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

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

Until recently, Arecibo had the biggest radio telescope in the world, and its ability to detect distant signals made it a very powerful tool for studying the universe. It even starred in two movies.

By Patrick J. Kiger

Galileo Galilei made huge discoveries in physics and astronomy, helping to establish the modern scientific method of experiments and mathematics. Along the way, he fought for intellectual freedom and became the first celebrity scientist.

By Patrick J. Kiger

In 1961, the Soviet Union detonated the biggest, most powerful nuclear bomb ever built. One of the cameramen who recorded the event said it sounded "as if the Earth has been killed."

By Patrick J. Kiger

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The 1883 Krakatoa eruption was gigantic and deadly, but the advent of modern communications and mass media helped to make it one of the earliest and best-known modern natural catastrophes.

By Patrick J. Kiger

Lots of things contributed to Napoleon's loss at Waterloo — including bad weather, superior British defense tactics and perhaps a bad case of hemorrhoids.

By Patrick J. Kiger

The annual Leonid meteor shower is back, and peaks in the early-morning hours of November 17. It's made up of tiny bits of debris from the comet Tempel-Tuttle. Here's how to see it.

By Patrick J. Kiger

A distant asteroid made mostly of iron is potentially worth $10,000 quadrillion, making it many times more valuable than the global economy.

By Patrick J. Kiger

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First developed in the 1920s, Geiger counters still use the same basic technology to detect radiation, but today can be the size of a smartphone.

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

The Department of Justice claims to be the world's biggest law office, but it does everything from operating prisons to conducting counterespionage operations.

By Patrick J. Kiger

Every autumn, Earth passes through a stream of debris left by Halley's comet, resulting in nighttime meteor showers in mid-October. The best time this year is Oct. 21.

By Patrick J. Kiger

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Revolutionary War turncoat Benedict Arnold is one of the most reviled figures in American history. But what did he do to deserve this ignominious fate?

By Patrick J. Kiger

Lincoln assassin John Wilkes Booth takes the blame in the history books, but he was part of a larger cast of characters that hoped to decapitate the Union government after the South lost the Civil War.

By Patrick J. Kiger

In 1978, hundreds of followers of Reverend Jim Jones of the Peoples Temple died in Guyana, after being either coerced into suicide by their charismatic leader or actually murdered.

By Patrick J. Kiger

Voice of America, the U.S. government-controlled media network, has long had a reputation for being a source of unbiased news in contrast to the government-controlled media in countries it reaches. But will that continue?

By Patrick J. Kiger

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The Perseverance rover will explore Mars' Jezero Crater, gathering rock samples which may prove that life once existed on the red planet.

By Patrick J. Kiger