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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 8:00am Yesterday 8:00am

No, Da Vinci Wasn't The First Inventor to Dream About Human Flight

Leonardo DaVinci’s wing and glider designs have inspired literature, art, and cinema over the centuries. But plenty of other people have schemed to take to the air, long before the Wright Brothers. Here are just some of the inventors who devised methods of unpowered human flight...with mixed success.
» 8/25/15 12:38pm Tuesday 12:38pm

Long-Lost Nazi Train Packed With $1B in Gold Allegedly Discovered in Poland

We’ll believe it when we see it, but two men, one a Pole and one a German, say they know the location of a heavily armored Nazi train that was rumored to be hidden away in a tunnel during the dying days of the Second World War—a train that could contain upwards of 300 tons of gold. » 8/20/15 7:00am 8/20/15 7:00am

Read the Full Text of John Hersey's "Hiroshima," A Story of 6 Survivors

For the 70th anniversary of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima, The New Yorker has published online the full text of John Hersey’s “Hiroshima,” to which the magazine devoted the entire editorial space of its August 31, 1946 issue. “It does so in the conviction that few of us have yet comprehended the all but incredible… » 8/06/15 11:00am 8/06/15 11:00am

The Army Surgeon Who Jumped Out of a Plane at 40,000 Feet—For Science!

Sometimes progress requires huge risks. Just ask William Randolph “Randy” Lovelace II, who wanted to prove that an oxygen mask could protect pilots from blacking out at high altitudes when they bailed out of their planes. See his story for yourself, in this Fusion video which we’re premiering exclusively at io9. » 8/06/15 9:32am 8/06/15 9:32am

The Almost Perfect World War II Plot to Bomb Japan with Bats

Imagine: a quiet, tense night in the middle of wartime. A plane rips through the air above your city, rupturing the stillness. The bay doors open, and out whistles a bomb. It drops and drops. Everyone braces. But when it explodes, the city is filled not with the flash of impact, but with hundreds and hundreds of tiny,… » 8/05/15 4:00pm 8/05/15 4:00pm

A Senator Learns Why Four Bottles of Gin and An Angry Mistress Don't Mix

Contemporary politicians do their best to supply us with a steady stream of scandals. But the strange case of New Jersey State Senator—shot by his mistress, Ruth Jayne Cranmer, in 1931—would grab headlines even today. This was during Prohibition, of course, but it started with lots of gin. » 7/17/15 5:40pm 7/17/15 5:40pm

We Get the Best Space Images When Scientists Pull All-Nighters

Fifty years ago today, the Mariner 4 mission sent home the first images of Mars. Today, the New Horizons probe sent home gloriously detailed photos of Pluto. Despite the intervening decades, the vibrant excitement of the mission scientists staying up all night to see that first image is exactly the same. » 7/15/15 7:30am 7/15/15 7:30am

What Did Pythagoras Mean By "All Things Are Number"?

We all know that numbers can help us understand the beauty of nature. But in this excerpt from the new book A Beautiful Question: Finding Nature’s Deep Design by Nobel Prize-winning physicist Frank Wilczek, he shows how it goes a lot deeper than that. Did the ancient mathematician Pythagoras know something we don’t? » 7/14/15 10:30am 7/14/15 10:30am

When We Discovered Pluto, It Changed How We Saw The Solar System

On the 23rd and 24th of January, 1930, a young astronomer working in Flagstaff, Arizona, scanned a small patch of the night sky. He was taking pictures of star positions, looking for anomalies that would signal movement somewhere at the edge of the solar system. He took the pictures then set them aside, not realizing… » 7/12/15 12:00pm 7/12/15 12:00pm