Peculiar Science 6

The January/February Popular Science gets off to a stumbling start as readers are encouraged to flee for their lives from zombies in an augmented-reality app called Zombies, Run! Before listening to characters “babble about the apocalypse,” readers should listen to their heads which advises them not to take the counsel of immature minds babbling about their adolescence.

Booking a room in a Swedish ice hotel is about the last place people shivering through the coldest months of winter want to read about, yet it is the highlight of the page titled “We’re We’ve Slept.” Bedding down on slabs of ice, even in fur or in sleeping bags, is not the closest thing to home but rather the closest thing to Nome. Even a Pocket Rocket canister stove that “will stick to you forever” will last no longer than the pneumonia invading your body from a night of ice slabbing.

All students who struggled with physics will find little comfort after gazing at the billions of stars on pages 20 and 21, then learning that a professor has announced that after surviving the most stringent test ever thrown at Einstein’s theory, “general relativity has passed.” That collective murmur heard across the country is from zombified readers muttering, “I wish I had.”

In this hectic world there seems no escape from e-mailers and telemarketers, yet the “Holes in the Map” section indicates that about 100 groups of Uncontacted People live “in isolated areas across the globe, including parts of the Amazon.” That must account for the missing workers who operate forklift trucks, are lodged under conveyor belts, or have been mistakenly sealed under bubble wrap and Styrofoam in unopened boxes in Amazon warehouses.

We don’t need writer Michael Koziol to inform us on page 24 that the billions of planets in our galaxy are “So far away.” Carole King told us that back in the Age of Aquarius.

2100 A.D. seems so far away, yet forward-thinking Peter Hess recommends the best place to live in the United States at the dawn of the next century will be Sault Ste. Marie in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Readers still alive in 83 years should book their reservations for the Geriatric Winter Games no later than 2098.

The nine-page feature story on “Life Made in China” can be summarized quickly by the double-page spread on pages 36-37 and the wording under the title: “Shenzhen is ground zero for the new culture of globalization” and “But it is actually creating something.” The hazy photo shows what it is creating: lung-clogging smog.

Readers who choose not to emigrate to Michigan or follow the Proxima Trail to a new solar system can stargaze from home like Galileo by building a type of telescope used by the pioneering astronomer, starting with a toilet-paper tube. Wags named Seymour Butts desiring only to point the homemade telescope toward Uranus may be better served by shopping through a novelty catalog for their diversions.

The Modern Explorers kit shown on pages 80-81 contains some practical items like a first aid kit and water filter. Survivalists only accustomed to backyard sleepovers may find that the cricket powders and bars no more tasty than the rain poncho tucked inside the kit.

It might be best for those traveling in distant lands not to bunk down anywhere near where drones may be flying overhead. The Brothers Hassini are commended for developing a “zero-casualty mine sweeping” drone which goes off to fly another day after exploding hidden mines. What about the modern survivalist who just happens to be sleeping off a cricket supper under a rain poncho in the nearby shrubbery?

Masculine readers who see the word “EXPLORE” on the cover, beckoning them to discover what lies within, are also likely to concentrate on the caution: “May Cause Wanderlust,” causing them to let their lust wander past all the palaver about building a sextant from junk and let the sex instinct lead them beyond silly questions like “Can you fertilize Martian crops with human poop?” and bizarre conjectures like “I wish someone would invent a sunscreen pill” to what matters here and now posed in the ad query on page 94: “Male enhancement Pills…Do They Really Work?”











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