Good News in History, February 28

30 years ago today, the first Gulf War ended, one day after Kuwait was liberated by the coalition forces from 35 nations. Led by the U.S. against Iraq after that country’s invasion and annexation of Kuwait, the war, called Desert Shield, ended in less than 7 months.

International condemnation was mobilized into a broad military alliance by UK prime minister Margaret Thatcher and US president George H. W. Bush. Most of the military forces came from the US, Saudi Arabia, the UK, and Egypt, in that order, and together forced Iraq to retreat from Kuwait. (1991)

MORE Good News on this Date:

  • 50 slavery opponents met in Ripon, Wisconsin, to call for creation of a new US political group, which became the Republican Party (1854)
  • The first vaudeville theater opened in Boston, Massachusetts (1883)
  • The United Kingdom accepted the independence of Egypt (1922)
  • The US and Egypt re-established diplomatic relations after a seven year break (1974)
  • Michael Jackson made history winning seven Grammy awards, including Album of the year for ‘Thriller’, and Record of the year, Best rock vocal performance, pop vocal, R&B performance, and R&B song—for ‘Beat It’ and ‘Billie Jean’—and Best recording for children for E.T The Extra Terrestrial (1984)
  • More than 1 million Taiwanese participated in the 228 Hand-in-Hand Rally, forming a human chain 500-km long (300-miles) in commemoration of a massacre and calling for peace while turning away from missiles on mainland China pointed their way (2004)
  • Inspired to honor her late husband, Colleen Wogernose went on a kindness spree with three friends, to brighten the day for hundreds of people across Boston (2014)

86 years ago today, American chemist Wallace Carothers invented nylon. At 32 years old, he led the new organic chemistry research department at DuPont Chemical Co. which was searching for ways to make new synthetic materials. His team soon developed neoprene, a synthetic rubber the company manufactured for used in wetsuits.

Wallace Carothers (right) and nylon inspector by Erik Liljeroth, Nordiska museet, CC license (left) 

Wallace Carothers had already been studying polymers as a professor at Harvard—molecules composed of long chains of repeating atoms. The search continued at DuPont to figure out how to create an industrially-strong fiber. He combined the chemicals amine, hexamethylene diamine, and adipic acid and was able to draw out fibers that were long, strong, and very elastic. DuPont named the filament—which could have a million or more molecules, each taking some of the strain when stretched—nylon.

The product name became synonymous worldwide for the hosiery that replaced silk stockings because they were cheaper, more durable, and sheer—with up to 4 million pairs being purchased in America on one day—four years after the chemical was invented. (1935)

And, 68 years ago today, two scientists at Cambridge University discovered the double-helix structure of DNA, the key to unlocking our human genes.

The two young friends, American James Watson and Englishman Francis Crick made perhaps the most important scientific discovery of the 20th century and were awarded the 1962 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for providing an elegant model that explains how genetic instructions are passed from generation to generation.

Watson, who was only 25 at the time and liked to wear Converse sneakers (with laces untied), later wrote the bestselling book, The Double Helix: A Personal Account of the Discovery of the Structure of DNA. WATCH a video that tells their unlikely story… (1953)

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