Author Archives: Gilles Messier

The Mysterious Disappearance of One of the Most Successful Recording Artists of All Time

If I were to ask you which 20th Century recording artist had the most top-ten hits in their lifetime, you might be tempted to guess Elvis Presley, or maybe a member of the Beatles. But no: that honour belongs to Glenn Miller, the trombonist and band leader whose recordings of such classics as “In the Mood,” “Chattanooga Choo-Choo,” and “Moonlight […]

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The Most Disastrous Space Mission Ever

On July 20, 1969, American astronaut Neil Armstrong stepped onto the surface of the moon and uttered the immortal words “That’s one small step for [a] man, one giant leap for mankind,” bringing to a close the decade-long Space Race between the US and USSR. While the Americans beating the Soviets to the moon might seem inevitable in hindsight, this […]

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The Red Devil: The Only Axis Prisoner to Escape from Canada And Make It Back to Germany

During the Second World War, more than 260,000 Allied personnel were captured by the Western Axis powers and held in prisoner-of-war camps in Germany, Italy, and their occupied territories. Their bold and often ingenious escape attempts have become the stuff of legend, including the famous “Great Escape” from the Stalag Luft III camp in March 1944 and countless outlandish breakouts […]

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The Real Q from James Bond and the Ingenious Inventions

The first James Bond novel, Casino Royale, appeared on bookstore shelves on April 13, 1953. Its author, Ian Fleming, had served in British Naval Intelligence during WWII, and based much of his famous super-spy’s world on his own personal experiences. For example, Bond himself was inspired by Fleming’s own personality and tastes as well as numerous wartime intelligence operatives including […]

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Intentionally Swept Under the Rug- The Forgotten and Extremely Tragic Valcartier Grenade Incident

It was a rainy afternoon in July 1974 when the Royal Canadian Army Cadets of D Company filed into a classroom at Canadian Forces Base Valcartier [“Val-cart-yay”], Quebec. The Cadets, all boys aged 13 to 18, were glad for the chance to sit down and relax, having just undergone a rigorous inspection of their barracks and hours of marching drill […]

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Pulling Teeth and Cutting Colons: the Weird Early 20th Century Obsession With Surgically Removing Perfectly Healthy Body Parts

In today’s world of high-tech medicine, it is easy to take for granted the ease, regularity, and relative safety with which modern surgery is performed. For most of human history surgery was a bloody, painful, and dangerous affair. Without the benefit of antiseptic techniques or anaesthesia, surgeons had to work fast, racing against the clock to amputate a limb or […]

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How WWII Created One of the World’s Most Popular Soft Drinks

Fanta is among of the world’s most popular and beloved soft drinks, being sold in over 188 countries and over 150 flavours, including Lime, Pineapple, Elderflower, Peach-Apricot, Watermelon, Blackcurrant, and – the most popular by far – orange. For over 75 years the brand has dominated the soft drink market in countries like Brazil, Argentina, Germany, Spain, Italy, and Japan, […]

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The Race to Create Working, Practical Personal Jetpacks

In the opening sequence of the 1965’s Thunderball, James Bond, having just dispatched the villainous SPECTRE agent Colonel Jacques Bouvar, flees to the rooftop of Bouvar’s French chateau, dons a futuristic-looking jetpack, and makes his dramatic escape. Given its fantastical, over-the-top nature, this scene was obviously accomplished via the magic of Hollywood special effects, right? Well, no, actually. As incredible […]

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The Secret Cold War Project Behind the Roswell UFO Incident

On July 6, 1947, foreman William Brazel was patrolling the Foster cattle ranch, 50 kilometres outside the town of Roswell, New Mexico, when he noticed some strange debris strewn across the ground. The debris was composed of a strange, silvery metallic substance, parts of which were covered in strings of mysterious symbols resembling Egyptian hieroglyphs. The following day, Brazel contacted […]

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