1953 Norwegian marathon runner Grete Waitz was born in Oslo. She won nine New York City Marathons between 1978 and 1988, more than any other runner in history. She also won a silver medal at the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles and a gold medal at the 1983 World Championships in Athletics in Helsinki, Finland.
1942 The Bell P-59A, the first United States jet fighter aircraft, was flown for the first time.
1891 Stanford University, founded by railroad magnate Leland Stanford, officially opened. There were 559 students and 15 faculty members.
1827 A Russian army, commanded by Ukrainian-born Ivan Paskevich, captured Yerevan, thus ending a millennium of Muslim occupation in Armenia.
1787 At The Battle of Kinburn, during the Russo-Turkish war, Russian forces under the command of Alexander Suvorov defeated the invading Ottoman Turks.
1671 Italian priest, philosopher, mathematician and engineer Luigi Guido Grandi was born in Cremona. In mathematics, he is best known for studying the rose curve and for Grandi’s series. He contributed to Galileo Galilei’s works and helped introduce calculus to Italy.
331 BC At the Battle of Gaugamela, Alexander the Great defeated Darius III of Achaemenid Persia. The victory effectively divided the Persian Empire in half and directly led to the complete fall of the Persian Empire to Alexander a year later.
1954 The USS Nautilus (SSN-571) was commissioned. It was the first operational nuclear-powered submarine and the first vessel to complete a submerged transit across the North Pole.
1927 Babe Ruth became the first baseball player to hit 60 homeruns in one season.
1905 English physicist Sir Nevill Francis Mott was born in Leeds. He was awarded the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1977 for his work on the electronic structure of magnetic and disordered systems.
1901 British engineer Hubert Cecil Booth patented the vacuum cleaner.
1882 The world’s first commercial hydroelectric power plant (later known as Appleton Edison Light Company) began operation on the Fox River in Appleton, Wisconsin.
1791 The Magic Flute, the last opera composed by Mozart, made its premiere performance at Freihaus-Theater auf der Wieden in Vienna. Mozart himself conducted the orchestra.
1937 Dutch cyclist Frans Slaats broke the world hour record in Milan, riding 45.485 km in one hour.
1899 Hungarian journalist and inventor László Bíró was born in Budapest. He was the inventor of the modern ballpoint pen.
1885 The Blackpool Tramway, the first practical public electric tramway in the world, was opened in Blackpool, England.
1547 Spanish novelist, poet, and playwright Miguel de Cervantes was born in Alcalá de Henares. He is most famous for writing Don Quixote which is considered the first modern novel and one of the best ever written.
2008 The SpaceX Corporation launched the first ever private spacecraft, the Falcon 1, into orbit. SpaceX was founded by South African entrepreneur Elon Musk.
1951 Ananke, a retrograde irregular satellite of Jupiter, was discovered by American astronomer Seth Barnes Nicholson at Mount Wilson Observatory, near Los Angeles, California.
1928 Scottish biologist and pharmacologist Sir Alexander Fleming first noticed a bacteria-killing mould growing in his laboratory, discovering what later became known as penicillin.
1889 The first General Conference on Weights and Measures (CGPM) officially defined the length of a meter. The length was established using two lines on a standard bar of an alloy of platinum with ten percent iridium, measured at the melting point of ice.
1542 Portuguese explorer Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo landed in what is now San Diego Bay and named it “San Miguel” on behalf of Spain. Cabrillo was the first explorer to navigate the coast of present day California in the United States.
2003 The SMART-1 satellite was launched from French Guiana, on a mission to orbit around the Moon. “SMART-1″ stands for Small Missions for Advanced Research in Technology-1. It was designed and developed by the Swedish Space Corporation, on behalf of the European Space Agency.
1964 The British Aircraft Corporation TSR-2 strike aircraft was flown for the first time. The TSR-2 was designed to penetrate a well-defended forward battle area at low altitudes and very high speeds, and then attack high-value targets in the rear with close-in bomb runs and precision drops. The project was eventually cancelled for political reasons, and the aircraft was never put into production.
1956 United States Air Force Captain Milburn G. “Mel” Apt, flying an X-2 rocket-powered plane, set a record speed of 3,377 km/h (Mach 3.196) at 19,977 m over the Mojave Desert in California. Unfortunately, he was killed when the X-2 spun out of control and crashed while he was slowing down and turning back to land at Edwards Air Force Base.
1938 The RMS Queen Elizabeth ocean liner was launched and christened in Glasgow. She was the largest passenger liner ever built at that time, a record that would not be exceeded for fifty-six years.
1929 Ernest Hemingway’s novel A Farewell to Arms was first published in book form. Approximately 31,000 copies of the first edition were printed. The book had previously been serialized in Scribner’s Magazine from May 1929 to October 1929.
1908 The first production Ford Model T left the factory at the Piquette Plant in Detroit, Michigan. The Model T was the first automobile mass produced on assembly lines with completely interchangeable parts.
1825 The Stockton and Darlington Railway in north-eastern England officially opened. At 26 miles long, it was the longest railway at the time.