Today in 1957, The North American Aerospace Defense Command was formed by the Joint Canadian-U.S. Military Group. It was originally known as the North American Air Defense Command, but changed in March 1981 after the group acquired several ballistic missile warning and space surveillance facilities. Today, NORAD is probably best known to the general public for its annual "Santa Tracker" every Christmas Eve, which began as a publicity stunt in 1955.
Today in 1790, the first U.S. patent was issued to Samuel Hopkins for a potash extraction process. The patent was signed by President George Washington. Potash is potassium salts which are used primarily for fertilizer. The potash industry became hugely important for the American economy for decades. Hopkins' patent called for a second burning stage in a furnace, which resulted in much better carbonate formation.
Today in 1975, American labor union leader and mobster Jimmy Hoffa disappeared after being stood up for a lunch meeting with two Mafia leaders. Both denied ever having set up the meeting. Hoffa was never seen or heard from again, and his disappearance has become one of the most prevalent missing persons cases in American history. Hoffa was declared legally dead in 1982.
Today in 1958, President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed the National Aeronautics and Space Act of 1958 into law. This shifted the responsibility of the United States' space program from the military to a civilian-led government program. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration was formed the same day and became officially operational just over two months later on October 1. Image Credit: NASA
Today in 1996, the skeletal remains of a prehistoric man were found on a bank of the Columbia River in Kennewick, Washington. Dubbed "Kennewick Man," his remains were one of the most complete sets of remains ever discovered. Controversy surrounded Kennewick man for decades as the U.S. Government, scientists, and Native American tribes all claimed ownership. The U.S. retained ownership until a new study done in June 2015 found that Kennewick Man was most likely Native American. In February 2017, he was returned home and given a proper burial in which members of several Native American tribes attended. Image Credit: Smithsonian
Today in 1940, Bugs Bunny made his official debut in Tex Avery's animated short A Wild Hare, part of the Merrie Melodies series. In the cartoon, Bugs repeatedly outwits hunter Elmer Fudd, a trend that will continue for decades. It was also the first utterance of what would go on to become Bugs' catchphrase, "What's up, Doc?" Image Credit: IMDB
Today in 2016, the Swiss long-range experimental solar-powered aircraft project Solar Impulse successfully flew one of its planes, the Solar Impulse 2, around the globe. Pilots Bertrand Piccard and André Borschberg took turns piloting the craft from city to city. Solar Impulse 2 took off from Al Bateen Executive Airport in Abu Dhabi on March 9, 2015. The flight was originally planned to finish in August, but necessary repairs and unfortunate weather led to the flight lasting 16 1/2 months. Image Credit: Wikipedia
Today in 1908, Japanese chemist Kikunae Ikeda isolated glutamic acid from kombu (seaweed). The resulting sodium salt, monosodium glutamate (MSG), had a taste that did not fit within the established four major taste categories- sweet, sour, bitter, or salty. Ikeda coined the term umami, meaning "delicious taste." Umami is now the fifth recognized basic taste, also referred to as savory. Contrary to popular belief, MSG is harmless and is not a seasoning in itself, but rather a flavor enhancer that balances and blends the other tastes. Image Credit: Pogogi
Today in 1987, Hulda Crooks, affectionately known as Grandma Whitney for scaling Mt. Whitney 23 times in her golden years, successfully scaled Mt. Fuji in Japan. At 91 years old, she became the oldest woman to do so. Crooks scaled over 100 peaks between the ages of 65 and 91. She was also active in her community, mentoring children and teaching them the benefits of being in nature. Image Credit: Sioux City Journal
Today in 1972, the Earth Resources Technology Satellite 1 (later renamed Landsat 1) was launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base in CA. The also marked the beginning of the Landsat program, which is still in effect today. The focus of Landsat is to gather information about Earth, such as its agriculture, geology, oceanography, and meteorology. The most recent launch, Landsat 8, took place in February 2013. Landsat 9 is already being developed and is planned to be launched in December 2020. Image Credit: NASA