In 1942, Self-sustaining nuclear chain reaction was demonstrated for the first time at the University of Chicago


Today is Sunday, Dec. 2, the 337th day of 2012. There are 29 days left in the year.

Today’s Highlight in History

On Dec. 2, 1942, an artificially created, self-sustaining nuclear chain reaction was demonstrated for the first time at the University of Chicago.

On this date

• In 1804, Napoleon crowned himself Emperor of the French.

• In 1812, the Electoral College chose President James Madison to serve a second term of office.

• In 1823, President James Monroe outlined his doctrine opposing European expansion in the Western Hemisphere.

• In 1859, militant abolitionist John Brown was hanged for his raid on Harpers Ferry the previous October. Artist Georges-Pierre Seurat was born in Paris.

• In 1927, Ford Motor Co. unveiled its Model A automobile that replaced its Model T.

• In 1939, New York Municipal Airport-LaGuardia Field (later LaGuardia Airport) went into operation as an airliner from Chicago landed at one minute past midnight.

• In 1954, the Senate voted to condemn Sen. Joseph R. McCarthy, R-Wis., for conduct that “tends to bring the Senate into disrepute.”

• In 1961, Cuban leader Fidel Castro declared himself a Marxist-Leninist who would eventually lead Cuba to Communism.

• In 1970, the newly created Environmental Protection Agency opened its doors. (Its first director was William D. Ruckelshaus.)

• In 1982, in the first operation of its kind, doctors at the University of Utah Medical Center implanted a permanent artificial heart in the chest of retired dentist Dr. Barney Clark, who lived 112 days with the device.

• In 2001, in one of the largest corporate bankruptcies in U.S. history, Enron filed for Chapter 11 protection.

Ten years ago

• A statement attributed to al-Qaida claimed responsibility for the car-bombing of an Israeli-owned hotel in Kenya and the attempted shoot-down of an Israeli airliner, both on Nov. 28.

• The Supreme Court agreed to decide whether minorities could be given a boost to get into universities. (A divided Court later allowed the nation’s colleges and universities to select students based in part on race, but emphasized that race could not be the overriding factor.)

Five years ago

• Venezuela President Hugo Chavez suffered defeat as voters rejected sweeping constitutional reforms by 51 to 49 percent.

• Russian President Vladimir Putin’s party swept 70 percent of the seats for a new parliament in a vote whose fairness was called into question by European election monitors.

• Brian Wilson, Martin Scorsese, Steve Martin, Diana Ross and pianist Leon Fleisher were the latest U.S. artists to receive Kennedy Center honors for their career achievements.

One year ago

• U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi vowed to work together to promote democratic reforms in Suu Kyi’s long-isolated and authoritarian homeland.

• The Labor Department announced the unemployment rate had fallen to 8.6 percent in Nov. 2011, the lowest since March 2009.

Today’s Birthdays

Actress Julie Harris is 87. Former Attorney General Edwin Meese III is 81. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., is 73. Actress Cathy Lee Crosby is 68. Country singer John Wesley Ryles is 62. Actor Dan Butler is 58. Broadcast journalist Stone Phillips is 58. Actor Steven Bauer is 56. Country singer Joe Henry is 52. Rock musician Rick Savage (Def Leppard) is 52. Rock musician Nate Mendel (Foo Fighters) is 44. Actress Suzy Nakamura is 44. Rock singer Jimi HaHa (Jimmie’s Chicken Shack) is 44. Actress Lucy Liu is 44. Tennis player Monica Seles is 39. Singer Nelly Furtado is 34. Pop singer-celebrity judge Britney Spears is 31. Actress-singer Jana Kramer is 29. Actress Daniela Ruah is 29. Actresses Deanna and Daniella Canterman are 20.