The ESP Timeline (one of the site's most popular features) has been completely updated to allow the user to select (using the timeline controls above each column) different topics for the left and right sides of the display.
New Left Column
New Left Column
New Right Column
New Right Column
Ordinary People wins Academy Award for best picture. Robert Redfords directing debut won at the National Board of Review, the N.Y. Film Critics Circle, Golden Globes, the Writers and Directors guilds, and then four Oscars, out of six nominations.
Christiane Nüsslein-Volhard and Eric Wieschaus describe genetic mutations affecting the body plan of the fruit fly Drosophila, and identify genes controlling the basic body plans of all animals. These genes will eventually be known as Hox genes.
Paul Berg, Walter Gilbert, and Frederick Sanger share a Nobel Prize in Chemistry, with Berg cited for his fundamental studies of the biochemistry of nucleic acids, with particular regard to recombinant-DNA, and Gilbert and Sanger cited for their contributions concerning the determination of base sequences in nucleic acids. This is Sanger's second Nobel, the first having come in 1958 for his work on the structure of insulin.
Louis W. Alvarez, Walter Alvarez, Frank Asaro and Helen V. Michel publish their asteroid impact theory of dinosaur extinction. The theory will not gain widespread acceptance among scientists for several years.
Chariots of Fire wins Academy Award for best picture. The tale of the 1924 Olympics proved one of the biggest surprises in Oscar history, though a popular choice; most pundits had predicted it would be a showdown between Warren Beattys epic Reds and the small-scale family drama On Golden Pond.
(no entry for this year)
Gabriel García Márquez awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature "for his novels and short stories, in which the fantastic and the realistic are combined in a richly composed world of imagination, reflecting a continent's life and conflicts".
Gandhi wins Academy Award for best picture. There was a lot of competition that year, including E.T. the ExtraTerrestrial and Tootsie. But the grand-scale biopic from director Richard Attenborough was the evenings big winner, with eight trophies.
(no entry for this year)
William Golding awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature "for his novels which, with the perspicuity of realistic narrative art and the diversity and universality of myth, illuminate the human condition in the world of today".
Terms of Endearment wins Academy Award for best picture. TVs James L. Brooks made a splashy film debut, winning three personal awards that night (as writer, director, and producer), while Shirley MacLaine and Jack Nicholson also took home acting prizes.
German paleobiologist Adolf Seilacher suggests that most of the Ediacaran fossils discovered in the 1940s are not related to any modern forms. Calling them vendobionts, he argues that they went extinct after the emergence of large predators. Seilacher's interpretation, however, will remain in dispute.
Jaroslav Seifert awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature "for his poetry which endowed with freshness, sensuality and rich inventiveness provides a liberating image of the indomitable spirit and versatility of man".
Amadeus wins Academy Award for best picture. Milos Formans sumptuous version of Peter Shaffers stage play scored eight wins out of 11 nominations.
David Raup and Jack Sepkoski publish the controversial claim that mass extinctions are regularly spaced at 26 million years.
Richard Leakey and his team discover Turkana Boy, the most complete Homo erectus fossil yet discovered.
Out of Africa wins Academy Award for best picture. The epic romance benefited from Meryl Streeps performance, Sydney Pollacks direction and Kurt Luedtkes adaptation of Isak Dinesens book. In all, the film won seven Oscars (though Streep was an also-ran).
Kenneth Oakley publishes Decorative and Symbolic Uses of Fossils describing, among other things, a hand axe crafted by Homo heidelbergensis featuring a fossil sea urchin, and a fossil urchin set within a bronze locket from a Gallo-Roman temple.
Paleoanthropologists excavate an artifact-rich portion of Cueva de los Aviones in Iberia. Fifty-thousand-year-old perforated and pigment-stained shells from the cave will prompt researchers to argue, 25 years later, that Neanderthals wore both makeup and jewelry.
Platoon wins Academy Award for best picture. Oliver Stones autobiographical film, a vivid account of his Vietnam experiences, won four Oscars, including Stone as director.
Norman H. Sleep submits a paper calculating the probability of life forms surviving an extraterrestrial impact in the Hadean Period (first 700 million years of Earth's existence). The paper is rejected on the grounds there would have been no life on Earth yet.
The Last Emperor wins Academy Award for best picture. The Bernardo Bertolucci-directed biopic scored a clean sweep: Nine wins out of nine nominations, the first time that happened since Gigi. The winners included Vittorio Storaro for his beautiful cinematography.
Allan Wilson and Rebecca Cann announce that all humans share a common ancestor who lived in Africa as recently as 150,000 years ago. Because the discovery is based on examination of mitochondrial DNA, the ancestral entity will be given the popular (and somewhat misleading) name of "Mitochondrial Eve." The controversial finding will be supported by another discovery in 2000.
Jenny Clack finds Acanthostega, the most complete Devonian tetrapod yet discovered. It has evidence for functional gills as well as legs, strongly suggesting that animals evolved legs while still living in the water.
Kansas rancher Charles Bonner collects a plesiosaur mother-and-fetus fossil. Nearly 25 years later, O'Keefe and Chiappe will describe this as evidence that that plesiosaurs gave live birth and might have been attentive mothers.
Dhananjay Mohabey discovers what looks like a simple clutch of dinosaur eggs in India. Twenty-three years later, he, Jeffrey Wilson and colleagues will report that the fossil find includes not just sauropod eggs, but a predatory Cretaceous snake that apparently snacked on hapless sauropod hatchlings.
Naguib Mahfouz awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature "who, through works rich in nuance — now clear-sightedly realistic, now evocatively ambiguous — has formed an Arabian narrative art that applies to all mankind".
Rain Man wins Academy Award for best picture. The film, produced by Mark Johnson and directed by Barry Levinson, was basically a two-character study, with Dustin Hoffman winning as best actor; while Tom Cruises performance was widely admired, he was surprisingly not nominated.
Molecular biologist John Cairns describes experiments suggesting that bacteria facing environmental stress can "direct" their mutations to produce favorable adaptations. Directed mutation will remain a controversial idea, but the possibility that organisms mutate at a greater rate (hypermutation) under environmental stress will gain more acceptance.
Driving Miss Daisy wins Academy Award for best picture. The film was a rarity, winning the top prize though its director (Bruce Beresford) wasnt even nominated. Among the wins were actress Jessica Tandy and scripter Alfred Uhry, adapting his own play.
Ned Colbert finally completes his definitive species description of the Coelophysis dinosaurs he found in 1947.
Philip Gingerich finds a fossil whale, Basilosaurus in Egypt. It has tiny legs, just inches long, retaining all five toes. Five years later, he will discover an even more primitive whale ancestor, Rodhocetus, with even bigger hind legs, in Pakistan. Eighteen years later, Hans Thewissen will announce the discovery of another missing link in cetacean evolution: fox- like Indohyus found in Kashmir.
In the early 1990's, Robert Robbins was a faculty member at Johns Hopkins, where he directed the informatics core of GDB — the human gene-mapping database of the international human genome project. To share papers with colleagues around the world, he set up a small paper-sharing section on his personal web page. This small project evolved into The Electronic Scholarly Publishing Project.
In 1995, Robbins became the VP/IT of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, WA. Soon after arriving in Seattle, Robbins secured funding, through the ELSI component of the US Human Genome Project, to create the original ESP.ORG web site, with the formal goal of providing free, world-wide access to the literature of classical genetics.
Although the methods of molecular biology can seem almost magical to the uninitiated, the original techniques of classical genetics are readily appreciated by one and all: cross individuals that differ in some inherited trait, collect all of the progeny, score their attributes, and propose mechanisms to explain the patterns of inheritance observed.
In reading the early works of classical genetics, one is drawn, almost inexorably, into ever more complex models, until molecular explanations begin to seem both necessary and natural. At that point, the tools for understanding genome research are at hand. Assisting readers reach this point was the original goal of The Electronic Scholarly Publishing Project.
Usage of the site grew rapidly and has remained high. Faculty began to use the site for their assigned readings. Other on-line publishers, ranging from The New York Times to Nature referenced ESP materials in their own publications. Nobel laureates (e.g., Joshua Lederberg) regularly used the site and even wrote to suggest changes and improvements.
When the site began, no journals were making their early content available in digital format. As a result, ESP was obliged to digitize classic literature before it could be made available. For many important papers — such as Mendel's original paper or the first genetic map — ESP had to produce entirely new typeset versions of the works, if they were to be available in a high-quality format.
Early support from the DOE component of the Human Genome Project was critically important for getting the ESP project on a firm foundation. Since that funding ended (nearly 20 years ago), the project has been operated as a purely volunteer effort. Anyone wishing to assist in these efforts should send an email to Robbins.
With the development of methods for adding typeset side notes to PDF files, the ESP project now plans to add annotated versions of some classical papers to its holdings. We also plan to add new reference and pedagogical material. We have already started providing regularly updated, comprehensive bibliographies to the ESP.ORG site.
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