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The Remarkable Effort to Locate America's Lost Patents

An 1836 blaze destroyed thousands of records that catalogued the young nation's ingenuity, but recent discoveries indicate that originals may still exist

Fires burn in the Amazon rainforest in northern Brazil on August 31, 2022. 

Wildfires Reached a Five-Year High in the Brazilian Amazon

Rapid deforestation has made the rainforest more vulnerable to flames, experts say

Aerial view of the usually submerged ruins of the village of Aceredo in northwestern Spain on February 15, 2022

This Summer’s Drought Is Europe's Worst in 500 Years. What Happened Last Time?

The 1540 megadrought brought mass suffering to the continent, but European society quickly bounced back

An inmate firefighter monitors flames as a house burns in the Napa wine region of California on October 9, 2017.

Untold Stories of American History

The History of California's Inmate Firefighter Program

The initiative, which finds prisoners working as first responders and rescuers, dates back to the 1940s

French Culture Minister Rima Abdul Malak visiting Notre-Dame Cathedral on July 28

Notre-Dame Cathedral Will Reopen by 2024

Officials say that the iconic structure will be ready for visitors in time for the Olympics

A firefighting aircraft drops retardant to stop the spread of the Oak Fire in California

A Fast-Moving Wildfire Is Spreading Near Yosemite National Park

The Oak Fire has forced thousands of Mariposa County residents to evacuate

Researchers analyzed flint tools found at the Evron Quarry in Israel.

Cool Finds

When Did Early Humans Start Using Fire? To Find Answers, Scientists Enlist Artificial Intelligence

By analyzing flint tools, researchers find new evidence of an 800,000-year-old fire in northern Israel

Margaret Atwood tried burning the new, fireproof version of her novel The Handmaid's Tale with a flamethrower.

Margaret Atwood Tried—and Failed—to Burn a Copy of 'The Handmaid’s Tale.' Here's Why

A fireproof version of her bestseller is a weapon in an ongoing fight against literary censorship

Replica plaquettes were placed next to a fire to see how ambient light made stone carvings of animals appear to move.

Ice Age Artists May Have Used Firelight to Animate Carvings

Researchers examined 15,000-year-old stone art and suggest the makers were inspired to show movement by dynamic lighting of the fireside environment

Scientists tested 16 hearth locations inside Lazaret Cave near Nice, France, to determine how early humans used fire.

New Research

Why Early Humans Built Fires in the Center of Lazaret Cave

A new study suggests pre-Neanderthals carefully placed their hearths to minimize smoke exposure while maximizing room for activities

A popular tourist site, Turkmenistan's Darvasa crater pit has been burning gas for over 50 years. The country's attempts to put out its flames have been unsuccessful. 

The Quest to Extinguish the Flames of Turkmenistan's Terrifying 'Gates of Hell' Firepit

The country's president says it’s time to quash the ongoing 50-year blaze at the 230-foot-wide Darvaza gas crater

Scientists identified a link between the severity of air pollution events and the amount of land that burned in nearby regions in the preceding week.

Health Risks of Smoke and Ozone Rise in the West as Wildfires Worsen

High levels of two dangerous pollutants are occurring with increasing frequency, researchers say

Chicago's Great Fire sparked on October 8, 1871 and raged for more than 24 hours. 

History of Now

Chicago's Great Fire, 150 Years Later

An exhibition at the Chicago History Museum explores the legacy of the blaze, which devastated the Midwestern city and left 100,000 homeless

The fire destroyed the property's porch, which was built more than 100 years ago but wasn't originally part of the house.

'Suspicious' Fire Destroys Porch at Susan B. Anthony House and Museum

Authorities are investigating the blaze, which left the New York landmark's historic interior and contents largely unscathed

“Air temperatures rapidly rose above 3,600 degrees Fahrenheit,” writes study co-author Christopher Moore. “Clothing and wood immediately burst into flames. Swords, spears, mudbricks and pottery began to melt. Almost immediately, the entire city was on fire.”

Ancient City's Destruction by Exploding Space Rock May Have Inspired Biblical Story of Sodom

Around 1650 B.C.E., the Bronze Age city of Tall el-Hammam was wiped out by a blast 1,000 times more powerful than the atomic bomb used at Hiroshima

New research suggests that clouds affected by wildfire smoke hold more water droplets but are tiny and less likely drop as rain.

Smoky Clouds That Form Over Wildfires Produce Less Rain

Particles from the smoke create tiny droplets too small to fall to Earth

Smoke from nearby wildfires turned the sky above San Francisco a dark orange color last September.

Wildfire Smoke Linked to Covid-19 Cases and Deaths in the West

Thousands of coronavirus cases and hundreds of deaths may be attributable to the particulate matter in wildfire smoke

A man in Seattle wears a mask as wildfire smoke descends on the city in September of 2020.

Covid-19

Four Ways to Protect Yourself From Harmful Air Pollution Caused by Wildfires

Awareness about exposure, high-quality masks and air filters can help protect you from dangerous pollutants in smoke

The Parthenon, the temple that sits atop Athens' Acropolis, seen surrounded by smoke on August 4

Ancient Olympics' Birthplace Saved as Fires Rage Across Southern Europe

A massive heatwave sparked blazes along the Mediterranean, threatening cultural heritage sites and forcing mass evacuations

The team conducted a non-destructive analysis of a panel depicting the prophet Nathan.

Art Meets Science

Canterbury Cathedral's 12th-Century Stained Glass May Be England's Oldest

New research suggests four of the English church's intricate windows were in place when Henry II's men murdered Thomas Becket in 1170

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