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German physicist Max Planck presents his ideas on quantum physics to a meeting of the German Physics Society. The theoretical derivation of his black-body radiation law will revolutionize scientists’ understanding of physics, specifically of quantum mechanics. His theory demonstrates that, in certain situations, energy exhibits characteristics of physical matter. It predicts the spectral intensity of electromagnetic radiation at all wavelengths from a black body at a given temperature. Part of the theory suggests that energy exists in discrete packets, which he calls “quanta.”"
The United States Navy issues a formal Letter of Intent to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) for development of the Airplane Stability and Control Analyzer (ASCA) program, a flight simulator for training bomber crews. The Navy envisioned a fairly simple system which would continually update a simulated instrument panel based on pilot inputs. Unlike older systems, such as the Link Trainer, a flight simulator developed from the early thirties and earliy fifties, the system they request would institute a considerably more realistic but adaptable aerodynamics model. The letter marks the beginning of the project Whirlwind. The project will result in the Whirlwind, the first high-speed electronic digital computer able to reliably operate in real time. Constructed under the leadership of Jay. W. Forrester, the computer will contain 12,500 vacuum tubes and 23,800 crystal diodes."
Edward R. Murrow’s See It Now program features the Whirlwind computer, in one of the earliest news stories regarding a computer."
The NASA space probe Mariner 2 becomes the first spacecraft to encounter another planet, as it passes within 34,800 kilometers of Venus. Mariner 2 scans the surface of the planet with infrared and microwave radiometers, capturing data that shows Venus’s surface to be about 425°C (800°F). Three weeks after the Venus flyby, Mariner 2 will stop transmitting a signal on January 3, 1963. The space probe is also for the first to measure the composition, density, and velocity, of the solar wind."
Arthur Kornberg announces the first successful synthesis of biologically active DNA in a test tube. Kornberg had been working with Mehran Goulian of Stanford and Robert L. Sinsheimer of MIT. The DNA is a relatively simple chain of the Phi X174 virus, which has a single strand of DNA of only about 5,500 nucleotides long, with about eleven genes.
Eugene Cernan becomes the last person to walk on the moon, after he and Harrison Schmitt complete the third and final Extra-vehicular activity (EVA) of Apollo 17. This was the last manned mission to the Moon of the 20th century.
The first meeting of the World-Wide Web Consortium (W3C) is held at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The W3C was founded by Albert Vezza and Tim Berners-Lee to development and maintain international standards for the World Wide Web. "
During a company Christmas party, employees of Kingston Technology learn that their employer will split US$100 million in bonuses between the 523 employees. The shares will average US$75,000 each. For some, their share of the bonus will amount to three times their annual salary. The windfall is the result of a transaction in which Softbank Corporation of Japan acquired eighty percent of Kingston from David Sun and John Tu for US$1.5 billion.
Microsoft releases Service Pack 2 for the Windows NT 4.0 operating system.
Seven websites are hacked by “Newport” and “L|\Z”. View an archived version of the message left on all seven sites.
Three websites, including Diversified Data Systems and Sarah Lawrence College are hacked and defaced by “Claire Danes”. View an archived version of the message left on all three sites."
Mattel, Inc. announces an agreement to acquire The Learning Company, Inc. for US$33 per share, for a total of US$3.8 billion." Oracle and Sun Microsystems jointly announce their intentions to collaborate on a new type of computer that doesn’t require an operating system (specifically any Microsoft products) to function.
Charles M. Schulz, creator of the comic strip Peanuts, announces his retirement. The announcement is precipitated by his failing health. Peanuts ran for nearly fifty years without interruption, appearing in 2,600 newspapers in seventy-five countries."
Monica Gilmore of Free-PC sends an email to Free-PC registrants announcing that Free-PC has merged with eMachines. The merger means that the free computer program has been discontinued in favor of eMachines’ successful pattern of selling economical computers through established retail channels.
Yahoo! launches Yahoo! Pets.
PC Data releases a report detailing the results of a study conducted by the firm that indicates that while males comprise approximately fifty-five percent of all gamers, the majority of online gamers are female. The study shows that women prefer online gambling, card games, and trivia games while men prefer war, sports, and first-person shooting games. The study, entitled Spotlight on Games: Categories and Hardware, utilizes a variety of data sourced from PC Data’s complete offering of retail sales tracking, Internet audience measurement, software usage tracking, hardware configuration, and a custom survey."
In Australia, the government bans the sale of Grand Theft Auto III. The Office of Film and Literature Classification refuses to rate the game due to its graphic violence."
Panasonic releases the SLGC-10 video game console in Japan. The system, also known as “Q”, is a special GameCube which can play CD and DVD discs. Price: ¥39,800 (about US$305)."
The Free Software Foundation pledges a donation of sixty thousand dollars to the Free Ryzom Campaign, which was established to raise the funds necessary to purchase the massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG) Ryzom from its developer, Nevrax, which entered receivership in November, in order to release it as free software. Visit the official website of the Free Software Foundation."
GfK Australia announces that the Wii video game console has become the fastest selling console in Australian history with 32,901 units sold in just four days, breaking the record Microsoft set when the Xbox 360 sold 30,241 units over its opening weekend."
Delta rolls out WiFi on certain flights.
Google launched Googl - their URL shortening tool.