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Science & Engineering

  • American History Magazine

    American History Book Review: Mr. Lincoln’s T-Mails

    Mr. Lincoln’s T-Mails: The Untold Story of How Abraham Lincoln Used the Telegraph to Win the Civil War by Tom Wheeler Collins, 2006 The American Civil War was the first “modern” war, introducing to wartime military use the rifle,...

  • American History Magazine

    Dialogue: Walter Isaacson

    In 1905 Albert Einstein, a third-class clerk in the patent office in Zurich, Switzerland, published five groundbreaking papers that he had produced in his spare time. One would win him a Nobel Prize, and another produced the most famous...

  • American History Magazine

    Radioactive Cure-alls

    William J.A. Bailey grew rich from his radium-laced patent medicine Radithor, until it killed leading businessman, sportsman and socialite Eben M. Byers in March 1932. The scandal helped usher in the modern regulation of radioactive...

  • American History Magazine

    Glow in the Dark Tragedy

    Fatally poisoned by the glowing paint they used on the job, the ‘Radium Girls’ challenged workplace safety rules and helped shed light on the unseen dangers of radioactivity. When Grace Fryer landed a job at the United States Radium...

  • American History Magazine

    Sputnik 1957

    The Cold War got hot when the Soviets successfully launched the first satellite into space. To Americans who had spent the 1950s on a frenzied hunt for Communists, Sputnik—Russian for ‘fellow traveler’—was a sure sign that their...

  • Civil War Times Magazine

    The Telegraph Operators

    From Somerset, Kentucky, on July 22, 1862, Confederate Brigadier General John Hunt Morgan telegraphed Union Brigadier General J.T. Boyle at Louisville: “Good morning, Jerry! This telegraph is a great  institution. You should destroy...

  • Civil War Times Magazine

    CWT Book Review: Clyde Built

    Clyde Built: Blockade Runners, Cruisers and Armoured Rams of the American Civil War by Eric J. Graham, Birlinn Press, Edinburgh, Scotland, 2006, 238 pages, $34.95. Eric J. Graham’s Clyde Built provides a unique Scottish perspective on...

  • World War II Magazine

    Some Assembly Required

    The men of the 148th Motor Vehicle Assembly Company put together the dependable ‘deuce and a halfs’ that carried the Allies to victory. Whenever I watch movies about the Normandy invasion, I find that I am bothered by a detail that...

  • World War II Magazine

    Einstein and the Bomb

    The scientist who unlocked the secrets of the atom warned FDR about the Nazis’ nuclear ambitions and then watched in horror from the sidelines as the U.S. let the genie out of the bottle. Albert Einstein spent the summer of 1939 in a...

  • World War II Magazine

    A Homemade Aussie Submachine Gun

    The unconventional Owen stood up well to the hard conditions of jungle fighting. Army ordnance officers at the Victoria Barracks in Sydney politely showed 24-year-old inventor Evelyn Owen the door in July 1939 when he came calling with the...

  • World War II Magazine

    A Young Physicist Who Blunted the Blitz

    Like many a scientist on the eve of World War II, R. V. Jones wondered if he had made a terrible blunder by offering his brains rather than his brawn to his country. For every Ph.D. lucky enough to be assigned a truly war winning...

  • World War II Magazine

    The Man on the Trail of the Nazi A-bomb

    The first five Allied vehicles to enter Paris on its day of liberation from Nazi occupation on August 25, 1944, were tanks of the Free French forces. The sixth was an American jeep. Dodging sniper fire, it cut through back streets and...

  • World War II Magazine

    Conversation with Michael J. Neufeld: Wernher von Braun’s Pact with the Devil

    Michael J. Neufeld, chair of the Space History Division at the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum, spent twenty years researching the life of rocket pioneer Wernher von Braun. The result is Von Braun, the first complete...

  • Military History Magazine

    Military History Book Review: Technology and the American Way of War Since...

    Technology and the American Way of War Since 1945 by Thomas G. Mahnken, Columbia University Press, New York, 2008, $29.50. Thomas Mahnken has achieved the near impossible. He has taken a topic that has consumed several forests worth of...

  • Aviation History Magazine

    The Devil’s Broomstick

    The Soviet Union was the first country to adopt a rocket-powered fighter— and swiftly abandon it. Although none of the Western powers came anywhere near the German level of rocket aircraft development before World War II, the Germans...

  • Aviation History Magazine

    Building a Better Navy Jet

    Faced with an air superiority gap versus Air Force jets in the late 1940s and early ’50s, the U.S. Navy embarked on an ambitious aircraft development program that produced one of the world’s best all-around fighters. Sometimes truth is...