March 5: Joseph Vissarionovich Stalin, 73, four days after suffering from brain hemorrhage (internal bleeding). Stalin had run the Soviet Union for 29 years, bringing victory in war and pride in industrialization, but also supervising mass murder, famine, and forced collectivisation. The nation was unsure whether to grieve or to celebrate for Stalin who was a despised dictator but also a virtual god.
|Mount Everest Conquered|
On May 29, 1953, New Zealand mountaineer Edmund Hillary and Nepalese Sherpa guide Tenzing Norgay reached the summit of Mount Everest, the highest point on earth at 29,028 feet. Upon reaching the peak, the climbers, part of a British expedition, shook hands and unrolled a string of flags (United Nations, British, Nepalese, Indian). They stayed in the subzero (below zero degrees) cold for 15 minutes, breathing from their oxygen tanks, then began the descent.
In England, Hillary and the leader of the expedition, John Hunt were promptly knighted. Hillary later returned to the Himalayas and helped build schools, hospital, and airfields for the Sherpa people, without whom he could have never made it to the top.
|DNA Structure determined|
On April 25, 1953, Francis Crick and James D Watson, scientists at Cambridge University’s Cavendish Laboratories, published an article in the British scientific journal, Nature, defining the structure of deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA). They presented it as a double helix – two intertwined , spiraling strands of polymers (large molecules made up of a linked series of small molecules). When DNA separates into individual strands, each strand becomes the foundation on which another identical one is built. Each new molecule contains the same genetic information as the original strand. Thus are genes and eventually, chromosomes (DNA) duplicated, and genetic traits reproduced.
|The Korean War Ends|
The undeclared Korean War ended in 1953, after three years of fighting between North Korean and Chinese Communists against the United Nations forces (mainly South Korean and American). An estimated four million people died, including nearly a million Chinese, 54,000 Americans, several thousand other UN troops and some two millions North and South Koreans. However, very little territory was actually gained or lost between the two sides.
Peace talks had begun in the spring of 1951, but had been obstructed by two main issues: where to draw the truce-line between the two Koreas, and what to do with the prisoners of war. It was only in June 1953, that the two groups neared an agreement (at the UN’s border, and a neutral commission to judge in the case of prisoners unwilling to be repatriated (sent back to their homeland against their wills, like refugees). On July 27, the agreement was signed, ending the war.