How America’s Airline Went to War
Originally published on Jan. 4, 2015. Now only a distant memory, Pan American Airways once flew so high that even the moon seemed within its grasp. Its advanced technology, skilled workforce and global reach were the envy of its competitors. It had such a wide reach around the world,... Read more
Weather Command!

Weather Command!

WIB culture September 12, 2017

This story originally appeared on Nov. 26, 2013. Mark Twain once quipped, “Everyone complains about the weather but nobody does anything about it.” But what if we could change the weather at will? That’s the sort of huge dream we once dreamed during the 20th century, when our technological... Read more
Sí, la CIA voló aviones espía U-2 desde portaaviones
El 1 de mayo de 1960, la Unión Soviética derribó un avión espía U-2 de la CIA y capturó al piloto, Francis Gary Powers. El incidente supuso una crisis internacional para la agencia de inteligencia estadounidense. La cumbre que estaba previsto que mantuvieran el presidente Dwight Eisenhower y el... Read more
Testing Satellites … by Nuking Them
Here’s the challenge. You want to make sure your military satellite is tough enough to withstand the radiation from a nuclear blast. Here’s the problem. You can’t just put the sat in orbit and nuke it. That’s illegal and dangerous. Plus, you’ll need to study the spacecraft after the... Read more
The Concrete Battleship
This story originally appeared on Oct. 21, 2014. Throughout history, coastal fortifications have guarded strategic seaports. And until recently, forts easily outgunned ships. Hence legendary British admiral Horatio Nelson’s quip—“A ship’s a fool to fight a fort.” But you don’t have to fight a fort when you can just... Read more
How to Nuke a Submarine
Can you kill a sub with a nuke? It seems pretty obvious that a nuclear explosion deep in the ocean should sink a submarine, but you need to be sure if you’re gearing up for World War III. During the heyday of nuclear testing in the 1950s, the U.S.... Read more
The Strange History of Sci-Fi Super Fuels
They sound like something out of a movie villain’s secret rocket base, but exotic and toxic fuels with names like “pentaborane” and “HEF-3” were once the height of cutting-edge Cold War technology. Of all the sources about such science-fiction stuff, the most entertaining is the one written by a... Read more
Yes, the CIA Flew U-2 Spy Planes From Aircraft Carriers
On May 1, 1960, the Soviet Union shot down a CIA U-2 spy plane and captured its pilot, Francis Gary Powers. It was an international crisis for America’s intelligence agencies. A planned summit between Pres. Dwight Eisenhower and Premier Nikita Khrushchev was scuttled, much to Eisenhower’s embarrassment and to... Read more
NATO Bombed Soviet Submarines With Tiny, Annoying Magnets
At the height of the Cold War, the Soviet Union had so many hundreds of deadly submarines at sea that Western war planners willing to try almost any possible countermeasure, however goofy sounding. Some seemingly crazy ideas proved actually worthwhile, such as the underwater Sound Surveillance System—a vast chain... Read more
This American Warship Shot Down MiGs and Pranked the Soviets
During the Cold War, many lesser-known confrontations occurred at sea away from the headlines and major crises. This was certainly true for the crew of the U.S. Navy’s Belknap-class guided-missile cruiser USS Biddle. The warship sailed into the thick of the Vietnam War and came face-to-face with the Soviet Navy.... Read more
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