November 2014

Date:22 October 2014 Tags:, , , , , , , , , , ,

All change, all good

Let’s start with an acknowledgement that change – for the right reasons – is a good thing. At Popular Mechanics, that change is already happening in a number of different ways: subtle but visually compelling tweaks to our design, better integration of our print and digital channels, and research-driven improvements to the mix of news and articles that keep you coming back for more.

However, the essential elements of PM remain intact (after all, you don’t mess with a 112-year-old brand unless there’s a very good reason), and you will continue to read about cool science, groundbreaking technology, desirable cars and bikes, outdoor adventures, non-threatening DIY projects and – as always – unpredictable subjects that don’t fit comfortably into any slot.

In this issue, for instance, we feature a shamelessly weird “rat car”, a handmade guitar, an in-depth look at vitamins and mineral supplements (read it before you next visit a health store), an off-road trike for wheelchair users, an opinionated piece on the best science fiction ever, and a “beautiful thing” in the form of an anatomically correct glass trachea.

Predictable? Never.

As I write this, PM’s team is finalising plans for FutureTech 2014, a one-day event that defies easy categorisation (starting to see a trend here?). It encompasses mind-stretching science, fascinating technologies, offbeat history, adventure on the high seas, automotive gee-whiz, inventive excellence and even a couple of musical interludes – albeit in forms that defy convention.

This event is my swansong.

Thank you, and goodbye
As a realist, I am happy to acknowledge the relentless passage of time and the inevitability of something loosely referred to as “retirement”. This does not signal a dignified retreat to the Shady Pines Retirement Village or long and boozy afternoons in the local pub. Neither will I be writing impassioned letters to the local newspaper lamenting the state of science education in South Africa (although I reserve the right to do so). Instead, I will be doing something completely different.

Over the years, I have tested literally hundreds of different cars and motorcycles, been out on many boats, explored warships, played with all manner of gadgets, hosted inventors’ conferences and technology events, built stuff, visited interesting places all over the world, engaged with my scientific heroes and, most important, held many conversations with PM’s magnificent audience (that’s you).

And then there’s the remarkable PM team, all of whom are very good at what they do. Some have shared my rollercoaster ride from the very beginning, when PM South Africa consisted of little more than an agreement with Hearst, an echoing office and a firm resolve (mostly on the part of the late Harold Eedes) to make it work. Let the record show that they indeed made it work. My admiration for their talent, professionalism and good humour is immeasurable, my gratitude for their support knows no bounds.

Thank you for sharing my journey, and for your loyalty over the past 12-plus years. It’s been a pleasure and a privilege.

– ­­Alan Duggan