republished

Barbed Wire's Dark, Deadly History

In the mid 1800s, not many (non-native) Americans had ever been west of the Mississippi. When Frederick Law Olmstead visited the west in the 1850s, he remarked that the plains looked like a sea of grasses that moved “in swells after a great storm.” Massive herds of buffalo wandered the plains. Cowboys shepherded cattle across long stretches of no man’s land. It was truly the wild and unmanaged west, but it was all about to change, due, in large part, to one very simple invention that would come to be known as “the devil’s rope.”


The Creepy, Surreal Apocalypse Of The Sims Online

A few months before the end of the world, everyone was saying their goodbyes. The world that was ending was The Sims Online, an online version of The Sims. Even though The Sims was one of the most popular computer games ever made, the massively-multiplayer online version did not do well.


How One Fed-Up Dude Fixed An Awful Highway Sign Himself

At some point in your life you’ve probably encountered a problem in the built world where the fix was obvious to you. Maybe a door that opened the wrong way, or poorly painted marker on the road. Mostly, when we see these things, we grumble on the inside, and then do nothing.


NSFW: 7 High-Tech Sex Toys To Liven Up A Belated Valentine's Night

Busy over the weekend? No matter, these things can wait. Valentine’s Day may just be another consumerist Hallmark holiday — but that doesn’t mean you can’t have a little fun with it. So instead of jewellery or flowers, why not get your loved one something a little more… animated? (Not safe for work!)


The AI Revolution: How Far Away Are Our Robot Overlords?

Imagine taking a time machine back to 1750 — a time when the world was in a permanent power outage, long-distance communication meant either yelling loudly or firing a cannon in the air, and all transportation ran on hay. When you get there, you retrieve a dude, bring him to 2015, and then walk him around and watch him react to everything.


Why It's Impossible To Design A Perfect Spacesuit

The first factor that needs to be considered in the design of a space suit is “what will the suit be used for?”


Can You Shoot A Gun In Space? 

Space is full of potential dangers — rogue comets, Martians, bags full of astronaut poop, you name it. But if it really came down to it, and you did have to defend yourself against an interstellar attacker, would a traditional gun actually be able to do the trick?


Why New York's Penn Station Sucks

New Yorkers are known to disagree about a lot of things. Who’s got the best pizza? What’s the fastest subway route? Yankees or Mets? But all 8.5 million New Yorkers are likely to agree on one thing: Penn Station sucks.


If You Threw Cookie Dough At The Sun, How Long Would It Take To Bake?

First, let’s assume you are in orbit around the Earth’s atmosphere, and you threw the cookie sunward at 25 mph (40km/h). The most delicious of speeds.


Absolutely Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About Aeroplane Controls

All of them? If you’re talking about a commercial airliner, then there’s hundreds and hundreds. There are big, fat manuals describing what they all do. But, since you asked, buckle up.