Old and New London Sandwiched Together as 1800s Maps Meet Satellite Photos

The National Library of Scotland has poked its nose south of the border to build a clever mapping tool that charts the history of London, letting viewers peel away time like the layers of a rotten onion to see how the city's streets have changed over the years. Read More >>

giz explains
How the Art of Tattoo Has Coloured World History

Tattoo is among humanity's earliest and most ubiquitous art forms. For more than 5,000 years cultures from every habitable continent have embedded permanent dyes in their bodies—as mystical wards, status symbols, rites of passage, or simply as personal decoration. That tradition continues today, just with a much smaller chance of infection.

19th Century New York Was Covered in an Insane Web of Telephone Wires

Alexander Graham Bell may have invented the telephone in 1875, but the first phone installation didn't come about for another three years. And that's what makes these photos from 1887 so incredible; this tangled mass of telephone wires had already wound itself around New York City's streets just seven years after that first installation. Read More >>

The Amazing Ancient Machines of Hero of Alexandria

Two thousand ago, the Nikola Tesla of the ancient world lived in Alexandria, Egypt where he tinkered, built and wrote about some of the most amazing and whimsical machines the pre-industrial world had ever seen. Read More >>

Why This Red Smudge is the Most Valuable Stamp in the World

It may be hard to believe, but that faded bit of paper you see above is actually the most sought-after and revered stamp in the world. Or at least, it will be this June, which is when it's poised to pull in a whopping £6-12 million at auction—the most money ever spent a dirty piece of paper. Read More >>

Why Engines are Commonly Measured in Horsepower

>We owe this unit of engine power measurement to Scottish engineer James Watt. Read More >>

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Incredible Concept Art From the Most Amazing Sci-Fi Movie Never Made

Before we get into the concept art here, you've gotta watch the trailer for Jodorowsky's Dune, a new documentary chronicling the eponymous Chilean director's crazy-ambitious attempt to bring Frank Herbert's sci-fi classic to the big screen in the 1970s. Read More >>

The Simple Metal Mechanism That Changed the Global Economy Forever

Have you ever heard of a twistlock? Unless you're a stevedore, probably not. Yet this little mechanism is what makes it possible to stack shipping containers onto cargo ships—enabling a global trade network that brought most of your belongings to your doorstep. And we have a relatively little-known Californian mechanical engineer to thank for it. Read More >>

This Artist Mixes Classic Paintings and Modern London Street Views

Reddit user Shystone has put together some really impressive mashups of classical paintings and Google Street View snapshots of London. They show how much and how little the city has changed in the last few hundred of years. Read More >>

Did You Know That it's the End of the World This Saturday in York?

A bunch of Vikings are preparing for Ragnarok, or the end of the world, this weekend. They are doing so by gathering in York to hold a strongman contest and see who has the best beard. Fun for all the family, unless the world does end, in which case you're stuck in York with a bunch of bearded historical enthusiasts for your final moments. Read More >>

monster machines
How Russia Built a Ship Too Big to Set Sail

Designed to act as the eyes and ears of the Soviet Pacific Fleet, this massive command ship was among Russia's most ambitious Cold War constructs. Packing cutting edge electronic warfare and communications systems, this enormous ship could have become the monolithic centerpiece of Russia's navy. So why did it end up rotting away as off-shore barracks instead? Read More >>

The Fascinating History of Eugenics

The name deriving from the Greek "eugenes," meaning "well-born," it should be no surprise that "eugenics" seeks to engineer a better human race by purposefully selecting good traits, and eliminating bad ones, as is common when breeding animals. Over the years, eugenics has had a number of proponents, from some of the greatest and most admired thinkers in western civilisation to the worst human monsters to ever walk the earth. Read More >>

giz explains
The Ancient History of the First Ever Battery

Fourteen centimetres in height and eight around, the world's first battery looked more like primitive pre-Columbian art than an amazing piece of ancient technology. Although most experts agree that the device produced electricity, there is little consensus on what that power was intended to do. Read More >>

These Century-Old Selfies Make Instagram Look Like a Joke

Mayfair, Kelvin, Earlybird—it really won't make a difference. Because when it comes to these absolutely wonderful selfies taken as early 1909, all of our carefully selected Instagram filters will never begin to compare. Read More >>

The Insane 1940s Flight Sim That Taught WWII Airmen to Refuel in Midair

Performing a midair fuel transfer between aircraft is among the most technically challenging maneuvers in aviation, especially when flying a prop-driven, WWII-era C-97 Stratotanker. That's why neophyte pilots spent hours at the controls of this life-size simulator before they ever set foot in the real thing. Read More >>

The Time the US Invaded a Japanese Submarine Base... in Alaska?

An absolutely fascinating but little-known story—described as a "forgotten theatre" by the US Navy itself—is the tale of Kiska and Attu, Alaska: two remote Aleutian islands where the Japanese military established a submarine base during World War II. Read More >>


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