This Day in History

February 16


1270      Lithuania inflicts a decisive defeat over the Liconian Order on the frozen Baltic Sea between the island of Muhu and the mainland   749
1531      German mathematician and astronomer Johannes Stöffler dies, age 78   488
1646      Battle of Torrington during the First English Civil War—victory by Parliament forces ends Royalist resistance in the west country   373
1659      first known check (for £400)—England   360
1771      Charles Messier presents his original list of 45 Messier objects to the French Academy   248
1804      Stephen Decatur leads a contingent of marines to board and burn the captured frigate Philadelphia to deny her use to Tripoli   215
1822      British scientist and statistician Francis Galton is born in Birmingham   197
1834      German biologist Ernst Heinrich Philipp August Haeckel born   185
1848      Dutch botanist and one of the first geneticists Hugo Marie de Vries is born   171
1852      Studebaker brothers establish a wagon company in South Bend, Indiana—becomes Studebaker Automobile until 1966   167
1857      National Deaf Mute College (Gallaudet University) established in Washington DC   162
1862      Confederate Fort Donelson is captured by Union forces led by Ulysses S. Grant—opens the Cumberland River as an invasion avenue   157
1880      American Society of Mechanical Engineers is founded in New York City   139
1899      Knattspyrnufélag Reykjavíkur is founded—Iceland's oldest football club   120
1945      American forces land on Corregidor island in the Philippines   74
1956      Bengali astrophysicist Meghnad Saha dies in Delhi, age 62   63
1959      Fidel Castro is sworn in as Prime Minister of Cuba after dictator Fulgencio Batista was overthrown on January 1   60
1961      Explorer 9 launched—first spacecraft from Wallops Island Flight Center in Virginia to reach orbit   58
1962      low pressure systems forces a storm surge on coastal Germany—315 die and 60,000 homes lost in Hamburg from the flooding   57
1965      first of three Pegasus micrometeroid detection satellites launches with a boilerplate Apollo using a Saturn V   54
1968      nation's first 9-1-1 emergency telephone system inaugurated—Haleyville, Alabama   51
1974      Canadian-American engineer and designer of firearms Jean "John" Cantius Garand dies, age 86   45
1978      first computer bulletin board system goes on-line—CBBS in Chicago   41
1980      German physicist and physical chemist Erich Armand Arthur Joseph Hückel dies, age 83   39
1992      Swedish statistician Herman Wold dies, age 83   27
1992      English novelist, short story writer, and journalist Angelina Carter (Angela Carter) dies in London, age 51   27
1997      Chinese-American physicist Chien-Shiung Wu dies in New York City, age 84   22
1998      China Airlines Flight 676 crashes into a residential area near Chiang Kai-shek Airport in Taiwan, killing all 196 aboard and 7 on the ground.   21
2000      Russian-born French actress and Academy Award winner Lila Kedrova dies in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, age 90   19
2000      American motion picture actress Marceline Day dies in Cathederal City, California, age 91   19
2001      American gynecologist and sex researcher William Howell Masters dies, in Tucson, Arizona, age 85   18
2001      American director and producer of film and television Howard Winchel Koch dies in Los Angeles, age 84   18
2003      thieves break into the Antwerp Diamond Centre and steal diamonds, gold, and other jewellery valued at more than US$100 million   16
2005      Kyoto Protocol imposing limits on "greenhouse gas" emissions goes into effect   14
2005      due to a labor dispute the entire 2004-05 NHL season is canceled—first North American professional sports league to lose an entire season   14
2006      the last U.S. Mobile Army Surgical Hospital (MASH) is deactivated   13
2011      Watson beats two "Jeopardy" champions in a game broadcast over three days—Watson is a computer designed by IBM   8
2012      American actress, model, and fashion designer Elyse Knox (born Elsie Lillian Kornbrath) dies in Los Angeles, age 94   7
2013      Russian philosopher, cultural theorist, and author Grigory Solomonovich Pomerants dies in Moscow, age 94   6
2013      terrorist bomb blast in the market in Quetta, Pakistan, kills 110 and injures 200 others   6
2014      American fantasy, horror, and science fiction author Michael Shea dies, age 67   5
2015      American singer, songwriter, actress, and activist Lesley Sue Goldstein (Lesley Gore) dies in New York City, age 68   4
2017      car bomb detonates in a car market in Baghdad killing 45 and injuring 100 others   2
2017      suicide bomber strikes a Sufi shrine in southern Pakistan—over 70 die and 250 others injured   2
2018      Mars rover Opportunity reaches her 5000th sol (5136 days), of a nominal mission of 90 sols   1

Dates are always somewhat ambiguous, the exact date depends on whether local time is used (and local time where) or Universal Time—for events on the surface of the Earth, local time is probably best but for an event that spans across the planet, it is not clear which local time to use!. For events in space it is more ambiguous. Further for dates after the original adoption of the Gregorian calendar but before it became accepted in different countries, the date given may be a Julian date or a Gregorian date depending upon where the event occurred. And, even the year may be different since the first of the year has not always been January 1 in all countries! The attempt is to use a date that is the one that is typically given.

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