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It Was 20 Years Ago Today
6 minutes | Jan 27, 2016
Episode #186: Challenger Disaster
Thursday, January 28, 2016. Thirty years ago today, the Space Shuttle Challenger exploded shortly after launch, killing the seven astronauts aboard. I talk about my own memory of that day, the impressions the relentless news coverage left on me, and discuss the lessons of the accident. Whether those lessons were lasting, I fear is open to question. For a very thoughtful commentary about the Challenger disaster and the effect it has had on NASA (along with the Apollo 1 disaster before and the Columbia disaster after it), I highly recommend the following from NBC News space analyst James Oberg: NASA has to fight the forgetting The music for today's show is "Space Frontier," by Morwic, used with most kind permission. You can find Morwic on his Twitch.tv channel almost every night, composing ambient music in real time with feedback from his audience. Check it out!
6 minutes | Aug 24, 2015
Episode #185 -- Windows 95
Monday, August 25, 2015. Twenty years ago today, Windows 95 was released to the general public. I look at the operating system which gave Microsoft a virtual monopoly in the personal computing world, a monopoly which is still largely in place today.
5 minutes | Aug 23, 2015
Episode #184 -- The Greenpeace Album
For Saturday, August 22, 2015. Thirty years ago this month, A&M Records released a benefit album for Greenpeace. The album cover featured a picture of Greenpeace's flagship, the Rainbow Warrior, which had been sunk in New Zealand a month before. I talk about the sinking of the ship, some of my own history of environmental activism (it goes back a long ways!) and my attachment to this particular album.
6 minutes | Aug 17, 2015
Episode #183 -- Coca-cola Classic
Tuesday, August 18, 2015. Thirty years ago this month, the original (well, almost the original) formula of Coca-cola came back to store shelves as Coca-cola Classic. I take a look at the real reason behind one of the greatest marketing failures of the 20th century, as well as noting how the company's choice in branding the return of "Old Coke" has had a surprising influence on our language.
6 minutes | Apr 19, 2015
Episode #182 -- Oklahoma City Bombing
Sunday, April 19, 2015. Twenty years ago today, a truck bomb destroyed the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, taking over 160 lives in the worst domestic terrorism incident in United States history. I share my own memory of that day, discuss the immediate reactions of the news media, and offer a caution about our perceptions of terrorism in this country. Special thanks to Joe Medina for his memories of watching CNN that day, and to Gordon Skene of the website Past Daily, for copies of radio newscasts covering the first hours after the bombing.
5 minutes | Mar 20, 2015
Episode #181 -- Tokyo Subway Gas Attack
Friday, March 20, 2015. Twenty years ago today, a group of religious cultists carried out an attack using sarin nerve gas on the Tokyo subway system. This attack killed at least a dozen people and injured thousands. The leader of the Aum Shinrikyo cult, along with many of his followers, are on Japan's death row and could be executed as soon as next month. I talk about my reactions to the gas attack twenty years ago, and consider why those reactions haven't changed much in the twenty years that have passed. I also consider why we need to remember events like this, as much as our human nature might drive us to forget.
5 minutes | Mar 17, 2015
Episode #180 -- Chickenpox Vaccine
Tuesday, March 17, 2015. Twenty years ago today, the Food and Drug Administration approved a vaccine for varicella (pictured here), the virus which causes chickenpox and shingles. I talk about the vaccine and a bit about my own experiences with it -- I've had the vaccine, because I never had chickenpox as a kid.
5 minutes | Mar 11, 2015
Episode #179 -- Mikhail Gorbachev
Wednesday, March 11, 2015. Thirty years ago today, Mikhail Gorbachev became the leader of the Soviet Union -- and, as it turns out, the last. Today, I'm taking a step back thirty years to look at what turned out to be one of the most pivotal events of our lifetimes. There is an entire generation of young adults alive today who have no memory of the Cold War! I also have a shout-out for the womeninpodcasting.org website.
6 minutes | Mar 2, 2015
Episode #178 -- Top Quark Discovered
Monday, March 2, 2015. Twenty years ago today, scientists at the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory announced the discovery of the top quark, the last of the six quarks predicted by current atomic theory. I talk a little about the top quark, about my own love of science through my life, and how I ended up, quite unexpectedly, with a career in science and technology. If you would like your very own plushie top quark like the one shown here, you can get them from The Particle Zoo. I also have one more shout out for the Past Daily website. They're in the last hours of a fundraiser on which the very existence of the site depends. Please check it out and support the site if you can.
6 minutes | Mar 1, 2015
Episode #177 -- Yahoo!
Sunday, March 1, 2015. 20 years ago today, one of the first big Internet companies, Yahoo! was incorporated. Yahoo! began as a directory of websites, and back in the day was a useful tool for gathering information from the Web. I talk about the experience of searching the Web for information when Yahoo! was young, and how the site changed as the Web exploded during the later 1990s. The image at the right is the Yahoo! logo from 1995. I also have a shout-out for the website Past Daily, who needs our help to keep doing what they do -- sharing audio from the beginning of the 20th Century to the present day with the world. Go check them out!
6 minutes | Oct 25, 2014
Episode #176 -- Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act
Saturday, October 25, 2014. Twenty years ago today, the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994 became law, and we've been up to our ears in pills for everything ever since. I look at the intent of the Act, and how because of what it actually allows, its effect has been far different. Extra special thanks to Marc Rose of FUSE Audio Design for the famous disclaimer, which is straight out of the Act.
5 minutes | Jan 16, 2014
Episode #175 -- Northridge Earthquake
Friday, January 17, 2014. Twenty years ago today, an earthquake struck in the San Fernando Valley of Los Angeles. It killed 57 people and injured nearly 9000. I talk about the Northridge Earthquake and consider the question of whether it was "the Big One." The picture is of a partially collapsed apartment building damaged in the earthquake, of a type which is no longer legal to build in California because of the Northridge quake.
7 minutes | Jan 15, 2014
Episode #174 -- 1993 Recap, Memorials
In today's episode I remember just a few of the notable people who died in 1993. They may have been gone for 20 years, but their achievements -- or infamy -- remain.
7 minutes | Jan 13, 2014
Episode #173 -- 1993 Recap, Part Two
My recap of 1993 continues today with a recollection of some events from the second half of 1993. I think my space geek is showing just a little -- of the four events I cover here, two are related to NASA and space exploration (the loss of the Mars Observer and the first repair mission for the Hubble Space Telescope). I also discuss the Battle of Mogadishu (remembered mostly today through the book and film Black Hawk Down) and the Maastricht Treaty, which provided the framework for today's European Union. The picture at the left is an artist's rendering of the Hubble Space Telescope.
7 minutes | Jan 12, 2014
Episode #172 -- 1993 Recap, Part One
Welcome back to "It Was 20 Years Ago Today." There will be new episodes every day this week! Before we begin looking back at the events of 1994, I'm offering a recap of a few notable events of 1993. On today's show I discuss the release of the first Pentium Processor, the hantavirus outbreak in the Four Corners region, and the beginning of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell." The image here is of hantavirus particles.
6 minutes | Jan 9, 2014
Episode #171 -- Trojan Nuclear Plant
[This episode was produced for November 3, 2012 and appeared originally on the Society of the Inner Ear program, but had not been posted to the 20 Years Ago feed previously.] The Trojan Nuclear Power Plant (pictured in its heyday in the 1970s) was shut down on November 3, 1992 after a steam tube leak, and was never restarted. The plant, which had been in operation for a scant 20 years, was decommissioned and demolished; the only thing that remains on the plant site today is the spent nuclear fuel, stored in casks and waiting for some sort of long term storage. In this show I talk about the plant, what happened to it, and what are the prospects for nuclear power today in the global warming, post-Fukushima world.
6 minutes | Jan 5, 2014
Episode #170 -- English Premier League
[This episode was produced for the week of August 5, 2012, but not posted previously.] Welcome back to the "It Was 20 Years Ago Today" podcast! I'm beginning to create and post new shows, but first I wanted to post several shows from 2012 which didn't make it to the feed. We begin with this episode, about the creation of the English Premier League, the top division of the English football (soccer) system. It is now arguably the most popular professional football league in the world, with fans around the globe.
5 minutes | Nov 29, 2011
Episode #169 -- Women's World Cup Final
Wednesday, November 30, 2011. Twenty years ago today, the USA Women's National Team won the inagural FIFA Women's World Cup tournament. They have been a dominant force in the women's game ever since. I talk about the status of women's soccer in the United States since that first big win, why I think the women's game is even better than the men's, and my experience seeing Team USA play right here in Portland a few weeks ago. The picture is of one of the stars of the present team, Abby Wambach.
5 minutes | Oct 2, 2011
Episode #168 -- Bill Clinton Declares
Monday, October 3, 2011. Twenty years ago today, Governor Bill Clinton of Arkansas announced he was running for President. This was only a few months before the primaries and caucuses began -- impossibly late, by comparison today. I take a look at what's different now and offer my opinion about the near-constant state of Presidential campaigns today.
6 minutes | Aug 6, 2011
Episode #167 -- The World Wide Web
Saturday, August 6, 2011. Twenty years ago today, the very first Web site went online. Hard to believe, maybe, but true! Here are a few links to some of the things I talked about in the episode. Tim Berners-Lee's posting to alt.hypertext announcing the existence of the World Wide Web Some Internet usage statistics from the Huffington Post and the UK Office for National Statistics An early version of that very first web page (from the World Wide Web Consortium) The image is an early version of the World Wide Web logo designed by Robert Caillieau.
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