I know that print journalism is going the way of the dodo bird, but I still subscribe to several magazines, one of which is Popular Science. I like to think of Popular Science as nerd junk food for the brain. It’s chocked full of interesting tidbits on technological advances and research, which I enjoy learning about, and then I usually forget what I’ve read within about five minutes.
The most recent issue magically bippity boppity booed itself into my mailbox earlier this week, and I was thumbing through it yesterday evening. Having flipped to the article, “The Goods: Apocalypse Edition,” I read what the editors consider indispensable tools in the case that civilization ceases to exist.
A few things caught my eye, including an ultralight pack that one can inflate with air to achieve the proper rigidity as well as a two person tent that weighs less than two pounds (it lacks a floor and trekking poles replace tent poles). While I see the value in these items in order to achieve a super light pack for long-distance hiking, in the case of apocalypse – I tell you what – I’m staying the heck where I am. Haven’t the article’s writers read The Hunger Games? There will be hybrid beasts out in them thar woods.
And now that I think of it, in getting ready for my trek, I should make sure I take into account a potential apocalypse. It’s decided then, I am NOT going with the ultralight minimalist version of a tent and pack. Having a floor will clearly act as a necessary barrier against vicious end-of-world monsters. And, if nothing else, I’m going to need my hiking poles free to beat the crud out of them. And when the atmospheric pressure drops drastically (because everybody knows that’s what happens at the end of the world), an inflatable pack would be useless.
I will give the magazine editors credit, though. Tucked away deep in the issue (on page 46) is an article that could be gold for Appalachian Trail hikers (or any other exercise enthusiasts, for that matter). The article discusses technology developed to convert mechanical stress into electricity. In other words, devices have been created that transform an impact or friction into usable energy.
A.T. hikers are exerting this force all day for months on end as their feet make contact with the ground. They could just throw away that backup battery for their phone, mp3 player, or eReader. In fact, I think it’d be a pretty good motivator to keep on going. “Battery’s dead? If you want to talk to your family again, you better get moving!”
And as long as I’m mentioning the potential for high-tech shoes, I’ll also touch on what the authors describe as “intelligent clothing.” Since I can’t describe it as eloquently, I’ll just quote word for word, “A chemical and mechanical feedback loop within its layers turns a heat-producing reaction on and off at preprogrammed degrees.” To summarize, I believe they’re talking about the clothing equivalent of a mood ring. “Mood clothes” get warm, and they turn blue to cool you. “Mood clothes” get cold, and they turn red to warm you. Genius! I could effectively cut my hiking clothes down to one outfit without fear of freezing or sweating.
Now if only scientists made the clothes self cleaning, then we’d really be in business.