• Who Made Velcro?

    In 1941, a Swiss engineer named George de Mestral returned from a hunting trip with burs clinging to his pants and tangled in his dog’s coat. When de Mestral examined the seedpods under a microscope, he marveled at how they bristled with hooks ingeniously shaped to grasp at animal fur. “Most people stop at the ‘Oh, that’s cool, that’s what nature does,’ ” says Janine Benyus, a pioneer in the field of biomimicry, the science of studying natural models — anthills and lizard feet, say — to solve human problems. “He probably had to go back a lot of times,” she adds, “and really look” at those hooks. A bur, of course, can clamp onto wool socks with surprising force, and — even more amazing — once you pry it off, it can stick again and again, like glue that never wears out. But how to imitate this trick with human-made stuff? Eventually de Mestral learned to mold nylon into a fabric studded with tiny hooks or loops that acted like artificial burs.When Velcro first arrived in America, it caused a sensation. In 1958, a syndicated financial columnist named Sylvia Porter announced that “a new fastening device” had so bewitched her that she spent days playing with it. “It’s on my desk as I type this,” she wrote.

  • Constitution Day: Backgrounder

    Though the thirteen colonies declared independence from Great Britain in 1776 and the Revolutionary War ended in American victory in 1783, the Constitution was not drafted until 1787, ratified until 1788, and George Washington did not become the first president of the United States until 1789. So how was the U.S. Governed between 1776 and 1787?

  • Did Hitler Really Have Only One Testicle?

    by HNN Staff

    Did Adolf Hitler, widely considered to be one of the most evil, despicable people who ever lived, really have only one testicle?Maybe.Fans of the 1957 Bridge over the River Kwai no doubt remember the jaunty tune whistled by the British POWs as they marched into captivity:But film buffs may not be aware that the WWI-era tune, “Colonel Bogey’s March,” developed an alternate set of lyrics in WWII:There are a seemingly infinite number of variations, but the most popular goes like this:Hitler has only got one ball, Göring has two but very small, Himmler is somewhat sim'lar, But poor Goebbels has no balls at all.

  • Historians as Activists

    Historians don't always confine their activities to the library and classroom.  Here's a list of organizations historians have used to have a direct impact on events.

  • Factoids

    Have fun with these factoids related to history.  Feel free to add your own in the comments section.