Popular Science2 min read
Popular Science
Editor-in-Chief Corinne Iozzio Group Digital Director Amy Schellenbaum Design Director Russ Smith Features Editor Susan Murcko Articles Editor Rachel Feltman Senior Editors Purbita Saha, Chuck Squatriglia Technology Editor Stan Horaczek DIY Editor Jo
Popular Science1 min readComputers
Short Circuits
The 522 snap-together parts in Ubtech’s Jimu Competitive Series ChampBot Kit combine to create three different configurations, including this catapult. Once a child has one built, they can use an iOS or Android app and program actions via Google’s Bl
Popular Science1 min readPsychology
Let Children Be A Little Wild
MARIANA BRUSSONI, ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR OF PUBLIC HEALTH AT THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA Recreation works best when it’s unstructured and mostly unsupervised. Negotiating and building teamwork fosters proper higher-level thinking abilities and so
Popular Science2 min read
Contributors
Spotting the common denominator in Bonnie Tsui’s life is simple: It’s water. Her parents met at a pool in Hong Kong, she was a competitive swimmer as a teenager, and now she hits the waves in the San Francisco Bay Area with her surfboard. Being aroun
Popular Science1 min readComputers
Digital Domination
Pro gamers demand smooth graphics rendering so there’s no fight-ruining lag between their commands and what happens onscreen. The burly multicore AMD processor inside the Alienware Aurora Ryzen stores data in an extra-large cache to avoid any hiccups
Popular Science1 min read
Who’s Got The Beat?
JESSICA PHILLIPS-SILVER, ASSOCIATE RESEARCHER IN MUSIC NEUROSCIENCE AT GEORGETOWN UNIVERSITY MEDICAL CENTER Moving to rhythmic music is a universal human behavior. Even babies can bounce along to a song’s beat. But some people simply can’t synchroniz
Popular Science2 min read
The Most Dangerous Game
PLAYING SPORTS CAN TEACH teamwork, boost self-esteem, and improve health, but they’re not all fun and games. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates there are about 8.6 million recreation-related injuries each year, ranging from hand
Popular Science1 min read
Hard Hitter
PRO BASEBALL PLAYERS OBSESS ABOUT WOOD.That’s because, the logic goes, the harder the bat, the faster a ball will fly after contact. The AP5 Pro Model from Marucci, a Louisiana company that rivals Louisville Slugger for the title of most-swung brand
Popular Science1 min read
Play Meets Work
JES WOODS, NIKE RUNNING COACH While working as an engineer, I started running ultramarathons for fun. I quickly realized that I was never going to be the fastest runner. So instead I took a scientific approach to training, which ultimately led to my
Popular Science1 min readIntelligence (AI) & Semantics
Computers For The Win
HUMANS HAVE BEEN PLAYING games for centuries, but we’re still not perfect at them: We make mistakes, underestimate opponents, and can think only a few moves ahead. Computers have no such shortcomings. An artificial intelligence can master most of the
Popular Science1 min read
Wow-abunga
The Revolution Core 32 helps hone your balancing skills. Perching on the 32-inch board atop the weighted roller is a challenge, but you can work your way up to rocking back and forth or even nailing rad kickflips. The electric Onewheel Pint can hit 1
Popular Science1 min read
Making Baby Toys Less Busy
JESSICA ROLPH, CEO AND CO-FOUNDER OF LOVEVERY When my son was 6 months old, he had a toy that always caught my attention: When you pressed a button, a purple cow would pop out, music would play, and lights would flash. It mesmerized him, but I wasn’t
Popular Science1 min readPsychology
Horseplay—or Not?
HUMANS DON’T HAVE A MONOPOLY ON horsing around. Animals of all sorts use play to prepare for real-world situations—but their shenanigans can look pretty different from ours. You might catch baby rats mischievously battling to figure out how to fight,
Popular Science1 min read
Dune Buddy
Electronic monitors in places like the front wheels and gearbox keep tabs on traction in real time. The driver selects one of four terrain modes—such as mud, rock, or trail—and the computer doles out just the right amount of power to each 30-inch tir
Popular Science1 min read
How To Create A True Game Of Chance
LINDA SOHM, CO-OWNER OF MIDWEST GAME SUPPLY COMPANY The dice in your Monopoly set aren’t as random as you think. The black dots that number each side are hollow, so faces with more spots weigh less. When you roll, it’s more likely that a heavier side
Popular Science2 min read
One Chair, Five Ways
THE PARALYMPICS—SO CALLED for the Greek prefix para, meaning “alongside”—give elite disabled athletes the chance to compete at the highest level. Not all contenders in the games, which typically run after the Olympics, use wheelchairs, but those who
Popular Science1 min read
Turf Wars
Arrange the rubberwood pieces from the Kubb Empire standard size set into two rows, 26 feet apart. Players hurl six batons at their opponent’s formation until they’ve knocked over all the blocks. Then they can fire at the king in the middle of the pi
Popular Science1 min read
We Are (all) The Champions
MICHELLE CLEERE, ELITE PERFORMANCE EXPERT I specialize in helping athletes develop mental skills to face challenges both in their sports and in life. I try to emphasize to my clients, most of whom are between the ages of 11 and 15, that they have to
Popular Science1 min readPsychology
There’s No Place Like Home
ATHLETES TEND TO DO BETTER on their own turf. But the factors that create the mythical home-field advantage are still somewhat mysterious. Referee bias, lack of travel-related fatigue, and the morale boost of fan attendance may contribute, yet expert
Popular Science1 min read
Baby Driver Grows Up
Attached to a metal shaft, the forged steel head was about the same size and weight as its contemporary wooden cousins, but differed in one key way: It was hollow. That configuration kept the mass at the perimeter, making the club slightly more forgi
Popular Science1 min read
Making Fetch Happen
KATIE LIM, DIRECTOR OF TOY DESIGN FOR SUPER CHEWER Appealing to a dog’s natural instinct to hunt is a great way to get them to have fun. We test all the contents we send to our BarkBox subscribers by observing pups in play sessions. We look for a lot
Popular Science3 min readGender Studies
Who Should Get To Compete As A Woman?
JOANNA HARPER’S RESEARCH STARTED NOT IN A LAB, but on the track. Though she didn’t have a background in sports science—she held a master’s in medical physics, and her work involved tailoring cancer radiation treatments—she was an athlete in a unique
Popular Science12 min read
Hell? Yes!
It is 10°F outside of the wood-beamed shelter at St. Croix State Park, a 34,000-acre pine-and-oak expanse in eastern Minnesota. Hell, it’s cold inside, despite two fireplaces blazing, their smoke pulled into flared metal chimneys that resemble the bu
Popular Science1 min read
Why Disney’s Massive Lines Feel So Short
WAITING IN LINE CAN TEST EVEN the most patient person, but the happiest place on earth can make the longest of queues fly by. All it takes is these three tricks of the mind—no Disney magic necessary. When you wait for Space Mountain, for example, wal
Popular Science2 min read
How Will We Keep Astronauts Entertained?
THE LUCKY RESIDENTS OF THE INTERNATIONAL Space Station pull 12-hour shifts, including two and a half hours of gym time and six and a half hours of lab work, among other duties. They sleep eight hours, leaving another four for goofing off in zero grav
Popular Science3 min readPsychology
The Dolls That Changed The World
WHEN SCIENTISTS BRING dolls into the lab, the toys transcend their role as playthings. They can expose racism and unleash aggression. The humanoid forms are easy to identify with, allowing them to serve as scientific stand-ins and therapeutic compani
Popular Science2 min read
Gaming The System
WHETHER IT’S BANKRUPTING your family in Monopoly or securing the last victory point against your buddies in Settlers of Catan, there’s nothing quite like the feeling of board-game triumph. We’ve collected experts’ best tips and tricks so you can domi
Popular Science2 min readPsychology
Does Practice Really Make Perfect?
IN 1993, SWEDISH psychologist K. Anders Ericsson set out to find the secret to turning a typical teen into a violin virtuoso. His answer? Practice: 10,000 hours of it. The figure, a simple average of a few prodigies’ regimens, stuck; journalist and a
Popular Science10 min read
Kandy-kolored, Streamlined, And Definitely Around The Bend
It was the first Saturday of December 2018—tournament day—and he thought the cars he’d built could outperform anyone’s. They were compact. Sleek. Speedy. He watched anxiously as his pinewood derby racers took their spots at the top of a long, sloping
Popular Science1 min read
Mind Over Muscle
IN THE 1996 FILM SPACE JAM, Bugs Bunny supplies his demoralized Looney Tunes teammates with Michael Jordan’s “Secret Stuff,” which delivers the boost they need to win the game. But unbeknownst to Daffy and the gang, it’s just water. The scene depicts
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