History

When a catastrophic earthquake and tsunami triggered the release of radioactive material from Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant in March 2011, locals didn’t have time to think. Officials wore intense radiation protection but told members of the public they weren’t at risk. Communities were uprooted to evacuation centers with higher radiation levels than their
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The muse for this story is a humble piece of stone, no more than an inch square. Sometime in the mid-19th century, it had been fashioned into a gunflint—an object that, when triggered to strike a piece of steel, could spark a small explosion of black powder and propel a lead ball from the muzzle
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The Lucas Museum of Narrative Art, a new cultural institution co-founded by Star Wars creator George Lucas, has acquired a major collection of memorabilia documenting the history of African American film from 1904 to 2019. Dubbed the Separate Cinema Archive, the trove derives its name from the “race films” produced for African American audiences during
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As the year 1533 drew to a close, Spanish conquistador Hernando Pizarro departed Peru, full to bursting with stories of the wonders he had seen. The Inca Empire, he explained to his comrades and superiors, had readily succumbed to the four Pizarro brothers and their forces. Along the way, the Spaniards had attacked the locals,
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In “Uncut Gems,” an overleveraged diamond jeweler named Howard Ratner, played by Adam Sandler, frantically tries to cover his bad business bets by making bigger ones. The film brilliantly captures the manic energy of New York City’s Diamond District, a bustling commercial stretch on Manhattan’s 47th Street between Fifth and Sixth Avenue. A preserve for
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During World War II, the Nazis killed between 75 to 80 percent of the Netherlands’ Jews—a staggering proportion that represents the largest number of Jewish victims in Western Europe. In memory of those who lost their lives to Nazi persecution, Germany has now pledged €4 million (around $4.5 million) toward the revamping of Amsterdam’s National
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Tomatoes are red, margarine is yellow, and oranges, are, well, orange. We expect certain foods to be in certain colors. What we don’t realize is that these colors are not necessarily a product of nature but rather of historical controversies and deliberate decisions by various actors—including the government. The story of how America’s federal government
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Forget cybersecurity. Back in the good old days, plain padlocks were enough to keep a person’s treasures safe—and even after more than a millennium underground, some of these handy artifacts still hold their fair share of secrets under lock and key. Researchers excavating the archaeological site of Lair in Glenshee, Scotland, have uncovered two medieval
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A 14-page manuscript has cost one anonymous buyer the gold—or rather, $8.8 million, a record-breaking price realized at a Sotheby’s auction last month. The text, an annotated, handwritten draft of Pierre de Coubertin’s 1892 proposal to revive the Olympic Games, is now the most expensive piece of sports memorabilia ever sold. De Coubertin’s draft beat
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In 1857, Gustave Courbet shocked the Paris Salon when he exhibited Young Ladies on the Banks of the Seine, a sumptuous depiction of two working class women lounging alongside the famed river. With their sensual gazes and provocatively arrayed dresses, Courbet’s subjects scandalized viewers; a critic even referred to the work as “frightful.” Now, in
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During recent restoration work at St. Stephen’s Cathedral, a historic Vienna landmark with roots stretching back to the 12th century, experts made a remarkable discovery in a section of the church that now functions as a gift shop. Per a statement from Austria’s Federal Monuments Office, a previously unknown artwork that scholars think was rendered
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When scientists gaze upon fossilized human remains, the interactions are usually pretty one-sided: After decades or centuries underground, bones aren’t left with much of an expression. Still, thanks to facial reconstruction, researchers are now reevaluating the remains of two of Edinburgh’s earliest inhabitants—and, for the first time in centuries, both of them are staring right
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