BACK TO THE FU­TURE

Popular Science - - NEWS -

THIS IS­SUE IS SPE­CIAL TO me. I mean, they all are, but 14 years ago, Best of What’s New was my whole job—my first real one in mag­a­zines. In Novem­ber 2003, an un­so­licited email from then ed­i­tor-in-chief Scott Mow­bray beeped into my in­box. Sub­ject: “Job at Pop­u­lar Sci­ence.”

At the time, I was a free­lance writer, which ac­tu­ally meant a Tues­day grave­yard shift at US Weekly—spent not writ­ing—and other evenings sling­ing triple­fried ev­ery­thing at a fancy Chi­nese restau­rant. The PopSci post scooped me up and dropped into the mix with the most in­no­va­tive peo­ple on the planet.

A decade and a half later, ev­ery­thing is dif­fer­ent: the in­ter­net, the play­ers in the space race—even the edges of our coun­tries are al­tered, shaped by the changes that we hu­mans seem to ex­hale like a gas. That the way we use tech­nol­ogy dif­fers so greatly from back then seems al­most unim­por­tant. But it’s not. In 2003, we gave an award to the Sam­sung SPH-i500, a small flip phone that packed a sty­lus you could use on a stamp-size scratch­pad. Derp. In 2017, no­body’s hawk­ing a com­pact cell­phone—they’re get­ting huger!—and most peo­ple’s fa­vorite sty­lus grows out of their hands.

Some things, though, are re­mark­ably sim­i­lar to Mow­bray’s era: Best of What’s New still rec­og­nizes, as my one-time boss put it so well, “whizbang de­sign and vi­sion­ary en­gi­neer­ing.”

One trans­for­ma­tion you can’t miss is the mag­a­zine it­self. We cu­rated this 30th-an­niver­sary edi­tion to be a cul­tural ar­ti­fact from 2017. It’s full of ad­vance­ments from the past 12 months, sure, but you’ll also find plenty of med­i­ta­tion about this year’s spot on the con­tin­uum of in­no­va­tion. So peel back a page. As you read about the prod­ucts and dis­cov­er­ies, re­mem­ber that we cre­ated this mag­a­zine with the knowl­edge that it could ac­tu­ally change some­one’s life.

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