Captain James Cook set out on a voyage across the Pacific 250 years ago, seemingly on a scientific voyage. But he carried secret instructions from the Navy with him as well.

Captain Cook’s 1768 Voyage to the South Pacific Included a Secret Mission

The explorer traveled to Tahiti under the auspices of science 250 years ago, but his secret orders were to continue Britain’s colonial project

Throughout the mid-1800s, improvements on the spectroscope allowed physicists to more accurately measure the wavelengths of light and identify new elements—like helium.

How Scientists Discovered Helium, the First Alien Element, 150 Years Ago

First found only on the sun, scientists doubted the mysterious element even existed for more than a decade

Liang Bua cave on Flores Island, where Homo floresiensis remains were discovered in 2003. Nearby is a village where the pygmies live.

A New Genetic Study Suggests Modern Flores Island Pygmies and Ancient Hobbits Are Unrelated

The island dwarfism effect seems to have occurred independently in each population, thousands of years apart

Fire fighters attempt to douse a smoldering building on Superior following the shootout in the Glenville neighborhood of Cleveland on July 23, 1968.

What Happened When Violence Broke Out on Cleveland's East Side 50 Years Ago?

In the summer of 1968, the neighborhood of Glenville erupted in “urban warfare,” leaving seven dead and heightening police-community tensions

Pictured at center, Yekaterina Budanova was one of the only women fighter pilots of World War II, and remains one of the most successful in history.

A Soviet Ace Shot Down Nazi Pilots With Great Skill, But Her Feats Are Mostly Forgotten Today

Yekaterina Budanova, who died in combat 75 years ago today, reveals a larger story about the complicated history of women soldiers in the Red Army

Due to their ubiquity at archaeological sites, teeth are like the pennies of ancient human remains. But unlike pennies, fossil chompers can be a treasure trove.

How Ancient Teeth Reveal the Roots of Humankind

From diet to evolution, prehistoric chompers tell archaeologists a surprising amount about our ancestors

Contrary to popular beliefs, Neanderthals lived in complex societies and hunted prey cooperatively.

Neanderthals Hunted in Groups, One More Strike Against the Dumb Brute Myth

The skeletons of deer killed 120,000 years ago offer more evidence of cooperative behavior and risk-taking among our hominin relatives

The new series "A Very English Scandal" stars Hugh Grant as Jeremy Thorpe, a British politician embroiled in a murder scandal.

The True Story of 'A Very English Scandal' and the Trials of a Closeted Gay Politician

The new series about 1970s British MP Jeremy Thorpe traces his rise to power, then dramatic fall, complete with charges of a conspiracy to murder

The Hagenbeck-Wallace Circus suffered one of the worst train wrecks in history in 1918, with more than 100 people injured and 86 killed.

The Hammond Train Wreck of 1918 Killed Scores of Circus Performers

One hundred years ago, a horrific railway disaster decimated the Hagenbeck-Wallace Circus—but the show still went on

The first map of the United States, published in 1784 by Abel Buell, shows the recent addition of the Northwest Territories—a region that would soon include the states of Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan and Wisconsin, home to thousands of African-American pioneers.

The Unheralded Pioneers of 19th-Century America Were Free African-American Families

In her new book, 'The Bone and Sinew of the Land', historian Anna-Lisa Cox explores the mostly ignored story of the free black people who first moved West

The first insect found trapped in ancient amber wasn’t a mosquito, but an overstuffed weevil.

Jurassic Park's Unlikely Symbiosis With Real-World Science

The 1993 film showed both the promise and misconceptions that surround ancient DNA

What if Napoleon hadn't stopped at invading Russia and instead created a world under French control?

What if Napoleon Hadn't Lost Europe and Other Questions of Alternate History

How the 200-year-old literary genre reflects changing notions of history and society

Painting of four species of rat, including the Polynesian rat (right).

Rat Bones Reveal How Humans Transformed Their Island Environments

Rodent remains prove an ideal tool for investigating changes on three Polynesian island chains

The asteroid didn't just wipe out the dinosaurs—it wiped out the forests. Which meant anything that lived had to learn to live on the ground.

How the Ancestors of Birds Survived the Dino-Killing Asteroid

Forest cover was crucial to avian evolution, a new study on the mass extinction event asserts

The bloomer costume

Amelia Bloomer Didn’t Mean to Start a Fashion Revolution, But Her Name Became Synonymous With Trousers

In the 1850s, women’s rights activists briefly adopted a new style in an effort to liberate themselves from heavy dresses

Ceramic box base with a Chinese inscription that mentions  a  place, Jianning Fu, which dates from AD 1162 to 1278.  From the Java Sea Shipwreck.

An 800-Year-Old Shipwreck Helps Archaeologists Piece Together Asia’s Maritime Trade

A new date for the Java Sea shipwreck could shed light on the politics of Chinese trade routes

American girl Samantha Smith (center) visited the U.S.S.R. on the invitation of General Secretary Yuri Andropov in July 1983. Here, she's visiting the Artek pioneer camp.

The Surprising Story of the American Girl Who Broke Through the Iron Curtain

Samantha Smith was only 10 when she wrote to Soviet General Secretary Yuri Andropov about the Cold War. In response, he invited her for a visit

Though the differences between Neanderthals and Homo sapiens may seem pronounced, scientists didn't always embrace the idea that humans evolved from other species.

How Do Scientists Identify New Species? For Neanderthals, It Was All About Timing and Luck

Even the most remarkable fossil find means nothing if scientists aren’t ready to see it for what it is

After the 1943 publication of Ayn Rand's book "The Fountainhead," she amassed a cult-like following that spread her message far and wide.

The Literary Salon That Made Ayn Rand Famous

Seventy-five years after the publishing of ‘The Fountainhead’, a look back at the public intellectuals who disseminated her Objectivist philosophy

Undated photo of a Jewish store in Vienna with anti-Semitic slogans daubed on walls and store windows. Austrian authorities took more than 40 years to launch serious efforts at returning Jewish property plundered by the Nazis.

A 1938 Nazi Law Forced Jews to Register Their Wealth—Making It Easier to Steal

Eighty years ago, the edict marked a turning point in the Nazi party’s efforts to push Jews out of the German economy

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