Jane McGrath

HowStuffWorks

Jane McGrath has written over 200 articles for HowStuffWorks on topics ranging from Besty Ross to the 10 biggest lies in history to Stonehenge. She holds a B.A. in English Language and Literature from the University of Maryland.

Recent Contributions

If you've ever walked the New York City streets in July, you've experienced the misery of this phenomenon. Why do cities heat up like furnaces while surrounding rural areas remain cooler?

By Jane McGrath

He was born exactly 300 years after Galileo died. He never won a Nobel Prize, although he was awarded a guest spot on “The Simpsons.” What else do you know (or not know) about this acclaimed physicist?

By Jane McGrath

It's hard to look up in the sky on a clear day and not see a "cloud" trailing from an airplane. They're called contrails, though some refer to them as "chemtrails" and have odd explanations for their existence.

By Jane McGrath & John Perritano

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People with schizophrenia can experience delusions, hallucinations and paranoia. But they don't have to suffer social isolation. Find out what successful treatments can help people with the disorder.

By Jane McGrath

We see buildings pop up and get torn down all the time, but some structures (and the architects who designed them) were built to last. These 16 are some of the most famous.

By Jane McGrath & Carrie Whitney, Ph.D.

You've prudently pinched pennies to build your nest egg. But with the recent failures of First Republic and Silicon Valley banks, should you worry about losing your money if your bank goes bust?

By Jane McGrath & Kathryn Whitbourne

Maybe you've heard about drinking the Kool-Aid or listening to The Family Jams — but what do you really know about some of the world's most infamous cults?

By Alia Hoyt & Jane McGrath

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Wouldn't it be great if you never had to pay for dry cleaning again? A steam dryer could make that wish a reality for you. And its washer companion could cleanse mildew, cat dander and other allergens out of your clothes.

By Jane McGrath

Are multipurpose plastic bags or those throwback brown paper bags more environmentally friendly? That question could leave you speechless on your next trip to the grocery store.

By Jane McGrath

Subprime mortgages allow people with a weak or limited credit history to purchase a house. Some people say that subprime lenders prey on minorities, while others claim that subprime lending is why the housing bubble has burst.

By Charles W. Bryant & Jane McGrath

Classic American lore would have us believe that Betsy Ross made the first U.S. flag, but some historians dismiss this as just a tale. So, who's right? If not Betsy, then who made the first flag?

By Jane McGrath & Kathryn Whitbourne

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June 6, 2022, marks the 78th anniversary of what some call one of the gutsiest battles in WWII history: D-Day, aka the Invasion of Normandy.

By Jane McGrath & Sarah Gleim

How do you slow down a fire? These six building materials are particularly resistant to fire and intense heat, reducing the possibility of fatalities.

By Jane McGrath & Talon Homer

You don't look fat in those pants. I am not a crook. I never met her. Lots of us lie, but some lies are more detrimental than others. What are some of the biggest whoppers ever told?

By Alia Hoyt & Jane McGrath

The Victorians were many things, but simple and straightforward in their social dealings they were not. While their rules for behavior might strike us as overly rigid today, those rules formed the backbone of Victorian society.

By Jane McGrath

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Leave your house for five minutes or eight hours and your dog will probably have the same wiggly response to your return. Do dogs sense the passing of time?

By Jane McGrath

Music effects like Auto-Tune may have taken over the airwaves, but the talk box was one of the first devices to make musicians sound like robots. Do you feel like we do?

By Jane McGrath

Whether you call it an estate tax or a death tax likely depends on your point of view: Is it a tax that benefits society or penalizes the wealthy? Whatever your opinion, learn more about the evolution of this controversial tax.

By Jane McGrath

Despite assumptions to the contrary, members of the clergy don't have it easy when it comes to taxes. So what are the complex ins and outs of getting taxed as a religious leader?

By Jane McGrath

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Have you ever heard a brand new song on the radio and realized that it sounds familiar? Chances are the producers sampled a drum break or a bass line from a classic song, reworking it into a completely new piece.

By Jane McGrath

The droopy-faced bloodhound. The prancing poodle. The small Maltese you could easily mistake for a mop. How can these impossibly different dogs compete for the same prize?

By Jane McGrath

Domesticated animals provide us with innumerable products, hours of labor and even loving companionship. Find out why the dog was so easily domesticated and why you'll never see someone riding a zebra.

By Jane McGrath

Many of the world's people regard the Bible as a sacred text that's integral to their daily lives. So what inspired a U.S. president to cut up a Bible and take out sections he disapproved of?

By Jane McGrath

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Flat tax. FairTax. Bumper stickers and blogs tout them as solutions to income tax rates. But how could these plans change the way Americans are taxed on the money they earn?

By Jane McGrath

Americans didn't always pay income taxes. When did that start and what was behind the creation of the IRS?

By Dave Roos & Jane McGrath