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How Your World Works


This is a podcast about how the world works, featuring the news, stories, and people that make it happen.

This is a podcast about how the world works, featuring the news, stories, and people that make it happen.
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This is a podcast about how the world works, featuring the news, stories, and people that make it happen.




Episode 42: How to Make the Super Bowl

On today's show, Kevin Dupzyk and James Lynch talk to Fox NFL Director Rich Russo and Producer Richie Zyontz. The pair have been producing sporting events together for years, and on February 5 they'll be the men behind the curtain for Super Bowl LI. We ask them about what it takes to make a modern-day NFL broadcast come together, and hear which legendary NFL coach laid the foundation for what we now expect from watching a football game on TV. And then, because we initially interviewed them...


Episode 41: How to Test Everything

On today's show, we talk to our good friend Rachel Rothman, Chief Technologist at the Good Housekeeping Institute. Working on a specialized floor a few levels up from Popular Mechanics, she and a team of engineers test stoves, clothes, food, cars--pretty much everything you encounter in day-to-day life. She explains how she got into such an exacting line of work, how it's heightened her neuroses (and given her new ones), and why it's ultimately so rewarding.


Episode 40: How to Avoid Flight Delays

On today's show, Steve Abraham, a long time air traffic controller at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York City, tells us about his job--everything from how he get into it (and how that's changed), to the time he had two airplanes flying one on top of the other, to the fact that, yes, dangerous situations like that are very rare, even if delays aren't. Musical thanks this episode to minusbaby for "Flying."


Episode 39: How to Make a Camp Stove (For Good)

BioLite is an interesting company. Their signature product is a camp stove that burns wood and uses some of the heat to charge a battery, which can, in turn, charge small electronic devices. It's great for camping. But it's also great for people who don't have easy access to electricity or clean-burning fires (which turns out to be a lot of people). On today's show, CEO Jonathan Cedar explains how his company went from simply trying to improve combustion to having offices in India and...


Episode 38: How to Run A Super Secret Defense Project

On today's episode, guest host and Popular Mechanics Contributing Editor Dan Dubno takes us inside the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency to learn about new technology that can allow a man to climb anywhere. Until he falls, which may or may not have happened to Dan Dubno. Musical thanks for this episode goes to The Crypts! for their song Marie Curie.


Episode 37: How to Make a Museum Exhibit

The preparators of the American Museum of Natural History's Exhibitions Department are artists and craftsmen by trade who become scientists by practice as they build the museum's famed traveling exhibitions. In what may be the coolest workshop in the whole of New York City, they use wood, metal, epoxy, paint, and hundred-year-old death masks to build dioramas that transport visitors to settings all over the natural world. As they undertake final preparations for their latest exhibition,...


Episode 36: How to Run An Election

For today's episode, Popular Mechanics' political correspondent Mark Warren joins to interview Dana DeBeauvoir, County Clerk of Travis County, Texas (It's where Austin is). She discusses the preparations Travis County is undertaking for a record-breaking 2016 general election, and helps Mark address some of the concerns we've heard about polling places. Let this episode be your reminder to go out and vote. Musical thanks for today's episode goes to Podington Bear for their tracks "60s Quiz...


Episode 35: How to Design a Haunted House

With Halloween fast approaching, we talk to Leonard Pickel of Hauntrepreneurs - a company that designs haunted attractions from the ground up. An architect by training, Pickel explains how he distorts the stuff he did in the studio to create spaces that put people on edge. He also explains the hardest type of person to scare, the scariest room he's ever designed, and the worst scare he's ever received. The music in this episode is "Soundtrack 2, Act 3" by Tim Nelson, from "Caligari: An...


Episode 34: How to Make A Basketball Court Into a Hockey Rink

Tonight, Friday, October 7th, is the LA Lakers' first home game of the NBA preseason. After their game is over, the crew at LA's Staples Center will have to get the arena ready to host a concert on Saturday. By Monday they'll have to get it into shape as a basketball court again, as the Clippers, their other NBA tenant, have a game--which they play on their own distinct hardwood floor. When the next Friday rolls around, it's time for an LA Kings ice hockey game. How does the arena...


Episode 33: How to Win a Hackathon

If you read the October 2016 issue of Popular Mechanics, you may have noticed a section of the Breakthrough Awards devoted to competitors from Major League Hacking, the competition circuit for college and high school-aged hackathons. And you may also have noticed that Danny Yim and Jake Kaplan of the Bergen County Academies in New Jersey took home a prize at their hackathon for making one soldering iron to rule them all. And then, if you're still with me, you probably found yourself...


Episode 32: How to Design How Your World Works

On today's show, IDEO's Dav Rauch and Peter Hyer talk about their work designing the interfaces in everything from ATMs to Tony Stark's Iron Man suit. It turns out that thinking about how people use stuff is a pretty fun job, full of insights into the quirks of human behavior, even--or especially--when you get to try things like using beach balls to compose music, or a burrito as a video game menu.


How to Dominate Fantasy Football. For a Living.

On today's episode, fantasy football addict (and Popular Mechanics Executive Editor) Peter Martin joins the show as a guest interviewer when we talk to Matthew Berry, ESPN's senior fantasy sports analyst. Everyone envies the job, but Berry put in serious work to get it: He's been playing fantasy sports since the days when the week's results had to be faxed out by the league commissioner. He explains how the game has changed, how he keeps up with so many different leagues, and how his wife...


How to Tell The Future

On today's episode, we talk to Glenn Hiemstra, the founder of To start with, he explains what it even means to be a futurist. Then he tells us a little more about what it takes to peer into the unformed times that await, breaks down the things he's been right and wrong about, and discusses what he sees coming in our near future. The good news: We all might have a lot more leisure time. The bad news: We all might not have cars. Special musical thanks for this episode go to...


How to Make Leather

On today's episode, Jeremy Bennett from Filson and Matt Bressler from Wickett & Craig - one of the nation's few tanneries that specialize in high-quality vegetable tanning - stop by the studio to discuss working with leather. By the time this episode is over, you'll know what a splitter is, what a skiver is, and the how many square feet of skin cover a jumbo heavy native steer. Thanks to Kevin Bewersdorf for his composition "The Last Seinfeld," used on today's show.


How to Make Carbon Dioxide Into Stone

Among the many ideas that have been floated for slowing down climate change, carbon capture and sequestration is one of the easiest to understand: When carbon dioxide is produced - say, by a factory - you find a way to trap it, then bury it someplace where it can't get into the atmosphere and contribute to the intensifying greenhouse effect. But CO2 shoved into storage as a gas or liquid can leak, especially if, at some point in the future, we manage to lose track of all the places we put...


How To Eat A Hot Dog... Fast

In honor of the 100th Anniversary edition of the Nathan's Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest, competitive eating lifer Crazy Legs Conti comes on the show to talk about the sport. Aside from explaining how he got started in professional engorging (hint: it involves oysters), he gives us a rundown of eating strategies, ruminates on the hardest foods to eat fast, and officiates a Popular Mechanics eating competition between host Kevin Dupzyk and producer Katie Macdonald.


The Life of a Volunteer Firefighter

On today's show, we talk to Pecos Davis and Chance Parsons, firefighters with the Malaga Volunteer Fire Department in Eddy County, New Mexico. Working with few resources in the southwest corner of the state, they've ridden one-to-a-truck to fires sparked by wind-borne static electricity and built their own foam-dispensing equipment. Also, they regularly use a tool called a "Snozzle." And as we find out, they wouldn't have it any other way.


How to Make Acrobats Fly Through The Air

If you’ve ever seen a Cirque du Soleil show, or perhaps Marvel Universe Live, there’s a good chance you’ve seen the work of Brett Copes. He’s a rigger—one of the guys who sets up the complicated stage apparatus that lets performers fly through the air—safely—while looking supremely cool. On today’s show, he explains the technical details that make it possible, including the reason a 150 pound acrobat may in practice weigh half a ton.



What it takes to fill up the tank, change the tires, and redesign the car—all in the blink of an eye.


Life on an Indy 500 Pit Crew

On today’s show, Travis Law and Trevor Lacasse of Team Penske – mechanics for Helio Castroneves and Juan Pablo Montoya, who’ve won a combined five Indianapolis 500 races – talk about what they’ll be doing this weekend, when the race celebrates its centennial. While an individual pit stop lasts less than 10 seconds, it’s the result of painstaking practice, heavy strategizing, and the whim of weather and luck on the oval. We get the lowdown.