Monday, 28 January 2013

On this Day: 28th January 1986: The Space Shuttle Challenger breaks apart after liftoff


The Space Shuttle Challenger disaster occurred on January 28, 1986, when Space Shuttle Challenger (mission STS-51-L) broke apart 73 seconds into its flight, leading to the deaths of its seven crew members. The spacecraft disintegrated over the Atlantic Ocean, off the coast of central Florida at 11:38 EST (16:38 UTC). Disintegration of the entire vehicle began after an O-ring seal in its right solid rocket booster (SRB) failed at liftoff. The O-ring failure caused a breach in the SRB joint it sealed, allowing pressurized hot gas from within the solid rocket motor to reach the outside and impinge upon the adjacent SRB attachment hardware and external fuel tank. This led to the separation of the right-hand SRBs aft attachment and the structural failure of the external tank. Aerodynamic forces promptly broke up the orbiter.


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Wednesday, 23 January 2013

On this Day: 23rd of January 1879 - The Battle of Rorkes Drift



Rorke's Drift, known as kwaJim ("Jim's Land") in the Zulu language, was a mission station and the former trading post of James Rorke, an Irish merchant. It was located near a drift, or ford, on the Buffalo (Mzinyathi) River, which at the time formed the border between the British colony of Natal and the Zulu kingdom.

The Battle of Rorke's Drift, also known as the Defence of Rorke's Drift, was a battle in the Anglo-Zulu War. The defence of the mission station of Rorke's Drift, under the command of Lieutenant John Chard of the Royal Engineers, immediately followed the British Army's defeat at the Battle of Isandlwana on 22 January 1879, and continued into the following day, 23 January.

Just over 150 British and colonial troops successfully defended the garrison against an intense assault by 3,000 to 4,000 Zulu warriors. The massive, but piecemeal, Zulu attacks on Rorke's Drift came very close to defeating the tiny garrison but were ultimately repelled. Eleven Victoria Crosses were awarded to the defenders, along with a number of other decorations and honours.


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Tuesday, 22 January 2013

On this Day: 22nd January 1984 – The Apple Macintosh is introduced during Super Bowl XVIII with its famous "1984" television commercial


"1984" is an American television commercial which introduced the Apple Macintosh personal computer for the first time. It was conceived by Steve Hayden, Brent Thomas and Lee Clow at Chiat/Day, Venice, produced by New York production company Fairbanks Films, and directed by Ridley Scott. Anya Major performed as the unnamed heroine and David Graham as Big Brother. Its only U.S. daytime televised broadcast was on January 22, 1984 during and as part of the telecast of the third quarter of Super Bowl XVIII by CBS. Chiat/Day also ran the ad one other time on television, in December 1983 right before the 1:00 am sign-off on KMVT in Twin Falls, Idaho, so that the advertisement could be submitted to award ceremonies for that year. In addition, starting on January 17, 1984 it was screened prior to previews in movie theaters for a few week. It has since been seen on television commercial compilation specials, as well as in "Retro-mercials" on TV Land.

In one interpretation of the commercial, "1984" used the unnamed heroine to represent the coming of the Macintosh (indicated by her white tank top with a stylized line drawing of Apple’s Macintosh computer on it) as a means of saving humanity from "conformity" (Big Brother). These images were an allusion to George Orwell's noted novel, Nineteen Eighty-Four, which described a dystopian future ruled by a televised "Big Brother". The rows of marching minions have direct cinematic parallels with those in the opening scenes of the classic dystopian film Metropolis. The estate of George Orwell and the television rightsholder to the novel 1984 considered the commercial to be a copyright infringement and sent a cease-and-desist letter to Apple and Chiat/Day in April 1984.

Originally a subject of contention within Apple, it has nevertheless consistently been lauded as a classic, winning critical acclaim over time. It is now considered a watershed event and a masterpiece in advertising, and is widely regarded as one of the most memorable and successful American television commercials of all time.


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Monday, 21 January 2013

On this Day: 21st January 1903- Wizard of Oz premieres in NYC



The Wizard of Oz was a 1902 musical extravaganza based on The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum, which was originally published in 1900. Much of the original music was by Paul Tietjens and has been mostly forgotten, although it was still well-remembered and in discussion at MGM in the late 1930s, when the classic film version of the story was made. Although Baum is the credited bookwriter, Glen MacDonough was hired on as jokewriter after Baum had finished the script.

The 1902 show premiered in Chicago and later to Broadway in 1903, where it ran for 293 performances from January 21, 1903 to December 31, 1904, followed by travelling tours of the original cast. It starred Anna Laughlin as Dorothy Gale, Fred Stone as The Scarecrow and David C. Montgomery as the Tin Woodman (who is called Niccolo Chopper in the musical [in the books, he had begun life as human Nick Chopper]). Arthur Hill (no relation to the Canadian actor) played the Cowardly Lion, but in this version, his role was reduced to a bit part. An element from the show — the snowfall caused by the Good Witch, which defeats the spell of the poppies that had put Dorothy and the Cowardly Lion to sleep — was later used in the famous 1939 movie.


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Saturday, 19 January 2013

On this Day: 18th January 2005 – The Airbus A380, the world's largest commercial jet, is unveiled at a ceremony in Toulouse, France



The Airbus A380 is a double-deck, wide-body, four-engine jet airliner manufactured by the European corporation Airbus, a subsidiary of EADS. It is the world's largest passenger airliner and, due to its size, many airports have had to upgrade their facilities to properly accommodate it. Initially named Airbus A3XX, the aircraft was designed to challenge Boeing's monopoly in the large-aircraft market; the A380 made its first flight on 27 April 2005 and began commercial service in October 2007 with Singapore Airlines.

Five A380s were built for testing and demonstration purposes. The first A380, serial number MSN001 and registration F-WWOW, was unveiled in Toulouse 18 January 2005. Its first flight took place at 10:29 am local time (08:29 UTC) on 27 April 2005. This plane, equipped with Trent 900 engines, flew from Toulouse Blagnac International Airport with a crew of six headed by chief test pilot Jacques Rosay. After landing, 3 hours 54 minutes later, Rosay said flying the A380 had been "like handling a bicycle".

The A380's upper deck extends along the entire length of the fuselage, with a width equivalent to a wide-body aircraft. This allows for an A380-800's cabin with 478 square metres (5,145.1 sq ft) of floor space; 49% more floor space than the next-largest airliner, the Boeing 747-400 with 321 square metres (3,455.2 sq ft), and provides seating for 525 people in a typical three-class configuration or up to 853 people in all-economy class configurations. The A380-800 has a design range of 15,400 kilometres (8,300 nmi; 9,600 mi), sufficient to fly from New York to Hong Kong, and a cruising speed of Mach 0.85 (about 900 km/h or 560 mph at cruising altitude).

As of November 2012 there had been 262 firm orders for the A380, of which 92 have been delivered. The largest order, for 90 aircraft, was from Emirates.


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On this Day: 17th January 2007 – The Doomsday Clock is set to five minutes to midnight in response to North Korea nuclear testing



The Doomsday Clock is a symbolic clock face, maintained since 1947 by the board of directors of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists at the University of Chicago. The closer the clock is to midnight, the closer the world is estimated to be to global disaster. The most recent officially announced setting — five minutes to midnight (11:55pm) — was made on 10 January 2012. Reflecting international events dangerous to humankind, the clock's hands have been adjusted twenty times since its inception in 1947, when the clock was initially set to seven minutes to midnight (11:53pm).

Originally, the clock analogy represented the threat of global nuclear war; however, since 2007 it has also reflected climate-changing technologies and "new developments in the life sciences that could inflict irrevocable harm."

Since its inception, the clock has been depicted on every cover of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists. Its first representation was in 1947, when magazine co-founder Hyman Goldsmith asked artist Martyl Langsdorf (wife of Manhattan Project research associate and Szilárd petition signatory Alexander Langsdorf, Jr.) to design a cover for the magazine's June 1947 issue.


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Wednesday, 16 January 2013

On this Day: 16th January1909 – Ernest Shackleton's expedition finds the magnetic South Pole



The "Great Southern Journey",as Frank Wild called it, began on 19 October 1908. On 9 January 1909 Ernest Shackleton and three companions (Wild, Eric Marshall and Jameson Adams) reached a new Farthest South latitude of 88° 23 S, a point only 112 miles (180 km) from the Pole. En route the South Pole party discovered the Beardmore Glacier, (named after Shackleton's patron), and became the first persons to see and travel on the South Polar Plateau. Their return journey to McMurdo Sound was a race against starvation, on half-rations for much of the way. At one point Shackleton gave his one biscuit allotted for the day to the ailing Frank Wild, who wrote in his diary: "All the money that was ever minted would not have bought that biscuit and the remembrance of that sacrifice will never leave me". They arrived at Hut Point just in time to catch the ship.

The expedition's other main accomplishments included the first ascent of Mount Erebus, and the discovery of the approximate location of the South Magnetic Pole, reached on 16 January 1909 by Edgeworth David, Douglas Mawson, and Alistair Mackay. Shackleton returned to the United Kingdom as a hero, and soon afterwards published his expedition account, Heart of the Antarctic. Emily Shackleton later recorded: "The only comment he made to me about not reaching the Pole was "a live donkey is better than a dead lion, isn't it?" and I said "Yes darling, as far as I am concerned".


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Monday, 14 January 2013

On this Day: 15th January 2001 – Wikipedia, a free Wiki content encyclopedia, goes online







Wikipedia is a collaboratively edited, multilingual, free Internet encyclopedia supported by the non-profit Wikimedia Foundation. Its 24 million articles, over 4.1 million in the English Wikipedia alone, have been written collaboratively by volunteers around the world. Almost all of its articles can be edited by anyone with access to the site, and it has about 100,000 active contributors. As of January 2013, there are editions of Wikipedia in 285 languages. It has become the largest and most popular general reference work on the Internet, ranking sixth globally among all websites on Alexa and having an estimated 365 million readers worldwide. In 2011, Wikipedia received an estimated 2.7 billion monthly pageviews from the United States alone.

Wikipedia began as a complementary project for Nupedia, a free online English-language encyclopedia project whose articles were written by experts and reviewed under a formal process. Nupedia was founded on March 9, 2000, under the ownership of Bomis, Inc, a web portal company. Its main figures were the Bomis CEO Wales and Larry Sanger, editor-in-chief for Nupedia and later Wikipedia.

While Wales is credited with defining the goal of making a publicly editable encyclopedia, Sanger is usually credited with the strategy of using a wiki to reach that goal. On January 10, 2001, Sanger proposed on the Nupedia mailing list to create a wiki as a "feeder" project for Nupedia.Wikipedia was formally launched on January 15, 2001, as a single English-language edition at www.wikipedia.com, and announced by Sanger on the Nupedia mailing list. Wikipedia's policy of "neutral point-of-view" was codified in its initial months, and was similar to Nupedia's earlier "nonbiased" policy. Otherwise, there were relatively few rules initially and Wikipedia operated independently of Nupedia.

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On this Day: 14th January 1973 Elvis Presley's concert Aloha from Hawaii sets the record as the most watched broadcast in television history








Aloha from Hawaii was a music concert that was headlined by Elvis Presley, and was broadcast live via satellite on January 14, 1973. The concert took place at the Honolulu International Center (HIC) in Honolulu (now known as the Neal S. Blaisdell Center) and aired in over 40 countries across Asia and Europe (who received the telecast the next day, also in primetime). Despite the satellite innovation, the United States did not air the concert until April 4, 1973 (the concert took place the same day as Super Bowl VII). Viewing figures have been estimated at over 1 billion viewers world wide. The show was the most expensive entertainment special at the time, costing $2.5 million.

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Thursday, 10 January 2013

On this Day: 10th January 1946 – The first General Assembly of the United Nations opens in London



The General Assembly meets under its president or Secretary-General in regular yearly sessions the main part of which lasts from September to December and resumed part from January until all issues are addressed (which often is just before the next session's start). It can also reconvene for special and emergency special sessions. Its composition, functions, powers, voting, and procedures are set out in Chapter IV of the United Nations Charter.

Delegates of fifty nations met at San Francisco between April 25 and June 26, 1945. Working on the Dumbarton Oaks proposals, the Yalta Agreement, and amendments proposed by various Governments, the Conference agreed upon the Charter of the United Nations and the Statute of the New International Court of Justice. The Charter was passed unanimously and signed by all the representatives. It came into force on October 24, 1945, when China, France, the USSR, the United Kingdom, and the United States and a majority of the other signatories had filed their instruments of ratification.

The first session of the General Assembly was convened on 10 January 1946 in the Westminster Central Hall in London and included representatives of 51 nations.

Voting in the General Assembly on important questions – recommendations on peace and security; election of members to organs; admission, suspension, and expulsion of members; budgetary matters – is by a two-thirds majority of those present and voting. Other questions are decided by majority vote. Each member country has one vote. Apart from approval of budgetary matters, including adoption of a scale of assessment, Assembly resolutions are not binding on the members. The Assembly may make recommendations on any matters within the scope of the UN, except matters of peace and security under Security Council consideration. The one state, one vote power structure theoretically allows states comprising just eighteen percent of the world population to pass a resolution by a two-thirds vote.

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Tuesday, 8 January 2013

On this Day: 8th January 1963 – Leonardo da Vinci's Mona Lisa is exhibited in the United States for the first time


From December 1962 to March 1963, the French government lent it to the United States to be displayed in New York City and Washington, D.C. In 1974, the painting was exhibited in Tokyo and Moscow.

Before the 1962–1963 tour, the painting was assessed, for insurance purposes, as valued at $100 million; the insurance was not bought. Instead more money was spent on security. As an expensive painting, it has only recently been surpassed, in terms of actual price, by four other paintings: the Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I by Gustav Klimt, which was sold for $135 million, the Woman III by Willem de Kooning sold for $138 million in November 2006, and No. 5, 1948 by Jackson Pollock sold for $140 million in November 2006 and one painting from The Card Players series by Paul Cezanne sold for a record of more than $250million. Although these figures are greater than the 1962 figure at which the Mona Lisa was valued, the comparison does not account for the change in prices due to inflation – $100 million in 1962 is approximately $720 million in 2010 when adjusted for inflation using the US Consumer Price Index.

This special one-picture loan was made directly to the President of the United States and the American people by the government of the French Republic. The French Minister of Cultural Affairs, André Malraux, accompanied the painting to the United States. All arrangements were handled by the White House. A special viewing was held on Tuesday, January 8, for President and Mrs. John F. Kennedy, the Cabinet, the Supreme Court, the Congress, and the Diplomatic Corps.

The painting was installed on a baffle draped in red velvet, in the center of the West Sculpture Hall, and was guarded around the clock by United States Marines. The Gallery added 4 hours of viewing time per day. This was the first time the Gallery was open every evening. Because of the crowds, visitors had to wait in line up to 2 hours. The painting was also shown at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York from February 7 to March 4, and returned to France aboard the S.S. United States on March 7.

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Monday, 7 January 2013

On this Day: 7th January 1989 – Prince Akihito is sworn in as the emperor of Japan after the death of his father Hirohito



Akihito is the eldest son and the fifth child of Emperor Hirohito (the Shōwa Emperor) and Empress Kōjun. Titled Prince Tsugu (継宮 Tsugu-no-miya?) as a child, he was raised and educated by his private tutors and then attended the elementary and secondary departments of the Peers' School (Gakushūin) from 1940 to 1952. Unlike his predecessors in the Imperial Family, he did not receive a commission as an Army officer, at the request of his father, Hirohito. In June 1953, Crown Prince Akihito represented Japan at the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II in London.

Then-Crown Prince Akihito and Crown Princess Michiko made official visits to thirty-seven countries. As an Imperial prince, Akihito compared the role of Japanese royalty to that of a robot; and he expressed the hope that he would like to help in bringing the Imperial family closer to the people of Japan.

After the death of Emperor Hirohito on 7 January 1989, the crown prince received the succession (senso). Emperor Akihito formally acceded to the throne (sokui) on 12 November 1990. In 1998, during a state visit to the United Kingdom, he was invested with The Most Noble Order of the Garter.


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Friday, 4 January 2013

On this Day: 4th January 2010 – Burj Khalifa, the world's tallest building, is officially opened



Burj Khalifa (Arabic: برج خليفة‎), known as Burj Dubai prior to its inauguration, is a skyscraper in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, and is the tallest man-made structure in the world, at 829.8 m (2,722 ft).

Construction began on 21 September 2004, with the exterior of the structure completed on 1 October 2009. The building officially opened on 4 January 2010, and is part of the new 2 km2 (490-acre) development called Downtown Dubai at the 'First Interchange' along Sheikh Zayed Road, near Dubai's main business district. The tower's architecture and engineering were performed by Skidmore, Owings and Merrill of Chicago, with Adrian Smith as chief architect, and Bill Baker as chief structural engineer.

The opening of Burj Khalifa was held on 4 January 2010. The ceremony featured a display of 10,000 fireworks, light beams projected on and around the tower, and further sound, light and water effects. The celebratory lighting was designed by UK lighting designers Speirs and Major. Using the 868 powerful stroboscope lights that are integrated into the façade and spire of the tower, different lighting sequences were choreographed, together with more than 50 different combinations of the other effects.

The event began with a short film which depicted the story of Dubai and the evolution of Burj Khalifa. The displays of sound, light, water and fireworks followed. The portion of the show consisting of the various pyrotechnic, lighting, water and sound effects was divided into three. The first part was primarily a light and sound show, which took as its theme the link between desert flowers and the new tower, and was co-ordinated with the Dubai Fountain and pyrotechnics. The second portion, called 'Heart Beat', represented the construction of the tower in a dynamic light show with the help of 300 projectors which generated a shadow-like image of the tower. In the third act, sky tracers and space cannons enveloped the tower in a halo of white light, which expanded as the lighting rig on the spire activated.

The ceremony was relayed live on a giant screen on Burj Park Island, as well as several television screens placed across the Downtown Dubai development. Hundreds of media outlets from around the world reported live from the scene. In addition to the media presence, 6,000 guests were expected.


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Thursday, 3 January 2013

On this Day: 3rd January 1959 – Alaska is admitted as the 49th U.S. state


Starting in the 1890s and stretching in some places to the early 1910s, gold rushes in Alaska and the nearby Yukon Territory brought thousands of miners and settlers to Alaska. Alaska was officially incorporated as an organized territory in 1912. Alaska's capital, which had been in Sitka until 1906, was moved north to Juneau, and began to take shape with the construction of the Alaska Governor's Mansion that same year.
Statehood for Alaska was an important cause of James Wickersham early in his tenure as a congressional delegate. Decades later, the statehood movement gained its first real momentum following a territorial referendum in 1946. The Alaska Statehood Committee and Alaska's Constitutional Convention would soon follow. Statehood supporters also found themselves fighting major battles against political foes, mostly in the U.S. Congress but also within Alaska. Statehood was approved by Congress on July 7, 1958. Alaska was officially proclaimed a state on January 3, 1959.

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Tuesday, 1 January 2013

On this Day: 1st January 1985 – The Internet's Domain Name System is created



The Domain Name System (DNS) is a hierarchical distributed naming system for computers, services, or any resource connected to the Internet or a private network. It associates various information with domain names assigned to each of the participating entities. A Domain Name Service resolves queries for these names into IP addresses for the purpose of locating computer services and devices worldwide. By providing a worldwide, distributed keyword-based redirection service, the Domain Name System is an essential component of the functionality of the Internet.

An often-used analogy to explain the Domain Name System is that it serves as the phone book for the Internet by translating human-friendly computer hostnames into IP addresses. For example, the domain name www.example.com translates to the addresses 192.0.43.10 (IPv4) and 2620:0:2d0:200::10 (IPv6). Unlike a phone book, DNS can be quickly updated and these updates are distributed, allowing a service's location on the network to change without affecting the end users, who continue to use the same hostname. Users take advantage of this when they recite meaningful Uniform Resource Locators (URLs) and e-mail addresses without having to know how the computer actually locates the services.

The Domain Name System distributes the responsibility of assigning domain names and mapping those names to IP addresses by designating authoritative name servers for each domain. Authoritative name servers are assigned to be responsible for their particular domains, and in turn can assign other authoritative name servers for their sub-domains. This mechanism has made the DNS distributed and fault tolerant and has helped avoid the need for a single central register to be continually consulted and updated. Additionally, the responsibility for maintaining and updating the master record for the domains is spread among many domain name registrars, who compete for the end-user's, domain-owner's, business. Domains can be moved from registrar to registrar at any time.
The Domain Name System also specifies the technical functionality of this database service. It defines the DNS protocol, a detailed specification of the data structures and communication exchanges used in DNS, as part of the Internet Protocol Suite.

The Internet maintains two principal namespaces, the domain name hierarchy and the Internet Protocol (IP) address spaces.[2] The Domain Name System maintains the domain name hierarchy and provides translation services between it and the address spaces. Internet name servers and a communication protocol implement the Domain Name System. A DNS name server is a server that stores the DNS records for a domain name, such as address (A) records, name server (NS) records, and mail exchanger (MX) records (see also list of DNS record types); a DNS name server responds with answers to queries against its database.


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On this Day: 2nd January 1979 – Sex Pistols bassist Sid Vicious stands trial for murder of girlfriend and manager Nancy Spungen


On the morning of 12 October 1978, Sex Pistols bassist Sid Vicious claimed to have awoken from a drugged induced stupor to find Nancy Spungen dead on the bathroom floor of their room in the Hotel Chelsea in Manhattan, New York. She had suffered a single stab wound to her abdomen and appeared to have bled to death.

On October 22, ten days after Spungen's death, Vicious attempted suicide by slitting his wrist with a smashed light bulb and was subsequently hospitalized at Bellevue Hospital. He was charged with assault after an altercation with Todd Smith (singer Patti Smith's brother) at a Skafish concert. Vicious was arrested December 9, 1978 and sent to Rikers Island metro jail for 55 days, appearing in court on the 2nd January 1979, however there was insufficient evidence at this time and he was released on bail on February 1, 1979.

On the evening of February 2, 1979, a small gathering to celebrate Vicious having made bail was held at 63 Bank Street, New York where Vicious is believed to have committed suicide by taking an overdose of heroin, aged 21.

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