In 1959, the Avro Canada CF-105 Arrow was one of the most sophisticated aircraft prototypes in the world. When the project was cancelled, the Canadian government ordered all Arrows, parts, production equipment, and technical data destroyed.
A large enough kite can lift someone off the ground. So, of course, several inventors and aeronauts tried to find a military application for such man-lifting kites.
In the 1960s and 1970s, both the United States and the Soviet Union explored “peaceful” applications of nuclear weapons: excavating earth for lakes and canals, geological research, and extinguishing gas well fires.
Tiny Broadwick was the first person to intentionally jump out of a flying airplane without being tethered to something.
The Japanese kotatsu combines a table, a heater, and a layer of comfortable blankets.
The Vikings navigated by the position of the sun. But what did they do when it was cloudy?
When asked why we have no proof of extraterrestrial life, the Hungarian physicist Leo Szilard joked that Martians were already among us… they just called themselves Hungarians.
The arpicembalo (harp-harpsichord) of Bartolomeo Cristofori could play notes both loud and quiet, which the harpsichord could not. It was the first piano.
A highway goes directly through the Gate Tower Building in Osaka, Japan; a monorail line goes directly through an apartment block in Chongqing, China.
In March 1940 two physicists wrote a top secret memo describing, for the first time, just how to make an atom bomb.
Arktika, the second nuclear-powered icebreaker made by the Soviet Union, was the first surface ship to reach the North Pole.
John Nevil Maskelyne was a turn of the century stage magician who created the first levitation trick, built an automaton that could play whist, revealed the secrets of card sharks, and invented the pay toilet.
A Bangladeshi engineer named Fazlur Rahman Khan revolutionised the design of skyscrapers by modelling them on bamboo tubes.
In 1859 a geomagnetic storm from the Sun knocked out telegraph equipment in Europe and North America and sent auroras almost as far as the equator; it was the largest such event in recorded history.
A prehistoric pot found in Poland and a wooden slab pulled out of a Slovenian marsh are the earliest evidence of wheels in Europe.
The Birmingham Dribbler was one of the earliest model train toys. Powered by steam, it leaked water everywhere and caused fires when it fell over.