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The British Once Built a 1,100-Mile Hedge Through the Middle of India This quixotic colonial barrier was meant to enforce taxes. Map of India, c. 1875. Photo from the Public Domain. In 1878, W.S. Halsey, Commissioner of Inland Customs, reported on the state of British India’s giant hedge. The hedge had grown to more than 1,100 miles long, he wrote, long enough to stretch from Berlin to Moscow. More than half of the barrier, Halsey reported, was made up of “perfect and good green hedge” or “combined green and dry hedge.” In parts, it was 12 feet tall and 14 feet across. The British Empire had been working on this giant hedge for at least 30 years. It had, at long last, reached “its greatest extent and perfection,” wrote Roy Moxham in The Great Hedge of India. It was an impressive monument to British power and doggedness. One British official […]

Meet the Mad Scientist Who Wrote the Book on How to Hunt Hackers Thirty years ago, Cliff Stoll published The Cuckoo’s Egg, a book about his cat-and-mouse game with a KGB-sponsored hacker. Today, the internet is a far darker place—and Stoll has become a cybersecurity icon. In 1986, Cliff Stoll’s boss at Lawrence Berkeley National Labs tasked him with getting to the bottom of a 75-cent accounting discrepancy in the lab’s computer network, which was rented out to remote users by the minute. Stoll, 36, investigated the source of that minuscule anomaly, pulling on it like a loose thread until it led to a shocking culprit: a hacker in the system. Stoll then spent the next year of his life following that hacker’s footprints across the lab’s network and the nascent internet. In doing so, he revealed a vast web of similar intrusions into military and government agencies carried out […]

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The Secret Travel Club That’s Been Everywhere New York’s Explorers Club has inspired adventurers, aquanauts, and astronauts for more than a century. But it’s now evolving to inspire everyone to make the world a better place. The Explorers Club’s New York headquarters houses around 1,000 artefacts collected by its members. Amid the neon-lit diners and coffee shops of New York’s Upper East Side sits a townhouse that’s a world away from the fast-paced drama of Manhattan. In sight of Central Park, but not as far north as the Metropolitan Museum of Art, it is just one of many such houses on a street full of elite mansions and enviable residences. No sightseeing map would direct you to East 70th Street, and it’s routinely bypassed by cab drivers, commuters and pedestrians, all of whom have somewhere else more important to be. But beyond the townhouse’s wrought iron doors, under a keystone […]