Keep passing away from this kind of site, unless it's OK for you to be deemed miserable and mislaid, forget it right away!
I have subscribed for years and always renew my subscription . The continuing phone calls from a call center to my job and personal email to buy gift subscriptions has reached the end of my patients. I had found out that my last time I resubscribed I had been put on an Automatic re-up . I cancelled that , then started the phone calls and emails . Very unfortunate . My subscription will probably never be renewed because of this . Shame PM can't just give a customer what they want !
Can the content of a single magazine span topics such as how to build a garden shed, through to the discovery of a new marine virus, and smoothly move on to which jet fighter the USA is likely to attack Libya with? Indeed it can, and without any apparent connection to the magazine's title. Odd. And that's my overall opinion of this publication, which really does feature the article on how to build a garden shed, even though it dates back to 2004 and includes a reader comment that it's the worst "how-to" he's ever seen.
Under the very thin excuse that weapons are "tools", the current edition jumps into the field of tabloid speculation, pondering on which weapons, sorry, tools of destruction from America's arsenal will be used to attack Libya, if the Americans happen to choose the same ones as Popular Mechanics and if the Americans attack Libya anyway, which at the time of writing is far from certain. It's all a far cry from building that shed, unless it's bombproof, of course.
The local library has a copy of this magazine which dates back to July 2010, nine months ago at the time of writing, which is about a week after the Japanese earthquake and nuclear disaster. It just happens to be the last issue of this magazine that the library has on its shelves, which is unfortunate for the editors of Popular Mechanics since the cover, which features "The Truth About Energy" with "No More Hype" includes a highlighted "Why Nuke Power Is Safe (Really)".
Inside the magazine, we're told that it's a "myth that nuclear power isn't a safe solution" to the world's energy problems. Coal and petroleum, it continues, are a lot deadlier, especially to coal miners and people living in the Gulf of Mexico. "The amount of radiation put out by a coal plant far exceeds that of a nuclear power plant" says a retired nuclear physicist.
Another source is the deputy associate director of a nuclear lab, who observes that "people are willing to reconsider the benefits of nuclear energy." and the article ends with another criticism of coal plants and the suggestion that all we need is "a few hundred nuclear facilities" to supply almost all our energy needs here in the USA.
The rest of this several-page article tackles all sorts of energy solutions, including ethanol and switchgrass (maybe, one day, but barely feasible), wind power (inconsistent and limited, but worth bearing in mind), algae biofuels (too expensive, too complicated for now), tidal power (too soon to give up, but ... ), clean coal (don't be stupid), deep geothermal (odds on serious earthquakes are very low) shale (forget it) and finally, solar power (wow, this one actually works, and you get your money back eventually). All this is good stuff and it's presented in a friendly, accessible way, but after the nuclear section, I wouldn't have bothered with the rest if I hadn't been reviewing it. It may all be accurate and useful. I'm no longer interested.
The current online issue does feature an interesting article on toxic plume prediction, with no further praise of the safety of nuclear power in general. It doesn't always screw up, and it can handle bigger science than which bagless upright vacuum cleaner works best (as it happens, another contentious review). I can't see the need for it to get involved in promoting its own energy agenda or speculating on war in the Middle East. If it had stuck to teaching people how to wire their ceiling fittings and grow their lawns, it would have got a better mark from me.
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