Who has come closest to winning Civilization in real life?

Games in Sid Meier's Civilization series are loosely patterned off the rise and fall of real-life civilizations. And some of these real-life civilizations had exactly the kinds of ambitions that would win a game of Civilization. Which raises the obvious question: did any of them get close? Has anybody won? Are we… » 12/22/14 12:01pm 12/22/14 12:01pm

Top-Secret Space Plane Lands After Almost 2 Years In Orbit

The U.S. Air Force's top secret X-37B Space Plane made a not-so-secret return to Earth this morning, landing at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California after an impressive 674 days in orbit. » 10/17/14 4:08pm 10/17/14 4:08pm

Mercuriceratops: flashy Cadillac of the late Cretaceous

One oddly-shaped dinosaur bone might not turn out to be a new species. It could simply be from a deformed individual of something already known, or a distortion caused by being buried under tons of shifting rock for millions of years. But two of the same oddly-shaped dinosaur bones? That's no coincidence . . .… » 6/19/14 2:00am 6/19/14 2:00am

America's X-37B spaceplane is "probably" spying on China

The US Air Force's high-tech, unmanned X-37B spaceplane launched on March 5, 2011, entering low Earth orbit with the mission designation USA-226 and a set of tantalizingly vague mission parameters: to "demonstrate a reliable, reusable, unmanned space test platform for the United States Air Force." » 1/05/12 2:59pm 1/05/12 2:59pm

How seabird excrement paved the way for American imperial expansion

In 1856, seabird guano was an in-demand fertilizer, so the the United States Congress passed The Guano Islands Act. This legislation was a precursor to American imperialism, as it allowed citizens to claim bird-crap-covered islands in the USA's name. » 10/10/10 1:00pm 10/10/10 1:00pm

The Alternate Reality States Of America

In his book Lost States, Michael Trinklein maps out the never-was states of Transylvania, Nickajack, and Jefferson. Check out his bizarro imaginary cartography. » 4/21/10 6:20am 4/21/10 6:20am

Turn the American Presidential Debates into Abstract Data Structures

You can watch the American presidential debates and allow Barack Obama and John McCain to move you emotionally, or you can convert what they say into easily-analyzed data structures. C-SPAN's awesomely wonky graphic designers have created several easy ways for you to analyze as objectively as possible which candidate… » 10/09/08 7:00am 10/09/08 7:00am

Ride the MagLev Train from One Fake Place to Another

U.S. President Bush has authorized construction companies to use $45 million in federal money to construct a maglev train between two amusement parks: Disneyland and Las Vegas. It will be the first levitating train in the U.S., zooming along at up to 300 mph, though the Bush Administration's choice of route is… » 6/09/08 1:11pm 6/09/08 1:11pm