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Patrick Kiger

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

What Is Planck's Constant, and Why Does the Universe Depend on It?

Planck's constant, which made an appearance in the Netflix series "Stranger Things," is one of the most important differences between reality at the atomic and subatomic level and what we can see around us.

The War of 1812: The White House Burns and 'The Star-Spangled Banner' Is Born

The War of 1812 ended in a stalemate, which enabled the fledgling United States to escape a devastating defeat and grow into a world power.

Why Is the North Star So Stellarly Important?

Polaris, also known as the North Star, is almost exactly over the celestial North Pole, making it extremely useful for navigation (and for making wishes on, as well).

Leonid Meteor Shower: What You Need to Know

The annual Leonid meteor shower is back, and peaks in the early-morning hours of November 18. It's made up of tiny bits of debris from the comet Tempel-Tuttle. Here's how to see it.

Polymer SunBOTs Imitate Sunflowers to Create Maximum Solar Energy

These new devices may be used in the future to absorb more of the sun's energy than today's solar panels are capable of collecting.

The Pythagorean Theorem Makes Construction and GPS Possible

The Pythagorean theorem, which explains how to calculate the longest side of a right-angled triangle, is an ancient mathematical statement that still buttresses modern-day construction, aviation and even how we navigate through traffic.

How the Articles of Confederation Paved the Way for the U.S. Constitution

The first framework for the government of the United States was the Articles of Confederation, written in 1777 and ratified in 1781, which set up a relatively weak central government without federal courts or even the power to levy taxes.

Plate Tectonics Puts Together the Puzzle of Earth's Shifting Crust

The Earth is unique in the solar system because its surface is made of moving plates, which may enable the very existence of life.

The Orionid Meteor Shower Is Back — Here's What You Need to Know

Every autumn, Earth passes through a stream of debris left by Halley's comet, resulting in nighttime meteor showers in mid-October. Best time this year is Oct. 21-22.

How Jack the Ripper Worked

While Londoners on the East End saw their fair share of grime, drugs and prostitution, nothing could've prepared them for Jack the Ripper's bloody rampage in 1888. What's the story behind this legendary killer?

Quarks Are the Building Blocks of All Matter

Protons and neutrons, the particles that form the nuclei of atoms, are themselves made up of even smaller particles known as quarks.

Can Red Flag Laws Help Prevent Mass Killings?

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?

Mathematicians Solve Sum-of-Three-Cubes Problem for the Number 42

Two mathematicians have solved a decades-old math problem by harnessing the power of a virtual supercomputer.

Electric Boats Make Emission-free Sea Travel a Reality

Electric-propelled boats, which are much quieter and more environmentally friendly than gas-powered motorboats, are finally beginning to hit the waves and find their market.

What Happens if Someone Is Murdered in Space?

As far as we know, it has never happened, but a murder in space would most definitely create numerous jurisdictional, legal and investigative complications.

Monsoons Bring Rain and More Rain

Monsoons are a regularly occurring seasonal climate feature in the tropics, where a contrast between land and ocean temperatures causes shifting winds and brings heavy rainfall.

Can a Country Buy Another Country?

Trump's recent inquiry into the possibility of the United States buying Greenland made us wonder if countries can actually buy and sell each other.

Think a Drone Is Spying on You? Here's What to Do

Many people worry that drones will invade their privacy, though experts say the fear is greater than the actual threat.

The History and Symbolism of the U.S. Presidential Seal

You've seen the presidential seal whenever you've heard a U.S. president formally speak, but do you know its history and significance?

Here's the Buzz on Alcohol in Space

While alcohol consumption is not completely alien to the space program, not much is known about its effects on the body outside our atmosphere.

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