Of biker priests, robot art and superpower stand-offs. It’s the way our world works (January 2011 issue)

The MythBusters tackle one of their weirdest projects yet: converting a perfectly innocent Porsche 928 into a bizarre vehicle that drives back to front. Their aim is to confirm or refute a legend claiming that the car is more aerodynamic going backwards.
Date:15 December 2010 Tags:, , , , , ,

Our cover story this month showcases the deliciously oddball creations of Lawrence Northey, Christopher Conte, Nemo Gould and Jeremy Mayer – four talented people who create robots and other metal “personalities” from stainless steel, brass, bronze, copper, aluminium and an assortment of consumer detritus (such as old typewriters, which provided the components for the bust on our cover).

Why do we enjoy their work so much? Gould puts his finger on it: “Most adults are dangerously lacking in wonder. As we age and learn more of the answers to life’s mysteries, I think we lose part of what keeps us alive..When I am working, I am always trying to make things that can produce a childlike response from a jaded adult.”

As jaded adults, we are happy to confirm that he’s nailed it.

The MythBusters (Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman) make a welcome return to the pages of PM this month as they tackle one of their weirdest projects yet: converting a perfectly innocent Porsche 928 into a bizarre vehicle that drives back to front. Their aim is to confirm or refute a legend claiming that the car is more aerodynamic going backwards. (Personally, we would have been inclined to skip the hack and place the car in a wind tunnel, but hey, that’s not really in the MythBusters spirit.)

Next, we head off to the Western Cape town of Robertson, where a somewhat unconventional Anglican priest – he hangs out with bikers and responds to the nickname “Sky Pilot” – is building himself a unique diesel-powered motorcycle that incorporates a few sneakily purloined utensils from the family kitchen. Father Adrian Knight also happens to be chaplain for the Western Cape chapter of the Ulysses Motorcycle Association, a club for mature bikers with attitude (personal experience suggests that this attitude is invariably friendly).

An incongruous mix of interests? We have no idea what you mean.

On a considerably more serious note, we investigate China’s “deadliest game” – clandestine battle strategies and advanced weapons intended for a possible future invasion of Taiwan, including a way to block US intervention – and reveal the new tech and tactics that would give America the upper hand. The scenarios are chilling, but then again, so are the stakes.

It’s alive!
PM’s new and improved Web site has finally gone live, and you are cordially invited to visit. Now embedded in the cutting-edge Preditor content management system, it offers a host of compelling features, including user-generated content delivered via the MyPM button – offering you an opportunity to share your projects and questions with PM’s audience. And tell your friends – sharin is caring!

– Alan Duggan (aland@ramsaymedia.co.za)