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The Secret 1949 Radiation Experiment That Contaminated Washington

The physicists who invented the nuclear bomb worked out of Los Alamos in New Mexico, but the people who did the dirty work of making the bombs were in Hanford, Washington. Throughout the Cold War, Hanford churned out plutonium for our nuclear arsenal. It was also, conveniently, a place to experiment with radiation. » 6/03/15 2:30pm 6/03/15 2:30pm

We Got Buckminster Fuller's FBI File

Buckminster Fuller was a world-renowned architect, math-obsessed designer, and affable weirdo. He died in 1983, but Fuller is still remembered fondly today for his geodesic domes and his three-wheeled cars. Despite extensive historical interest in the man, his FBI file has never been made public. Until now. » 5/20/15 3:52pm 5/20/15 3:52pm

How The New Cold War Is Improving Your Navigation

Ever contemplated going to war with America, but been thwarted when the Great Satan switched off your access to its navigation satellites? That’s potentially a real problem for China and Russia, but the real victor in this navigational arms race might be you; it’s improving the quality of location data on your phone… » 4/29/15 6:50pm 4/29/15 6:50pm

Inside the Bunker Where Soviets Kept Their Secret Stash of Nukes 

During the Cold War, Hungary was one of the westernmost allies of the Soviet Union. As a member of the Warsaw Pact, Hungary had to station a significant number of Soviet troops and military equipment on its territory. Now we've gone inside one of their most classified bases, and taken pictures. » 1/29/15 8:00pm 1/29/15 8:00pm

The Forgotten Plan to Save Great Art From World War III 

From a secret treasure trove below the memorial to Oliver Wendell Holmes in DC to a retrofitted quarry in Wales, our governments have gone to great lengths to protect precious objects from ruin—and a new trove of declassified documents shine light on a new, little-known project to do just that during the Cold War. » 1/02/15 9:00am 1/02/15 9:00am

Everything you need to know about the Cold War in a 9-minute animation

These cute animations that teach you about our history are just the best. Partly because I love history, partly because the cartoon drawings make me laugh and partly because I really think I'm learning more than I ever did in school. I mean, spending 10 minutes on YouTube is better than a semester at school. » 11/11/14 9:23pm 11/11/14 9:23pm

These Secret Cold War Radio Stations Are Still Broadcasting

In the early days of espionage, long before the advent of burner phones, satcoms, and other modern-day spy gadgets, getting word to field agents—especially those working behind the Iron Curtain—proved a dangerous game with global consequences should the agent's cover be blown. But that's where number stations, and… » 10/31/14 11:41am 10/31/14 11:41am

This Electronic Stonehenge Once Divined the Secrets of Soviet Radio

In the early days of electronic espionage, the US intelligence community didn't have the benefit of all-seeing spy satellites—it had to intercept and interpret high-frequency radio waves transmitted by the Soviet Union. To do so, the Americans relied on a network of mysterious structures whose real purpose was kept… » 10/21/14 11:40am 10/21/14 11:40am

Fireballs and Wolves: The Horrifying Story of the First Spacewalk

Almost 60 years ago, we took our first steps into the big, black nothingness of space. Or more specifically, Soviet cosmonaut Alexei Leonov had the honor of taking the very first space-dip. But this was a rush job—a means for the Soviet Union to shame the US and win the space race once and for all. Which they did! … » 10/13/14 12:38pm 10/13/14 12:38pm

The Abandoned Communist Nuclear Reactor That Could Have Killed Us All

Just 90 miles off the tip of Florida lies a half-baked, abandoned relic of the Cold War-era arms race—what was once going to be a joint Cuban-Soviet nuclear reactor. And thank god it never panned out. Because not only do we now have these incredible shots from photographer Darmon Richter, but every last aspect of… » 10/09/14 2:56pm 10/09/14 2:56pm

Watch a Pilot Snag Cold War Spy Satellite Footage as It Falls From Orbit

The Corona program was the opening salvo in the effort to peer into Soviet-controlled territory from orbit. In order to recover the top-secret physical photographs it took, Air Force pilots took to the sky for what amounted to a claw arcade game, played miles above the Earth. Here's a rare look at it in action. » 9/02/14 12:14pm 9/02/14 12:14pm

Of Course the First Object Ever Recovered From Orbit Was for Spying

In the early days of the U.S. satellite surveillance program, our orbital cameras employed state-of-the-art technologies to get the physical film back to Earth for development and analysis. They shot it back into the atmosphere like 300-pound bullets, and tried to catch the falling canisters by their parachutes using… » 8/21/14 11:40am 8/21/14 11:40am