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History

HMS Hermes may have been one of the ships equipped with a laser weapon (Photo: Royal Navy)

Despite recent demonstrations by the US Navy, we still think of laser weapons as being things of the future. However, previously-classified British documents prove that not only were the major powers working on laser weapons in the 1970s and 80s, but that they were already being deployed with combat units in war zones. A letter from the Ministry of Defence released under the 30-year rule reveals that laser weapons were deployed on Royal Navy ships during the Falklands War in 1982, and that the British government was concerned about similar weapons being developed behind the Iron Curtain.  Read More

Los Alamos National Laboratory, where the United States' nuclear arsenal was developed

A secret of Cold War came to light recently with Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico releasing a video tour of what was once one of the most secret and secure locations in the United States. For decades, Tunnel Vault was used to house nuclear weapon components, but the now declassified facility has now become an artifact of the Dr. Strangelove age.  Read More

A diagram showing how the pits are aligned and how they track the phases of the moon

While we take calendars for granted these days, the invention of systems that track time stands as one of humanity's most monumental achievements ... in more ways than one. Long before written calendars emerged, monuments were used to measure time. Now a crude but working "calendar" discovered in Warren Field, Scotland, suggests that these time measuring monuments may have been developed much earlier than previously thought. Archaeologists believe the Warren Field calendar was created by hunter gatherers around 8,000 BC, making it the world's oldest calendar discovered to date by a significant margin.  Read More

Bond is well known for his Walther PPK, but a particular .45 Colt revolver reveals more ab...

It's one of the most memorable moments in perhaps the best James Bond film, From Russia with Love: SPECTRE agent Rosa Klebb, posing as a hotel maid, drops her gun, and appears to be at a disadvantage as she goes toe to toe with Sean Connery's imposing Bond. That is until she deploys her iconic poison-tipped dagger shoes, which have gone on to be copied in other notable action films … and Wild Wild West. But as kitsch as Klebb's cleaver clogs might seem, the CIA attempted to replicate them, and another classic Bond gadget, in real life, according to research by Dr. Christopher Moran of Warwick University. At the heart of the story is the close friendship of Bond author and Ian Fleming and former CIA Director Allen Dulles. Gizmag spoke to Moran about 20th century Intelligence, and its peculiar relationship with the fictional British spy …  Read More

The Bremont Codebreaker has a flyback chronograph movement

Watches are meant to keep time, but the UK-based firm of Bremont and the Bletchley Park Trust have teamed up to produce a watch that preserves time. The Bremont Codebreaker is a limited edition chronograph that uses original artefacts from the famous cryptographic facility to commemorate British code breaking efforts during the Second World War.  Read More

The Altair 8800 Clone reproduces the functions and flaws of the original

Owning a piece of computer history can be expensive and not much fun. You can buy a vintage MITS Altair 8800, one of the world’s first successful desktop computers, on eBay, but a good one will cost you over US$4,000. That’s why computer enthusiast Mike Douglas developed the Altair 8800 Clone. It’s a modern, inexpensive, functional reproduction of the historic Altair 8800 computer that uses 21st century technology to recreate a bit of computer history for hobbyists and educators.  Read More

A film still of a bouncing bomb trial (Photo: BAE Systems/SSPL)

It's seventy years to the day since No. 617 Squadron of the Royal Air Force returned from Operation Chastise, in which specially designed bouncing bombs were dropped in an attack on the Möhne, Sorpe and Eder Dams in Germany during World War II. Though the bouncing bomb is without doubt the invention for which Barnes Wallis is most renowned (thanks in no small part to its depiction in the film Dambusters) Wallis' other work before, during, and after World War II was of great importance, and in some cases, far ahead of its time. Gizmag spoke to Dr. Andrew Nahum, Principal Curator of Technology at the Science Museum where many of Wallis' papers are archived, about swing-wing aircraft, earthquake bombs, improbable mathematics lessons, and the geodetic Wellington Bomber.  Read More

Lamborghini is celebrating 50 years of creating some of the world's most outrageous automo...

Fifty years ago, a young, ambitious Italian farmboy by the name of Ferruccio Lamborghini decided his talent for mechanical enhancement, engineering and marketing would be better served designing high-performance automobiles. Since 1963 Lamborghini has seen its share of bad relationships and financial hardship, but has still managed to create some of the most extreme and immediately recognizable vehicles on the road today. Here's a look back at the Raging Bull's major achievements as the company celebrates its 50th anniversary.  Read More

A view through the eyepiece of the NeoLucida

As long ago as 1807 – and possibly up to 200 years earlier – many artists used an optical device known as a camera lucida to help them in sketching subjects. A controversial theory even suggests that some of the famous Old Masters created their masterpieces not by sketching freehand, but by using such gadgets. Now, two art professors are trying to bring the camera lucida back, in the form of the low-cost portable NeoLucida.  Read More

Screenshot of the original NeXT web browser in 1993 (Image: CERN)

To old fogeys like me, it seems like only yesterday that the coolest way to go online was to dial up the AP wire service bulletin board on a 300-baud modem, but it was actually two decades ago that the web as we know it burst onto our world. On Tuesday, it was 20 years ago that the World Wide Web went public, when CERN made the technology behind it available on a royalty-free basis. To mark the occasion, the organization announced that it is recreating the world's very first website for posterity.  Read More

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