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

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

Advertisement

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

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

Advertisement

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

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

Hair trimmings from salons and personal donations can be repurposed as mats that soak up oil spills and help protect the environment.

By Patrick J. Kiger

Advertisement

The ghost city of Pripyat in Ukraine is one of the casualties of the Atomic Age and a warning to us all about the dangers of improperly managed nuclear power.

By Patrick J. Kiger

U.S. President Joe Biden accused Vladimir Putin of committing genocide in Ukraine. But who really determines whether a genocide is occurring, and how?

By Patrick J. Kiger

What happens to all of that trash you put on the curb every week? It doesn't just disappear into a parallel universe. Much of it probably goes to the local landfill, and how it gets handled there is a very involved system.

By Craig Freudenrich, Ph.D. & Patrick J. Kiger

A virtual power plant is a network of wind farms, solar parks and home battery systems designed to relieve the energy load on the main power grid. We talked to one expert to find out how.

By Patrick J. Kiger

Advertisement

President Joe Biden announced new regulations surrounding ghost guns. What are these untraceable guns that allow a purchaser to assemble them from parts?

By Patrick J. Kiger

In the early 1930s, Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin's brutal policies starved to death millions of people in Ukraine, helping to fuel Ukrainians' fierce resistance against Putin's Russian invaders today.

By Patrick J. Kiger

Americans tend to think of their Puritan forebears as abstemious killjoys. But the truth is, they drank far more liquor than Americans of today. What other alcohol-related fact bubbles can we burst for you?

By Patrick J. Kiger

Ukraine is seeking foreign volunteers to join the fight against the Russians. But unless you've got military experience and elite skills, you probably should stay home.

By Patrick J. Kiger

Advertisement

The Dakota is most famous as the apartment where former Beatle John Lennon lived and died, but it also played a key role in the evolution of New York City during the Gilded Age.

By Patrick J. Kiger

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has called on NATO to impose a no-fly zone over Ukraine, but so far NATO has refused. Could a no-fly zone bring Putin's invasion to an end? How would it be enforced?

By Patrick J. Kiger

The Stinger missile is a deadly man-portable air-defense system (MANPADS) that can be rapidly deployed by ground troops. It's lightweight, combat-proven and has a greater than 90 percent success rate. So how are Stingers used and against whom?

By Marshall Brain & Patrick J. Kiger

Nine countries hold the 13,000 nuclear weapons in the global stockpile. That's less than during the Cold War but it doesn't change the fact that these bombs are still a threat to global humanity. So how do they work and are we close to nuclear war?

By Craig Freudenrich, Ph.D. & Patrick J. Kiger

Advertisement

Disconnecting Russia from the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT), could cripple its ability to trade with most of the world. Here's how SWIFT works.

By Patrick J. Kiger

European nations just implemented crippling sanctions against Russia for invading Ukraine. But what exactly are sanctions and do they really work as intended?

By Patrick J. Kiger