Author Archives: Gilles Messier

How a French Political Scandal Created the World’s Greatest Bicycle Race

The Tour de France bicycle race is one of Europe’s most beloved and popular sporting contests. Held every year since 1903 except during the two World Wars, the race pits 20-22 international teams against a gruelling 21-stage course winding through some of the roughest terrain in France and neighbouring countries. A major event on both the European and global sporting […]

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Falling From the Edge of Space: Chuck Yeager’s Wild Ride

First introduced in 1954, the Lockheed F-104 Starfighter looked like something out of science fiction. Designed by legendary aircraft designer Clarence “Kelly” Johnson, mastermind behind the U-2, A-12, and SR-71 spy planes, the F-104 was built around the powerful General Electric J79 jet engine and featured an unusually slender, needle-shaped fuselage and short, stubby wings, earning it the nickname “the […]

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Germany’s Forgotten Genocide That Provided a Blueprint for the Nazis

When we think of Germany and genocide, we typically think of the Holocaust, wherein some 15 million Jews, Roma, homosexuals and others deemed “undesirable” by the Third Reich were systematically exterminated between 1941 and 1945. But policies of mass murder go back much further in German history than many dare admit. For some 30 years before the Nazis came to […]

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How a WWII Famine Helped Solve a 2,000 Year Old Major Medical Mystery

In the winter of 1944-45, the people of the Netherlands teetered on the brink of starvation. As the Allied advance through the south stalled in wake the ill-conceived Operation Market Garden, the Dutch Government in Exile ordered a nationwide railway strike in an attempt to cripple the occupying German Army. In retaliation, the Nazis cut off food shipments to the […]

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Dance Until You Die: The Perverse Depression-Era Fad of Dance Marathons

The “Roaring 20s” were a time of liberation and experimentation in America. In the wake of the First World War and the Spanish Flu pandemic, which collectively killed more than 100 million people worldwide, Americans were eager to break free of the moral and social constraints of the past and experience every pleasure and thrill life had to offer. Women […]

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How Dynamite Gave Us Viagra

It is one of the best-selling drugs in history. Since its introduction in 1998, it has swiftly become the flagship product for pharmaceutical giant Pfizer, ringing in sales of up to $2 billion every year. The United States, Mexico, and Canada spend more than $1.4 billion on it every year, while the U.S. military alone shells out an astonishing $41.6 […]

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Are All Snowflakes Actually Unique?

If you’ve ever spent any amount of time discussing snowflakes with almost literally anyone, you’ve probably at one point or other heard that snowflakes are all unique. But… are they? Like many widely-believed notions such as the “fact” that sugar makes children hyper (it doesn’t at all, though in controlled studies where parents are told their kids have been given […]

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