Author Archives: Gilles Messier

The Surprisingly Plausible Theory that the Pyramids were Poured from Ancient Concrete

The Egyptian pyramids at Giza are among the most famous and storied monuments in the world. The oldest  of the seven wonders of the ancient world – and the only ones still standing – they have awed and inspired travellers, scholars, poets, and artists for thousand  of years. Yet despite this timeless fascination, relatively little is known about who built […]

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The Forgotten Plague During Prohibition

In February of 1930, Dr. W.H. Miles, Health Officer for Oklahoma City, began hearing of an alarming number of patients presenting to hospitals with unusual symptoms. The muscles in their lower legs had become paralyzed, making them unable to straighten their feet and causing them to walk with a bizarre slapping gait. At first doctors suspected Polio or Guillain-Barre syndrome, […]

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That Time the French Intentionally Bombed a Civilian Ship

France detonated its first atomic bomb, codenamed Blue Jerboa, on February 13, 1960, becoming the fourth nation to do so after the United States, the Soviet Union, and Great Britain. At first the French tested their nuclear weapons in their then-colony of Algeria, but after the country gained its independence in 1962 testing moved to French Polynesia. These tests heavily […]

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Winning the Battle of Britain with Miss Shilling’s Orifice

In the pantheon of iconic aircraft, perhaps none is more revered than the Supermarine Spitfire. Considered one of the most beautiful fighters ever designed, along with its stablemate the Hawker Hurricane the Spitfire has become emblematic of  Britain’s determined resistance against Nazi Germany in the early days of the Second World War. Yet despite its legendary reputation, the Spitfire was […]

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That Time a Russian General Invented Clear Coca-Cola, and Pepsi had One of the World’s Largest Navies

1945 was a good year to be Georgy Zhukov. In May of that year the Soviet General lead the 1st Byelorussian Front to victory in the climactic Battle of Berlin, bringing the Second World War in Europe to a close. In recognition of his service, Zhukov was promoted to Field Marshall, personally accepted the Nazi Government’s instruments of surrender, and […]

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Has Anyone Ever Actually Created a Suitcase Nuke?

The portable nuclear weapon or “suitcase nuke” has long been a staple of popular fiction, appearing in dozens of movies, TV shows, and video games including The Peacemaker, 24, and Battlefield 3. Our fascination with such devices isn’t hard to understand, for they are the ultimate expression of our fears of nuclear terrorism: untraceable, easily concealed, and devastating. But is […]

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The Cosmic Postcard

On March 10, 1972, an Atlas-Centaur rocket blasted off from pad LC-36A at Cape Canaveral, Florida, carrying the unmanned probe Pioneer 10 on humanity’s first mission to the planet Jupiter. Along with cameras and various scientific instruments to study the gas giant planet and its moons, Pioneer 10 also carried a curious object. Bolted to the struts of the probe’s […]

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How the Nazis Managed to Capture the World’s Strongest Fortress in Under 20 Minutes

In the early morning hours of May 10, 1940, soldiers manning the Belgian fortress of Eben Emael looked up at the sky and beheld an alarming sight: nine strange slender-winged aircraft descending silently towards them. Within seconds the aircraft skidded to a halt and disgorged 54 highly-trained German airborne troops onto the fort’s grass roof. Little could the garrison have […]

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The V2 Rocket Heist

Of all the advanced weapons technology developed by Nazi Germany during the Second World War, perhaps none was as sought after by the Allies as the Aggregat-4 rocket, better known as the V2. Developed at the Peenemunde Army Research Station under the direction of Walter Dornberger and Werner von Braun, the V2 was the world’s first operational ballistic missile, pioneering […]

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That Time the Moon Nearly Started WWIII and Other Silly Cold War Shenanigans

On October the 4th, 1957, the Soviet Union launched Sputnik 1, the world’s first artificial satellite, into orbit. This event sent shockwaves through the United States defence establishment. Not only did Sputnik demonstrate that the Soviets were more technologically advanced than anyone had imagined, but it announced that they now possessed long range ballistic missiles capable of reaching any target […]

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