Every June, we announce PopSci's chosen Inventions of the Year, our favorites among the brainchildren of garage tinkerers. Who knew that you could make a fish-friendly tidal turbine or a hearing aid that uses bones to conduct sound?
At PopSci, we're eager to recognize the potential in these inventions, but only time will tell which ones will become ubiquitous and which ones will be forgotten. For every television, radio, and Post-It Note, there've been half a dozen whosits and whatsits that faded into obscurity.
We've been suffering futuristic city withdrawal since returning from the Shanghai World Expo 2010 last week, where we covered many exciting (and, alas, not-so-exciting) examples of progressive urban development.
Naturally, we turned to the archives for our fix of visionary city designs, and as you would expect, they are abundant with beautifully-illustrated imaginings of future metropolises since the 19th century.
This week, NASA discussed their plans to explore Mars and Titan for signs of life, while Stephen Hawking warned against hostile aliens. So, being in an extraterrestrial-seeking mood, we've taken to the archives, where speculation about interplanetary neighbors--be they hyper-intelligent beings, primitive microbes or Martian beavers--has long filled our pages.
The year 1970 was a pivotal one for the modern environmental movement: on April 22, U.S. Senator Gaylord Nelson founded Earth Day, which quickly grew from a grassroots demonstration into the week-long celebration that we partake in to this day. And on December 2, President Nixon created the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to respond to the growing demand for green legislation and environmental oversight.
We shouldn't be surprised, then, at the influx of environment and pollution-related articles recorded in our archives during the early 1970s.
We've all heard of Roombas, robot submarines, and creepy humanoid robots, but have you ever heard of Elektro, the cigarette-smoking robot from the 1939 World's Fair, or the Budweiser-fetching Omnibot 2000 from 1986? Wrapping up National Robotics Week, we've combed our archives for a primer on the past century's most amazing robots.