All in Techutopia

The Great Seal secret steal

On August 4, 1945, a group of Soviet schoolchildren presented a replica of the US Great Seal to US Ambassador W. Averell Harriman as a 'gesture of friendship' to the USSR's World War II ally. It was a great opportunity for the Soviets to plant a listening device in the ambassador's Moscow office - and that's exactly what they did. It took seven years until the bug was discovered.

Suicide Squad: Ukraine

Before the comic book anti-heroes 'Suicide Squad', there was a real life suicide squad - three heroes who saved millions of lives in 1986. Six days after the Lenin nuclear reactor at Chernobyl entered meltdown, a new disaster unfolded. The burning, sinking reactor was about to reach rooms flooded with water. The resulting explosion would level 200 square kilometres, destroy Kiev, contaminate the drinking water of 30M people, and render northern Ukraine uninhabitable for over 100 years. Unless... somebody could drain the water. Despite the known death sentence, three volunteers - Alexei Ananenko, Valeri Bezpalov and Boris Baranov completed their mission and saved millions. They died in agony nearly two weeks later.

Weighty words

If you own an eBook reader, you know it can save you a lot of shelf space: a 4GB model can hold around 3,500 books which would otherwise weigh around 2 tons. But is a 'full' eBook reader heavier than an empty one? Yes. Just. A billionth of a billionth of a gram heavier - about the weight of a DNA molecule.