Momentous or merely memorable
25 YEARS AGO: Honorable Mention
The Vietnam Veterans Memorial is dedicated in Washington, DC. November 13, 1982. Architect Maya Lin's black granite V, engraved with the names of 57,939 Americans killed and missing between 1959 and 1975 (since added to), is decried as a "black ditch" and hailed as overdue recognition. A statue of three servicemen is added in 1984 to honor the survivors; another, commemorating women's service, is added in 1993. "The Wall" now draws some 3.8 million visitors annually.
40 YEARS AGO : Star Power
Astronomers Jocelyn Bell and Antony Hewish discover the first pulsar—a pulsating, radio wave-emitting star—on November 28, 1967. Unsure at first of the source of the pulses, they call it LGM, for Little Green Men. It is later found to be a neutron star—a tiny, extremely dense star. Today more than 1,500 pulsars have been found using radio, optical, X-ray and gamma-ray telescopes. Hewish gets a Nobel Prize in 1974.
60 YEARS AGO: Huge Flying Boat Seen over California
Millionaire aviator Howard Hughes, 41, puts five years and $25 million to the test when he flies his 218-foot-long, 400,000-pound wooden plane for a mile over Long Beach harbor November 2, 1947. Dubbed the "Spruce Goose"—though it is mostly birch—the world's largest seaplane is designed to carry troops and equipment, but war's end and cost overruns make this its only airborne adventure.
60 YEARS AGO: Royal Revel
War-weary Britain toasts a happy future as Princess Elizabeth, 21, marries Lt. Philip Mountbatten of Greece, 26, in Westminster Abbey November 20, 1947. Their "I wills" are radio broadcast in 47 languages, while the first televised images of a royal wedding capture the couple emerging from the church. Among the 2,500 gifts is a turkey, sent by a 4-year-old Brooklyn girl. In 2007, Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip become the first royal couple to reach their 60th anniversary.
80 YEARS AGO: Cold Fusion
Wisconsin inventor Carl Eliason patents the first snowmobile November 22, 1927. Earlier snow vehicles were modified cars; Eliason, working in his garage, turns bicycle parts, an outboard engine and a pair of skis into a "motor toboggan." Though often ranked with leaf blowers as supremely irritating noisemakers, in 2006 more than 160,000 snowmobiles are sold worldwide.
175 YEARS AGO: Woman's Work
Louisa May Alcott is born in Pennsylvania November 29, 1832. Schooled in Concord, Massachusetts, by her philosopher father and his friends Henry David Thoreau and Ralph Waldo Emerson, she begins writing for fun and continues as a way to earn money. After a stint as a Civil War nurse, she publishes Little Women in 1868, based on her life with her sisters. Three sequels and several similar books follow. The "most popular of American female authors," as the New York Times deems her, dies in 1888, age 55.