This Day in Geek History: February 27
The poet Lord Byron makes his first Parliamentary address following his election to the House of Lords. In the speech, Byron opposes a proposed death penalty for the Luddites or “frame breakers” who protested Industrialism by destroying textile machines in his home county of Nottinghamshire.
The first federal vaccination legislation is enacted.
The neutron is discovered by Dr. James Chadwick, using scattering data to calculate the mass of a neutral particle. Since the the experiments of Ernest Rutherford, it was known that the atomic mass number A of nuclei is a bit more than twice the atomic number Z for most atoms and that essentially all the mass of the atom is concentrated in the relatively tiny nucleus. As of about 1930, it was presumed that the fundamental particles were protons and electrons, but that required that somehow a number of electrons were bound in the nucleus to partially cancel the charge of A protons. But it is also known from the uncertainty principle and “particle-in-a-box” type confinement calculations that there just isn’t enough energy available to contain electrons in the nucleus. Read more about the discovery of the neutron at Georgia State University’s physics department’s webpage.
J.S. Hey discovers solar radio emissions.
The first closed-circuit broadcast of a surgical operation takes place at the Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland. Five operations are broadcast in all, four on the heart and one on nerves along the spine. Dr. Alfred Blalock performs the first two procedures. Ten observers in four classrooms simultaneously see each procedure. All of the broadcasts are in black and white. The first closed-circuit color broadcast of a surgical operation will be made from the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia on May 31, 1949.
According to Twin Galaxies, Bill Camden scores a record-setting 1,666,604 points playing the Taito arcade game Qix at the Galaxy 1 arcade in Lynchburg, Virginia. Judd Boone scores a record-setting 1,029,160 points playing the Atari arcade game Quantum at Mr. Bill’s arcade in Moscow, Idaho. Gary Hatt scores a record-setting 151,100 points playing the Sega arcade game Super Zaxxon at the Starship Video arcade in Upland, California. John Roberts scores a record-setting 1,892,000 points playing the Konami arcade game Time Pilot at the Great Escape arcade in Plattsburgh, New York. Visit the official Twin Galaxies website.
A massively distributed array of computers coordinated by distributed.net successfully completes the RSA Data Security 56-bit DES-II-1 challenge. After collectively testing ninety percent of the possible 6.3 x 1016 possible keys over forty days, the message is decrypted to read, “Many hands make light work.”
New Line Cinema releases the science fiction film Dark City, directed by Alex Proyas and starring Rufus Sewell, William Hurt, Kiefer Sutherland, and Jennifer Connelly, to 1,754 U.S. theaters. The film is a Kafkaesque retelling of Plato’s Allegory of the Cave in which a man who awakes with no memories finds himself pursued by the police for a series of murders he did not commit through a film noir setting resembling nineteen-forties New York City. Produced on a budget of US$27 million, it will gross only US$5,576,953 domestically in its opening weekend but will ultimately become a cult classic. IMDB listing (MPAA Rating: R) Running Time: 1 hr 43 mins
The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) arrests a fifteen year-old student of Cloverdale High School in California who allegedly hacked into eleven United States military computers earlier in the past month. Bill Zane, president of the Santa Rosa ISP Netdex, is credited with helping to identify several intruders, including the teen, who hid behind Netdex while implementing their attacks. On a radio talk show early the following week, Zane will state that one of the boys wrote him a note requesting a job. Zane said the note was poorly composed and riddled with bad grammar. Allegedly, the teens used hacking tools readily available on the Internet in the course of their hacking spree. March 3, NetDex will be rehacked by Ehud Tenebaum, better known by the web handle “Analyzer,” in protest of the arrest of his two hacker friends.
Just weeks after reorganizing Claris into a stand-alone subsidiary called FileMaker Inc., Apple Computer announces that it will discontinue development of the five year-old Newton Operating System and that it won’t expand its current licensing program. In addition, the company announces the discontinuation of all of its Newton OS-based products, including the MessagePad 1200 and EMate 300. Instead, mobile products using Mac OS technology will be developed for release in 1999. According to Steve Jobs, who is standing in as acting Chief Executive Officer, Apple will focus on developing the Macintosh, which is once again left as Apple’s only computing platform.
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