How to Build a Funeral Pyre

A funeral pyre is one of the world's oldest cremation traditions. Designed to reduce a grown human being to a few pounds of ashes, it is also a feat of engineering.

An Unbreakable Code
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The Code Talkers used native languages to send military messages before World War II. Choctaw, for example, was successfully used during World War I. But the...

For 40 Years, This Russian Family Was Cut Off From All Human Contact, Unaware of World War II
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In 1978, Soviet geologists prospecting in the wilds of Siberia discovered a family of six, lost in the taiga

Donald Sherman orders a pizza using a talking computer, Dec 4, 1974
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Every year, the researchers, students, and technology users who make up the community of the Michigan State University Artificial Language Laboratory celebr...

Tintern 'secret' medieval tunnel system found by accident
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A team of electrical technicians made the discovery while moving an electrical pole in Monmouthshire.

The battery invented 120 years before its time
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At the turn of the 20th Century, Thomas Edison invented a battery with the unusual quirk of producing hydrogen. Now, 120 years later, the battery is coming into its own.

World’s First Computer Bug
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On September 9, 1947, a team of computer scientists reported the world’s first computer bug—a moth trapped in their computer at Harvard University.

How 'cancelling' Christmas reignited a civil war
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As governments around the world weigh up how much to restrict Christmas celebrations in an effort to combat the pandemic, it's worth noting this isn't the first time in history that politicians have tried to exercise control over the seasonal festivities. In the 1640s, the Parliament of England, Scotland and Ireland effectively made many long-held Christmas traditions illegal, and it went down about as well as you might imagine - ultimately helping to reignite the English Civil War.

How to Escape a Sinking Ship (Like, Say, the 'Titanic')
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First, put on your fanciest clothes. And at 1:15 am, consider heading down to Deck D.

My Hunt for the Original McDonald's French-Fry Recipe
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Veteran line-cooks, experts, and die-hard fans tell the story of the fries that birthed an empire, then disappeared—until now.

What It Was Like To Buy A Computer In 1994
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Back in 1994,I was working for the famous Silicon Valley startup General Magic. One night, my team and I decided to go into the local computer store (Incredi...

“Invisible Little Worms”: Athanasius Kircher’s Study of the Plague
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Living through the devastating Italian plague of 1656, the great polymath Athanasius Kircher turned his ever-enquiring mind to the then mysterious disease, becoming possibly the first to view infected blood through a microscope. While his subsequent theories of spontaneous generation and "universal sperm" were easily debunked, Kircher's investigation can be seen as an important early step to understanding contagion, and perhaps even the very first articulation of germ…

Beside the point? Punctuation is dead, long live punctuation
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How we came to represent (through inky marks) the vagaries of the mind, inflections of the voice, and intensity of feeling

The butcher's shop that lasted 300 years (give or take)
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The long read: Frank Fisher, now 90, was a traditional high street butcher his whole working life – as were three generations of his family before him. How does a man dedicated to serving his community decide when it’s time to hang up his white coat?

Socialism’s DIY Computer
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The Galaksija computer was a craze in 1980s Yugoslavia, inspiring thousands of people to build versions in their own homes. The idea behind them was simple – to make technology available to everyone.

A Trip Through Paris, France in late 1890s / Un voyage à travers Paris, 1890
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Upscaled with neural networks footage from the dawn of film taken in Belle Époque-era Paris, France from 1896-1900.