My Top Stories of 2013 (5-9)

Part two of my Top 13 of 2013 continues today with 5-9. For a look back at 10-13, click here. Check back on Dec. 31 for stories 1-4.

9. Okay, so I’m cheating a bit as I start the single-digit entries on the list. I’m instead including an entire four-part package, not just one story. My editor at Sports Illustrated asked me for technology stories from four different sports—NBA, NFL, MLB and Winter Olympics—to run alongside video. It was a fun package to work on, spanned multiple months and allowed me to discuss athlete tracking, high-end shoe construction, digital scouting and the art of manufacturing snow.

8. Tracking data has turned into key factor across a variety of sports, but there had been no way to do so in tennis until Babolat unveiled the world’s first connected tennis racket. I was in Boulder, Colo., to test out the racket for the first time in public for Popular Mechanics, an interesting foray into tennis movements and data tracking. For the story, click here.

7. Survivor has proven one of the most popular and longest-lasting reality TV shows ever and host—and now producer—Jeff Probst has been there from the start. I chatted with him for a TIME article discussing the most intriguing power plays in the show’s history. And he didn’t disappoint with his passion and knowledge of the game.

6. 2013 was an interesting year for bridges, the most intriguing the new Bay Bridge opening. I explored the art of cable-stay and suspension bridges early in the year for Popular Mechanics and then took closer examination at the Bay Bridge specifically for PopMech articles both online and in print.

5. Attending the Champion’s League Final in Wembley Stadium was a treat all its own, but then exploring the stadium and discussing the architecture with Lord (yeah, he’s been knighted) Norman Foster was an additional pleasure. I was able to write about how Foster attempted to create a new legacy for the famed London stadium in a Sports Illustrated article.

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July Popular Mechanics Issues Has My Story On Running Shoes

The July issue of Popular Mechanics features my article on three new materials/designs used to create fresh experiences for runners. Taking a look at offerings from adidas, Puma and Nike, you can see the direction the running industry is headed. Check out the July print issue for more.

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How Will Bay Bridge Shake Off Earthquakes

My print article on how the new Bay Bridge will shake off earthquakes has now gone live on the Popular Mechanics website. If you haven’t seen the print version, check out the online styling of it here.

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10 Cool Evolutions in Shoe Tech (as Seen in My PopMech Article)

I recently went to New York to cover the launch of the new Boost shoe from Adidas (a few photos here), using the release as the timely hook in presenting 10 cool evolutions in shoe technology for Popular Mechanics. I had about 15 on the original list, but had to cut back, so some other fun stuff from Saucony, Puma, Asics and Nike didn’t quite make it on. But the 10 we have cover the gamut of brands and materials, offering up history in gel and air and new materials and construction. Enjoy diving into the list, as seen here.

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Lights Out! My List of 10 Stadium Mishaps for PopMech

When the lights went out during the Super Bowl, my editor at Popular Mechanics was right on top of a story. I suggested we do a list of stadium mishaps and got to work, sending the list live on the site by early Monday morning. From tragic (soccer stadium collapses) to somewhat silly (ice fogging up), take a look at the Super Bowl-inspired list of stadium mishaps. For the full list, click here.

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Tracking Elite Athletes, Right Down to Centimeters

Expect a heavy dose of sports from my Popular Mechanics offerings this week. Early on Tuesday came the posting of the top 10 tech advancements in the NFL, just a few minutes before my next PopMech piece on Catapult Sports, based in Melbourne, and its efforts to provide indoor GPS tracking systems for elite professional teams. The devices track individual players, in relation to each other and even the ball, giving pinpoint data on a wide spectrum of player metrics. For all the techy details, check out the article here.

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The Top-10 NFL Tech Advancements (via PopMech)

Picking out the top-10 tech advancements in the NFL over the years for Popular Mechanics was actually easier than I thought it would be. And, surprisingly, you quickly learn how many old rules haven’t been updated by teams that leave the sidelines in a technological darkness. From HDTV to iPad playbooks and from that fancy yellow line we see on TV to using nine different fabrics to construct a uniform, the list has a bit of everything for either tech or NFL fans. The advancements in camera and audio technology have also been surprisingly recent. Head over to PopMech.com and check it out.

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Dam building taking off in India

When my PopMech.com editor asked if I’d look into dam building in India, I had no idea the extent of the plans there. But with the world’s leading dam builder right next door in the form of China, it is no wonder that India has started a push to create as much hydropower as possible. The hundreds of dams expected in the Southeast Asian country will focus in the Himalayans and aim to reduce India’s carbon emissions (the fourth largest emitter of CO2 in the world) and support the growing need for power. Check out my report here.

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The fanciest materials for stretching bridges

Bigger and better. Even bridges. Covering bridges for a number of publications, as I have, I grow continually amazed by the engineering feats accomplished with bridge construction.  As the Popular Mechanics’ de facto bridge writer, I was able to take a bit more of an exploratory look at why we always get the “longest,” “widest” and “biggest” suspension and cable-stay bridges, year after year. Call it man’s need to outdo each other or call it a technical progression, but these records don’t last all that long. Take a look here at my PopMech article and enjoy the world of bridges.

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Top 12 of 2012 (#1-#4)

In the final installment of looking back at 2012 and highlighting my Top 12 articles of the year, I walk through my top four (list 9-12 is here and 5-8 is here).

4. The first week of 2012 offered a Sports Illustrated print article on new Nike-made technology used primarily for football and soccer training. The story that took me to Portland and Eugene to cover the new Vapor Strobe glasses and see them in use on the campus of the University of Oregon. I also chatted with Greg Jennings, among others, about his use. Take a look at my SI article here and a teaser to the SI piece on TIME here.

3. As a magazine writer, live event coverage isn’t a regular assignment any longer, but I enjoyed covering a losing Vancouver Canucks team in Rogers Arena on deadline for Sports Illustrated, trying to have fun with the writing along the way. It wasn’t fun because the Canucks lost (I also covered the team’s Stanley Cup Finals Game 7 loss for SI and TIME in 2011, so was hoping they could return to the Finals), but it made the article more interesting, or so I thought. See what you think here.

2. A dream combination of Olympic and sports technology/apparel happened in one article for Popular Mechanics, pinpointing what new features we could expect for London. I chatted with designers from some of the major apparel brands to see what they were rolling out for London-bound athletes and the reporting included a trip to Italy. Read the result here.

1. In what was one of my most well-read articles of the year, I took time to chat with Christian musicians, such as Lecrae and TobyMac, for a TIME article to discuss their rise in the secular charts, the role their music plays in culture and how they see the genre interacting in the music industry. The article led to a spin-off Q&A in TIME print with Lecrae (behind a paywall). To read the main article, visit here.