How Border Drones Were Born During the Vietnam War

From 1968 until 1973, the US military spent about $1 billion a year on a new computer-powered initiative intended to end the war in Vietnam. It went by many names over the years — including Practice Nine, Muscle Shoals, Illinois City and Dye Marker. But today it’s most commonly known as Operation Igloo White. »9/23/15 5:05pm9/23/15 5:05pm

Despite a Constant Plague of Gremlins, This Lady Earned 104 Aviation Records

Everyone has heard of the daring Amelia Earhart, but her British piloting peer Sheila Scott did her part to bust boundaries for ladies in aeronautics. Along with her numerous speed records and first flights, Scott helped NASA prove it could use satellites to track the location of airplanes. »9/23/15 4:09pm9/23/15 4:09pm

The Worst Hard Time Is The Most Heart-Breaking Kind of Apocalyptic Story

A group of disparate explorers settle in a bountiful alien land. Through technology they transform the world, making it beautiful, hospitable, profitable. And little by little, they doom themselves. The Worst Hard Time: The Untold Story of Those Who Survived the Great American Dust Bowl, by Timothy Egan, is a… »9/09/15 4:20pm9/09/15 4:20pm

The Alternative Universe Of Soviet Arcade Games

When you walk into the Museum of Soviet Arcade Games in St. Petersburg, the first thing you’ll see is a series of gray, hard-edged soda machines from the early 1980s. If you choose the one in the middle, it will dispense a tarragon-flavored and slightly fermented soda whose recipe relies on a syrup that has not been… »9/06/15 6:30pm9/06/15 6:30pm

A Foggy Morning Adds Surrealism to the Wonder of Spaceflight

November 30, 1982: A foggy morning before the inaugural flight of the Space Shuttle Challenger offered no hint to the troubles that would plague the mission. On top of an over two-month launch delay, a malfunction placed the shuttle in a too-low orbit for the first shuttle-based spacewalk and satellite deployment. »9/04/15 8:00pm9/04/15 8:00pm

How NASA Created a Flight Simulator for the First Astronauts Landing on the Moon

December 5, 1961. A man at the controls of a module gazes at the lunar surface from close up. Is this an astronaut, approaching the Moon nearly eight years before Apollo 11? Nope—it’s a pilot testing Project LOLA, a massive network of hand-painted mosaics and tracked cameras that trained astronauts for the moon… »9/03/15 2:20pm9/03/15 2:20pm

How Batman's Butler Alfred Evolved from a Joke Character to a Total Badass

Bruce Wayne has always been a vigilante and billionaire. Since a vigilante needs a lot of help around the house and a billionaire has the money to buy that help, most Batman fans assume that Alfred was in the comics from the beginning. Maybe he wasn’t in that first issue back in 1939, but surely he was always there,… »8/26/15 11:00am8/26/15 11:00am