Historical Events

From the Age of Enlightenment to the Christmas Truce, learn about some of history's most pivotal events.


Imagine a researcher eavesdropping on your conversation from underneath your bed and recording it for an experiment. That really happened.

How to go from a Bible verse to carving canals with nukes in just a few easy steps — almost. Learn how operation plowshare worked at HowStuffWorks.

Think systemic racism was only a problem in the Southern slave states? Think again. It was alive and well in the Northwest, too. Is it still?

Imagine 2.3 million gallons of molasses pouring down city streets in a massive, lethal wave. That was the scene in Boston on January 15, 1919.

Mass hysteria epidemics are not as rare as you might think. They often occur in small, insular worlds like schools and factories where people feel stressed. We've got examples from the 16th century to the 21st.

In the mid-20th century, STDS were a big problem, and penicillin was a potential solution. In an experiment gone badly awry, U.S. scientists brought the two together.

The captivatingly realistic Roman-Egyptian Fayum mummy portraits date to more than 1,500 years before the Renaissance. Scientists used state-of-the-art analytical tools.

Under repressive regimes, teens still need their rock 'n' roll. What drastic measures did Soviets go to to create an underground vinyl record market?

A placid lake above a hydroelectric dam on the border of Brazil and Paraguay was once site of Guairá, among the world's most awe-inspiring. Why'd we get rid of it?

It's December 1915. San Diego is booming but its main reservoir is low when along comes a rainmaker by the name of Charles Mallory Hatfield.

A spying dolphin or a subversive squirrel may seem like far-fetched fiction, but animals have been employed by military forces for years.

Windows shattered, furniture broken, and dozens of cadets including Jefferson Davis nog-wild on smuggled booze. A "party" in 1826 nearly altered the course of history.

They may not seem stealthy to us, but back in World War I, zeppelins were airborne war machines. And some of them were made from cow intestines.

We think the Wild West was a big shoot-‘em-up, but statistically speaking, people of the wild frontier were more likely to encounter a handshake than a bullet.

In a battle of the valiant versus the vermin, Australian veterans rose up against a few thousand flightless birds. Care to guess which side won?

Learning a thing or two from history is not only smart, but it could save lives, too.

UCLA's Urban Simulation Team is freeing the 1893 World's Fair from the musty pages of history books and turning it into something you can experience virtually.

Yes, at one point in American history, a company tried to market its doughnuts as a healthy, vitamin-packed snack. Did it work?

During the sweltering summer of 1858, a foul smell inundated London. No one's nose was safe. This is how Londoners responded.

No need to buy a movie ticket for thrills and chills. The real world is full of creepy happenings to keep you awake at night.

Poison pros turned to arsenic throughout the ages, until one man totally killed the all the fun.

Aspics and gelatin salads used to be more common foods on Western menus, but they have largely vanished from the table. Could savory gelatin make a comeback?

In 2008, a team of researchers combed through old books, papyruses and stone tablets to find the oldest joke in the world. Does it stand the test of time?

The '80s were a strange decade. Despite the lingering threat of nuclear annihilation, Americans still found time to fear nonexistent cult movements intent on sacrificing children. Venture into the world of satanic panic.

Beer may be one of the most humble of alcoholic beverages, but its history is no less noble -- or muddled -- than wine or liquor.