Wikipedia:Today's featured article/December 2017

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December 1
Two models of Beringian wolves created by paleo-artists working at the Yukon Beringia Interpretive Centre

The Beringian wolf (a subspecies of Canis lupus) lived during the last Ice Age in what is now Alaska, the Yukon, and northern Wyoming. The wolf was more robust, with stronger jaws and teeth, than other Late Pleistocene gray wolves and the comparably sized modern Yukon wolf (Canis lupus pambasileus), but not as strong as the dire wolf. The unique adaptation of the skull and dentition of the Beringian wolf allowed it to produce relatively large bite forces, grapple with large struggling prey, and therefore to predate and scavenge on Pleistocene megafauna. The wolf has been comprehensively studied, yielding new information on the prey species and feeding behavior of prehistoric wolves. The Beringian wolf preyed most often on horse and steppe bison, and also on caribou, mammoth, and woodland musk ox. The species survived well into the Holocene before its extinction at the close of the Ice Age, when cold and dry conditions abated and much of its prey also went extinct. The remains of ancient wolves with similar skulls and dentition have been found in western Beringia (north-east Siberia). (Full article...)

December 2
The reactor at Stagg Field

Chicago Pile-1 was the world's first artificial nuclear reactor. Its construction was part of the Manhattan Project, the Allied effort to create atomic bombs during World War II. It was built by the project's Metallurgical Laboratory at the University of Chicago, under the west viewing stands of the original Stagg Field. The first human-made self-sustaining nuclear chain reaction was initiated there on 2 December 1942, supervised by Enrico Fermi, who described the apparatus as "a crude pile of black bricks and wooden timbers". It contained 45,000 graphite blocks weighing 400 short tons (360 t) used as neutron moderators, and was fueled by 6 short tons (5.4 t) of uranium metal and 50 short tons (45 t) of uranium oxide. In the pile, some of the free neutrons produced by the natural decay of uranium were absorbed by other uranium atoms, causing nuclear fission of those atoms, and the release of additional free neutrons. Unlike most subsequent nuclear reactors, it had no radiation shielding or cooling system as it only operated at very low power – about one-half watt. The site is now a National Historic Landmark. (Full article...)

December 3
Obverse of a 1980 Grant Wood one-ounce gold medallion
   1980 Grant Wood
    gold medallion

The American Arts Commemorative Series medallions are gold bullion pieces that were produced by the United States Mint from 1980 to 1984. They were sold to compete with the South African Krugerrand and other bullion coins. The series was proposed by North Carolina Senator Jesse Helms after the US Department of the Treasury began selling portions of the national stockpile of gold. At the suggestion of Iowa Representative Jim Leach, the medallions depict Americans notable for their achievements in the arts. President Jimmy Carter signed the authorization into law in November 1978, despite objections from Treasury officials. The medallions were initially sold through mail order; purchasers were required to obtain the day's price by telephone before ordering. Later, the Mint sold them through telemarketing. Mintage ceased after the ten designs approved by Congress were produced. All were struck at the West Point Bullion Depository. The series sold poorly; critics blamed the complicated process by which they were first marketed, and the fact that they were medallions rather than coins. (Full article...)

December 4
Satellite image of Typhoon Omar at peak intensity on August 29, 1992

Typhoon Omar of 1992 was the strongest and most destructive typhoon to strike Guam since Typhoon Pamela in 1976. It formed on August 23 from the monsoon trough across the western Pacific Ocean, and made landfall on Guam five days later with winds of 195 km/h (120 mph). The storm caused damage there costing US$457 million, and one death. Strong gusts up to 248 km/h (154 mph) left nearly the entire island without power, disrupting the water system for several days and preventing the island-based Joint Typhoon Warning Center from issuing advisories for 11 days. The storm damaged or destroyed 2,158 houses, leaving 3,000 people homeless. The next day Omar became a super typhoon with sustained winds of 240 km/h (150 mph). Passing well north of the Philippines, it killed 11 people. It weakened significantly before striking eastern Taiwan on September 4; scattered flooding caused three deaths, along with damage worth $65 million, mostly to agriculture. The storm proceeded into eastern China the next day and dissipated on September 9. (Full article...)

December 5
Male yellowhammer

The yellowhammer (Emberiza citrinella) is a Eurasian bird in the bunting family that has been introduced to New Zealand, Australia, South Africa, and the Falkland Islands. The male has a bright yellow head, streaked brown back, chestnut rump and yellow underparts. Other plumages are duller versions of the same pattern. The yellowhammer is common in open areas with some shrubs or trees, and forms small flocks in winter. The song is very similar to that of its closest relative, the pine bunting, with which it interbreeds. Two or three times a year, the female lays 3–5 eggs patterned with a mesh of fine dark lines in a cup nest. The bird's diet is mainly seeds, supplemented by invertebrates in the breeding season. The nest may be raided by rodents or by birds in the crow family, and the adults are hunted by birds of prey. Changes to agricultural practices have led to population declines in western Europe, but the species has a huge range and is not threatened. This conspicuous yellow bird has inspired poems by Robbie Burns and John Clare, and its song has influenced works by Beethoven and Messiaen. (Full article...)

December 6
The Halifax explosion

The Halifax Explosion was a maritime disaster in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, on the morning of 6 December 1917. SS Mont-Blanc, a French cargo ship laden with high explosives bound for Bordeaux, France, collided with the Norwegian vessel SS Imo in the Narrows, at the north-west tip of Halifax Harbour. When a fire on board the French ship ignited her cargo, around 2,000 people were killed by the blast, debris, fires and collapsed buildings, and an estimated 9,000 others were injured. Nearly all structures within an 800-metre (half-mile) radius, including the entire community of Richmond, were obliterated. A pressure wave snapped trees, bent iron rails, demolished buildings, grounded vessels, and scattered fragments of Mont-Blanc for kilometres. A tsunami created by the blast wiped out the community of Mi'kmaq First Nations people who had lived in the Tufts Cove area for generations. The blast was the largest man-made explosion prior to the development of nuclear weapons, releasing the equivalent energy of roughly 2.9 kilotons of TNT (12,000 GJ). There are several memorials to the victims of the explosion in the North End of Halifax. (Full article...)

December 7
Tove Lo performing "Habits (Stay High)" in 2014

"Habits (Stay High)" is a song recorded by Swedish singer Tove Lo, self-released as a single in March 2013, and re-released on 6 December 2013 by Universal Music. It appeared on her debut extended play, Truth Serum, and was the lead single from her debut studio album, Queen of the Clouds. Written by Lo and its producers, Ludvig Söderberg and Jakob Jerlström, it is an electropop song featuring a minimal and upbeat electronic instrumentation. The lyrics describe the singer's attempts to forget her previous boyfriend through substance abuse, drinking and other hedonistic practices. The song was well received by most critics, who commended its lyrics and production. It sold over 2.6 million copies in the United States and peaked at number three on the Billboard Hot 100, the highest position on that chart by a Swedish artist since "The Sign" by Ace of Base (1994). The track topped the charts in Poland and Romania, and peaked within the top ten in many countries. The single was named Song of the Year at the 2015 Grammis Awards in Sweden. (Full article...)

December 8
Cricketer Ian Johnson in January 1951.jpg

Ian Johnson (8 December 1917 – 9 October 1998) was an Australian cricketer who played 45 Test matches as a slow off-break bowler between 1946 and 1956. He was on Don Bradman's Invincibles team, which went undefeated on their tour of England in 1948. Johnson captured 109 Test wickets at an average of 29.19 runs per wicket and as a lower order batsman made 1,000 runs at an average of 22.92 runs per dismissal. He captained the Australian team in 17 Tests, winning seven and losing five, including two consecutive losses in the Ashes series against England. Urbane, well-spoken and popular with his opponents and the public, he was seen by his teammates as a disciplinarian, and his natural optimism was often seen as naive. After retirement, Johnson worked for a time as a sports commentator, and covered the 1956 Summer Olympics in Melbourne. In 1957 he was appointed Secretary of the Melbourne Cricket Club, remaining in the role for 26 years. In 1982 he was made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire for services to cricket. (Full article...)

Part of the Australian cricket team in England in 1948 series, one of Wikipedia's featured topics.

December 9

Air Mata Iboe ('"A Mother's Tears") is a 1941 film from the Dutch East Indies (now Indonesia) directed and written by Njoo Cheong Seng. Starring Fifi Young, Rd Ismail, Ali Sarosa, and Ali Joego, it follows a mother who raises her children lovingly but is ultimately betrayed by her wealthy eldest sons, who refuse to take her in when she falls on hard times. Unwilling to burden her destitute daughter, she depends on the kindness of strangers. The black-and-white film, billed as a musical extravaganza, features a soundtrack by R. Koesbini, and an eponymous title song written by Njoo. Eleven keroncong songs (a folk style with Portuguese influences) were written by music director R. Koesbini, who also appeared in the film. The last production completed by Fred Young's Majestic Film Company, Air Mata Iboe was released in December 1941, shortly before the Japanese occupation of the Dutch East Indies. This film, now possibly lost, received positive reviews. Young retook her role in a remake produced under the same title in 1957. (Full article...)

December 10
Stephen F. Austin
Stephen F. Austin

The Convention of 1833, a political gathering of settlers in Mexican Texas, was one in a series of unsuccessful attempts at political negotiation that eventually led to the Texas Revolution. It followed the Convention of 1832, whose resolutions had not been addressed by the Mexican government. Delegates met in San Felipe de Austin to draft a series of petitions, with the volatile William H. Wharton presiding. Although the convention's agenda largely mirrored that of the Convention of 1832, delegates also agreed to pursue independent statehood for the province, which was at the time part of the state of Coahuila y Tejas. Under the guidance of Sam Houston, former governor of the US state of Tennessee, a committee drafted a state constitution to submit to the Mexican Congress. Stephen F. Austin (pictured) journeyed to Mexico City to present the petitions to the government. Frustrated with the lack of progress, in October Austin wrote a letter encouraging Texans to form their own state government. This letter was forwarded to the Mexican government, and Austin was imprisoned in early 1834. (Full article...)

December 11

Nigel (c. 1100 – 1169) was Treasurer of England under King Henry I, before being appointed to the see, or bishopric, of Ely in 1133. Nigel owed his advancement to his uncle, Roger of Salisbury, a bishop and government minister. Following the accession of Henry I's successor, King Stephen, Nigel remained as treasurer only briefly. He rebelled and deserted to Stephen's rival Matilda, and never regained high office under Stephen. On the king's death, Nigel was returned to the treasurership by the new king, Henry II. In Nigel's second tenure as treasurer, he returned the administration to the practices of Henry I. He withdrew from much of his public work after around 1164, following an attack of paralysis. He was succeeded as treasurer by his son, Richard fitzNeal, whom he had trained in the operations of the Exchequer, or Treasury of England. Most historians have felt that Nigel's administrative abilities were excellent; he is considered to have been more talented as an administrator than as a religious figure. (Full article...)

December 12
William Beach Thomas 1917.jpg

William Beach Thomas (1868–1957) was a British author and journalist who worked as a war correspondent and wrote about nature and country life. After a short-lived career as a schoolmaster, he began to write articles for newspapers and periodicals, as well as books. During the early part of the First World War he defied military authorities by reporting news stories from the Western Front for his employer, the Daily Mail. He was briefly imprisoned before being granted official accreditation as a war correspondent. His book With the British on the Somme (1917) portrayed the English soldier in a very favourable light. Both France and Britain rewarded him with knighthoods after the war, but Beach Thomas regretted some of his wartime output. His primary interest as an adult was in rural matters. He was an advocate for the creation of national parks in England and Wales, and mourned the decline of traditional village society. He wrote extensively, particularly for The Observer newspaper and The Spectator, a conservative magazine. His book The English Landscape (1938) includes selections from his contributions to Country Life magazine. (Full article...)

December 13

Nights: Journey of Dreams is an action video game developed by Sonic Team and published by Sega for the Wii. The sequel to the 1996 Sega Saturn title Nights into Dreams, it was first released in Japan, on 13 December 2007, followed by North America, Australia and Europe. The story follows two children, Will and Helen, who enter a dream world called Nightopia. When their nightmares come to life, they enlist the flying character Nights to help them stop the evil ruler Wizeman from escaping into the real world. The main objective of the game is to fly through rings while gathering keys to access new levels. The game's setting was designed to resemble England, especially parts of London. Development of Journey of Dreams began shortly after the release of Shadow the Hedgehog in 2005, and was headed by Sonic Team veteran Takashi Iizuka. The game received mixed reviews; critics praised its colourful visuals, boss battles and special effects, but most cited its poor control schemes, aesthetics and general gameplay as major flaws. (Full article...)

December 14

Morihei Ueshiba (December 14, 1883 – April 26, 1969) was the founder of the Japanese martial art of aikido. The son of a landowner from Tanabe, he studied martial arts in his youth, and served in the Japanese Army during the Russo-Japanese War. In 1907 he moved to Hokkaidō as the head of a pioneer settlement and studied with Takeda Sōkaku, the founder of Daitō-ryū Aiki-jūjutsu. In 1919 Ueshiba joined the Ōmoto-kyō movement, a Shinto sect, in Ayabe, and opened his first dojo. He accompanied the head of the group, Onisaburo Deguchi, on an expedition to Mongolia in 1924, where they were captured by Chinese troops and returned to Japan. Moving to Tokyo in 1926, he set up the Aikikai Hombu Dojo. He taught at this dojo and others around Japan, including several military academies. After World War II he retired to Iwama, and continued training at a dojo he had set up there. He continued to promote aikido throughout Japan and abroad until the 1960s. Many of his students became noted martial artists in their own right, and aikido is now practiced around the world. (Full article...)

December 15
A Yugoslav Hurricane

The Hawker Hurricane fighter aircraft was in Yugoslav service from 1938 to 1941 and 1944 to 1951. The Royal Yugoslav Air Force obtained 24 of the British fighters commencing on 15 December 1938 from early production batches, the first foreign sale of the aircraft. Twenty additional fighter aircraft were built by Zmaj under licence in Yugoslavia. When the country was drawn into World War II by the German-led Axis invasion of April 1941, the aircraft achieved some successes against the Luftwaffe, but all the Yugoslav Hurricanes were destroyed or captured during the 11-day invasion. In mid-1944, the Yugoslav Partisans formed two Royal Air Force squadrons, Nos. 351 and 352, which both operated Hurricane fighter-bombers. No. 351 Squadron flew Hurricane Mk IICs during training and was later equipped with Hurricane Mk IVs, and No. 352 briefly flew Hurricane Mk IICs during training before re-equipping with Supermarine Spitfire Mk Vs. Both squadrons operated as part of No. 281 Wing RAF of the Balkan Air Force, conducting ground attack missions in support of the Partisans. Hurricanes remained in service with the post-war Yugoslav Air Force until the early 1950s. (Full article...)

December 16
Portman Road

Portman Road is an association football stadium in Ipswich, Suffolk, England. It has been the home ground of Ipswich Town Football Club since 1884. The stadium has also hosted many England youth international matches, and one senior England international exhibition game, against Croatia in 2003. It has staged several other sporting events, including athletics meetings and international field hockey matches. In addition, musical concerts and Christian events have been held at the ground. The stadium underwent significant redevelopments in the early 2000s, which increased the capacity from 22,600 to a current figure of 30,311, making it the largest capacity football ground in East Anglia. Each of its four stands have since been converted to all-seater (eliminating standing-room only tickets), following the recommendations of the Taylor Report. Also located at the ground are conference and banqueting facilities, the Sir Bobby Robson Suite, and Legends Bar. (Full article...)

Part of the Ipswich Town F.C. series, one of Wikipedia's featured topics.

December 17
Persoonia terminalis ssp terminalis, Australian National Botanic Garden, Canberra, ACT, 04-02-12 (6805661222).jpg

Persoonia terminalis, the Torrington geebung, is a rare shrub belonging to the family Proteaceae, and native to northern New South Wales and southern Queensland in eastern Australia. Reported as a subspecies of Persoonia nutans in 1981, it was described as a species by Lawrie Johnson and his colleague Peter Weston in 1991. Two subspecies‍—‌P. t. terminalis and P. t. recurva‍—‌are recognised; both are found on well-drained acidic soils in sclerophyll forests, and P. t. terminalis is also found on granite outcrops. Although similar in appearance, they differ in leaf length and curvature. Both have a restricted range, with P. t. terminalis found in an area of under 100 square kilometres (39 square miles). P. terminalis grows to 1.5 metres (5 feet), with an upright or spreading habit, and narrow, short leaves up to 1 centimetre (0.4 inches) in length. The yellow flowers mainly appear in December and January (Australia's temperate zone summer), and are followed by purple-striped green drupes (stone fruit). The fruit of persoonias are edible, and dispersed by wild vertebrates. (Full article...)

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