The Hacker's Almanac for Sunday March 4, 2007

4 March, 2007

Download the Hacker's Almanac for Sunday March 4, 2007.

Ten years ago today, President Bill Clinton sent a memo to all executive departments and agencies banning federal funding for human cloning research. The memo warned of the "profound ethical issues" involved with human cloning and mentioned Dolly the sheep, the first mammal successfully cloned from an adult somatic cell (read the full memo). Created a year earlier by scientists at the Roslin Institute in Midlothian, Scotland, Dolly was cloned from a mammary cell taken from a six-year-old Finnish Dorset ewe and so, on the suggestion of one of the stockmen who helped with her birth, was named after actress and country singer Dolly Parton. Dolly suffered from premature aging that scientists suspect was caused by the advanced age of the sheep from which she was cloned. Dolly died on February 14, 2003 and her stuffed remains were donated to Edinburgh's Royal Museum.

Continued by President Bush, the ban on human cloning remains in effect today.

On this day in 1998, computers around the country running Windows NT and Windows 95 crashed in a large scale denial of service attack. Mostly affecting universities and government offices, the attack consisted of a series of incoming email messages containing badly formatted packets designed to overlap each other when reassembled, a so-called Tear-drop attack. The attack caused users to see the infamous Blue Screen of Death often displayed by Microsoft operating systems when they encounter an unrecoverable error. (NPR report of 3/4/98)

The perpetrators of the attack were never caught and their motivations are unknown, though at the time, some speculated that they were responding to testimony given by Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates the day before in front of a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on the company's anti-competitive practices. Others thought the attack was retaliation for the recent arrest of two teenagers in California who were charged with breaking into pentagon computers.

On this day in 1962, the McMurdo Station in Antarctica became the world's first operational atomic power plant. The station is named after the McMurdo Sound, which it neighbors. The area was first scouted by Lieutenant Archibald McMurdo of the HMS Terror in 1841 and the first human settlement, Discovery Hut, was built there in 1902 by British explorer Robert Falcon Scott. The Hut is the southern-most bare ground accessible by ship in the Antarctic.

The Station's single core reactor was designed to be built from individual components light enough and small enough to fit in a Hercules LC-130 aircraft so they could be shipped to the Station via the ice runway at the adjacent Williams Field. The reactor provided power equivalent to 1,500 gallons of oil per day and the steam it produced was used by the Station's engineers to distill salt water.

All personnel and cargo en route to the South Pole still pass through McMurdo Station.

All information courtesy of Wikipedia, unless otherwise noted.

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