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George Dvorsky George Dvorsky Jul 08, 2019.

Declassified U2 Spy Plane Photos Expose Hidden Archaeological Sites

Declassified U2 Spy Plane Photos Expose Hidden Archaeological Sites

During the Cold War, the United States flew U2 spy planes over Europe, the Middle East, and central eastern Asia in search of potential military targets. These missions inadvertently gathered historical information, which archaeologists are now using for scientific purposes.

New research published last month in the science journal Advances in Archaeological Practice describes the first...

Brian Kahn Brian Kahn Jun 20, 2019. 4 comments

Cold War Spy Satellite Reveals Just How Fast the Himalayas Are Losing Ice

Cold War Spy Satellite Reveals Just How Fast the Himalayas Are Losing Ice

During the Cold War, spy satellites were constantly circling the Earth. But while the intent of those satellites is generally to track human activities, the imagery they captured has also proved to be a trove of scientific data.

The latest use of Cold War imagery has revealed a huge acceleration in Himalayan ice loss. The results published in Science Advances on Wednesday show that glaciers in...

4 Comments

Matt Novak Matt Novak Jun 07, 2019. 11 comments

The U.S. Army Once Kept $1 Billion Worth of LSD in a Maryland Office for Some Reason

The U.S. Army Once Kept $1 Billion Worth of LSD in a Maryland Office for Some Reason

James Ketchum, an Army psychiatrist who conducted controversial drug experiments on members of the U.S. military, died last month, on May 27, at the age of 87. And while Ketchum’s legacy is filled with plenty of weird and horrifying tales, there’s one story that should get more attention in the wake of his death.

Specifically, we should probably talk about the time that Ketchum found roughly...

11 Comments

Matt Novak Matt Novak Jun 01, 2019. 15 comments

Think HBO's Chernobyl Is Brutal? Check Out This Haunting Animation That Aired on TV in the 1950s

Think HBO's Chernobyl Is Brutal? Check Out This Haunting Animation That Aired on TV in the 1950s
Your browser does not support HTML5 video tag.Click here to view original GIFGIF: BFI/YouTube

HBO’s new miniseries Chernobyl has gotten a lot of attention for its gory realism . Radiation from a nuclear power plant disaster is brutal for the human body, to say the least. But the explicit nature of Chernobyl almost pales in comparison to some of the things that were shown in the 1950s. Like...

15 Comments

Matt Novak Matt Novak Feb 28, 2019. 3 comments

Huawei Now Just Trolling U.S. by Dredging Up Edward Snowden

Huawei Now Just Trolling U.S. by Dredging Up Edward Snowden

“Prism, prism on the wall, who’s the most trustworthy of them all?” said Huawei’s rotating chairman Guo Ping on stage on Tuesday at Mobile World Congress 2019. But Guo wasn’t talking about Snow White. He was poking fun at the massive surveillance programs maintained by the United States.

Huawei is under fire around the world as countries like the U.S., Canada, UK, New Zealand, and Australia...

3 Comments

Matt Novak Matt Novak Aug 16, 2018. 5 comments

7 Fake Journalist Names the U.S. Government Used to Spread Propaganda During the 1950s

7 Fake Journalist Names the U.S. Government Used to Spread Propaganda During the 1950s

Back in the 1950s and 60s, the American government’s foreign propaganda arm, the U.S. Information Agency (USIA), invented fake names for journalists to plant stories in newspapers. In 2016, I wrote about Guy Sims Fitch , just one of the pseudonyms that was used globally. But I recently stumbled upon a few more names that might be helpful for people interested in Cold War history.

The names...

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Attila Nagy Attila Nagy Feb 28, 2018. 17 comments

Inside the Bunker Where Soviets Kept Their Secret Stash of Nukes 

Inside the Bunker Where Soviets Kept Their Secret Stash of Nukes 

During the Cold War, Hungary was one of the westernmost allies of the Soviet Union. As a member of the Warsaw Pact, Hungary had to station a significant number of Soviet troops and military equipment on its territory. Now we've gone inside one of their most classified bases, and taken pictures.

Hungarians got used to seeing the vehicles of the Red Army on the roads, their air force in the air,...

17 Comments

Sarah Zhang Sarah Zhang Feb 28, 2018. 16 comments

The Rise and Fall of the World's Nuclear Arsenal Over 70 Years

The Rise and Fall of the World's Nuclear Arsenal Over 70 Years

Since 1987, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists has been counting up each country's nuclear arsenal in its Nuclear Notebook, peeling back the veil of secrecy that often surrounds these numbers. The Bulletin has now gone and made its Nuclear Notebook into a neat interactive graphic.

There are nine nuclear states: the U.S., Russia, the United Kingdom, France, China, India, Pakistan, Israel,...

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Charles Pulliam-Moore Charles Pulliam-Moore Feb 17, 2018. 4 comments

A Desperate Housewife, a Pick-Up Artist, and a Grandmother Go to War In this Week's Best Comics

A Desperate Housewife, a Pick-Up Artist, and a Grandmother Go to War In this Week's Best Comics

We here at io9 love nothing more than sitting down with a stack of comic books and just getting lost in the fantasy and adventure of worlds nothing like our own. We’ve always covered comics that caught our eye, but at the same time, we’ve always wanted to read, share, and spread the word about more.

But writing individual stories about every single new, indie comic we end up reading just isn’t...

4 Comments

Matt Novak Matt Novak Jan 18, 2018. 15 comments

How Americans of the 1960s Really Felt About Nuclear Fallout Shelters

How Americans of the 1960s Really Felt About Nuclear Fallout Shelters

If you had to guess the percentage of American households that had a fallout shelter in the 1960s, what would you say? Fifty percent? Twenty-five percent? As low as 10 percent? In reality, just 1.4 percent of Americans had a nuclear fallout shelter in 1962. And the study that gave us that figure provides a fascinating look into the mindset of Americans during the Cold War.

The American fallout...

15 Comments

Tom McKay Tom McKay Dec 02, 2017. 14 comments

As North Korea Tests Longer-Range ICBMs, Hawaii Reactivates Nuclear Warning System

As North Korea Tests Longer-Range ICBMs, Hawaii Reactivates Nuclear Warning System

It’s been hard to ignore the ominous game of nuclear chicken currently ongoing between the totalitarian government of North Korea, which successfully tested an upgraded intercontinental ballistic missile on Wednesday morning local time, and the U.S., which is currently led by a belligerent lightweight with an extremely limited understanding of nuclear strategy. That goes double for the state...

14 Comments

Matt Novak Matt Novak Nov 28, 2017. 10 comments

That Time a Girl Wrote to JFK Asking If The Soviets Were Going to Nuke Santa Claus

That Time a Girl Wrote to JFK Asking If The Soviets Were Going to Nuke Santa Claus

In 1961 an eight-year-old girl from Marine City, Michigan wrote to President Kennedy. She wanted to know if the Russians were going to bomb the North Pole. JFK responded with the letter below, assuring her that Santa would be just fine.

Young Michelle Rochon of Michigan had nothing to worry about when it came to Santa’s safety. Because the president had “just talked with him yesterday.” Santa...

10 Comments

Kelsey Campbell-Dollaghan Kelsey Campbell-Dollaghan Nov 09, 2017. 9 comments

An Aging Cold War Policy May Make It Easier to Hack Nuclear Warheads 

An Aging Cold War Policy May Make It Easier to Hack Nuclear Warheads 

Floppy disks . Cheating schemes . Drunken bar antics . The security of America’s nuclear arms is... less than perfect. And now, more critics are questioning the outdated policies that regulate them.

Lead image: Deactivated missiles with their warheads removed in 1965. AP Photo/Ellis Bosworth.

It’s been almost 25 years since the Cold War ended, but America (and Russia) still keep thousands of...

9 Comments

Cheryl Eddy Cheryl Eddy Oct 15, 2017. 14 comments

Why Did This Woman Live the Lie That She'd Been Murdered ... for 31 Years?

Why Did This Woman Live the Lie That She'd Been Murdered ... for 31 Years?

In 1984, 24-year-old Petra Pazsitka was living in Braunschweig, Germany, studying computer science—until the day she was reported as missing after failing to return from the dentist. At one point, the main suspect in an unrelated rape and murder confessed to killing her, but later recanted.

Her body was never found, and in 1989, she was declared dead.

The mystery of Pazsitka took a bizarre...

14 Comments

Matt Novak Matt Novak Sep 28, 2017. 18 comments

10 Cold War-Era Board Games About Spies and Secret Agents 

10 Cold War-Era Board Games About Spies and Secret Agents 

Americans were obsessed with spy culture during the Cold War. I mean, who didn't love James Bond? Communists, that's who. The gosh darn Communits. Spying seeped into every aspect of pop culture in the 1960s and 70s—from TV and movies to comic books and even board games.

Below we have a collection of ten board games that let people of the Cold War era play out their wildest spy fantasies....

18 Comments

Kelsey Campbell-Dollaghan Kelsey Campbell-Dollaghan Sep 20, 2017. 11 comments

The Forgotten Plan to Save Great Art From World War III 

The Forgotten Plan to Save Great Art From World War III 

From a secret treasure trove below the memorial to Oliver Wendell Holmes in DC to a retrofitted quarry in Wales, our governments have gone to great lengths to protect precious objects from ruin—and a new trove of declassified documents shine light on a new, little-known project to do just that during the Cold War.

Paranoia and fear wracked the Western world during the Cold War, and we got a...

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Andrew Liptak Andrew Liptak Sep 06, 2017. 16 comments

Learn How A Titan Missile Is Fired In This Video 

Learn How A Titan Missile Is Fired In This Video 

At the height of the Cold War, the United States and Soviet Union had thousands of Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles trained on one another. In this video, we get a tour of a Titan missile silo, and learn exactly what would happen when the order came down to launch an attack.

Watch Lord Kelvin's Thunderstorm Create Electricity With Falling Water

Here's a slick new video that...

16 Comments

Chris Mills Chris Mills Aug 30, 2017. 18 comments

There Are Other Things in Chernobyl Apart From Radiation

There Are Other Things in Chernobyl Apart From Radiation

Chernobyl is obviously well-known for one particular thing, but as it turns out, the town is hiding things other than two-headed squirrels.

YouTuber Tom Scott has been documenting his trip around Chernobyl with a great series of videos, but this one is particularly fascinating. It tells the tale of the ‘Russian Woodpecker’, a gigantic Duga-3 radar array left over from the Cold War....

18 Comments

Maddie Stone Maddie Stone Aug 21, 2017. 15 comments

A Solar Flare Almost Sparked a Nuclear War in 1967

A Solar Flare Almost Sparked a Nuclear War in 1967

On May 23rd, 1967, the United States Air Force scrambled to ready nuclear missile-laden aircraft for deployment. Radar systems designed to detect incoming Soviet missiles had just been disrupted, in what the military perceived to be an act of war. But before any nukes were launched in retaliation, it seems Air Force command was told to stand down.

Just in the nick of time, the United States’...

15 Comments

Sarah Zhang Sarah Zhang Aug 21, 2017. 12 comments

The Secret 1949 Radiation Experiment That Contaminated Washington

The Secret 1949 Radiation Experiment That Contaminated Washington

The physicists who invented the nuclear bomb worked out of Los Alamos in New Mexico , but the people who did the dirty work of making the bombs were in Hanford, Washington. Throughout the Cold War, Hanford churned out plutonium for our nuclear arsenal. It was also, conveniently, a place to experiment with radiation.

Today, Hanford is the most contaminated radioactive site in America—the site...

12 Comments

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