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

Without a doubt, plastic is useful. It's also everywhere — filling up landfills and recycling bins. These 10 twists on the common polymer are trying to change that reality.

By Maria Trimarchi, Patrick J. Kiger & Vicki M. Giuggio

You may remember from math class that a prime number is a number that can only be divided by 1 and itself. But why are they important anyway?

By Patrick J. Kiger

As far back as 1500 B.C.E., people were trying to purify water to make it drinkable. And we're still at it. Today inventors use tools as simple as clay and as sophisticated as carbon nanotubes to bring clean water to the world.

By Patrick J. Kiger

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Helium is the second lightest element on the Periodic Table. How is helium created?

By Patrick J. Kiger

Fear of flying? Here are 13 airports where location, terrain, weather and design limitations make takeoff and landing a challenge for pilots and a nail-biter for passengers.

By Patrick J. Kiger

There's nothing worse than having your AC go on the fritz in the middle of summer. And one of the biggest reasons for air conditioning failure can be easily prevented.

By Patrick J. Kiger

An imaginary number is a value that's the square root of a negative number. It can't exist on a one-dimensional number line. We'll explain.

By Patrick J. Kiger & Austin Henderson

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Rational numbers can be expressed as the ratio of two integers, while irrational numbers, such as square roots of non-square numbers, cannot.

By Patrick J. Kiger & Austin Henderson

Underwater icicles, also called brinicles or sea stalactites, form when super-cold brine meets normal seawater. The sub-zero phenomenon can kill some sea life.

By Patrick J. Kiger

AI already can outperform humans in some narrow domains, but in the future AI may go inside the human brain to enhance intellectual capabilities, turning users into human-machine hybrids.

By Patrick J. Kiger

Discover the origins of the continental drift theory and how scientists explain these geologic phenomena.

By Patrick J. Kiger

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Science has determined that disappearing completely into quicksand isn't possible — but that doesn't mean that getting stuck still won't kill you.

By Patrick J. Kiger

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).

By Patrick J. Kiger

If you've ever watched a gun fired into the air at a celebration, you've probably wondered where that bullet ends up. We've got the answer.

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 world has only had time zones since the late 1800s. Some people think we should eliminate them and have just one universal time instead.

By Patrick J. Kiger & Austin Henderson

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.

By Patrick J. Kiger & Austin Henderson

The four seasons experienced by Earth's midlatitude regions are being gradually altered by global warming — but a climate expert says they won't completely go away.

By Patrick J. Kiger & Desiree Bowie

Less than 100 miles from Las Vegas, is the most famous secret military installation on the planet: Area 51. For decades, the U.S. government refused to acknowledge it existed. But now, the secret is out.

By Jonathan Strickland & Patrick J. Kiger

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The Chinese space station Tiangong, now with its first crew of astronauts, is scheduled for completion in 2022. What does that mean for the future of the aging International Space Station and multinational space cooperation?

By Patrick J. Kiger & Desiree Bowie

So much of our cosmological history starts with the much-discussed Big Bang, but what led up to that cataclysmic moment? And did time even exist back then?

By Robert Lamb & 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

It doesn't exactly seem like something the human body would do, let a large portion of itself go to complete waste. Is it true that most of your brain is on permanent hiatus?

By Patrick J. Kiger & Austin Henderson

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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 & Austin Henderson

The sun's atmosphere is actually hotter than its surface, even though you'd assume the surface is what generates all that heat. How does that work?

By Patrick J. Kiger & Yara Simón