Pop Mech Pro is a premium membership program for people as curious about the world—and how to be more capable while living in it—as you are. Through Pop Mech Pro, we’ve expanded the ways we can reach you beyond simple stories in a magazine and on a website, offering more unique benefits to help you learn, make, discover, and command everything.

When you become a Pop Mech Pro member, you’ll:

  • Unlock all stories, project plans, guides, videos, and gadget reviews on PopularMechanics.com
  • Get every print issue delivered straight to your mailbox
  • Receive a weekly members-only newsletter with exclusive columns from editors and experts
  • Get access to six special digital issues per year, with brand-new features you can’t read anywhere else
  • Have a chance to test new products before anyone else
  • Enjoy the opportunity to appear in Pop Mech
  • Save on gear from the Pop Mech shop, including free shipping on every order

Want to see what you’ll experience the minute you become a member? Here’s a regularly updated look at all the latest news and cool happenings from Pop Mech Pro.

➡ Scientists Say There’s an ‘Anti-Universe’ Running Backward in Time

particle connection tonnel
Andriy Onufriyenko//Getty Images

Here’s a story that’s making members’ heads spin: Scientists believe there could be an “anti-universe” somewhere out there that looks like the mirror image of our own universe, reciprocating almost everything we do.

This newly discovered “anti-universe” might run parallel to our own universe, but the researchers say it essentially spread out “backward” in time, prior to the Big Bang, in the same way our universe progressed “forward” in time. The model eliminates the need for something called “inflation,” a period of time in which the universe massively expanded in order to account for its size soon after birth. Instead, the matter could have naturally expanded over time in a less forceful way, which could simplify our explanation for what happened.

If this sounds like wild and heady stuff, you’re absolutely right. But it could finally explain some of the most notorious unanswered questions in all of science, like this one: Just what the hell is dark matter? You’re going to want to read the whole anti-universe thing here. See you down the rabbit hole.

➡ Build Your Own DIY Smokeless Fire Pit

After evaluating a bunch of smokeless fire pits, test editor Brad Ford decided to make one himself. “Without taking anything away from the companies making fire pits,” he says, “they’re fairly simple once you understand how they work.”

fire pit
Bradley Ford

The result is this easy plan to build your own DIY smokeless fire pit, which members have been downloading in droves. Ford started with a 55-gallon drum, cut roughly in half horizontally, as the main body. Then, he slit one of those halves vertically down the side and squeezed it to a smaller diameter to fit inside the other half; this created the double-wall construction that makes these fire pits work. After adding a bottom, Ford created a cap that bridged the tops of the inner and outer walls. Finally, he cut holes around the base on the outside, in the bottom inside, and around the top edge inside.

“It’s certainly not as pretty as those commercially available, but it works,” Ford says. “And there’s pride in building it by hand.”

Here’s what you’ll need to make your own fire pit, and the complete instructions for building it.

➡ Can You Solve the Burning Rope Riddle?

burning rope
Michael Stillwell

This simple puzzle recently appeared in a members-only newsletter. Think you can crack it?

You have two ropes coated in oil to help them burn. Each rope will take exactly one hour to burn all the way through. However, the ropes don’t burn at constant rates; there are spots where they burn a bit faster and spots where they burn a bit slower, but it always takes one hour to finish the job. With a lighter to ignite the ropes, how can you measure exactly 45 minutes?

Click here to see the solution.

➡ Inside Ukraine’s New Heavy Artillery That Will Cause Russia a World of Pain

Pop Mech’s military guru, Kyle Mizokami, has been covering the ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine with an eye on the tech used by all parties in the war. And as Western countries ship increasingly heavy arms to a beleaguered Ukraine, one of the most important transfers so far is an arsenal’s worth of field howitzers.

Unlike the Ukrainian army’s existing big guns, these artillery pieces come in NATO calibers and are the key to unlocking the West’s precision-guided artillery technology. The tech, which includes GPS-guided artillery shells and tank-hunting munitions, could make Ukraine’s cannon-cockers exponentially more powerful.

ukraine artillery m982 excalibur
U.S. Army

Ukraine is set to receive more than 100 155-millimeter artillery pieces. The U.S. is slated to send 90 M777 towed howitzers, the current towed artillery piece in use by the U.S. Army and Marine Corps; Australia is sending six M777s, and Canada is sending four. The Netherlands has promised six Pz2000 155-millimeter self-propelled howitzers, while France will send between 10 and 12 CAESAR truck-mounted 155s.

These howitzers have powerful implications for Ukraine’s hitting power. Check out Mizokami’s full breakdown of Ukraine’s artillery fleet, and see what the weapons may mean for the future of the war.

➡ The Secret to a Foolproof Trucker’s Hitch

modified trucker's hitch knot step 12
Trevor Raab

Test editor Roy Berendsohn shared the 12 steps to mastering his time-tested modified trucker’s hitch knot with members. It’s fast to learn, easy to fashion, and quick to untie. “I’ve used it hundreds of times to secure everything in the bed of my truck, from a pile of groceries to lawnmowers,” he says. “And it’s very strong; I’ve never had a load come loose.”

See how to rig the hitch to secure any load.

➡ Ask the Expert: The Near-Death Experience Doctor

For the first time, scientists recorded the brain waves of a dying person. The researchers noticed an 87-year-old man’s brain experienced higher-order cognitive functions immediately following cardiac arrest, possibly indicating active memory recall.

sam parnia
Sylvain Gaboury//Getty Images

We asked Dr. Sam Parnia, an expert on near-death experiences, what this study reveals about our brain activity at death. Here’s an excerpt of what he told us in the member-exclusive story:

“For decades now, people have reported episodes of paradoxical lucidity and heightened consciousness in relation to death...although in the past, it had been assumed that these may simply be anecdotes. What is most intriguing is that this seems to be occurring when the brain is shutting down at the end of life. This study supports these descriptions and certainly raises the possibility that a marker of lucidity at the end of life may have been discovered.”

Read more about near-death experiences here.

➡ About Pop Mech Pro

For over 120 years, Popular Mechanics has strived to be the definitive, evolving manual for understanding everything. We give you the knowledge you need to get the most out of life, whether that’s how to change a tire, build a farmhouse table, learn astrophotography, identify fighter jets, or hike the Appalachian Trail. But the way we talk to you—through reports on new discoveries, how-to plans for home projects, and in-depth gear reviews—has changed over time, which is why we launched our membership program, Pop Mech Pro, in 2020. Join today!