Charles DarwinCredit:

December 27, 1831

On December 27, 1831, Darwin and the HMS Beagle left on its famous voyage.

Charles Darwin is known for his book, “On the Origin of Species”.  As he grew up, he studied in several fields, including medicine and religion.  These did not interest him, and he did not do enough studying to enable him to continue in the fields.  However, while at Cambridge, he became interested in botany and studied enough to finish high in his class.

Shortly after graduation, Darwin was recommended for a position on the HMS Beagle, leaving on a two-year voyage to map South America.  Upon returning, Darwin was already famous, as his letters and notes had circulated scientific circles. 

December 27, 1922

The first purpose-built aircraft carrier, the Hosho, was commissioned on December 27, 1922.  The ship was built in Japan for the Imperial Japanese Navy.  Up until this time, precious aircraft carriers had been ships that had been repurposed to carry and launch aircraft. 

The ship was used for training and testing of aircraft operations.  The Hosho participated in several wars, but her small size limited her usefulness.  She was placed in reserve, then became a training carrier in 1939.  During World War II, the Hoshu was at the Battle of Midway, and afterwards was delegated again to training.  She survived the war, then was scrapped in 1946.

December 27, 1968

Apollo 8 returns to Earth on December 27, 1968.  Apollo 8 was a milestone flight in the history of the Apollo program.  The flight left on December 21, 1968.  The three man flight was the first manned flight to leave Earth orbit.  The flight also let the three astronauts be the first to orbit the moon, first to see the Earth as a whole, and the first to see the far side of the moon. 

The Commander of the flight, Frank Borman, was offered the command of the first landing on the moon, but turned it down and retired.  Command Module Pilot James Lovell went on to be the commander of the Apollo 13 flight that ran into trouble when the there was an explosion.  Lunar Module Pilot William Anders was backup for the Apollo 11 flight that landed on the moon, and retired from NASA in 1969.

December 27, 1979

The Soviet Union invades the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan on December 27, 1979.  The reasons for the invasion of the Soviets are still unclear.  The reasons seemed to include the need to support the government of Afghanistan, but the costs and effort that they would undergo were underestimated.  The Soviets withdrew in 1988. 

China's Flag

December 27, 2001

The term of “most favored nation” was changed to “permanent normal trade relations” in the United States in 1998.  This means that any nation with this status will have the same trade advantages of any other nation with this status. 

On December 27, 2001 the People’s Republic of China was granted PNTR with the United States.  Up until this time, the People’s Republic of China had been granted and annual Presidential waiver granting them free trade status.  From 1989 to 1999, some members of Congress had tried to overturn the waiver, trying to tie the waiver to the PRC meeting human rights conditions.  However, this legislation failed to be passed.

December 27, 2002

The company, Clonaid, claimed that a baby named Eve had been born the day before and that the baby was a clone of her mother.  The company went continued in the following months to claim that more clones had been borne, and that they were glad to have the babies submit to testing by independent sources, but no tests were ever done and no babies every shown. 

December 27, 2004

On this day, December 27, 2004, the Earth received the most powerful soft gamma repeater burst ever recorded.  This was a gamma ray burst from a magnetar labeled SGR 1806-20.  It is located over 50,000 light years from Earth, but still affected the atmosphere.  It was also visible is considered to be the brightest event to have been viewed on our planet that has happened outside our solar system. 

A magnetar is a type of neutron star.  A neutron star is the remnant of a star remaining after a supernova explosion, at the end of a star’s life.  A magnetar is more magnetic than the typical neutron star.  In the case of the explosion witnessed in 2004, the energy released in a tenth of a second from SGR 1806-20 is more than our Sun puts out in 150,000 years.

December 27, 2006

John Edwards announces he is running in the 2008 President Election.  He had first run in the 2004 Election, and then become the 2004 Vice President candidate with John Kerry being the Presidential candidate. They lost to the Bush/Cheney ticket.

After announcing his candidacy on December 27, 2006, Edwards he placed second in the Iowa caucuses, but slipped to third in the primaries following that.  He suspended his campaign on January 30, 2008, and endorsed Senator Obama on May 14, 2008. 

December 27, 2006

The space mission named COROT, for Convection Rotation and Planetary Transits, is launched.  The Mission is led by CNES, the French Space Agency and works with the ESA, European Space Agency and other international partners.  It was launched on top of a Soyuz rocker from the Baikonor Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.  It mission is to search for extrasolar planets, and to use asteroseismology to study the internal structure of stars. COROT Is Launched To Look For Extrasolar PlanetsCredit:

Launched in December, it was working in January 2007, started observations in February 2007 and detected its first extrasolar planet in May 2007.  The mission was originally scheduled to end after 2.5 years, but was extended to 2013.

COROT uses the transit detection method for finding stars.  Pictures of star are taken, and are examined for variance of output, signaling the transit of a planet in front of the star.  The method is inaccurate, often resulting in false positives.  Also, the chances of taking a picture just as the planet passes in front of the star are low.  However, if able to take a lot of pictures of a lot of stars, you can still find planets with it.  Most of the results will be of planets orbiting close to the stars, as there is more chance of catching these transiting the star.