Most Active Stories
- In a warmer world, researchers say climate change is intensifying California's water crisis
- Upgrading San Francisco's aging pipes in times of drought
- Robots: a Hands-On Approach to STEM Education
- Your Call: Should orcas be held captive for human entertainment?
- How Should Bay Area Cities Regulate E-Cigarettes?
Friday December 14, 2012
- 349th Day of 2012 / 17 Remaining
- 7 Days Until The First Day of Winter
- 9 Hours 35 Minutes of Daylight
- Moon Rise:8:28am
- Moon Set:6:51pm
- Moon’s Phase: 3 %
- The Next Full Moon
- December 28 @ 2:22 am
- Full Cold Moon
- Full Long Nights Moon
During this month the winter cold fastens its grip, and nights are at their longest and darkest. It is also sometimes called the Moon before Yule. The term Long Night Moon is a doubly appropriate name because the midwinter night is indeed long, and because the Moon is above the horizon for a long time. The midwinter full Moon has a high trajectory across the sky because it is opposite a low Sun.
- High: 12:53am/11:42am
- Low: 5:36am/6:30pm
- Rainfall (measured July 1 – June 30)
- This Year:8.98
- Last Year:3.24
- Normal To Date:6.47
- Annual Seasonal Average:23.80
- National Bouillabaisse Day
- Admission Day-Alabama
- On This Day In …
- 1819 --- The 22nd entry into the United States of America, Alabama, was officially admitted to the Union. Deep in the “Heart of Dixie,” (one of the state’s nicknames), Alabama was first inhabited by the Creek Indians (Alabama means ‘tribal town’), then explored by the Spanish, settled by the French, and then controlled by the British. The region was ceded to the U.S. following the American Revolution. The Confederacy was founded in Alabama; the state flag still bears a resemblance to the Confederate Battle Flag. Alabama’s motto, Audemus jura nostra defendere – We Dare Defend Our Rights - has been taken very seriously throughout the state’s history, especially in the 1950s and 1960s , as it was the site of landmark civil rights actions. The state tree, pinus palustris or Southern longleaf pine; and the camellia, the state flower, are plentiful throughout the state, as is the state bird, the yellowhammer, which is also the state’s other nickname. Julia S. Tutwiler (lyrics) and Edna G. Gussen (music) wrote the state song named after the state. No, the title is not, Yellowhammer or Tribal Town. It’s just plain, Alabama. No kidding. But for some reason, we can’t recall ever hearing the band Alabama sing Alabama.
- 1863 --- President Abraham Lincoln announces a grant of amnesty for Emilie Todd Helm, his wife Mary Lincoln's half sister and the widow of a Confederate general. The pardon was one of the first under Lincoln's Proclamation of Amnesty and Reconstruction, which he had announced less than a week before. The plan was the president's blueprint for the reintegration of the South into the Union. Part of the plan allowed for former Confederates to be granted amnesty if they took an oath to the United States. The option was open to all but the highest officials of the Confederacy. Emilie Todd Helm was the wife of Benjamin Helm, who, like the Lincolns, was a Kentucky native. The president was said to be an admirer of Helm, a West Point and Harvard graduate. Lincoln had offered Helm a position in the U.S. Army, but Helm opted to join the Confederates instead. Helm led a group of Kentuckians known as the Orphan Brigade, since they could not return to their Union-held native state during the war. Helm was killed at the Battle of Chickamauga in September 1863. After her husband's death, Helm made her way through Union lines to Washington, D.C. She stayed in the White House and the Lincolns tried to keep her visit a secret. General Daniel Sickles, who had been wounded at the Battle of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, five months prior, told Lincoln that he should not have a Rebel in his house. Lincoln replied, "General Sickles, my wife and I are in the habit of choosing our own guests. We do not need from our friends either advice or assistance in the matter." After Lincoln granted her pardon, Emilie Helm returned to Kentucky.
- 1900 --- German physicist Max Planck publishes his groundbreaking study of the effect of radiation on a "blackbody" substance, and the quantum theory of modern physics is born. Through physical experiments, Planck demonstrated that energy, in certain situations, can exhibit characteristics of physical matter. According to theories of classical physics, energy is solely a continuous wave-like phenomenon, independent of the characteristics of physical matter. Planck's theory held that radiant energy is made up of particle-like components, known as "quantum." The theory helped to resolve previously unexplained natural phenomena such as the behavior of heat in solids and the nature of light absorption on an atomic level. In 1918, Planck was rewarded the Nobel Prize in physics for his work on blackbody radiation. Other scientists, such as Albert Einstein, Niels Bohr, Louis de Broglie, Erwin Schrodinger, and Paul M. Dirac, advanced Planck's theory and made possible the development of quantum mechanics--a mathematical application of the quantum theory that maintains that energy is both matter and a wave, depending on certain variables. Quantum mechanics thus takes a probabilistic view of nature, sharply contrasting with classical mechanics, in which all precise properties of objects are, in principle, calculable. Today, the combination of quantum mechanics with Einstein's theory of relativity is the basis of modern physics.
- 1903 --- Orville Wright made the first attempt at powered flight. The engine stalled during take-off and the plane was damaged in the attempt. Three days later, after repairs were made, the modern aviation age was born when the plane stayed aloft for 12 seconds and flew 102 feet.
- 1909 --- Workers place the last of the 3.2 million 10-pound bricks that pave the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Speedway, Indiana (a town surrounded by the city of Indianapolis). Since then, most of that brick has been buried under asphalt, but one yard remains exposed at the start-finish line. Kissing those bricks after a successful race remains a tradition among Indy drivers. In 1908, the auto-headlight mogul and race promoter Carl Fisher decided to build a five-mile track that would give carmakers a safe place to test and show off their vehicles. He signed up three partners and bought 320 acres of farmland on the edge of Indianapolis, across the street from his Prest-O-Lite headlight factory. The original plans for Fisher's "motor parkway" called for a three-mile "outer" loop and a two-mile course through the infield, but they were hastily redrawn when someone pointed out that such a long track would not fit on the parcel unless all the grandstands along the straightaways were eliminated. As a compromise, Fisher and his construction superintendent decided to build a 2.5-mile banked oval with grandstands on all sides. Instead of the concrete surface that other racecourse builders were using, Fisher covered his track with a sticky amalgam of gravel, limestone, tar, and 220,000 gallons of asphaltum oil. For months, 500 workers and 300 mules laid layer after layer of the gooey mixture on the Indy loop and pulled steamrollers across it, pressing the roadway into a solid mass. In August 1909, the Indy speedway was ready to open. The first race at the new Motor Speedway, a motorcycle race on August 13, was a disaster: the new track was so abrasive that it popped everyone's tires, and workers had to take a few days to sand it down before the event could continue. Even after that, the rack was still a mess: As racecar teams arrived at the speedway to prepare for the 300-mile Wheeler-Schibler race, one historian reported, "drivers were quickly covered with dirt, oil, and tar...the track surface disintegrated in the turns, [and] flying gravel shattered goggles and bloodied cheeks. Driving at Indy was like flying through a meteor shower." On the first day of that first car race, driver Wilford Bacuque and his mechanic were killed when their Knox flipped over and bounced into a fence post. Then, three more people died when driver Charlie Merz shredded a tire and went flying into the stands. After AAA threatened a boycott, Fisher agreed to suspend all races at the Indy track until he could put down a safer surface. He decided on bricks because traction tests confirmed that they were less slippery than gravel and sturdier than concrete. When the "Brickyard" opened, it was much less dangerous than it had been, and only seven people were killed there between 1909 and 1919. The speedway kept its brick track for nearly 50 years. Today, the speedway has an asphalt surface.
- 1911 --- Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen became the first man to reach the South Pole. He reached the destination 35 days ahead of Captain Robert F. Scott.
- 1968 --- Marvin Gaye was number one in the U.S. with I Heard It Through the Grapevine. The smash was stuck at the top of the charts all the way through Jan 1969. It turned out to be Gaye’s biggest hit.
- 1979 --- The album "London Calling" by the Clash was released
- 1981 --- Israel annexed the Golan Heights, seized from Syria in 1967.
- 1985 --- Wilma Mankiller became the first woman to lead a major American Indian tribe as she formally took office as principal chief of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma.
- 1987 --- Chrysler pled no contest to federal charges of selling several thousand vehicles as new when Chrysler employees had driven the vehicles with the odometer disconnected.
- 1993 --- A Colorado judge struck down as unconstitutional the state's voter-approved ban on gay rights laws.
- 1995 --- Classified documents from the White House were released that revealed the FBI had spied on John Lennon and his anti-war activities during the early '70s in a possible attempt to have Lennon deported.
- 1996 --- The disabled freighter Bright Field rammed a crowded New Orleans riverfront mall on the Mississippi River. Quick action by the vessel’s pilot may have averted disaster. The pilot sent off a last-second warning blast of the horn and tried to redirect the ship by dropping an anchor. The ship slammed bow-first into the busy riverfront shopping complex, injuring dozens of people, but no one was killed.
- 1997 --- Cuban President Fidel Castro declared Christmas 1997 an official holiday to ensure the success of Pope John Paul II's upcoming visit to Cuba.
- 2008 --- An Iraqi journalist threw his shoes at President George W. Bush during a news conference in Baghdad; Bush was not hit.
- Margaret Chase Smith
- Shirley Jackson
- Patty Duke
- Michael Ovitz
- James Doolittle
- Lee Remick
- Morey Amsterdam
- Spike Jones
- Charlie Rich