CONELRAD: The 20-Year Trial Run of Truman’s Emergency Alert System

Prior to 1951, there was no systematic way for the U.S. government to communicate with citizens during an emergency. Introduction CONELRAD (Control of Electromagnetic Radiation) was a method of emergency broadcasting to the public of the United States in the event of enemy attack during the Cold War. It was intended to allow continuous broadcast of civil defense information to the public using radio stations,[…]

Proto-Spam: Spanish Prisoners and Confidence Games in the Late 19th Century

In this confidence trick, the criminal contacted the victim offering a large sum of money, or other comparable treasure, in return for a small advance of funds that the criminal could not provide because of some impediment. Dearest Readers, I beseech you, Please accept this humble letter from a poor stranger seeking your help. Although[…]

The Beard That Wasn’t: Abe Lincoln’s Whiskers

The origins of the sixteenth President’s facial hair are more tangled than you might think. It’s a familiar story. On October 18, 1860, the Hon. Abraham Lincoln of Springfield, Illinois—Republican nominee for President of the United States—received a letter from eleven-year-old Grace Bedell, of Westfield, New York. Though a confirmed Lincoln supporter herself, Bedell worried[…]

What’s in a Name?: The Taxonomy and Phylogeny of Early Homo

Hominin systematics, encompassing both taxonomy and phylogeny, has significant implications for how the evolution of species and traits are understood and communicated. Abstract Hominin systematics, encompassing both taxonomy and phylogeny (Strait, 2013), has significant implications for how the evolution of species and traits are understood and communicated. Following a recent influx of fossils (e.g., Brown et[…]

Ancient DNA Changes Everything We Know about the Evolution of Elephants

DNA studies reveal that African elephants belong to a very successful and widespread family. For a long time, zoologists assumed that there were only two species of elephant: one Asian and one African. Then genetic analyses suggested that the African Elephant could be divided into two distinct species, the African Forest and African Savannah elephants. Now[…]