John Donovan

Contributing Writer

John is a freelance writer based in the suburbs of Atlanta. A longtime sports scribe with too much time covering college sports, the NFL, the NBA and Major League Baseball, he now writes on science, health, history, current events and whatever other weird non-sports stories that he and the editors at HowStuffWorks dream up. He has a journalism degree from Arizona State, a wife, a son, a dog that sheds too much and a bad case of eyestrain.

Recent Contributions

20 Memorable Moments of the 21st Century So Far

The world has come a long way since we were prepping for Y2K to potentially crash computers and the economy as we know it. We've witnessed some major moments since then. Here are 20 of the biggest.

How Manifest Destiny Stretched the U.S. From Sea to Shining Sea

The early American philosophy known as Manifest Destiny was a doctrine that espoused that God wanted Americans to take over the continent.

What We Learned From the Deadliest Nightclub Fire in U.S. History

Hundreds were killed in the infamous 1942 Cocoanut Grove fire in Boston. But from the tragedy came advancements in everything from building codes and medical treatments that are still in place today worldwide.

The Newton Boys Were the Baddest Bank Robbers You've Never Heard Of

This band of brothers wreaked havoc on banks and trains throughout the Midwest. One heist netted them $3 million in cash and remains the largest train robbery in U.S. history.

What Are Santa Ana Winds?

These annual winds blow during Southern California's dangerous dry season, whipping up wildfires that can ravage thousands of acres.

How Close Are We to Creating a Universal Blood Type?

Blood transfusions are required in the U.S. every two seconds. That's why the research from the Withers Lab, which converted Type A blood to universal donor blood using bacteria, is so groundbreaking.

How Wild Bill Hickok Became an American Legend

Wild Bill Hickok personified the archetype of the gentleman gunfighter in the history of the American West.

How Jim Crow Shaped America

Jim Crow was about much more than laws enacted to suppress blacks. It was about a system involving politics, economics, social and cultural practices. And while the laws may be dead, Jim Crow is not.

The O.K. Corral: The Gunfight of All Gunfights

This infamous gun battle in Tombstone, Arizona lasted just 30 seconds. But its legend, and America's obsession, has endured for more than a decade.

Who Were the Mighty Fighting Buffalo Soldiers?

The African American servicemen known as "Buffalo Soldiers" are the subjects of both history and legend, but what is truth and what is lore?

The Bizarre, Brazen Life of Cultist Aleister Crowley

The late Aleister Crowley liked being known as the "wickedest man in the world." But today he's most remembered as a brash cultist who was the father of a strange religion.

How Young Is Too Young to Be Arrested?

There's a huge police presence in the U.S. school systems today. But has that presence allowed educators to push off their management of school misconduct to the cops?

How (and Why) Hurricanes Get Their Names

You probably recognize these right off the bat: Andrew, Katrina, Sandy and now Dorian. But when and why did we start giving hurricanes names?

'Climate Kids' Sue U.S. Over Future of the Environment

A group of 21 U.S. kids are taking the government to court for failing to address the climate crisis. Can they possibly win?

How Atlanta Became the World's Busiest Airport, Again

Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport was just named world's busiest airport for the 21st time. So how has a city in the Deep South reigned king for decades?

Disney Is Diving Into the Streaming Wars

Disney+ launches in early November and will give Netflix and other streaming companies a run for their money.

Freud and Oedipus: Does Either Still Matter?

Many of Sigmund Freud's well-known theories have been discredited by modern psychiatry. Does that include the Oedipus complex?

Anne Frank's Diary Is Still Spilling Its Secrets

Since "The Secret Annex" was first published in 1947, scholars have dissected every page and entry of Anne Frank's diary to put Anne and her work into a proper perspective. In doing so, a new image of Anne slowly has emerged.

The Secrets and Science Behind Starling Murmurations

Starlings are short and thick, with dark feathers and long, pointy bills. Collectively, however, they transform into something else entirely.

George P. Burdell: The Georgia Tech Student Who Never Existed

George P. Burdell has registered for classes, signed petitions and even lettered in football and basketball, but on the campus of Georgia Tech in Atlanta, he is the man who never was.