history
John F. Kennedy Lived With More Pain Than We Realised

A re-evaluation of JFK’s health history and medical records paints a portrait a man who had to endure a surprising amount of physical discomfort throughout his short life. As president, he did his best to hide his misery from the public—no small miracle, given just how much pain he was forced to endure. Read More >>

history
Newly Declassified Documents Show Nazis Plotted to Destroy Panama Canal

Investigators in Chile have released thousands of declassified documents dating back to the Second World War, revealing the extent to which Nazi spies had infiltrated the country. Among the more shocking revelations is the discovery of a Nazi plot to destroy the Panama Canal—an act that would have changed “the history of the whole world.” Read More >>

space
The Secret History of the First Cat in Space

On 18th October 18th 1963, the Centre national d’études in France was set to send a small cat named Félix into space. After lagging behind its Soviet and American competitors, France was eager to stake its claim in the space race — with cats, for some reason. But on launch day, the mischievous little beast went missing — and an accidental heroine stepped in to take his place. Her name was Félicette. Read More >>

space
Meet the Forgotten Human Computer ‘Rocket Girls’ Who Helped NASA Reach the Stars 

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory has a long and colourful history in rocketry and space exploration, from early missiles and rockets, to landing on the moon and remotely navigating rovers on Mars. Behind all the prominent men who spearheaded the programs was a group of unsung women. Read More >>

science
Rediscovered Manuscript Shows How Isaac Newton Dabbled With Alchemy

A 17th-century manuscript, which was handwritten by Isaac Newton, describes a procedure for making mercury — a substance that alchemists thought could turn lead into gold. Read More >>

space
A Timeline of the Tragic Shuttle Launch That Changed NASA Forever

Thirty years ago, the space shuttle Challenger exploded. The tragedy shocked a nation caught in launch fever, and reshaped how NASA thought about risk. Read More >>

history
The Forgotten History Behind Some of America’s Busiest Airports

Have you ever flown through LGA, ATL, or ORD? It turns out each of these airports has a bizarre and little-known backstory. Read More >>

wtf
The US Government is Being Sued for Losing a Critical JFK Assassination Film

The Zapruder film may be the most famous footage taken of the Kennedy assassination, but it’s not the only one. The “Nix Film” may be lesser known, but it’s no less important. It has been missing for decades, so the granddaughter of the photographer who captured the film is now suing the US government. She wants the tape returned, or be paid $10/£6.6 million. Read More >>

design
The Brilliant But Absurd History of Nike Air Technology

Like many soul-searching 1990s adolescents, I was obsessed with Nike Air technology. I’d pore over the latest innovations, from 'visible forefoot air' to 'tuned air' to other types of air. I’d even buy used sneakers at the flea market and tear them apart to inspect the air. As my young brain developed and my understanding of biomechanics advanced, however, I came to a realisation: Nike Air isn't all it's cracked up to be. Read More >>

history
Can You Help Decode The Unknown Language on This 750-Year-Old Sword?

In 1825, a three-foot-long sword was uncovered from a river on the eastern cost of England. “If struck with sufficient force, it could easily have sliced a man’s head in two,” writes the British Library’s Julian Harrison. Though its potential uses might be obvious, the gold inscription on its face is not. Read More >>

giz explains
The Origin of Colour Bars on TV, and Other Standard Test Files 

Occasionally, we get to catch a glimpse of the hidden tests that ensure our technology-infused world runs smoothly: colour bars on TV or blocks of "lorem ipsum" gibberish text. There's a fascinating story behind how each of these tests came to be and how they work. Read More >>

history
The ‘Harvard Sentences’ Secretly Shaped the Development of Audio Tech

During World War II, the boiler room under Harvard's Memorial Hall was turned into a secretive wartime research lab. Here, volunteers were subjected to hours of noise as scientists tested military communications systems. Out of this came the Harvard sentences, a set of standardised phrases still widely used to test everything from mobile phones to VoIP. Read More >>