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, Fast Company and AARP 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

NASA's DART spacecraft has finally reached its asteroid target and will intentionally crash into Dimorphos Monday, Sept. 26. Here's what NASA hopes to learn about protecting Earth from killer asteroids.

By Patrick J. Kiger

The Nizari Ismaili were some of the most feared assassins in the turbulent medieval Middle East. They used secret techniques to survive against enemies with bigger armies. That is until they finally met their match.

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

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The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to hear a case that could give state legislators almost complete control over federal elections, which some experts fear could establish one-party rule and endanger democracy.

By Patrick J. Kiger

Maillardet's Automaton, built around 1800, can write poems and draw pictures and was a precursor to today's sophisticated robots.

By Patrick J. Kiger

William McKinley was a popular and very successful president who also was assassinated. Why isn't the 25th president better known?

By Patrick J. Kiger

The U.S. Justice Department had to release a redacted affidavit related to the FBI's search of former President Donald Trump's Florida estate. How does the redaction process work?

By Patrick J. Kiger

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Amazon began disrupting logistics when it first formed in 1994 — and it's not stopping now. How does it and other e-commerce retailers get stuff to you so fast?

By Patrick J. Kiger

In 1999, a worker at a Japanese nuclear fuel plant was exposed to critical levels of radiation. He's still thought to have suffered the worst radiation burns in history. He lived for 83 agonizing days afterward as his body all but disintegrated.

By Patrick J. Kiger

Students at the actual TOPGUN school aren't as cocky as the characters in the movies, but the fictional version gets a lot of other things right.

By Patrick J. Kiger

The concept of revenge predates legal history; you could even say that it's part of who we are as humans. But sometimes the need for vengeance can kick into overdrive – as in these 12 infamous acts of revenge.

By Josh Clark & Patrick J. Kiger

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Yes, we have some amazing inventions thanks to space exploration, and we're curious about life on other planets. But the cosmos also touches a deeper part of our psyches. Here are 10 reasons space exploration matters to you.

By Patrick J. Kiger

An organization called Pull to Refresh hopes to use seaweed to remove and store atmospheric carbon to stave off climate change. Here's how this cool idea works.

By Patrick J. Kiger

If the colonists hadn't eked out a victory against the mighty British Empire, what would have been their fate? Would leaders like George Washington and Thomas Jefferson have been executed?

By Patrick J. Kiger

The Poles of Inaccessibility are the locations on Earth that are the farthest away from either water or land and are the most remote spots in the world.

By Patrick J. Kiger

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Why is the sky blue? What's relativity all about? If you're thinking, "something to do with light and physics and stuff," we have some short explanations for you.

By Patrick J. Kiger

You've heard the stat. You're more likely to be struck by lightning than be attacked by a shark. Still, wouldn't it be nice to know that your next aquatic destination doesn't fall on this list?

By Molly Edmonds & Patrick J. Kiger

Drinking fountains have faced a challenge from bottled water, but they seem to be making a comeback. By the way, we throw away over 60 million PET water bottles every day in the U.S. alone.

By Patrick J. Kiger

While the U.S. is in full support of investigating Vladimir Putin's war crimes in Ukraine, it's long opposed the International Criminal Court at The Hague. But why?

By Patrick J. Kiger

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Red flag laws allow police to seize the firearms of a person who is viewed as a potential threat to commit a violent act, without charging them with a crime. But how often do they prevent mass killings?

By Patrick J. Kiger

Ask a card-carrying member of the NRA and you'll get one answer. Ask a member of Everytown for Gun Safety and you'll get another. We look at the research that underlies this controversial topic.

By Patrick J. Kiger & Nicholas Gerbis

Sharks have a bad reputation, but is it warranted? Maybe for these 10, which are considered the most dangerous of all.

By Molly Edmonds & Patrick J. Kiger

H.R. 8, which passed the House last year, would eliminate private gun sale loopholes and require nearly universal background checks. But it faces difficult odds of passage in the Senate.

By Patrick J. Kiger

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Smart traffic lights monitor traffic and continuously adjust their timing to improve flow, and can even help disabled or elderly pedestrians navigate crosswalks. Could they be a solution to the problems of traffic stress and road rage?

By Patrick J. Kiger

The exhibit "Gordon Parks in Pittsburgh, 1944/1946," on display at the Carnegie Museum of Art, tells the gritty story of industrial life in America during WWII, shot by one of the preeminent photographers of the 20th century.

By Patrick J. Kiger