Author Archives: Gilles Messier

The Curious Case of the People With Split Brains

In late 1961, Drs. Philip Vogel and Joseph Bogen, neurosurgeons at the California College of Medicine in Los Angeles, were preparing to carry out a radical new procedure. The patients under their care suffered from severe epilepsy, which despite their doctors’ best efforts had resisted all attempts at conventional treatment.  One such patient, a 48-year-old former paratrooper identified in medical […]

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Force Z and the Death of the Battleship

On April 6, 1945, the Imperial Japan launched Operation Ten-Go, a desperate last-ditch naval attack against the Allied fleet supporting the invasion of Okinawa. Supported by the light cruiser Yahagi and eight destroyers, the charge was led by the pride of the Imperial Japanese Navy, the mighty battleship Yamato. A quarter-kilometre long, displacing 65,000 tons, and armed with no fewer […]

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Tesla, Hollywood, and Inventing the Drone

Drones. Whether raining down death and destruction on the battlefield, capturing sweet snowboarding and mountain bike moves for YouTube, helping farmers inspect their fields, or driving aviation authorities mad by wandering into controlled airspace, drones seem to be just about everywhere these days. Using the latest in remote control and automatic guidance technology, drones – more properly known as Unmanned […]

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A Legal Clusterf$$k- Murder on Ice

It was July 16, 1970, and Mario Escamilla was furious. The 33-year-old native of Santa Barbara, California, had just learned that a coworker, Donald “Porky” Leavitt, had broken into his trailer and stolen his most prized possession: a 15-gallon jug of homemade raisin wine. Determined to put an end to such theft, Escamilla grabbed a rifle and stormed off to […]

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What’s Up With the Very Real ‘Doomsday Clock’?

On January 23, 2020, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, a non-profit research and education organization based in Chicago, moved the hands on its Doomsday Clock forward to 100 seconds to midnight – the closest in its 74-year history. According the Bulletin, this change reflects the growing threat posed by climate change, nuclear proliferation, and misinformation, and the increasing unwillingness […]

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Has Anyone Ever Fired a Gun in Space, Space Cannons, and the Guns Designed for Astronauts?

Space: the final frontier – or, if science fiction is to be believed – the final battlefield. In the land of sci-fi, no self-respecting Starfleet officer on an away mission or scruffy-looking nerf-herding smuggler would dare leave their spacecraft without a trusty phaser or blaster at their side. Even in universes where directed-energy weapons have not yet been invented – […]

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Death by Blue Peacock Britain’s Bizarre and Deadly Cold War “Rainbow Codes”

In the world of modern weaponry, a good name can go a long way when it comes to the intimidation factor. Names like “Hellfire”, “Sidewinder”, “Stinger”, and “Javelin” convey menace and devastating firepower, making it abundantly clear that you wouldn’t want to be on the receiving end of these weapons. But what if you were confronted by a weapon named […]

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The Tragic Saga of the Real Life Amazing “LEGO Rocket”

Space travel is a pricey business. Even today, the average cost of launching a satellite or other payload into orbit hovers around $10,000 per kilogram. Much of this cost stems from the great complexity of space launch vehicles, which require a great deal of time, money, skilled personnel, and other resources to design, test, and launch. Further complicating matters, different […]

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The Obscenely Successful Obsolete Sailing Ship and Its Daring Captain Who Terrorized the High Seas During WWI

The Great War of 1914-1918 is often remembered as one of the first truly modern, fully-industrialized conflicts, with many now-ubiquitous military technologies such as the aeroplane, the submarine, the tank, and poison gas making their combat debut on its battlefields. But the Great War was also a time of transition, with many older technologies and tactics like cavalry serving alongside […]

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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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