Patrick J. Kiger has written for HowStuffWorks since 2008 covering a wide array of topics, from history and politics to pop culture and technology. He worked as a newspaper reporter for the Pittsburgh Press, and the Orange County Register in California, where he covered one of the biggest serial murder cases in U.S. history, and also as a staff writer at Baltimore Magazine. As a freelancer, Patrick has written for print publications such as GQ, Mother Jones and the Los Angeles Times, and on the web for National Geographic Channel, Discovery News, Science Channel and Fast Company, among others. In recent years, he's become increasingly interested in how technological advances are altering urban life and the design of cities, and has written extensively on that subject for Urban Land magazine. In his spare time, Patrick is a longtime martial arts student and a fan of crime fiction, punk rock and classic Hollywood films.

Recent Contributions

The lava-like material that formed after the Chernobyl nuclear disaster is a deadly example of corium, a hazardous material created only after core meltdowns. Five minutes next to it can kill a human.

By Patrick J. Kiger

The Senate just crossed a hurdle to get a bipartisan infrastructure bill signed. It could pay for new roads, bridges and other installations that a country needs to function. But why is infrastructure so notoriously hard to fund in America anyway?

By Patrick J. Kiger

First discovered in the late 1930s, muons are passing through you and everything around you at a speed close to light, as cosmic rays strike particles in our planet's atmosphere. So what are muons and how are they informing the new physics?

By Patrick J. Kiger

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The Chinese space station Tiangong, now with its first crew of astronauts, is scheduled for completion in 2022. What does that mean for the future of the aging International Space Station and multinational space cooperation?

By Patrick J. Kiger

Modern civilization is increasingly dependent upon semiconductors, but the supply chain has been disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic, droughts and other problems just as demand is surging.

By Patrick J. Kiger

An imaginary number is a value that's the square root of a negative number. It can't exist on a one-dimensional number line. We'll explain.

By Patrick J. Kiger

Technology for hearing aids has advanced drastically since our grandparents wore those big, bulky ones wrapped around their ears. Now they're Bluetooth-enabled and can even translate foreign languages on the fly.

By Patrick J. Kiger

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Critics warn that cryptocurrency networks, whose computers use enormous amounts of electricity to verify transactions, could be a factor in warming the planet. The industry is working to change that.

By Patrick J. Kiger

President Biden wants to increase taxes on capital gains for the wealthiest Americans to help pay for some of his economic programs. But what are capital gains and how might this affect you?

By Patrick J. Kiger

Purdue University researchers have developed an ultra-white paint that reflects more than 98 percent of sunlight and could reduce the need for energy-consuming air conditioning.

By Patrick J. Kiger

Crumpling is a physical process that occurs when a thin sheet is forced to adapt to a smaller space and is seen in everything from DNA packing in a cell nucleus to the formation of mountains.

By Patrick J. Kiger

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Non-fungible tokens, or NFTs, are a way to turn digital art into an asset that can be stored in a blockchain ledger. They could revolutionize the art business. Still confused? Enter the brave new world of NFTs.

By Patrick J. Kiger

Rational numbers can be expressed as the ratio of two integers, while irrational numbers, such as square roots, cannot. So, why does the difference matter?

By Patrick J. Kiger

Only 25 percent of glass containers used by U.S. consumers were recycled in 2018, the most recent year for statistics. So, why aren't Americans doing better?

By Patrick J. Kiger

You may remember from math class that a prime number is a number that can only be divided by 1 and itself. But why are they important anyway?

By Patrick J. Kiger

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What's the real reason you can't make a phone call during a flight? Is there really any interference between the aircraft equipment and your cellphone signal?

By Patrick J. Kiger

According to an 1885 pamphlet, a man named Thomas J. Beale buried a treasure somewhere in Virginia, and left behind what appeared to be coded messages about its location. But was it all just a hoax?

By Patrick J. Kiger

Since the mid-1970s, vice presidents have had use of a mansion on the grounds of the U.S. Naval Observatory, a short distance from the White House.

By Patrick J. Kiger

When choosing an antivirus program for your computer or other electronic devices, there's no one-size-fits-all solution, but here are five things you need to consider.

By Patrick J. Kiger

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Though a highly publicized 1989 cold fusion breakthrough was subsequently discredited, research is still being conducted in hopes of future success.

By Patrick J. Kiger