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What Happened on December 14?

  • The first explorers reached the South Pole. (1911) Norwegian Roald Amundsen and his expedition successfully reached the North Pole, beating out the rival expedition of British Robert Falcon Scott by almost a month. Amundsen would later become the first explorer to ever fly over the North Pole in 1926.

  • Arthur Kornberg and his colleague announced the first successful synthesis of DNA. (1967) Though President Johnson mistakenly reported that the researchers had "created life in a test tube," Kornberg and his colleagues had actually managed to synthetically replicate some viral DNA. This laid the groundwork for virtually all DNA discoveries afterward, since it provided significant insight into how DNA is actually formed and that DNA can be created synthetically.

  • Napoleon left Russia after suffering crushing losses. (1812) The Grande Armée of Napoleon I was expelled from Russian territory after losing the majority of their forces — several hundred thousand men. This was a turning point in Napoleon's plans to conquer Europe, and marked the start of the decline of Napoleonic power.

  • Quantum theory is said to have been born. (1900) Physicist Max Planck presented a groundbreaking study on the effects of radiation on what he termed "blackbody" matter. He asserted that radiant energy was made up of tiny parts called quantum. Planck's theories formed the basis on which quantum mechanics and mathematics was formed, and heavily influenced Niehls Bohr, Albert Einstein, and Erwin Schrödinger.

  • The USSR was expelled from the League of Nations. (1939) The League of Nations, the predecessor to the United Nations, expelled the USSR in response to the USSR's invasion of Finland. It was one of the final actions before the League of Nations collapsed altogether during the build-up to World War II.

  • The 47 Ronin avenged their master. (1702) A major part of Japanese history, the 47 ronin were samurai until their master was ordered to commit suicide after killing an arrogant official. In revenge, the ronin killed the official, and were then ordered to commit suicide themselves. The story of the 47 ronin remains a popular Japanese legend, and the 47 ronin are seen as examples of loyalty and faithfulness.

  • Christmas was declared a holiday in Cuba. (1997) Castro declared Christmas as a holiday for the first time since he came to power in the mid-1970s. He made this change in preparation for John Paul II's visit to Cuba in January 1998 — the first time a pope visited Cuba.

  • The first nut and bolt machine was patented. (1798) David Wilkinson of Rhode Island patented the first nut and bolt machine, which was used to cut the threads onto screws.

  • NASCAR was established. (1947) The National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing, Inc. (NASCAR) became the largest stock car racing body in the United States.

  • The first state road was authorized in the US. (1793) It ran from modern-day Frankfort, Kentucky to Cincinnati, Ohio.

Discussion Comments

By Euroxati — On Dec 17, 2014

One thing that really catches my attention about the first bullet point, is that it makes me wonder how they were able to make it to the North Pole in the first place.

After all, isn't it extremely cold over there? Considering how that's the case, it only makes me wonder what kind of equipment was used as a means to survive.

On the other hand, considering that all of this was happening around 1911, perhaps in some ways, they were able to adapt even better than we're able to nowadays in cold weather.

After all, one thing we need to consider is that whenever people have limitations, they can make something out of nothing, if that makes sense. For example, they might kill a wolf or polar bear, skin it, and use the fur as a means to adapt, so to speak. Either way, this is a very interesting article.

One thing I really like about this bullet point though, is that it really shows how discovering land can almost be considered a competition of sorts.

Once someone gets first dibs, they have a strong right to claim it, more than anyone else. I wonder if there are any other lands out there, that have yet to be discovered. Only time will tell.

By Hazali — On Dec 17, 2014

Japanese culture is a lot different than ours, and from reading this sixth bullet point about the 47 Ronin, I can definitely see this. In fact, is it just me, or do they seem to have much stricter morals than us? Those who live in Japan, that is. Especially in reference to the suicide.

Though I have never been to Japan, from what I've heard, in some cases, bringing shame or dishonor to your family is a serious offense, and in many cases, it is punishable by death, especially if the parents believe that they're doing the right thing.

While this may seem unusual to someone who only lives in the U.S., it's definitely one of the cultural norms in Japan, and it really shows how people around the world have different mindsets. How does this relate to the article? Overall, the 47 Ronin is a very interesting part of history, and it only adds further to the Japanese legend(s).

By Chmander — On Dec 16, 2014
In relation to the fourth to last bullet point, I'm surprised that until 1997, Christmas wasn't even declared as a holiday in Cuba. In fact, if that's the case, then what exactly was celebrated in Cuba in the first place?

In my opinion, this really shows how even though people will celebrate the Holidays in many different ways, whether it's Christmas, Chanukah, or even Kwanzaa, some places might not celebrate anything at all. While some people might have a problem with this, I don't see anything specifically wrong with this scenario.

Based on my experience and perspective, not only does it tend to add uniqueness, as in showing that people celebrate things differently, but in some ways, it also shows how things aren't always set in stone.

After all, just because we celebrate the holidays a certain way, doesn't mean that everyone else does, and vice versa. Overall, it's something interesting to think about.

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