled plug, something a conneVors o, keeping cooling system with compressed air
J MUCKLE/STUDIO D

things to do is check for conventional spark-gap you clear of the engines and lien for the hissing at the exhau
spark. Ju pull a plug type of teer wont do red-hot exhau pipe, the oil ller cap or the top of the
wire, clip on the spark without removing the manifolds. M.A. carb or throttle body. Stant and others
make an adapter to fit the radiator
neck with a hand pump and a gauge.
Just pump up the system and start

POPUL ARMECHANICS.COM | F EBRUA RY 2010 93


chasing leaks. Trouble is, some leaks
only leak when the engine is up to
operating temperature, so dont burn
yourself. If that doesnt work, you
may need to add uorescent dye to
the syem and use a UV light and
yellow goggles, CSI Miamiyle.

Troubling Transmission
I have a queion about my 1997
Eclipse Spyder (it barely has 80,000
miles on it). Recently, when I get
ready to leave my house, I push
down the clutch to art it and it
seems to require way less force than
it used to. Aen, when putting the
transmission in reverse to back out
of the driveway, it grinds a little. If
you try a few times, it will eventually
go into gear with no problem. ADer a
few shiDs, the gearbox arts to aF
normally. Whats going on?
Your Eclipse, unlike many vehicles
that use a mechanical linkage or a
cable, uses a hydraulic clutch aDua-
tor. Air in the hydraulic line is keeping
the clutch from disengaging suffi-
ciently. A few pumps will purge the
air, but it seeps back into the maer
cylinder overnight. Id art by ush-
ing out the old fluid (actually, just
DOT-3 or DOT-4 brake fluid) and
bleeding the system thoroughly. If
that doesnt x it, youve got a leak
thats sucking in air. Rebuilding or
replacing the maer and slave cylin-
ders should cure it.

Fuelish Solution
I have old premixed boat gas;
8 gallons of it, mixed 50:1 with oil.
Its too old to use in my two-cycle
outboard. Can I put it in my 1997
Land Cruiser? I gured I would dump
the mix in with the tank half full and
top it o with fresh fuel aDerward,
or do it 4 gallons at a time for further
dilution. Will it foul my fuel injeFors
with that bit of oil? Or should I ju
throw it away?
Gummy, old, oxidized premix gasoline
is a poor candidate for use in a mod-
ern, catalytic-converter-equipped car.
Come to think of it, so is old, oxidized
gas without the extra two-roke oil,
too. Xe oil can potentially contami-
nate an expensive cat, and any varnish
(produced when gasoline oxidizes, in
P M D I Y A U T O /// C A R C L I N I C Q + A

the same way that oil-based paint for the dropped power and
cures) might foul the fuel injeGor pin- low-speed miss?
tle valve(s), which are also not cheap A0er further inveigation, I
to replace. No, the fuel filter wont found that replacing all the inje8ors
catch the varnish. And if it did, youd was better than replacing ju the
need to change the lter soon, and faulty one. Either of these two
that usually involves removing the gas individual components could have
tank from the car, which will co far been defe8ive, and the cause of my
more than your out-of-date fuel. problem. With mo of the labor
Plus, theres the problem of phase involved in accessing the fuel
separation caused by water making inje8ors, I felt it was more prudent
any ethanol drop out of the solution. to replace them all with new (and
Odds are any fuel ored in a container better designed) units rather than
thats not perfeGly sealed will soak up only one cylinders worth. Ae new
atmospheric moiure. 7is will leave ones dier from the originals, in that
you with a layer of water and ethanol the inje8or and poppet valve are
in the bottom of the tank and a layer made from metal and are an integral
of cloudy gasoline oating above it unit. Ae original GM design
and neither layer will burn well enough consied of plaic components,
to run your, or any other, engine. with a solenoid se8ion and poppet
Adding more alcohol (gas line drier, valve that are separate from each
like Heet or Dri-Gas), the traditional other. Eight new ones obviously
solution for water in the gas, wont co more. However, with the
work. 7eres nothing you can add to 350,000-plus miles on the original
remove the oil or water. inje8ors, others were sure to fail in
My advice? Call the local DPW or the near future. A0er it was all said
re department and nd out a safe, and done, I had a neighbor who has
legal way to dispose of the fuel. a scan tool hook it up to read the
codes and zero them out, ju to
Self-Taught make certain nothing else was
I recently did some work on my happening that I didnt know about.
old 1996 GMC pickup that had Couldnt have said it, or done it, better
arted to run erratically. It seemed myself. 7e at-rate book says that
to be dropping a cylinder and replacing a single injector takes 2.6
losing power. I checked for fuel hours, and only another 18 minutes to
and spark ... I pulled the plugs, etc. replace them all, so it makes sense to
I suspe8ed a cylinder was not ring, do all eight at that kind of mileage. 7e
but the plugs all worked ne. only thing I might add is that if you xed
Aen, I went to looking for a bad the bad injeGor, the Check Engine light
inje8or, without a scan tool. Well, would have gone o on its own aKer a
using one of my R-12 Freon gauges, couple of engine artop cycles. Or
I hooked up to the fuel-pressure rail you could have pulled the engine-con-
(Schrader-valve type). Aen I turned trol-module fuse for a few seconds, or
on the key and watched the even ju liKed the battery negative
pressure go up and remain eady. po to clear the code. FC
A0er gaining access to the
multiconne8or for the fuel
Got a car problem?
inje8ors on top of the intake Ask Mike about it. Send your ques-
plenum, I one by one ran a hot lead tions to pmautoclinic@hearst.com or
jumper to each of the eight to Car Clinic, Popular Mechanics, 300
W. 57th St., New York, NY 10019-
conne8ors. Each time I did that,
5899. While we cannot answer ques-
the pressure gauge would drop as I tions individually, problems of general
opened the inje8orexcept for one interest will be discussed in
particular cylinder. Was that one the column.
cylinder the culprit and the reason
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diy

Desktop Recording Studio


WITH THE RIGHT SOFTWARE AND A FEW PLUG-IN INSTRUMENTS,
ANYONE (REALLY, ANYONE) CAN BE A ROCK STAR IN HIS OWN HOME. B Y G L E N N D E R E N E

Consider it another marvel of


the digital ageor the latest evi-
dence that the beautifully difficult,
soul- taxing art of music creation
has irretrievably slid into the hands
of talentless idiots. Either way, with
the help of a computer, a few periph-
erals, a variety of entry-level so>ware
and two weekends worth of ruggle,

Entry-level music-
produ3ion gear
such as M-Audios
KeyStudio 49
keyboard and
Fa Track audio
interface can plug
in via USB.

I N S I DE q qaqN q qaqqM


STUDIO D

PHOTOGRAPH BY JEFF WESTBROOK POPUL ARMECHANICS.COM | F EBRUA RY 2010 97


P M D I Y T E C H /// D E S K T O P M U S I C R E C O R D I N G so"ware. Underanding these basics
will help you focus your use of the so"-
ware on whats relevant.

I have produced my r single. worked with it before. Much of it caters Multitrack Recording
Its hardly a secret that musical pro- to the obsessive audio engineers who is is a carryover process from
duNion has been riding boldly into the populate the music indury. M-Powered the days of analog tape, when produc-
digital age over the pa three decades. Essential is pitched as a reamlined ers would record elements of a song on
So"ware that enables inruments to version of parent company M-Audios dierent tape tracks, edit them sepa-
interface directly with PCs was pio- indury andard Digidesign Pro Tools rately, then combine everything into a
neered in the 1980s, and current pro- suite of so"ware. We advantage to this cohesive whole. Computers have simpli-
grams pack all the goodness of a full approach (as opposed to so"ware such fied this process immensely. New
production studio into a laptop, with as Apples GarageBand, which was Track is one of the easier-to-nd menu
virtualized inruments, amps, eeNs, designed from the ground up for new- items in mo programsso building a
mixing boards and multitrack recording bies) is that once youve learned how it song is like layering ingredients on a
machines all onscreen. Wis has had a works, you are well on your way to learn- sandwich. I arted with a percussion
profound eeN on the music indury ing how professional music is made. We line, then added a bass line on a sepa-
lowering the barrier to entry to the point disadvantage is that, if youre like me, rate track, then another for rhythm
where a small band with a computer, a you dont give a damn how professional inruments, another track for piano,
microphone and a few inruments can music is made, and you may end up then vocals and so on. And, I was free to
produce udio-quality recordings. grinding off several layers of tooth tinker with individual tracks without
Inruments have changed, too. Much enamel trying to weed through all of the altering everything at once.
of the computational heavy li"ing that menus and submenus that dont apply
used to be done by circuitry inside digital to you before nding the u that does. Musical Inrument
keyboards and drum pads has been o- Regardless of what software you Digital Interface (MIDI)
loaded to PC-based so"ware. By turning pick, there are a few basic concepts MIDI is a andardized language
inruments that used to play indepen- that are common to all digi- that helps inruments digi-
dently into computer-connected USB tal music-produNion tally communicate
peripherals, manufaNurers have reduced
the cost of some of these devices to
within reach of the musical dabbler.
Wats where I come in.
My last formal musical instruction
was in high school. I took a year of piano
and drum lessons, and I have since for-
gotten far more than I ever learned. But
the basics of drum rolls and chord pro- 1 2 3
gressions remained in the ickier regions
of my subconscious, and I can generally bree Devices = Innite Inruments
noodle around with such inruments so THIS BASIC SETUP WILL PLUG YOU IN TO A WIDE WORLD
long as no sheet music is involved. O F S Y N T H I N S T R U M E N T S A N D D I G I TA L A U D I O E F F E C T S .
I arted by picking up KeyStudio 49,
a so"warehardware combo recently
launched by M-Audio. For $130, the kit 1. DRUM PAD Mo music-produBion soDware will come with a variety of drum
kitssampled percussion inruments that vary by genre (rock, salsa, dance, etc.).
comes with a 49-key MIDI USB key- While you can play these on a MIDI piano or even a qwerty keyboard, a drum pad or
board and a mini-USB audio interface, digital drum set lets you break out the icks. Available from Roland, Alesis, and
as well as the companys entry-level Pro Yamaha; expeB to pay between $140 to $4000 for a full set.
Tools M-Powered Essential software. 2. AUDIO INTERFACE To choose a USB audio interface, r determine what you want
The software comes with more than to plug in to your computer. Mo have basic analog-to-digital audio converters inside to
60 virtual instruments, hundreds of capture vocals and analog inruments through a microphone. Others integrate MIDI
loops and templated recording sessions. inputs and have built-in dials for manual adjument of input levels. Available from
Cakewalk, M-Audio and Behringer; expeB to pay between $45 and $1000.
As a basic launchpad into digital music
produNion, its a darn good deal; the 3. MIDI KEYBOARD be mo exible digital music device you can buya MIDI
keyboard alone is worth the money, keyboard can be made to imitate any inrument imaginable. More expensive models
have manual controls and settingssome have onboard audio processing and can
since it can be used with multiple music play independent of a PC. Available from M-Audio, Yamaha, Roland, Korg; prices
programs. range greatly, from $50 to $4000.
Digital music-production software
can be a bit overwhelming if youve never

98 FEBRUARY 2010 | POPULARMECHANICS.COM I L LU S T R AT I O N BY G A B R I E L S I LV E I R A


Writing sheet music is hard, but using so3ware that does it for you is easy.
With programs such as Sibelius Fir ($130) from Avid, all you need to do is
play an inrument into your PC, and your computer will transcribe the notes.

browsing my ho soOware and looking little hand-holding for beginners unfa-


online at places like vplanet.com and miliar with the logic of the program;
audiomastermind.com, I was able to inruments and ee9s are buried in
such as
with computers over interfaces su grab a few dierent loops of trumpets submenus that are not always clearly
USB or FireWire. Instead of se sending and clarinets and oboes or an entire labeled. And some elements are posi-
a9ual sound to a PCPC, a MIDI co
control- orchera, then itch them together to tively annoyingthe software wont
lerusually a keyboard or drum pad add another dimension to my song. If even start unless you have the USB
sends data about pitch and intensity of you cant nd exa9ly what you want, audio interface plugged in, and scat-
notes, and the computer translates that some soOware lets you clip a sample tered throughout the menus are items
info into sound. That allows a MIDI from an exiing song and use it as a that dont actually work but instead
device such as my KeyStudio piano to cuom loop. In fa9, there are musical launch pop-up windows that try to up-
fun9ion as any one of thousands of vir- genres in which songs are formed sell you on higher-end versions of
tual (sometimes called synth) instru- entirely of arranged loops. M-Powered in which those features are
mentsthese vary from the general a9ually fun9ional.
(grand piano) to the highly specific Putting It All Together After a weekend of working with
(Modular Moog 3C). Each virtual inru- Digital pianos and drum pads get M-Powered Essential, I decided to try
ment has soOware controls that adju the mo obvious benets from a com- again with software that is actually
variables such as suain, attack, delay, puter interface, but ele9ric guitars can aimed at beginners. Apples Garage-
reverb, etc. also get a performance boo. _ere are Band, r launched in 2004 and now in
a few high-tech MIDI guitars that can its Oh generation, comes inalled on
Plug-Ins interface dire9ly with computers, but all new Macs. GarageBand was obvi-
In digital-music parlance, the pro- you can plug an ordinary guitar in to a ously designed to walk you right into
du9ion program that you use to record PC via a USB audio interface. Audio the process of music creation. It
and edit your songs is called the ho interfaces can get sophisticated and inantly recognized the M-Audio MIDI
soOware. Users can supplement that expensive, but a basic model, such as keyboard. Tracks are easy to arrange,
program with additional soOware ele- the Cakewalk UA-1G, can be had for instruments are organized logically
ments such as virtual inruments and $100. With the computer interface, you and assigning virtual inruments to the
effects, known as plug-ins. Most host can bypass a conventional amp, letting keyboard was a snap.
soOware comes with a variety of virtual the soOware create a virtual amp and For those who ju want to jam with
inruments, ee9s and loops, but users effects pedals. Guitarists (admittedly, a backing band, GarageBand Jam
can add to that with third-party plug-ins. Im not one of them) can get pretty instantly gives you a multi-instrument
_is adds a lot of exibility to the ho geeky about the sound chara9eriics rhythm se9ion in whatever musical yle
soOware but can also complicate and of certain legendary amps, and soft- you sele9. And if you dont know the r
confuse things a bit. Plug-ins tend to be ware engineers are ju as geeky about thing about music, you can follow inruc-
ho-specic (for inance, plug-ins that faithfully reproducing them. Want to tions on the basics of piano or guitar, or
worked with my M-Powered Essential play your Gibson Les Paul guitar through download (for $5) Arti Lessons from
soOware would also work with other Pro an 85 Mesa/Boogie Mark IIc+? _eres famous musicians. Sting, for inance,
Tools soOware, but not with Cakewalks a plug-in for that. will teach you to play Roxanne.
competing Sonar soOware), but some I had far more fun with the digital _ere is no dire9 analog to Garage-
work with multiple hos. In general, the tricks that can be applied to vocals. Band for the PC, which is a pity, since
more plug-ins you get, the more tied to a Mo of the same audio interfaces that mo people ill use Windows PCs, but
particular ho platform you become. work with guitars also work with micro- there are some programs that come
phones, and there are a variety of close. Sonar Music Creator ($35) is well-
Loops ee9s that can change the chara9er of priced and has a clean interface that is
All music-produBion ho soOware the voice or other acouic inruments. simple to use, as is Acouica MixcraO
will come with a stockpile of pre- Reverb, echo and specialized ee9s ($65)and both programs use the pop-
arranged loops in a variety of catego- my favorites were mouse voice and ular Dire9X and VST plug-in formats.
ries, and they valy simplify the process helium breathcan add chara9er (or So aOer tinkering with multiple pro-
of music creation. By using loops, you comedy) to your performance. grams, I nally got a song Im satised
can quickly arrange a background mel- I was able to piece together a work- withat the very lea, it has a discern-
ody by making tracks of simple loop able song (well, depending on your ible beginning, middle and end. Ive
arrangements. I, for inance, can (sort standardsmy 11-month-old son exported it to an MP3 le, and its cur-
of) play piano and (kind of) play drums, seemed to like it) with M-Powered rently sitting on my iPod, where only I
but I dont know the r thing about Essential. However, as a newbie, the can lien to itfor now, the re of the
brass or wind instruments. So, by experience was frurating. _eres very world is safe. FC

POPUL ARMECHANICS.COM | F EBRUA RY 2010 99


by Seth Porges

Is Rat Short
URL Hiding
Something?
Are there any
Q dangers to using
URL-shortening services
such as bit.ly or TinyURL?

A Web-address URLs can be


unwieldy beas. Click pa a sites
home page and the ring of seemingly
random letters and numbers is likely to
retch on for dozens of charaIers.
Of course, this creates a problem for
Twitter usersthe microblogging ser-
vice limits all pos to ju 140 charac-
ters, and a long URL can easily eat up
the bulk of these.
To get around this, sites such as
bit.ly and TinyURL oer URL-shorten-
ing services. Rese enormously popular
sites are very easy to use: Copy and
pae in the big URL, and the site spits
out a shorter Twitter-friendly address.
Ris shortened URL (typically under 15
charaIers in total) aIs as a proxy link,
redirecting Web surfers to the real
URL. Re upshot: Twitter users (or any- Its impossible to see where shortened URLs are sending you
body else who doesnt like dealing with so they could a; as smokescreens for viruses and spam.
massive Web addresses) can share
links with ease. Ris happened la June, when hack- And URL shorteners have another
Useful? Absolutely. But these URL ers broke into the cli.gs URL-shortening problem. Theres no guarantee theyll
shorteners are also potentially hazard- service and redireIed a whopping 2.2 ick around. Re Web is an immense
ous. Clicking on one of their links is like million links. Re hacked links didnt load network of links. As shortening services
opening an e-mail attachment sent by a up anybodys computer with viruses or grow in popularity, shortened URLs will
complete ranger (and you know bet- Trojans, but the incident illurated a inevitably represent a greater portion of
ter than to do that, dont you?). Re ser- severe shortcoming in how these sites the entire Webs links. If one of these ser-
vices can be used as smokescreens for operate. Quite simply: You dont know vices shuts down, it will inantly result
spammers, phishers and virus-pushers whats on the other end of these links, in an avalanche of dead links that could
who can easily lead you to believe you and it could be maliciousor at lea make it dicult to nd particular pages.
are clicking on a legitimate link. too lewd for the oce. So what can you do? Unfortunately,

100 F EBRUA RY 2010 | POPUL ARMECHANICS.COM I L LU S T R AT I O N BY L E A N D R O C A S T E L AO


P M D I Y T E C H /// D I G I T A L C L I N I C Q + A many people simply dont back up their
dataa fa7 that is all the more remark-
able when one considers how inherently
fragile spinning hard drives are, and the
the limits of Twitter make these services The techy answer: Your iPhone is fa7 that, sooner or later, literally all of
a necessity. But when you use them, it now on the GPRS data network. _e them (and their years of irreplaceable
makes sense to exercise cautionif you English translation: Sorry for the really les) fail.
dont know who poed or sent you a slow data speeds. The easiest way to back up your
link, it might not be a good idea to click In a perfe7 world, all smartphones data is to use a network attached or-
it. And if you want to make sure a link is would always have access to fa and age (or NAS) drive. Because they have
accessible as far into the future as pos- reliable 3G networks. Of course, the the ability to automatically pull your
sible, consider tweeting, e-mailing, blog- problems with AT&Ts oben-overloaded computer les over your home network,
ging or poing the full version. network are well publicized, and any- they make it easy to automatically back
In the long term, Id like to see more body whos ever tried to use an iPhone up your documents, photos, music and
sites move away from the obnoxiously in a dense city knows that slow speeds movies without having to really even
long Web addresses that have made are far from unusual. So when a 3G net- think about it. One of the easie pro-
these services a necessity. If more sites work isnt available, an iPhone 3G or grams to facilitate this is Time Machine,
art using their own shorter URLs, it 3GS regresses to the slower EDGE which comes built into all Macs that run
will be easier for everybody to click (short for Enhanced Data rates for GSM on the Leopard or Snow Leopard ver-
away with condence. Evolution) network, and will let you sion of Mac OS.
know by displaying a capital E at the Officially, Time Machine doesnt
Playing Nooky top of the screen where it usually says support any third-party NAS drives. But
I am thinking about purchasing the 3G. But what if even EDGE isnt avail- that hasnt opped some other com-
Barnes & Noble Nook e-book reader. able? In those all-too-common cases, panies from building storage drives,
My queion: Does the Nooks ability the phone kicks it down one more such as the Iomega StorCenter ix2-
to lend e-books to friends work with notch, and youre leb with GPRSor 200, that sync up with Time Machine.
other e-book readers, or does it only General Packet Radio Service. This But users should be cautious: Apple
work with other Nooks? slower data networksignied by the has been known to block such work-
One of the coole features of Barnes & circle in questionshould suffice for arounds in the pastas it has done
Nobles Nook e-book reader is its Lend- sending and receiving simple text with the Palm Pre phones unauthor-
Me feature, which allows users to lend e-mails and is certainly better than no ized ability to sync its music library
an e-book to a friend, much like youve signal at all, but dont expe7 it to be with iTunesso theres no guarantee
always been able to do with real books. very useful for surng the Web, ream- that these drives will always work with
How does it work? When your e-book ing music or running data-intensive Time Machine. FC
reader is near a friends, it can wirelessly mobile applications.
beam a book to the other device. For up Got a technology problem?
to two weeks, that book will then live on NAS Backup Ask Seth about it.
the other e-book reader, during which Do I need to buy Apples Time Capsule Send your questions to
time it will be inaccessible to the lender network attached orage drive if I pmdigitalclinic@hearst.com or to
Digital Clinic, Popular Mechanics,
(ju like a real-life borrowed book). want to take advantage of my Macs 300 W. 57th St., New York, NY
Of course, this feature becomes Time Machine backup program, or will 10019-5899. While we cannot
more useful as more people possess ones from other companies work with answer questions individually,
problems of general interest will
compatible readers. So its reassuring it as well? be discussed in the column.
that it does, in fa7, work with some It will never cease to amaze me how
non-Nook e-book readers, as long as
they are models (such as those made by
Plaic Logic) that tap into the Barnes &
Noble e-book-store ecosystem. One Popular Mechanics (ISSN 0032-4558) EDITORIAL AND ADVERTISING P.O. Box 7186, Red Oak, IA 51591. AS A SERVICE TO READERS,
OFFICES: Please enclose your mailing label Popular Mechanics publishes
warning: Its up to publishers whether is published 12 times a year by Hearst
Communications, Inc., 300 West 57th Street, New 300 West 57th Street, when writing to us or renewing your newsworthy products, techniques
York, NY 10019, U.S.A. Frank A. Bennack, President New York, NY 10019-3797. subscription. and scientific and technological
or not they want their books to be lend- and Chief Executive Officer; Catherine A. Bostron, >>> Popular Mechanics is not developments. Due to possible
Secretary; Ronald J. Doerfler, Senior Vice President, responsible for unsolicited variance in the quality and condition
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At the top of my iPhones screen there Publications mail product (Canadian distribution) >>> Should you have any problem mailing label or exact copy to:
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102 F EBRUA RY 2010 | POPUL ARMECHANICS.COM



 

For advertising rates call Angela Hronopoulos (212) 649-2930, fax: (646) 280-2930.
q   q

Name: !q
 
Location:  8q!`
Age: vn
Years on Job: @

1.  
q
Weakened eel beams require
fewer explosives to collapse.
Guafson uses a torch that
runs on acetylene or propane,
burns at over 6000 F and cuts
12-inch-thick eel at 3 feet per

minute to create weakness.


2
2.  Mq
 q 

4 Made of RDX (the main
component of C4) and copper
tubing, LSCs provide direQed
explosions for cutting through
eel beams. Guafson cuts
a 4-inch-high window in an
I-beam, then places four
600-grain LSCs (which will
5 3
each cut through 34 inch of
eel) in the window.

3.  q 
To make shallow holes in con-
crete, Guafson uses a drill bit
attached to a jackhammer or
a drill; for holes up to 160 feet
1
deep, he uses a tread-mounted
drill and tempered drill eels
conneQed end-to-end.

4. ! 
Guafson packs holes with
13 pound of explosive per yard

of concrete. Ve r ick is
joined to a blaing cap, then
to a fuse; temperature and
pressure from this explo-
sion set o the other icks.
Dynamite is pretty able, but
when you drop a ick in a
hole, you cringe, he says.
Cody Guafson drives 80,000 miles a year to visit bridges, fa=ories and coal
silosand then he deroys them. De 27-year-old (whose father and grandfather 5.  qq
 
are also a=ive blaers) has demolished more than 75 ru=ures in 40 ates, not to EleQrical aQivity wreaks
mention 300 Minuteman II nuclear missile silos. Guafson loves walking high eel and havoc when charges are elec-
riding in a crane basket to place explosive charges. But the real payo comes with the bla trically wired, so Guafson
itself, the slow-motion milliseconds when charges explode into a lattice of smoke with a uses a noneleQric shooter
that ignites Nonel tubing,
che-rattling ka-boomand the whole shebang crashes down into heaps of rubble and which burns at 8000 to
du. Everybody loves blowing u up, Guafson says. JY MURPHY 12,000 feet per second.

108 F EBRUA RY 2010 | POPUL ARMECHANICS.COM P H O T O G R A P H B Y F I L I P K W I AT K O W S K I