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

Cinderella was the only girl who could fit into the glass slipper, right? But did you know her two stepsisters cut off parts of their feet to try to fit it? That's just one gory detail Disney left out.

By Patrick J. Kiger

The Republic of Nirivia, an imaginary micronation comprising a group of islands in Lake Superior, was founded in the mid-1970s mostly in jest, by a small group of Canadians who wanted to see a pristine natural area preserved.

By Patrick J. Kiger

Many airlines around the world put planes in hibernation during the pandemic because of reduced demand for air travel. What does it take to wake them up?

By Patrick J. Kiger

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Those irregular black tar drizzles that seem to scar the surfaces of roads aren't the result of haphazard work by a paving crew.

By Patrick J. Kiger

Early dark energy, a form of dark energy that may have existed a few hundred thousand years after the big bang, could help clarify the universe's rate of expansion. But its existence hasn't been proven.

By Patrick J. Kiger

Transcendentalism was a 19th century philosophical movement with adherents like Thoreau, Emerson and Fuller, based on principles of freedom, feminism, abolition and the idea that people had divine truth within them.

By Patrick J. Kiger

Though treason is the only crime mentioned in the U.S. Constitution, few know what the word actually means and fewer still have ever been indicted for it.

By Patrick J. Kiger

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The 2,300 officers and staffers of the U.S. Capitol Police are charged with keeping order in and around the U.S. Capitol, safeguarding Congress and, yes, defending democracy.

By Patrick J. Kiger

Dogecoin started out as a spoof, but is now an actual cryptocurrency with tens of billions of dollars in value. So, should you invest in it?

By Patrick J. Kiger

Spaghetti models plot the potential tracks of tropical storms and hurricanes from different meteorological organizations onto one map. The resulting visual helps project how likely the forecast track will be.

By Patrick J. Kiger

The number 137, which is significant in multiple applications, has long been an object of fascination for physicists, mathematicians and mystics.

By Patrick J. Kiger

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Scientists have observed flashes of X-rays coming from behind a supermassive black hole, consistent with Albert Einstein's prediction that extremely large objects can bend light.

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

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

Almost every country in the world has some dish involving meat cooked over the fire. In the U.S., it's called barbecue. Come with us on a mouthwatering-journey through the history, politics and techniques of barbecue.

By Patrick J. Kiger

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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

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

Dry cleaning is a way to clean clothes without using water, but do your clothes really stay dry after you hand them to the dry cleaner?

By Patrick J. Kiger

Are there alternatives to the winner-take-all voting system? Ranked-choice voting is one, which supporters say would elect more centrist candidates. But critics worry about the downsides.

By Patrick J. Kiger

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Numerous high-profile mass killings across the U.S. have made the debate over gun control even more heated. With so many studies and arguments out there, we inject some impartial facts in the gun control debate.

By Patrick J. Kiger

Want to know what happens to your clothes after you give them to the dry cleaner? Do they actually stay dry? Take a behind-the-scenes look at the dry-cleaning process.

By Debra Luhring, Nate Marks & 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

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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

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