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

Declassified government documents can change our view of history, and also sometimes contain surprising revelations. Here are six to discover.

By Patrick J. Kiger

In a bizarre experiment during the Cold War, the CIA used prostitutes and bordellos to lure customers only to drug them with LSD. It was all designed to achieve mind control.

By Patrick J. Kiger

It's hard to nail down the oldest city in the world. Some say it's Damascus, Syria, while others suggest it's Jericho, in the West Bank. So which is older?

By Patrick J. Kiger

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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

Spiders have been on Earth a whole lot longer than we have — 380 million years, to be precise — and number more than 38,000 separate species worldwide. See 10 of the most beautiful and scary of these arachnids.

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

Spite is not just for kids with broken toys. Many adults have gone to unbelievable lengths to pay back someone who did 'em wrong. Here are 10 classic examples.

By Patrick J. Kiger

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That tube you put your check or deposit slip in at the bank drive-up window is called a pneumatic tube. This was cutting edge 19th-century technology and is still in use today.

By Patrick J. Kiger

Hand sanitizers can only get you so far in preventing a viral infection. Scientists are discovering how visible light can be used to destroy viruses. Learn about the laser technique and what it means for the future.

By Jacob Silverman & Patrick J. Kiger

How, in today's world, could a cave this massive go undetected for so long?

By Patrick J. Kiger

Ever sat on an airplane and wondered how your laptop works at 30,000 feet?

By Patrick J. Kiger

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A very strong storm doesn't automatically mean death or destruction. You can improve the odds of surviving intact with reinforcements to your home. Plus, scientists are improving their forecast methods. Let's look at high-tech and low-tech storm alerts.

By Patrick J. Kiger

It's sometimes easy to confuse the two, but weather and climate are very different things.

By Patrick J. Kiger

In the future, as we send space probes and manned missions to explore the solar system and possibly colonize other worlds, there's a major problem that we'll have to overcome -- keeping in touch with them.

By Patrick J. Kiger

"Stop, what's that sound?" Doesn't it creep you out when you don't know? There are lots of sounds out there that baffle even scientists.

By Patrick J. Kiger

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The Manhattan Project built the city of Oak Ridge in rural Tennessee, where secret facilities produced uranium-235 for the atomic bomb.

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

The search team used a radar-equipped drone to locate a P-38 from the so-called "Lost Squadron" that crash-landed in Greenland in 1942. But the story doesn't end there.

By Patrick J. Kiger

Smartphone cameras enable us to take striking pictures of strange atmospheric phenomena—though we don’t always know what we’re seeing.

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

Outer planets in our solar system have atmospheres made up of flammable chemicals that can cause explosions on Earth. Could a rocketship, or electric spark, ignite them?

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

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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Although it doesn't happen often, large passenger jets crash for many reasons, from mechanical failure to pilot error.

By Patrick J. Kiger

Predicting turbulence isn't an exact science, but airline pilots use a variety of tools both high-tech and low before asking you to buckle up.

By Patrick J. Kiger