America's Biggest Cities, Back When They Were Tiny Villages

Everything had to start somewhere — and the biggest cities in the United States are no exception. New York City, Chicago, Houston and other huge metropolises were once beautiful, charming villages. Check out the earliest known maps and images of the quaint little towns that became massive conurbations. » 12/24/14 3:00pm Wednesday 3:00pm

The Real Story Behind the 1914 Christmas Truce in World War I

It was 100 years ago this very night that something miraculous happened along the Western Front. After months of bitter fighting, soldiers on both sides gathered in no-man's-land in a spontaneous show of peace and goodwill. Here's what happened on that historic day — and why it marked the end of an era. » 12/24/14 11:00am Wednesday 11:00am

Computer Simulation Suggests The Alcatraz Escapees Could Have Survived

On the night of June 11, 1962, three inmates escaped Alcatraz aboard a makeshift inflatable raft. They were never seen again and are believed to have died in the frigid waters of San Francisco Bay. But a new computer model using historical tide data indicates they had a narrow time window to make it safely to land. » 12/16/14 8:40am 12/16/14 8:40am

The Real Story Of Apollo 17... And Why We Never Went Back To The Moon

On December 11, 1972, Apollo 17 touched down on the Moon. This was not only our final Moon landing, but the last time we left Low Earth Orbit. With the successful launch of the Orion capsule, NASA is finally poised to go further again. So it's important to remember how we got to the Moon — and why we stopped going. » 12/12/14 1:44pm 12/12/14 1:44pm

In 1911, Albert Einstein Told Marie Curie To Ignore The Trolls

On Friday, a digitized trove of Albert Einstein's writings and correspondence was made available online. While perusing the collection, astrobiologist David Grinspoon found a letter addressed from Einstein to famed physicist, chemist, and two-time Nobel-Laureate, Marie Curie. That letter's gist? Ignore the trolls. » 12/07/14 3:00pm 12/07/14 3:00pm

What Happened Aboard History's Most Baffling Ghost Ship?

When the merchant ship Mary Celeste set sail from New York on November 7, 1872, all signs pointed to an uneventful journey. When it was discovered just under a month later completely abandoned, yet still in seaworthy condition, and with personal effects from its missing crew intact — it quickly entered maritime lore. » 12/05/14 6:00pm 12/05/14 6:00pm

Back When the Victorians Used Microscopic Photography to Look at Porn

Soon after the popularization of photography in the mid-nineteenth century, people started experimenting with gimmicks like microphotography. There was a brief but huge craze for these tiny images that could only be seen using a special microscope lens. It was perfect for sharing porn in a repressive age. » 12/05/14 1:56pm 12/05/14 1:56pm

Jeff VanderMeer's Next Book Will Explore The Strange History Of SF

Jeff VanderMeer's done a couple of big nonfiction books about genre storytelling lately: Wonderbook and The Steampunk User's Manual. But his next project sounds like the most ambitious yet. Space Oddities & Super Freaks: The Secret History of Science Fiction and Fantasy sounds like it could be a mind-warping read. » 12/04/14 2:50pm 12/04/14 2:50pm

These LEGO Instructions from 1974 Are Awesome (And Yes, They're Real)…

This photo of a note to parents, purportedly printed on a pamphlet included in a LEGO set from the 1970s, has been making laps around the Internet. The legitimacy of the note, which is noteworthy for its egalitarian tone, has been called into question – but we can now confirm its authenticity. » 11/22/14 4:00pm 11/22/14 4:00pm