The Strange Medieval Origins of Modern Logos 

When we think of early logos, we think of 19th and 20th century classics like Levi's or Coke. But the origins of logos and trademarks go back way further than that—back thousands of years, when merchants and craftspeople used "merchant's marks" to designate the origins of goods and their authors. » 12/19/14 11:00am Yesterday 11:00am

Will Google Sell All Your Emails to Your Grandchildren?

In 40 years will Google, Facebook and Visa sell all your emails, photos, and purchase history to your grandchildren? The Sony hack has reminded us that nearly everything we say and do here in the early 21st century will be on the record forever. And we better be prepared for the historians of tomorrow to pick through… » 12/12/14 1:53pm 12/12/14 1:53pm

How Scotch Tape Was Invented

Despite the name, Scotch tape wasn't invented by the Scottish. It was invented by a college dropout named Richard Drew from Minnesota who worked for a small sandpaper company founded in 1902 called Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing, later known as 3M. The name "Scotch" itself has an origin story almost as interesting… » 12/03/14 5:30am 12/03/14 5:30am

Ask the Author of Alan Turing: The Enigma Anything

The new film The Imitation Game hits theaters this weekend. But before you see Benedict Cumberbatch's brilliant portrayal of Alan Turing on the big screen, you should definitely check out the book that the film is based on, Alan Turing: The Enigma. Today we have author Andrew Hodges joining us for a live webchat from… » 11/25/14 12:39pm 11/25/14 12:39pm

The Surpisingly Old Origins of the Fax Machine

Today, we mostly think of the fax machine as an outdated piece of technology. While there are still some uses for it in an office-setting, technological advances are sending the fax machines to the same pasture as pagers, land-line telephones, and disposable cameras. Even if this is the last we hear of the beeps and… » 11/20/14 8:00am 11/20/14 8:00am

How Farming Almost Destroyed Ancient Human Civilization

Roughly 9,000 years ago, humans had mastered farming to the point where food was plentiful. Populations boomed, and people began moving into large settlements full of thousands of people. And then, abruptly, these proto-cities were abandoned for millennia. It's one of the greatest mysteries of early human civilization. » 11/17/14 6:40pm 11/17/14 6:40pm

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

How a Secret Squad Saved London From Flooding in the WWII Blitz

When bombs rained down on London during the Blitz, they fell on houses, on churches, and, less famously, on embankments along the River Thames. The damaged embankments could have sent devastating floods through London, but they didn't—thanks to a group of engineers who worked secretly and at night. » 11/03/14 3:50pm 11/03/14 3:50pm

The world is now safer and better than ever and here's the evidence

These series of statistical graphics show that, while there's still plenty of war, hunger, sickness, and poverty in the world, things are much better than what they were only a few decades ago—not to talk about centuries ago. We are still far from utopia, but the data is stubborn: We are getting there. Fast. » 10/29/14 11:47pm 10/29/14 11:47pm

You Can Buy an Ejector Seat From an F-4 Phantom for Quick Escapes

If you're an aviation enthusiast, there's a lot of fun stuff to be found in Boeing's online store. But none are as unique—and some would say even historic—as this authentic de-commissioned ejector seat from an McDonnell F-4 Phantom II fighter jet, one of the U.S. military's workhorses of the Vietnam War. » 10/24/14 4:15pm 10/24/14 4:15pm

This Map Shows Manhattan Transform from the Countryside to a Metropolis

It's hard to imagine, but Manhattan used to be a bunch of open fields and trees. Then, after a small Dutch fort turned into an important trading post, things began to change. And a new map project by the architects and coders at Morphocode lets you visualize the past 300 years of that process. » 10/10/14 5:46pm 10/10/14 5:46pm

The weirdest things women used as contraceptives throughout history

What does crocodile dung and weasel testicles and pig intestines and fizzy cola and moonshine mixed with ground beaver testicles have in common with each other? They were all used as contraceptives throughout history. Some were inserted into a woman's body, others were eaten and a few were just worn. » 10/04/14 1:32am 10/04/14 1:32am