The World Almanac E-Newsletter

Volume 4, Number 12 - December 2004

 

 

 

What's in this issue?

December Events
Holidays - National and International
This Day in History - December
December Birthdays
Travel: Little Rock, Arkansas
Obituaries - November 2004
Special Feature: Antarctica: World's Largest Preserve
Chronology - Events of November 2004
Science in the News: The Physics of Fluffier Popcorn
Offbeat News Stories
From the World Almanac: Computer Milestones
Links of the Month
How to Reach Us

December Events

December 2-5 - St. Olaf Christmas Festival, Northfield, MN
December 2-12 - World's Largest Outlet Sale (Pigeon Forge, TN)
December 3-4 - Christmas Festival of Lights, Natchitoches, LA; Geneva's Christmas Walk (Geneva, IL)
December 10 - Nobel Prizes awarded (announced in October)
December 11-12 - Dickens of a Christmas (Franklin, TN)
December 13 - Heisman Trophy awarded; St. Lucia's Day, Sweden
December 14 - New Orleans Bowl
December 15 - Gone With the Wind premiere, 65th anniversary
December 16 - Battle of the Bulge, 60th anniversary
December 20 - Nuts Fair (Bastogne, Belgium)
December 21 - 1st day of Winter (Northern Hemisphere); Tangerine Bowl (Orlando, FL)
December 22- GMAC Bowl (Mobile, AL)
December 23 - Fort Worth Bowl; Las Vegas Bowl
December 24 - Hawaii Bowl (Honolulu, HI)
December 25 - Blue Gray All-Star Classic, Montgomery, AL
December 26 - Junkanoo Festival (Bahamas)
December 27 - Motor City Bowl (Detroit, MI)
December 28 - Independence Bowl (Shreveport, LA); Insight.com Bowl (Phoenix, AZ
December 29 - Alamo Bowl (San Antonio, TX); Houston Bowl
December 30 - Holiday Bowl (San Diego, CA); Continental Tire Bowl (Charlotte, NC); Silicon Valley Classic (San Jose, CA); Emerald San Francisco Bowl
December 31 - Peach Bowl (Atlanta, GA); Liberty Bowl (Memphis, TN); Sun Bowl (El Paso, TX); Music City Bowl (Nashville, TN)

December Holidays

December 1 - National Day (Romania); UN World AIDS Day
December 8 - Feast of the Immaculate Conception
December 7-15 - Hanukkah
December 12 - Jamhuri Day (Kenya); Virgin of Guadalupe Day (Mexico)
December 25 - Christmas Day
December 26 - Boxing Day (Canada); St. Stephen's Day
December 26- January 1 - Kwanzaa
December 27- Boxing Day (Australia, UK)
December 28 - Holy Innocents Day
December 31 - New Year's Eve

IT'S A FACT!

The eruption of the Mt. Tambora volcano in Indonesia from April 10-12, 1815 killed 92,000 people and is thought to be the deadliest eruption in human history.

This Day in History - December

Day

Year

Event

1

1918

U.S. and British troops begin occupying Germany following the end of World War I.

2

1804

Napoleon Bonaparte is crowned emperor of France.

3

1984

Deadly gas leaks from a Union Carbide plant in Bhopal, India, killing more than 2,000 people and injuring 200,000.

4

1991

Journalist Terry Anderson becomes the last U.S. hostage freed in Lebanon.

5

1775

The first Phi Beta Kappa chapter is founded, at the College of William and Mary.

6

1917

Much of Halifax, Nova Scotia, is destroyed by a tidal wave caused when 2 ships, 1 loaded with explosives, collide in Halifax Harbor.

7

1988

An earthquake in the Soviet province of Armenia kills 55,000.

8

1980

Former Beatle John Lennon is shot and killed outside his New York City apartment building.

9

1941

China declares war on Germany, Italy, and Japan.

10

1898

The U.S. and Spanish ambassadors negotiate the Treaty of Paris, ending the Spanish-American War. Spain cedes the Philippines, Puerto Rico, and Guam and approves the independence of Cuba.

11

1946

UNICEF is established by the UN General Assembly.

12

1985

An Arrow Air charter crashes after taking off from Gander, Newfoundland, killing 256 people, including 248 American soldiers.

13

1577

Sir Francis Drake begins his voyage to circumnavigate the globe.

14

1918

In Great Britain, women vote for the first time.

15

1890

Sioux leader Sitting Bull is killed in a skirmish with U.S. soldiers.

16

1773

To protest a British tax on tea, patriots dressed as Indians board a British vessel and throw 350 chests of tea overboard, in what becomes known as the Boston Tea Party.

17

1933

The Chicago Bears defeat the NY Giants in the first NFL championship game, 23-21.

18

1916

The longest battle of World War I, the Battle of Verdun, ends with 750,000 casualties.

19

1984

China sovereignty over Hong Kong as of July 1, 1997.

20

1803

The Louisiana Purchase is completed; under its terms, the United States doubles its area by taking title to more than 800,000 square miles of land previously owned by France, for a price tag of $15 million.

21

1913

The first crossword puzzle is published, in a supplement to the New York World.

22

1928

In India, Mahatma Gandhi calls for mass civil disobedience if India is not given dominion status within a year.

23

1948

Tojo Hideki, prime minister of Japan from 1941 to 1944, is executed for war crimes.

24

1994

Carlos "The Jackal," one of the world's most notorious terrorists, is sentenced to life in prison by a Paris court.

25

1989

Romanian Communist dictator Nicolae Ceausescu and his wife, ousted in an uprising, are executed after being tried and found guilty of genocide.

26

1991

The Soviet Union is officially broken up.

27

1927

Leon Trotsky and his followers are expelled from the Communist Party by the Soviet Communist Congress.

28

2001

Pres. Bush formally grants China permanent normal trade status with the U.S.

29

1940

In World War II, Germany begins dropping incendiary bombs on London.

30

1862

The Union ironclad USS Monitor sinks in a storm off Cape Hatteras.

31

1879

Thomas Edison publicly demonstrates his electric incandescent light for the first time, in Menlo Park, NJ.

December Birthdays

Day

Year

 

01

1939

Lee Trevino, golfer (Dallas, TX)

02

1981

Britney Spears, singer (Kentwood, LA)

03

1965

Katarina Witt, Olympic champion figure skater (Karl-Marx-Stadt, East Germany)

04

1973

Tyra Banks, model/actress (Los Angeles, CA)

05

1932

Little Richard (Penniman), singer/songwriter (Macon, GA)

06

1920

Dave Brubeck, jazz musician (Concord, CA)

07

1928

Noam Chomsky, linguist and political activist (Philadelphia, PA)

08

1978

Vernon Wells, baseball player (Shreveport, LA)

09

1916

Kirk Douglas, actor (Amsterdam, NY)

10

1960

Kenneth Branagh, actor/director (Belfast, Northern Ireland)

11

1944

Brenda Lee, singer (Atlanta, GA)

12

1924

Ed Koch, former New York City mayor (New York, NY)

13

1969

Sergei Federov, hockey player (Pskov, Russia)

14

1946

Patty Duke, actress (New York, NY)

15

1916

Maurice H. Wilkins, biophysicist and co-discoverer of the structure of DNA (Pongaroa, New Zealand)

16

1917

Arthur C. Clarke, science fiction author (Minehead, England)

17

1929

William Safire, journalist (New York, NY)

18

1964

Brad Pitt, actor (Shawnee, OK)

19

1944

Richard Leakey, anthropologist/paleontologist (Nairobi, Kenya)

20

1946

Uri Geller, psychic/clairvoyant (Tel Aviv, Israel)

21

1937

Jane Fonda, actress and exercise proponent (New York, NY)

22

1912

Lady Bird Johnson, first lady of the United States (Karnack, TX)

23

1918

Helmut Schmidt, West German chancellor (Hamburg, Germany)

24

1931

Mary Higgins Clark, author (New York, NY)

25

1954

Annie Lennox, singer (Aberdeen, Scotland)

26

1954

Susan Butcher, sled dog racer (Cambridge, MA)

27

1943

Cokie Roberts, TV journalist (New Orleans, LA)

28

1934

Maggie Smith, actress (Ilford, England)

29

1953

Gelsey Kirkland, ballerina (Bethlehem, PA)

30

1942

Michael Nesmith, singer/songwriter and member of the Monkees (Dallas, TX)

31

1948

Donna Summer, singer (Boston, MA)

Travel: Little Rock, Arkansas

Little Rock, Ark., has traditionally offered visitors attractions of the kind you might expect from a medium-size town (about 200,000 in population) that is the capital of a modest-sized state. Its residential areas are celebrated for their roses-hence the town's sobriquet, "City of Roses." But in recent years Little Rock has also been invigorated by a major construction project devoted to the legacy of perhaps the most famous Arkansan in history: former U.S. President Bill Clinton. The festive, albeit rain-drenched opening of the William Jefferson Clinton Presidential Center and Park on Nov. 18, 2004, drew some 30,000 people, including celebrities, ranging from political figures like President George W. Bush; former presidents Jimmy Carter, George H. W. Bush, and Clinton; former Vice President Al Gore; and Senator John Kerry (Mass.) to Bono (of U2), Barbra Streisand, Kevin Spacey, Robin Williams, and other stars of the entertainment world. Foreign dignitaries in attendance included former Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Peres and former presidents Ernesto Zedillo of Mexico and Andres Pastrana of Colombia.

New presidential library

The $165 million, privately financed Clinton Center houses what is said to be the biggest of the dozen or so presidential libraries under the supervision of the National Archives and Records Administration. Situated along the south bank of the Arkansas River in an area that had previously tended toward the down-at-heel, the strikingly designed library, whose address is 1200 President Clinton Avenue, sits on some 30 acres of parkland. Also on the site is a century-old train depot, renovated to house the Little Rock offices of the Clinton Foundation, as well as the Clinton School of Public Service, part of the University of Arkansas. An old railroad bridge across the river has been refashioned into a pedestrian crossing.

The library offers splendid vistas of the river and distant mountains as well as of downtown Little Rock and Little Rock's six bridges. Designed by the New York-based Polshek Partnership, it resembles a segment of a bridge jutting over the river. Clinton on opening day explicitly characterized it as a bridge to the 21st century, voicing the hope that it would inspire young people to engage in public service. He said it symbolized "not only what I tried to do but what I want to do with the rest of my life. Building bridges from yesterday to tomorrow. Building bridges across racial and religious and ethnic and income and political divides." Polshek, which received the Smithsonian Institution's Cooper-Hewitt National Design Award for Architecture in 2004, has been responsible for such other high-profile projects as the Rose Center for Earth and Space at the American Museum of Natural History in New York and the Cantor Center for Visual Arts at Stanford University in California, as well as the Newseum journalism museum slated to open in Washington, D.C., in 2006.

To help protect the valuable historical materials kept in the library, the glass used is a special type that blocks ultraviolet radiation and reduces the heating effects of sunlight. In addition, the space for the archives is located at and below grade level in an area beyond the flood plain. The library and archives contain some 80 million pages of records and documents and 21 million e-mail messages, as well as nearly 2 million photographs and 79,000 gifts and artifacts. (The Clinton Presidential Materials Project, under the National Archives and Records Administration, has been busy processing the massive amount of archival material produced by the Clinton administration and will begin making it available on Jan. 20, 2006; that is, in accordance with law, exactly five years after the end of the Clinton administration.)

Beyond the presidential library

The Clinton Presidential Center project catalyzed extensive development efforts-to the tune of more than $1 billion-in downtown Little Rock as well as across the river, in North Little Rock. Results include the rejuvenation of the city's River Market District adjacent to the library, where new housing, restaurants, bars, and stores have sprung up. A "River Rail" trolley system, some 2.5 mi long, now connects the River Market with key sites, such as the Convention Center and hotels as well as with parts of North Little Rock.

History buffs will want to visit the Old State House Museum, the Historic Arkansas Museum, the Central High School National Historic Site, and the MacArthur Museum of Arkansas Military History in the 19th-century Little Rock Arsenal (the birthplace of General Douglas MacArthur). The Old State House, located in the Quapaw Quarter, a district with a plethora of structures from both the early and late 19th century is famed for its Doric architecture. It was the location of Clinton's announcement of his presidential candidacy in 1991 and his first press conference after his 1992 election, and it currently features an exhibit outlining his path to the White House. The Historic Arkansas Museum includes five antebellum structures, among them the region's oldest house, the 1827 Hinderliter Grog Shop. Federal troops were dispatched to Central High School in 1957 to maintain order during the initial stage of racial integration, and the school is remembered today as one of the more notorious sites in the history of the U.S. civil rights movement.

MacArthur Park, where the Little Rock Arsenal is located, is also the site of the Arkansas Arts Center, which boasts a children's theater, several galleries, a museum school, and a decorative arts museum. From mid-November 2004 to late January 2005, the Arts Center is featuring "Art and the White House" a show based on works of art borrowed by the White House in the period from the Kennedy to Clinton administrations.

Other websites:
City of Little Rock, http://www.littlerock.org
Clinton Presidential Center, http://www.clintonpresidentialcenter.org
Clinton Presidential Materials Project, http://www.clintonlibrary.gov
Little Rock Convention & Visitors Bureau, http://www.littlerock.com
U.S. National Archives and Records Administration, Presidential Libraries, http://www.archives.gov/presidential_libraries

IT'S A FACT!

Since 1990, the number of cellular phone users has increased more than 100-fold, to more than 1.3 billion, while the number of main telephone lines has barely doubled.

Obituaries in November

Barrymore, John Drew, 72, actor with a sporadic career, who was the son of stage and screen idol John Barrymore, and father of actress Drew Barrymore; Los Angeles, CA, Nov. 29, 2004.

Chang, Iris, 36, historian whose book The Rape of Nanking (1997), a chronicle of Japanese atrocities in China before World War II, became an international best-seller; near Los Gatos, CA, Nov. 9, 2004.

Cherry, Bobby Frank, 74, ex-Klansman convicted in 2002 of first-degree murder in a 1963 Birmingham, AL church bombing that left four black girls dead; Kilby Correctional Facility near Montgomery, AL, Nov. 18, 2004.

Coleman, Cy, 75, composer who scored such Broadway musicals as Sweet Charity (1966) and On the Twentieth Century (1978); a number of his tunes became standards; New York, NY, Nov. 18, 2004.

De Broca, Philippe, 71, French film director who made such well-known films as That Man From Rio (1963) and King of Hearts (1966); Neuilly-sur-Seine, France, Nov. 25, 2004.

Eitan, Rafael, 75, Israeli army chief of staff (1978-83) who led Israel's controversial invasion of Lebanon and founded a hard-line party, Tzomet, after he left the army; drowned off the coast of Ashdod, Israel, Nov. 22, 2004.

Fairclough, Ellen L., 99, Canada's first female cabinet minister, a distinction she achieved in 1957, when then-Prime Minister John Diefenbaker named her secretary of state; Hamilton, ON, Nov. 13, 2004.

Hailey, Arthur, 84, best-selling British-born author of Hotel (1965), Airport (1968) and other painstakingly researched novels about ordinary people placed in dire situations; a 1970 film version of Airport spawned a series of 1970s disaster films; Lyford Cay, the Bahamas, Nov. 24, 2004.

Hargis, Billy James, 79, evangelist whose anticommunist message as founder and leader of the Church of the Christian Crusade reached millions in the 1950s and 1960s; Tulsa, OK, Nov. 27, 2004.

Irvine, Reed, 82, founder (1969) and longtime chairman of the conservative media-watchdog group Accuracy in Media (AIM); Rockville, MD, Nov. 16, 2004.

Keel, Howard, 85, singing actor who starred in a number of 1950s Hollywood musicals and years later (1981-91) was in the hit TV show "Dallas"; Palm Desert, CA, Nov. 7, 2004.

Keys, Ancel, 100, physiologist who invented the K rations fed to hundreds of thousands of U.S. troops during World War II, implicated saturated fat in the development of heart disease, and was the first prominent scientist to promote the health benefits of a Mediterranean-style diet; Minneapolis, MN, Nov. 20, 2004.

Melcher, Terry, 62, singer, songwriter and record producer who helped shape the sound of the popular music that came to be identified with Southern California in the 1960s; he also worked on several projects with his mother, actress Doris Day; Beverly Hills, CA, Nov. 19, 2004.

ODB (Ol' Dirty Bastard) (Russell T. Jones), 35, rap artist who was a founding member of the Wu Tang Clan, arguably the most influential hip hop group of the 1990s; New York, NY, Nov. 13, 2004.

Perrin, Noel, 77, Dartmouth College literature professor who wrote essays on many subjects but was perhaps best known as a celebrator of the joys of rural living; Thetford Center, VT, Nov. 21, 2004.

Vane, Sir Robert, 77, British pharmacologist who won a Nobel Prize in 1982 for explaining the action of aspirin and other painkillers on the family of hormone-like substances known as prostaglandins; Farnborough, England, Nov. 19, 2004.

Zayed bin Sultan al-Nuhayyan, Sheik, about 86, founding president (1971) of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and ruler of its Abu Dhabi component since 1966; Abu Dhabi, UAE, Nov. 2, 2004.

SPECIAL FEATURE: Antarctica: World's Largest Preserve

by Joseph Gustaitis

Forty-five years ago -- on December 1, 1959 -- representatives of 12 nations assembled in Washington, D.C. to sign a treaty that set aside the entire area of Antarctica as a scientific preserve free from military activities. The pact had long been a cherished goal of U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower With the Cold War chilling international relations, Eisenhower and many others feared that even that remote region could become the site of military competition between the world's superpowers. Now, however, the 14-article treaty, in its very first provision, pledged that "Antarctica shall be used for peaceful purposes only. There shall be prohibited...any [military] measure...such as the establishment of military bases and fortifications, the carrying out of military maneuvers, as well as the testing of any type of weapons." The pact also guaranteed "freedom of scientific investigation" and made provisions that the signatories would "exchange scientific plans, personnel, and observations." The historic agreement was followed by several other pacts that dealt with Antarctica's environment and sought to conserve various resources and animal and plant life. In all, the Antarctic Treaty was a remarkable gesture of peace in an era fraught with suspicion and hostility.

Exploration and Discovery The world's fifth-largest continent -- larger than Europe, with 10% of the earth's land mass -- Antarctica remains remote, frigid, hostile, and mysterious even in the space age. It was not even known to exist until 1820, when vessels from the United States, Russia, and Great Britain sighted it within days or weeks of one another. (Historians are not sure who saw it first). The first landing was made on February 7, 1821, by men from a ship captained by the American John Davis, who was in search of fur seals. Thereafter, Antarctica became the object of a few scientific and exploratory expeditions, but after the 1840s interest in the continent waned. It did not revive until the last decade of the 19th century, during which no fewer than 16 expeditions from nine countries explored the area.

In the annals of Antarctic exploration, no challenge has been more epic than the famous race to the South Pole between teams led by British naval officer Robert Falcon Scott and the Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen. Scott's expedition, which was beset by appalling hardships, reached the pole on January 17-18, 1912, only to find the remains of the campsite that had been erected on the previous December 14 by Amundsen, whose trek had been largely trouble-free. Scott's entire party perished on the return trip; their bodies were eventually discovered just 11 miles from a supply depot. Although Scott became a hero in his native Britain, historians generally agree today that his expedition made some fatal errors. Unlike Amundsen, he did not make full use of sled dogs, and he had also failed to learn cold-weather survival techniques from the indigenous inhabitants of the Arctic -- a group that Amundsen had studied to his benefit

The development of aviation changed everything in Antarctica, since it allowed access to the continent's remote interior without an arduous land journey. Sir George Hubert Wilkins of Australia made the first airplane flight over Antarctica in 1928, but after that the name most often linked with Antarctic exploration by air was that of the U.S. explorer, Admiral Richard E. Byrd. Byrd made the first flight to the South Pole on November 29, 1929, in a round trip of a mere 18 hours and 41 minutes, but he did not land. Thereafter various nations began to stake out territorial claims, although no one returned to the pole itself until 1956, when a Navy plane landed there -- an event that marked the beginning of a permanent U.S. station, the Amundsen-Scott Base. In 1957, 18 men spent an entire winter of cold and darkness at the South Pole. The United States established five coastal and three interior bases in Antarctica, the major one being McMurdo on Ross Island. The Soviet Union set up four stations, Great Britain had 14, and several other countries had established a presence. The age of exploration was now effectively over, and researchers' attention turned to a variety of scientific issues.

Vital Environmental Information One of the most striking subjects of study emerged in the mid-1980s, when researchers began reporting a "hole" in the ozone layer (a section of the stratosphere some 15 miles high) over Antarctica. The hole appeared each year, reaching its largest size around October, just after the end of the Antarctic winter, and was found to have grown considerably every year since the late 1970s. (A similar hole was also discovered over the North Pole.) The ozone layer is thought to provide protection against ultraviolet radiation from the sun, which has been associated with rising rates of skin cancer. Since the 1970s environmental scientists had worried that industrial activity, especially chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), which are chemicals used as refrigerants, aerosol propellants and solvents, could damage it.

By 1995 ozone levels over Antarctica had reportedly declined by more than 30% from the late 1950s (at some altitudes, the decline was as much as 95%). The hole was reported to spread across nearly four million square miles (10 million sq km) and to be growing at the rate of 1% per day. In October 2000 researchers reported that the hole in the ozone layer had expanded to a record size and, for the first time, had reached a population center - Punta Arenas, Chile, which had been exposed to unusually high levels of ultraviolet radiation.

Antarctica has also come to play a key role in the observation of global warming, the increase in world temperature caused by increasing concentrations of "greenhouse gases." These gases are produced by such activities as the burning of fossil fuels and the destruction of tropical forests. It has been calculated that if Antarctica's ice were to melt as a consequence of global warming, sea levels around the world would rise over 200 feet -- enough to inundate some very valuable real estate.

A study published in the journal Science in 2001 reported that the Pine Island glacier, the largest in western Antarctica, was melting faster than previously thought, having thinned by about 32 feet (10 m) between 1992 and 1999 and retreated 3 miles (five kilometers) inland. To take another example, in 2002 a section of an ice shelf known as Larsen B measuring 1,250 square miles broke off an Antarctic peninsula. Scientists attributed the event to a long-term rise in summer temperatures in that part of Antarctica, where average temperatures had risen 4.5 Fahrenheit (2.5 Celsius) since 1940, ten times the average rise in global temperatures. Curiously, however, a study published in the British journal Nature in 2002 reported that temperatures in Antarctica had actually fallen in recent decades -- at a rate of 1.2 Fahrenheit (0.7 Celsius) per decade since 1986. The researchers said they did not know the cause of the cooling, but one of them speculated that it might be caused by ocean currents around Antarctica that might isolate it from the global weather system. Despite that finding, glaciers persisted in breaking away from Antarctica and continue to do so.

Antarctica's Future: Environmental Preserve, Natural Resource Bonanza -- or Tourist Trap?

Some have seen Antarctica as a promising source of raw materials, and by the late 1980s seven nations were claiming sovereignty over parts of the continent. In 1988 the U.S. estimated that the continent had 48 billion barrels of offshore petroleum reserves and large quantities of coal, copper, gold, uranium and other minerals. In June of that year 33 nations signed an agreement that would permit commercial mining in Antarctica and in the surrounding ocean. This development worried environmentalists considerably, and France and Australia cosponsored a proposal to preserve Antarctica as a "wilderness park." Eventually, the environmentalists prevailed, and in 1991 representatives of 24 nations agreed on a pact that set a 50-year moratorium on all mining activities and oil exploration in Antarctica and established new regulations for waste disposal, marine pollution, and wildlife protection.

Today, 26 nations, all signatories to the Antarctica Treaty, operate either permanent or seasonal stations in Antarctica. Its population is about 4,000 during the summer and some 1,000 hardy souls during the winter. That doesn't count the tourists, however. Antarctica is growing as a popular tourist destination. (There's even an annual Antarctica marathon.) During the 2002-2003 Antarctic summer, a total of 13,571 tourists visited the continent, nearly all on cruise ships or yachts. It's not exactly Disney World yet, but considering that it's been less than a century since Scott and his men perished under the most horrendous conditions imaginable, that statistic shows how much Antarctica has changed -- and is changing.

IT'S A FACT!

"Devaluation" is the official lowering of a nation's currency, decreasing its value in relation to foreign currencies.

CHRONOLOGY - Events of November 2004

National

Ailing Chief Justice Unable to Resume Duties - Chief Justice William Rehnquist announced Nov. 1 that continuing treatment for thyroid cancer prevented his returning to the court that day as planned. Rehnquist's illness raised the possibility that he might be resigning in the near future, leaving the president at the time to nominate a successor.

Pres. Bush Reelected - Pres. George W. Bush won reelection on Tuesday Nov. 2, capturing 31 states with 286 electoral votes, just 16 more than the 270 needed. His Democratic opponent, Sen. John Kerry, conceded defeat at midday Wednesday, after concluding he could not win enough of remaining uncounted provisional ballots in the battleground state of Ohio to get that state's crucial 20 electoral votes. In the nationwide popular vote, Bush received about 59.5 mil votes (51%), compared to 56 mil (48%) for Kerry, with independent Ralph Nader and other candidates splitting the rest.

Bush thus preserved the tradition that no president who sought reelection in wartime lost. He avoided the fate of his father, Pres. George H. W. Bush, who was defeated for reelection, and became the first incumbent president since Calvin Coolidge to win reelection with majorities for his party in both houses of Congress.

Only one state, New Hampshire, that had gone to Bush in 2000 went to Kerry in 2004. Two states-Iowa and New Mexico-that had voted for Vice Pres. Al Gore in 2000 switched to Bush in 2004. The Democratic nominee ran strong in the Northeast, Middle Atlantic, and West Coast states, while the Southern, Plains, and Rocky Mountain states were solid for Bush.

In exit polls, 22% of voters queried listed moral values as the most important issue in determining their vote. Those who did so favored Bush, 79% to 18%. The war in Iraq and the threat of terrorism were other major concerns. In exit polls, a large majority, 86%, of voters who listed terrorism as the issue that mattered most to them supported Bush, while 74% of those citing Iraq voted for Kerry. Voters who cited the economy as the issue that mattered most to them went strongly (80%) for Kerry; Bush was the first president since Herbert Hoover to see a net loss in jobs during his presidency

According to exit polls, black Americans voted overwhelmingly (89%) for Kerry. Women favored Kerry 52% to 47%; men chose Bush, 54% to 45%. A majority of voters earning under $50,000 a year supported Kerry, while those making more tilted toward Bush. In general, compared to 2000, Bush gained among most key demographic groups, including women, Hispanics, Catholics, Jews, and the elderly.

Predictions that the intensity of the campaign and sharp differences between the candidates would bring out as many as 130 mil voters (vs. 105 mil in 2000) were not realized, but the total did jump to more than 115 mil. Many states allowed early voting; perhaps 20% of all votes were cast before Nov. 2. The election-day chaos that had occurred in Florida in 2000 was not repeated, and sporadic charges of irregularity in a few states did not put the national outcome in question.

The GOP entered the election with 51 Senate seats, to 48 for the Democrats and 1 independent.' Republicans gained 4 seats for a new 55-44 majority. In a major defeat for Democrats, Tom Daschle (SD), the Senate minority leader, narrowly lost his bid for a 4th term to former Congressman John Thune, who argued that Daschle was too liberal for the state. Five Democrats from southern states did not seek reelection, and all five seats fell to the Republicans. Mel Martinez, Bush's former secretary of housing and urban development, won the Florida seat. Veteran Republicans reelected including Arlen Specter (PA), John McCain (AZ), and Chuck Grassley (IA); Jim Bunning (KY) squeaked through despite recent erratic behavior. Tom Coburn, a former House member and an outspoken conservative, kept the open seat in Oklahoma for the Republicans.

The Democrats picked up 2 open Senate seats. In Illinois, State Sen. Barack Obama, whose oratory as keynote speaker had wowed Democratic National Convention delegates, swamped Alan Keyes, a conservative commentator. In Colorado, State Atty. Gen. Ken Salazar, riding a wave of support from Hispanics, defeated Pete Coors, whose family owned the brewing company. Democrats reelected included Barbara Boxer (CA), Chuck Schumer (NY), Evan Bayh (IN), Christopher Dodd (CT), and Harry Reid (NV), the assistant Senate Democratic leader.

Republicans won the House of Representatives, where all 435 seats were up, for the 6th consecutive election. Not since the 1920s and early 1930s had the GOP controlled the House for so long at one stretch. Gerrymandering, in which both parties were complicit, had ensured that most seats were safe for one party or the other. The Republicans began the day with a 227-205 majority (with 1 independent and 2 vacancies) and emerged with at least 231 seats.

In Texas, House Majority Leader Tom DeLay had orchestrated a redistricting plan that threw 5 Democratic incumbents into redrawn districts with majority Republican registration; 4 of them lost. In Louisiana Bobby Jindal (R) became the first person of Indian (Asian) descent elected to Congress. The longest-serving (35 years) Republican in the House, Philip Crane (IL), lost to Melissa Bean, a businesswomen.

Only 11 states elected governors. Republican Mitch Daniels (R), who had been White House budget director, turned out the incumbent governor, Joseph Kernan (IN), who had succeeded to office upon the death in 2003 of Gov. Frank O'Bannon. Four other incumbent governors won reelection. An extremely tight contest in Washington, where Gov. Gary Locke (D) did not seek reelection, remained in doubt, pending recounts.

In all, 11 states proposed ballot measures for constitutional amendments banning gay marriage; all 11 passed. Californians approved a ballot initiative to support spending $3 bil in seed money for stem-cell research. Republicans came out of Nov. 2 with control of 20 state legislatures, while Democrats held 19; 10 were divided and one (Nebraska) is nonpartisan.

Sharp Jump in Job Creation Reported - The government reported Nov. 5 that 337,000 new jobs had been created in October, following a year with mostly anemic figures. The unemployment rate inched upward from 5.4% to 5.5%.

Powell, Others Resign From Bush Cabinet - A flurry of resignations by cabinet members followed Bush's reelection to a new term. On Nov. 8, Atty. Gen. John Ashcroft and Commerce Sec. Donald Evans announced they would step down. On Nov. 10, Bush nominated Alberto Gonzales, the White House counsel and a longtime supporter, to succeed Ashcroft. Gonzales, the son of migrant workers, had served as Texas secretary of state and as a justice on the state supreme court.

Sec. of State Colin Powell announced Nov. 15 that he would step down once a successor was confirmed. Powell had sometimes appeared to be at odds with other members of the administration, with less inclination to favor military intervention in Iraq. Bush announced the next day that he would nominate his national security adviser, Condoleezza Rice, to succeed him; confirmation hearings were expected in January. Other cabinet members who resigned, on Nov. 15, were Ann Veneman (Agriculture), Rod Paige (Education), and Spencer Abraham (Energy). Bush Nov. 17 nominated Margaret Spellings, his chief adviser on domestic issues, to succeed Paige. The first Sec. of Homeland Security, Tom Ridge, announced Nov. 30, that he would step down before Feb. 1st. He was the 7th cabinet member to resign since Pres. Bush's reelection.

New Director Shakes Up the CIA - Newly appointed CIA Director Porter Goss was reportedly stirring up the agency, and generating some antagonisms, as he brought in new personnel. Deputy Director John McLaughlin said Nov. 12 that he would be leaving; 2 more top CIA officials resigned Nov. 15.

Key House GOP Leaders Block Intelligence Bill - Two chairmen of House committees, both Republicans, were blocking passage in November of a bill to implement key recommendations of the commission that investigated the Sept. 11 terrorist attack on the U.S. The bill, which would create a national intelligence director (NID) to oversee the CIA and other spy agencies, had strong bipartisan support in Congress. But Rep. Duncan Hunter (CA), chair of the Armed Services Committee, and James Sensenbrenner (WI), the Judiciary Committee chair, backed by some other conservatives, argued that the measure was not tough enough on illegal immigration and also would force the Pentagon to give up much of its budget and personnel control to the NID, to the possible detriment of troops in combat. Pres. Bush, who supported the bill, said Nov. 21 that he would work with Congress to resolve the impasse.

International

Boy Joins Ranks of Suicide Bombers - A 16-year-old boy killed himself and 3 Israelis in a bombing in Tel Aviv Nov. 1. An Israeli newspaper report said the same day that 165 Palestinians died in the Intifada in October, the most for any month since April 2002.

Palestinian Leader Yasir Arafat Dies in Paris - Yasir Arafat, who for 40 years had personified the struggle of the Palestinian people for statehood, died in Paris Nov. 10. The nature of his illness was not immediately known. He had been president of the Palestinian Authority, head of the Palestine Liberation Organization, and also head of the PLO's largest movement, Fatah.

Arafat had been flown to Paris Oct. 29, where he entered a hospital specializing in blood disorders. Palestinian officials said that his condition was worsening, and he later lapsed into a coma. Arafat's body was flown to Cairo Nov. 11 to lie in state; foreign dignitaries attended a formal service there the next day. Later that day Arafat was flown to Ramallah in the West Bank, where he was buried at his headquarters compound, as some 20,000 Palestinians gave an emotional farewell.

Arafat had not groomed a successor. On Nov. 11, Palestinian leaders chose Mahmoud Abbas as PLO head. He had served briefly as the Palestinian Authority's prime minister in 2003, resigning because Arafat resisted giving him authority.

Karzai Elected First President of Afghanistan - On Nov. 3, a UN-Afghanistan electoral commission declared that Hamid Karzai had won the October presidential election. He had been serving as interim president. By winning a solid majority (55%) of all the votes cast Karzai avoided a runoff. His nearest challenger got 16%. Despite unsettled conditions, threats from insurgents, and a long history of internal strife, the presidential election had succeeded without major disruption.

U.S., Iraqi Troops Overrun Insurgent Stronghold - U.S. soldiers and marines, supported by Iraqi soldiers, stormed and secured most of the terrorist stronghold of Fallujah in grueling house-to-house fighting. Before the city was attacked from the ground, the U.S. bombed it for several days. The offensive was motivated by the need to secure more of the country before the scheduled January election. As the U.S. pre-attack buildup continued, insurgents struck back elsewhere, with bombings, kidnappings, and brutal executions occurring daily across Iraq. Hungary announced Nov. 3 that it would withdraw its 300 troops from lraq. A suicide bomber killed 3 British soldiers Nov. 4. The U.S. military said Nov. 5 that 75% to 80% of Fallujah's 250,000 to 300,000 residents had fled the city. In Samarra, where coalition forces had routed insurgents in October, 4 car bombs exploded Nov. 6 and 3 police stations were attacked.

The invasion of Fallujah, involving 10,000 to15,000 U.S. soldiers and Iraqis, got underway Nov. 7. Americans seized a hospital and bridges. Prime Min. Iyad Allawi declared a nationwide state of emergency. By Nov. 8 it was apparent that the advancing forces were seeking to clear houses of any terrorists one house at a time. Sometimes the defenders contested the advance and at other times they just faded away. By Nov. 9 U.S. and Iraqi forces controlled one-third of the city. On Nov. 13, 2 days after a strong counterattack by insurgents, Army troops and tanks stormed their last major insurgent stronghold, and had overrun it by the next day. U.S. commanders said Nov. 14 that 38 Americans had been killed and 275 wounded in the Falluja assault. Insurgent deaths were put at 1,200 to 1,600. Americans Nov. 18 said they had found a house that had been a headquarters for the Jordanian terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi; troops also uncovered various sites where insurgents had tortured and executed captives.

Meanwhile 2 Americans died in a mortar attack in Mosul, where rebels were deeply ensconced, Nov. 9. A car bomb killed 17 in Baghdad Nov. 11. On Nov. 13, Americans occupied the largest mosque in Ramadi; there and in other mosques, large weapons caches were found. Iraqi troops raided a mosque in Baghdad Nov. 19 and killed 3 Iraqis. A leading Sunni cleric was shot to death in Mosul Nov. 22.

On Nov. 23, U.S., British, and Iraqi troops invaded the so-called Triangle of Death south of Baghdad. The lawless area had recently attracted many insurgents, including those who escaped the Coalition net in Fallujah. Kurd and Sunni Muslim political parties Nov. 26 called for a postponement of the January elections, citing security concerns.

British relatives of Margaret Hassan, who had been kidnapped in October, said Nov. 16 that they believed a videotape showed her being shot to death. The director of the Iraq branch of CARE International, she had spent 30 years giving aid to the poor of Iraq.

Leading creditor nations Nov. 21 voted to cancel 80% of Iraq's $39 billion debt.

UN Warned About Lawlessness in Sudan - Jan Pronk, the UN envoy to Sudan, told the UN Security Council Nov. 4 that the country might soon descend into lawlessness and rule by warlords. On Nov. 16, Amnesty International accused Russia, China, and other countries of selling weapons to Sudan that were being used against civilians. Despite a partial agreement between the Sudanese government and rebels, the latter, operating out of the Darfur region, attacked the town of Tawila in western Sudan Nov. 22. Some 15 to 20 police officers and 6 civilians were killed.

Ivory Coast Government Kills 9 French Peacekeepers - An obscure civil war in the Ivory Coast came to wide attention Nov. 6 when an attack by 2 government planes near Bouake killed 9 French peacekeeping troops and an American civilian. The French shot down both jets.

A shaky year-long ceasefire in the West African country - the world's largest producer of cocoa - had ended Nov. 4 when government planes bombed 2 rebel-held towns. The government of Pres. Laurent Gbagbo believed that the French, the former colonial rulers of Ivory Coast, supported the rebels. The French had about 4,500 troops in the Ivory Coast, and on Nov. 7, as government supporters attacked French homes and civilians, the French sent hundreds more to the country. Some 14,000 French civilians lived there.

A Nov. 9 clash between French soldiers and protestors and Ivoirian security forces left 10 dead and 300 injured. French charter planes began evacuating foreigners ,b>Nov. 10.

Oil-for-Food Program in Iraq Investigated - Charges swirled around the oil-for-food program administered by the United Nations, under which the Iraqi regime of Pres. Saddam Hussein was allowed to sell oil in order to buy food and other essential supplies. The program had run from 1996 until 2003, when U.S.-led forces overthrew him. Evidence suggested that huge sums of money may have fallen into the wrong hands. On Nov. 9, 2 U.S. senators investigating the scandal accused UN Sec. Gen. Kofi Annan of obstructing their inquiry.

Iran Pledges to Suspend Iranian Enrichment - In a Nov. 14 letter to 3 European governments, Iran promised to suspend its uranium enrichment program. The uranium could be used for either nuclear energy or nuclear weapons programs. Iran had been under intense pressure from the International Atomic Energy Agency to abandon their work with uranium. Britain, France, and Germany announced a formal agreement with Iran Nov. 15. Economic benefits that would come to Iran were still being negotiated. Sec. of State Colin Powell said Nov. 17 that Iran was "actively working" to develop missiles that could carry nuclear bombs. While attending a Pacific Rim economic summit in Santiago, Chile, Nov. 20, Pres. Bush accused Iran of speeding up production of uranium hexafluoride, which can be enriched into nuclear-bomb fuel. On Nov. 25, Iran reportedly pulled back from its earlier promise to freeze all of its uranium enrichment.

Ukraine in an Uproar Over Disputed Election - Huge crowds took to the streets in Ukraine following the presidential runoff election Nov. 21. The protestors claimed that Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovich was not the winner, as the government tabulation showed. They said the real winner was Viktor Yushchenko. International observers, alleging widespread abuses, agreed with them. In the first round of voting, Oct. 31, Yanukovich with 40% had run narrowly ahead of Yushchenko, but he fell far short of the needed majority. Yanukovich had the backing of Pres. Leonid Kuchma as well as Pres. Vladimir Putin of Russia. He favored closer ties with Russia, while Yushchenko wanted a closer relationship with the European Union. Both candidates said they would pull the 1,600 Ukrainian troops out of Iraq.

The government of Ukraine Nov. 24 declared Yanukovich the winner, a result that Sec. of State Colin Powell said "we cannot accept." The Ukraine Supreme Court Nov. 25 temporarily blocked Yanukovich's victory until it could study allegations of abuse. Ukraine's parliament Nov. 27 voted to declare the election result invalid, though it could not actually overturn the outcome.

General

Husband Guilty in Murder of Wife, Unborn Son - Scott Peterson, a Modesto (CA) fertilizer salesman, was found guilty by a jury in Redwood City Nov. 12 of the first-degree murder of his wife Laci and of the 2d-degree murder of their unborn son. The trial had attracted frenzied media coverage. Peterson had reported his wife missing after he returned from a fishing trip. Her body washed ashore in April 2003 near where he said he had been fishing. Peterson, it was learned, had had an affair with Amber Frey, a massage therapist. Absent any murder weapon, physical evidence in the home or boat, and any witnesses, Peterson was convicted on circumstantial evidence.

9 Players Suspended After an NBA 'Basketbrawl' - A fight broke out between players for the Indiana Pacers and Detroit Pistons near the end of a game in Auburn Hills, MI, Nov. 19. The fisticuffs spread to the stands after some fans threw drinks and other objects at members of the Pacers team. Nine fans were hurt. The game was stopped and Indiana declared the winner, 97-82. On Nov. 21 the NBA suspended Ron Artest of the Pacers, who had charged into the stands, without pay for the rest of the season. His teammates Stephen Jackson and Jermaine O'Neal were suspended for 30 and 25 games, respectively. Six players received lesser suspension.

Star Jeopardy! Contestant Ends Record Winning Streak - In a show taped in early September and broadcast Nov. 30, Ken Jennings, a software engineer from Salt Lake City, UT, was defeated by a rival contestant, California real estate agent Nancy Zerg, on the ABC-TV quiz show Jeopardy! and had to retire from the competition. He had won a record $2,520,700 in 74 games, the first of which was broadcast on June 2.

SCIENCE IN THE NEWS - The Physics of Fluffier Popcorn

Imagine going to the movies and getting half as many pieces of popcorn for the price you pay now. This could happen soon, not because theaters would be trying to rip you off, but because two scientists have found a way to double the size of a piece of popcorn by popping it at a lower pressure. The larger, fluffier popcorn would save money for manufacturers and might just taste better. The researchers even found that popping the corn at a lower pressure reduces the number of unpopped kernels--so consumers would get to eat every kernel they paid for.

As graduate students in physics at Lehigh University in 1999, Paul Quinn and Joseph Both realized that the size of popcorn is determined by the behavior of hot gases inside it. After receiving their doctorates, Quinn and Both, now at Kutztown University in Pennsylvania and Stanford University, respectively, decided to use their understanding of popcorn physics to find a way to make popcorn pieces bigger.

A popcorn kernel is made of starch (a form of carbohydrate) urrounded by a hard shell, called the pericarp. As the kernel is heated, water trapped inside the kernel mixes with the starch, turning it into a jelly-like material. Eventually, the temperature inside the kernel reaches the boiling point of water, so the water inside turns to water vapor, a gas. Gases exert much greater pressure on the walls of a container (in this case, the pericarp of the kernel) than liquids do.

As the temperature inside the kernel increases, the water vapor molecules zoom around even faster, causing a steady increase in internal pressure. Ultimately, the internal pressure becomes so great that the pericarp splits. The water vapor that was contained in the shell rapidly expands, pushing the jelly-like substance outward.

As the popcorn expands, the pressure of the water vapor inside it decreases (in accordance with Boyle's law, which holds that as the volume of a gas increases, its pressure decreases, and vice versa). Eventually, the pressure of the water vapor equals the pressure of the air outside the popcorn and the expansion stops. The popcorn is now piping hot and ready to eat.

To get larger pieces of popcorn, the scientists reasoned, they just needed to lower the pressure of the outside air. This would allow the popcorn to expand further before the pressure of the water vapor in the popcorn matched that of the outside air. To test their hypothesis, they fitted a vacuum pump to a pressure cooker; the pump pulled the air out of the pot, lowering the pressure of the remaining air that the popcorn will pop in.

Quinn and Both used two common methods of popping corn: in oil and dry popping. In their paper, which was published online at http://arxiv.org/abs/cond-mat/0409424, they stated they were "curious to see if the coating of oil that surrounded each kernel was limiting the size increase of the popcorn as it expanded."

The oil didn't make a difference. In both cases, they found that lowering the pressure increased the volume of the popcorn. In fact, it more than doubled it. Their results showed that "under regular popping, 20 grams of unpopped kernels yields one 8-ounce cup of popcorn, while 20 grams popped in a low pressure environment yields two 8-ounce cups."

IT'S A FACT!

Uranium has the heaviest atomic weight of any chemical element.

OFFBEAT NEWS STORIES

Eager Beavers?

Three bags of money stolen from the Lucky Dollar poker casino in Greensburg, LA, turned up a few days afterward in a creek frequented by beavers. Two of the bags were stuck in a beaver dam, and one had been broken into by the beavers, who had industriously woven many of the bills into the dam with sticks and other materials. Officials in St. Helena parish at first tried to dry out all the cash by airing it in a bank vault. When that proved too smelly, they used an industrial dryer at the parish jail to launder the money properly, adding a pair of old tennis shoes to the mix when the money began clumping. In the end, the authorities were able to recover all but a few thousand of some $70,000 lifted from the casino.

Snail Mail

Next time it takes too long for that check or package to arrive in the mail, consider that it could have been worse. On Nov, 24, 2004, a letter written by a Lutheran church official in what is now Germany arrived at its intended destination 286 years late. The letter, written in 1718, had instructed the residents of Ostheim-vor-der-Rhone to pick a new clergyman after theirs had died. It was mistakenly delivered to a different Ostheim, near Frankfurt, and ended up in the town archives. Karl Schneider, a history aficionado in Ostheim-vor-der-Rhone, was receiving visitors from the other Ostheim when one of them mentioned the old letter. Schneider matched its content with events and names in the history of his town, after he managed to decode the letter's ornate writing. Incidentally, records show that Ostheim-vor-der-Rhone did get its new clergyman, despite the missing letter.

From the World Almanac - Computer Milestones

Devices for performing calculations are nothing new--the abacus, a frame with wires on which beads are moved back and forth (still used today in some parts of the world), traces its origins back to ancient times. But the marvels of electronic miniaturization that are modern PCs are a relatively recent development. They are the descendents of vacuum-tube devices introduced in the early 20th century. Among the landmark events in computer history are the following:

- In 1623 the first mechanical calculator, capable of adding, subtracting, multiplying, and dividing, was developed by the German mathematician Wilhelm Schikard; the only two models Schikard made, however, were destroyed in a fire.

- In 1642 French mathematician Blaise Pascal built the first of more than four dozen copies of an adding and subtracting machine that he invented.

- In 1790, French inventor Joseph Marie Jacquard devised a new control system for looms. He "programmed" the loom, communicating desired weaving operations to the machine via patterns of holes in paper cards.

- The British mathematician and scientist Charles Babbage used the Jacquard punch-card system in his design for a sophisticated, programmable "Analytical Engine" that contained some of the basic features of today's computers. Babbage's conception was beyond the capabilities of the technology of his time, and the machine remained unfinished at his death in 1871.

- The 1890 U.S. census was expedited by the rapid processing of huge amounts of data with an electrical punch-card tabulating machine developed by American inventor Herman Hollerith, whose company in 1924 became International Business Machines (IBM).

- On the eve of World War II researchers experimented with ways to speed up computation, since calculators using solely mechanical components were too slow. One approach was to use electromechanical relays, which basically are electrically controlled switches.

- In 1940, Bell Laboratories mathematician George Stibitz completed the 1st electromechanical relay-based calculator. In the same year Stibitz provided the 1st demonstration of remote operation of a computer, using a teletype to transmit problems to his machine and to receive the results.

- In 1941, German engineer Konrad Zuse completed the relay-based Z3, the 1st fully functional digital computer to be controlled by a program. In 1944, the 1st large-scale automatic digital computer, the Mark I, built by IBM and Harvard Professor Howard Aiken, went into operation; this relay-based machine was 55 feet long and 8 feet high.

- Efforts were also under way to develop fully electronic machines, using vacuum tubes, which can operate much more quickly than relays. Between 1937 and 1942 the first rudimentary vacuum-tube calculator was built by the physicist John Vincent Atanasoff and his assistant Clifford Berry at Iowa State College (now University).

- More substantial electronic machines were the Colossus, developed by the British in 1943 to break German codes, and the Eniac (for Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer), a 30-ton room-sized computer with over 18,000 vacuum tubes, built by physicist John Mauchly and engineer J. Presper Eckert at the University of Pennsylvania for the U.S. Army and completed in 1946. The Colossus was a special-purpose machine; its capabilities were powerful (for its time) but limited. Eniac was a general-purpose machine and could be programmed to do different tasks, although programming could take a couple of days, since cables had to be plugged in and switches set by hand.

- In 1951, Eckert and Mauchly's Univac ("Universal Automatic Computer") became the first computer commercially available in the U.S.; the first customer: the Census Bureau. CBS-TV used a Univac in 1952 to predict the results of the presidential election.

- The invention of the transistor in 1947 and the integrated circuit in 1958 paved the way for the development of the microprocessor (an entire computer processing unit on a chip), the 1st commercial example of which was the Intel 4004 in 1971. These advances allowed computers to become smaller, speedier, more reliable, and more powerful. In fact, a prediction made in 1965 by engineer and Intel cofounder Gordon Moore that the number of transistors that could be put on a computer chip would double every year (revised in 1975 to every 18 months) has largely held true, coming to be known as "Moore's Law."

- In 1975 the 1st widely marketed personal computer, the MITS Altair 8800, was introduced in kit form, with no keyboard and no video display, for under $400. In the same year Microsoft was founded by Bill Gates and Paul Allen.

- In 1976 the 1st PC word-processing program, the Electric Pencil, was written.

- In 1977 the Apple II was introduced by Apple Computer, which had been formed the previous year by Steven Jobs and Stephen Wozniak. Capable of displaying text and graphics in color, the machine enjoyed phenomenal success.

- In 1981, IBM unveiled its "Personal Computer," which used Microsoft's DOS (disk operating system).

- In 1984, Apple Computer introduced the first Macintosh. The easy-to-use Macintosh came with a proprietary operating system and was the first popular computer to have a GUI (graphical user interface) and a mouse--features originally developed by the Xerox Corporation.

- In 1990, Microsoft released Windows 3.0, the first workable version of its own GUI.

- In 1991, Linux, based on the Unix operating system used in high-power computers, was invented for the PC by Helsinki University student Linus Torvalds and made available for free.

- In 1996 the Palm Pilot, the 1st widely successful handheld computer and personal information manager, arrived.

- In 1997 the IBM computer Deep Blue beat world chess champion Garry Kasparov in a 6-game match, 3.5-2.5.

- In 2001, Apple introduced a new Unix-based operating system called OS X for the Macintosh.

- By Apr. 2002, according to computer industry research firm Gartner Dataquest, 1 billion personal computers (PCs), including desktop and laptop machines of all types, had been shipped by manufacturers since 1975, when the 1st commercially successful PC went on sale. The next billion were expected to ship within 5 or 6 years.

- As of early 2004, Apple had only about 3% of the overall U.S. personal computer market, with machines using the Microsoft Windows operating system accounting for almost all the rest.

Links of the Month - Edward A. Thomas, Editor in Chief

Two Nancys in my life have birthdays in December, so we celebrate Nancys this month. Whom do you associate with the lyrics "These boots are made for walking, and that's just what they'll do, one of these days these boots are gonna walk all over you?" If you said Nancy Sinatra, you got it. Born in Jersey City, NJ, in 1940, the first daughter of Frank, Sinatra had some 1960s musical hits, and appeared with Elvis Presley in "Speedway." She is being introduced to a new generation with her new album, which features duets with U2's Bono and the Edge, as well as with Morrissey. To learn more about this Nancy visit http://www.nancysinatra.com ...Another Nancy, who also sings, is the recipient of a Grammy Award (1964 - "How Glad I Am") and an Emmy Award. Her name is Nancy Wilson, (the Emmy was for the 1967-68 "Nancy Wilson Show") and she has been singing a blend of jazz and pop music since the 1950s. Learn more about her at http://www.missnancywilson.com ... Our next Nancy is a Mexican-American, born in Torrance, California, and named Player of the Year by the Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA) four times (1978-79, 1985, and 1988). Nancy Lopez was a competitive, but well liked, player, and she helped raise the interest level in women's golf in the 1970s and 1980s. To learn more about Lopez, visit: http://www.nancylopezgolf.com ...Actress, First Lady, and now embryonic stem-cell research advocate, Nancy Davis Reagan, widow of President Ronald Reagan, will always be remembered for her devotion to her husband, and her care for him during his 10-year battle with Alzheimer's disease. To learn more about Nancy Reagan visit: http://www.whitehouse.gov/history/firstladies/nr40.html ... Which teenage sleuth's favorite color is blue? None other than Nancy Drew. Introduced to teen readers in 1930, Drew has aged only two years in her nearly 75 years of existence, and has solved over 350 cases. Learn about the history of Drew, and the woman who introduced her to readers, Carolyn Keene, at http://nancy-drew.mysterynet.com ...And I'd be remiss if I didn't mention that spunky tomboy Nancy, who lives with her Aunt Fritzi, and pals around with Sluggo. Don't know what I'm talking about? Visit http://www.comics.com/comics/nancy/html/cast_Nancy.html.

Thanksgiving in the United States is often the kick-off for the holiday season. At the post office you can get stamps for Christmas, Hanukkah, and Kwanzaa, and quite frankly, I didn't know much about Kwanzaa. Kwanzaa is a seven-day festival that was created in 1966 by Dr. Maulana Karenga (born Ron Everett), a professor and chair of the Department of Black Studies at California State University at Long Beach, as a time to celebrate the African American people, and their culture and history. It is not a religious holiday but a cultural one. This year Kwanzaa starts on December 26 and ends on January 1, 2005. To learn more about Kwanzaa, visit http://www.holidays.net/kwanzaa/.

Back to Thanksgiving.....and my love for sweet potatoes with marshmallows. Yummy. Sweet potatoes are actually very healthy for you, supplying substantial amounts of beta carotene (Vitamin A), Vitamin E and B6. They are virtually fat-free, cholesterol-free and very low in sodium, and when eaten with the skin, bake sweet potatoes are great sources of fiber. Here are some recipes for preparation of sweet potatoes: http://www.bhg.com/home/Sweet-Potatoes-Recipes.html. And if you were wondering what the difference between a sweet potato and a yam is, visit: http://www.ces.ncsu.edu/depts/hort/hil/hil-23-a.html.

Among the world travelers you know, how many have been to Antarctica? The special feature this month is all about Antarctica, and to see photographs of this continent, as well as learn about cruises, visit: http://www.coolantarctica.com/.

I was mentioning to a dinner companion the other day, that I still have all of my Matchbox and HotWheels cars, and that they are safely tucked away in their "designer" carrying cases. What I don't have is the boxes that they originally came with. Oh, if I had only known that it would increase their value, but as a kid, who thinks of such things? (I did however keep all the catalogs, so go figure!). To see great collections of Matchbox cars visit: http://www.mboxcommunity.com/. Make sure you hit the "Links" button to see some great collections.

Chilly in New York City today and wish you were on the beach in Aruba? How about you take an Internet trip, and get some needed sunshine at http://www.camcentral.com/camviewer.asp?script=category&item=Sandy_Beaches&page=1&id=5101. So, you're In California and wish you were in New York City to see the Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center? See the tree cam at http://www.wnbc.com/christmastree/index.html. Can't afford to jet over to Paris to see the Eiffel Tour? Then check it out at http://www.wanadoo.fr/bin/frame.cgi?service=ma_ville&u=http%3A//paris.wanadoo.fr. Wonder what's going on at the slopes of the Cedar forest in Lebanon? Check out the highest webcam in the Middle East at http://www.skileb.com/webcam/camcedars.asp. What is the weather like at Mawson Station in Antarctica today? http://www.aad.gov.au/asset/webcams/mawson/default.asp. You don't have enough to worry about, and were wondering what traffic conditions were like in Hong Kong today? http://traffic.td.gov.hk/webcast/eng/hk_en.asph. Wish you were in Praque, visiting the Prague Castle? http://www.camcentral.com/camviewer.asp?script=category&item=Castles&page=2&id=14568. Now I wish I was on the Dawn Princess right now (on which I sailed in Alaska earlier this year), as it is sailing off the coast of St. Thomas. See what's up from bridge cams for Princess Lines at http://www.princess.com/bridgecams/dawn_cam.html. Or you can check out some of the sights that I can see from our office windows, with different views of Times Square, here in New York City, where you can even control the camera with the ability to pan, tilt and enlarge http://www.earthcam.com/usa/newyork/timessquare/interactive.html.

My friends think I must have stock in Hallmark, by the number of greeting cards I send each year. Even though there is a store just across the street from where I work, I don't always get there in time to purchase a card, so I rely on various e-cards available free online. Nice selections can be found at http://www.hallmark.com, http://www.123greetings.com, http://www.ecards.com, and http://www.1001.com/postcards/.

It was quite a challenge to find an actress or actor for which the "Oracle" gave me a Bacon number of 4. If you're wondering what I'm talking about, it's the Kevin Bacon Game. The aim of the game is to enter the name of an actress or actor, and the "Oracle of Bacon at Virginia" (created by two computer science graduate students at the University of Virginia, in 1996), will connect that person to Kevin Bacon. The object of the game is to start with any actor or actress who has been in a movie and connect them to Kevin Bacon in the smallest number of links possible, but my aim is to get the largest number of links. For example, if you put in Fred Astaire, it tells you that he was in "The Towering Inferno," (1974) with Robert Wagner, who was in "Wild Things," (1988) with Kevin Bacon, thus a Bacon number of 2. out the site http://oracleofbacon.org/ and see if you can come up with a 4, 5 or even an 8 (of which there are 13 people). My 4 came from Helen Keller. What, you didn't know she acted?

Odd Site of the Month: http://www.virtualstapler.com/. Don't forget to check out the Haiku.

© World Almanac Education Group

World Almanac E-Newsletter
Edward A. Thomas, Editor in Chief

Newsletter Contributors:
Louise Bloomfield, Jane Hogan, Walter Kronenberg, and Bill McGeveran

Comments and suggestions can be sent to: editorinchief@waegroup.com

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