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

When you buy most fruits and vegetables in a supermarket, you might see that they're individually tagged with a sticker and a bar code. There's a lot of information in that four-digit code!

By Patrick J. Kiger

What do the numbers on a Social Security card mean? Are they random? And how easy is it for someone to steal your identity using your Social Security number?

By Patrick J. Kiger

Stanford researchers emulated the feet and legs of a peregrine falcon to enable a flying robot to land and perch on various surfaces, which could have lasting implications for future drone design and use.

By Patrick J. Kiger

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Let's take a break from pledging to lose weight and save more money and try some interesting and creative promises. Here are 10 suggestions.

By Patrick J. Kiger

There may be no greater tribute to a society's ingenuity and vision than the Great Pyramid of Giza in Egypt. What other cool stuff did the ancient Egyptians invent?

By Jonathan Atteberry & Patrick J. Kiger

NASA's DART mission will test a technology that someday could protect the Earth from a killer asteroid.

By Patrick J. Kiger

Was Anna Anderson really Anastasia Romanov? Does the Bermuda Triangle really exist? Wonder no more: We have the answers to these and other formerly unsolved mysteries.

By Patrick J. Kiger

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The Global Peace Index ranks 172 independent states and territories according to their levels of peacefulness. Those that came in last may — or may not — surprise you.

By Patrick J. Kiger

Columnist and investigative reporter Dorothy Kilgallen covered numerous big stories from the 1940s through the 1960s. But her death by overdose in 1965 while investigating the John F. Kennedy assassination remains a subject of controversy.

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

We are a species of bridge builders. Since time began, humans have engineered structures to vault over obstacles with the help of logs, stone, steel and, of course, ingenuity. So, what keeps our bridges steadfast and strong?

By Robert Lamb, Michael Morrissey & Patrick J. Kiger

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Cinderella was the only girl who could fit into the glass slipper, right? But did you know her two stepsisters cut off parts of their feet to try to fit it? That's just one gory detail Disney left out.

By Patrick J. Kiger

The Republic of Nirivia, an imaginary micronation comprising a group of islands in Lake Superior, was founded in the mid-1970s mostly in jest, by a small group of Canadians who wanted to see a pristine natural area preserved.

By Patrick J. Kiger

Many airlines around the world put planes in hibernation during the pandemic because of reduced demand for air travel. What does it take to wake them up?

By Patrick J. Kiger

Those irregular black tar drizzles that seem to scar the surfaces of roads aren't the result of haphazard work by a paving crew.

By Patrick J. Kiger

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Early dark energy, a form of dark energy that may have existed a few hundred thousand years after the big bang, could help clarify the universe's rate of expansion. But its existence hasn't been proven.

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

Though treason is the only crime mentioned in the U.S. Constitution, few know what the word actually means and fewer still have ever been indicted for it.

By Patrick J. Kiger

The 2,300 officers and staffers of the U.S. Capitol Police are charged with keeping order in and around the U.S. Capitol, safeguarding Congress and, yes, defending democracy.

By Patrick J. Kiger

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Dogecoin started out as a spoof, but is now an actual cryptocurrency with tens of billions of dollars in value. So, should you invest in it?

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

The number 137, which is significant in multiple applications, has long been an object of fascination for physicists, mathematicians and mystics.

By Patrick J. Kiger

Scientists have observed flashes of X-rays coming from behind a supermassive black hole, consistent with Albert Einstein's prediction that extremely large objects can bend light.

By Patrick J. Kiger

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The Senate just crossed a hurdle to get a bipartisan infrastructure bill signed. It could pay for new roads, bridges and other installations that a country needs to function. But why is infrastructure so notoriously hard to fund in America anyway?

By Patrick J. Kiger

The lava-like material that formed after the Chernobyl nuclear disaster is a deadly example of corium, a hazardous material created only after core meltdowns. Five minutes next to it can kill a human.

By Patrick J. Kiger