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

Whiteout Warning! Why Snow Squalls Can Be So Deadly

These intense snowstorms can come out of nowhere. They may not last long, but their rapid snowfall and whipping winds can make them disastrous.

The Black Mouth Cur: The Sensitive but Strong Hunting Dog

The black mouth cur may look like a basic dog, but it's actually powerful, protective and sensitive. We'll tell you everything about them, including tips on training and how big they get.

How the Necco Wafer Has Lasted This Long

These colorful, chalk-like wafers hit the market in 1847. But they certainly aren't the most flavorful of treats. So why are they the classic candy we love to hate?

Is Parler the Twitter Alternative for 'Free Speech'?

Membership on the social media app Parler exploded just after the Nov. 3 general election was called for President-elect Joe Biden. But why? And how does Parler work?

How 'America's Poet' Walt Whitman Can Both Appeal and Appall

Walt Whitman's collection of poetry, "Leaves of Grass," is considered a landmark of American literature. But the man himself — and his lasting legacy — is much more complicated.

Two COVID-19 mRNA Vaccines Are Gamechangers

While the coronavirus still rages across the globe, Moderna and Pfizer both have achieved more than 90 percent efficacy in their mRNA COVID-19 vaccine trials. Does this mean an end to the pandemic is in sight?

The Mexican-American War Is the Bloodiest Foreign War the U.S. Has Fought

This war fought between the U.S. and its neighbor to the south is one of the bloodiest in America's history. So why is it so often forgotten?

Did Nikita Khrushchev Really Bang His Shoe in Defiance at the U.N.?

Ask many what they remember about the man who succeeded Stalin and ruled the Soviet Union for a decade, and they'll tell you it's the shoe.

The Scoville Scale: How Hot Is That Pepper?

Is that pepper too hot to handle? See where it falls on the Scoville scale.

Tecumseh: The Driving Force Behind the Native American Confederacy

Some consider Shawnee leader Tecumseh to be one of the most remarkable Native Americans in history. He stood not just for the Shawnee. He stood for all Native Americans.

How a Frisky Feline Made Aviation History

Kiddo was his name and not only was he the first cat to attempt to cross the Atlantic in an airship, but he also did it as a stowaway.

Free Land: How the Homestead Act Helped America Expand Westward

President Abraham Lincoln signed into law that any person in the U.S. could have free land — 160 acres in fact. But there was a catch.

Sundown Towns: 'Hiding' Racism Right in the Open

These towns, with all-white populations, may not be as blatant about their racism as they once were. But they're still here and being forced to face their ugly truth.

How Do Originalists Interpret the U.S. Constitution?

Judge Amy Coney Barrett says her judicial philosophy is originalism, following in the footsteps of her mentor, Justice Antonin Scalia. What does that even mean?

Why Is Populism So Popular Again?

Populism is a political philosophy that divides society by splitting it into two opposing factions: the people and the elite. So who benefits from that?

How the Truman Doctrine Changed American Foreign Policy Forever

The Truman Doctrine was an American foreign policy created to counter Soviet geopolitical expansion. But some consider it as the official beginning of the Cold War.

How Vladimir Lenin Took Russia From Romanov Rule to Communist U.S.S.R.

In a quest to build a socialist country that morphed into a communist society, Vladamir Lenin and the Bolsheviks executed and imprisoned hundreds of thousands, and starved millions more.

Who Decides Which Americans Lie in State?

Lying in state beneath the U.S. Capitol Rotunda is an honor that has been bestowed on only a few people. Who decides which Americans are so honored?

Explorer Daniel Boone Blazed a Trail to the American West

Forget the coonskin cap. Daniel Boone didn't wear one. But he did inspire a TV show, live with (and fight) Indians and help establish Kentucky as the 14th colony.

How (and Why) Hurricanes Get Their Names

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