excerpts

Monster Machines: Boeing's Bird Of Prey

From the U-2 Dragon Lady and A-12 Oxcart, to the SR-71 Blackbird and D-12 Ramjet Drone, there’s been no shortage of exotic aircraft (and UFO sightings) in the skies over Nevada’s Area 51. But among the most extreme examples of bleeding-edge avionic design tested was the otherworldly Boeing Bird of Prey.


Valentina Grizodubova: The Soviet Amelia Earhart

While American women were restricted to administrative flying missions during wartime, more than a thousand Russian women flew combat missions. Valentina Grizodubova was one of them.


Monster Machines: This Gorgeous Warbird Is More Phoenix Than Mustang

The P-51 Mustang is one of the most iconic aircraft in aviation history. These long-range, single-seater fighter-bombers served throughout the Seconds World War as well as during in Korea before being relegated to scrap yards. But many have survived, some in the most unlikely of places. You’ll never guess what quiet suburb the Lil’ Margaret was found in.


Apple Juice: How To Charge Your Phone With Pocket Change And Fruit

Arthur C. Clarke wrote that “any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic”, but he was wrong. It’s easy to tell the difference — technology works. For example, “remote-viewing” mentalists claim they can see events far away, yet they fail every test. In fact, remote viewing is simple: It’s called TV.


How To Turn Burning Gas Into A Lamp Without Blowing Yourself Up

If you were a coal miner in the early 1800s, the light you used was an openflame oil lamp — even though mines were sometimes filled with “fire-damp”, a volatile mixiture of air and methane gas. Explosions were inevitable and threw bodies from mine shafts like grapeshot from a cannon. Humphry Davy became a national hero when he found a remedy in 1815: surround the lamp flame with mosquito screen.


The 10 Most Useful LEGO Bricks

These are the exciting bricks that open up whole new possibilities in LEGO building. In my experience, the most useful bricks are those that change the direction of the studs or give fine detailing to models. It seems like no matter how many of these bricks I have, they’re never enough.


The Most Badass Plane Ever Had An Equally Awesome Flight Suit

At the height of the Cold War, if you wanted a peek behind the Iron Curtain, it had to be a birds’s eye view from 63,000 feet — above the reach of Soviet SAM batteries. And to fly that high, America’s elite SR-71 pilots had to wear the most advanced flight suits this side of the Apollo program.


Incredible Shot Of SR-71 Blackbirds Together

Like Richard Gottardo says: this image reaches a “maximum amount of awesomeness”. Here are 11 Lockheed Martin SR-71 Blackbirds — perhaps the the most exhilarating piece of flying titanium ever to touch the sky — “posing” together.


'I Had The Best Cell On Death Row': Life In The Shadow Of Execution

In 1994, Damien Echols and two of his friends, Jason Baldwin and Jessie Misskelley, were wrongfully convicted in what prosecutors called a satanic ritual murder of three 8-year-old boys. Echols, the leader of the group, was sentenced to death; Baldwin and Misskelley received life sentences. The trio became known as the West Memphis Three, and their cause was taken up by the likes of Johnny Depp and Eddie Vedder. In August 2011, they were released under a legally awkward plea deal. Echols wrote a book about his experience, Life After Death, which is available on Amazon and which we’ve excerpted here.


How Makers Are Desktop-Fabricating A Revolution Of Things

When I was in high school in the late 1970s, we had workshop class as part of the “Industrial Arts” curriculum. It wasn’t quite clear why this was a required credit — we lived in suburb of WashingtonDC and there were no factories around and most of my friends’ parents were lawyers. But learning how to use workshop tools — band saws, table saws, drill presses and the like — was just part of a mid 20th century education.