Topic: California

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🔗 John McCarthy Has Died

🔗 Biography 🔗 California 🔗 Computing 🔗 Chess 🔗 Biography/science and academia 🔗 Computing/Computer science 🔗 Robotics 🔗 Stanford University

John McCarthy (September 4, 1927 – October 24, 2011) was an American computer scientist and cognitive scientist. McCarthy was one of the founders of the discipline of artificial intelligence. He coined the term "artificial intelligence" (AI), developed the Lisp programming language family, significantly influenced the design of the ALGOL programming language, popularized time-sharing, invented garbage collection, and was very influential in the early development of AI.

McCarthy spent most of his career at Stanford University. He received many accolades and honors, such as the 1971 Turing Award for his contributions to the topic of AI, the United States National Medal of Science, and the Kyoto Prize.

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🔗 Room 641A

🔗 United States/U.S. Government 🔗 United States 🔗 Mass surveillance 🔗 Espionage 🔗 California 🔗 California/San Francisco Bay Area 🔗 Telecommunications

Room 641A is a telecommunication interception facility operated by AT&T for the U.S. National Security Agency, as part of its warrantless surveillance program as authorized by the Patriot Act. The facility commenced operations in 2003 and its purpose was publicly revealed in 2006.

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🔗 General Motors Streetcar Conspiracy

🔗 California 🔗 Business 🔗 Politics 🔗 Trains 🔗 Politics/American politics 🔗 Trains/Rapid transit 🔗 Buses 🔗 Trains/Streetcars

The notion of a General Motors streetcar conspiracy emerged after General Motors (GM) and other companies were convicted of monopolizing the sale of buses and supplies to National City Lines (NCL) and its subsidiaries. In the same case, the defendants were accused of conspiring to own or control transit systems, in violation of Section 1 of the Sherman Antitrust act. The suit created lingering suspicions that the defendants had in fact plotted to dismantle streetcar systems in many cities in the United States as an attempt to monopolize surface transportation.

Between 1938 and 1950, National City Lines and its subsidiaries, American City Lines and Pacific City Lines—with investment from GM, Firestone Tire, Standard Oil of California (through a subsidiary), Federal Engineering, Phillips Petroleum, and Mack Trucks—gained control of additional transit systems in about 25 cities. Systems included St. Louis, Baltimore, Los Angeles, and Oakland. NCL often converted streetcars to bus operations in that period, although electric traction was preserved or expanded in some locations. Other systems, such as San Diego's, were converted by outgrowths of the City Lines. Most of the companies involved were convicted in 1949 of conspiracy to monopolize interstate commerce in the sale of buses, fuel, and supplies to NCL subsidiaries, but were acquitted of conspiring to monopolize the transit industry.

The story as an urban legend has been written about by Martha Bianco, Scott Bottles, Sy Adler, Jonathan Richmond, and Robert Post. It has been explored several times in print, film, and other media, notably in Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Taken for a Ride, Internal Combustion, and The End of Suburbia.

Only a handful of U.S. cities, including San Francisco, New Orleans, Newark, Cleveland, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, and Boston, have surviving legacy rail urban transport systems based on streetcars, although their systems are significantly smaller than they once were. Other cities are re-introducing streetcars. In some cases, the streetcars do not actually ride on the street. Boston had all of its downtown lines elevated or buried by the mid-1920s, and most of the surviving lines at grade operate on their own right of way. However, San Francisco's and Philadelphia's lines do have large portions of the route that ride on the street as well as using tunnels.

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🔗 PayPal Mafia

🔗 California 🔗 California/San Francisco Bay Area 🔗 Internet

The "PayPal Mafia" is a group of former PayPal employees and founders who have since founded and developed additional technology companies such as Tesla Motors, LinkedIn, Palantir Technologies, SpaceX, YouTube, Yelp, and Yammer. Most of the members attended Stanford University or University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign at some point in their studies.

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🔗 Metcalf Sniper Attack

🔗 California 🔗 California/San Francisco Bay Area 🔗 Crime

On April 16, 2013, a sophisticated assault was carried out on Pacific Gas and Electric Company's Metcalf Transmission Substation in Coyote, California, near the border of San Jose. The attack, in which gunmen fired on 17 electrical transformers, resulted in more than $15 million worth of equipment damage, but it had little impact on the station's electrical power supply.

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🔗 Maryam Mirzakhani

🔗 Biography 🔗 California 🔗 California/San Francisco Bay Area 🔗 Mathematics 🔗 Iran 🔗 Women scientists 🔗 Biography/science and academia 🔗 Stanford University

Maryam Mirzakhani (Persian: مریم میرزاخانی‎, pronounced [mæɾˈjæm miːɾzɑːxɑːˈniː]; 12 May 1977 – 14 July 2017) was an Iranian mathematician and a professor of mathematics at Stanford University. Her research topics included Teichmüller theory, hyperbolic geometry, ergodic theory, and symplectic geometry. In 2005, as a result of her research, she was honored in Popular Science's fourth annual "Brilliant 10" in which she was acknowledged as one of the top 10 young minds who have pushed their fields in innovative directions.

On 13 August 2014, Mirzakhani was honored with the Fields Medal, the most prestigious award in mathematics. Thus, she became both the first, and to date, the only woman and the first Iranian to be honored with the award. The award committee cited her work in "the dynamics and geometry of Riemann surfaces and their moduli spaces".

On 14 July 2017, Mirzakhani died of breast cancer at the age of 40.

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🔗 1989 California Medfly Attack

🔗 California 🔗 Environment 🔗 Terrorism 🔗 Agriculture

In 1989, a sudden invasion of Mediterranean fruit flies (Ceratitis capitata, "medflies") appeared in California and began devastating crops. Scientists were puzzled and said that the sudden appearance of the insects "defies logic", and some speculated "biological terrorists" were responsible. Analysis suggested that an outside hand played a role in the dense infestation.

A person or group calling itself "The Breeders" took responsibility for the bioterrorist attack, as financial retaliation for the environmental damage caused by the state's Malathion aerial spraying; the group's members were never identified. Subsequently, three months after "The Breeders" announced the medfly release, the state ended its decade-long Malathion program and sought alternate ways to handle destructive insects.

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🔗 Google was founded 25 years ago Today

🔗 California 🔗 Companies 🔗 Technology 🔗 California/San Francisco Bay Area 🔗 Internet 🔗 History 🔗 Computing 🔗 Internet culture 🔗 Websites 🔗 Websites/Computing 🔗 Stanford University 🔗 Google

Google was officially launched in 1998 by Larry Page and Sergey Brin to market Google Search, which has become the most used web-based search engine. Larry Page and Sergey Brin, students at Stanford University in California, developed a search algorithm at first known as "BackRub" in 1996, with the help of Scott Hassan and Alan Steremberg. The search engine soon proved successful and the expanding company moved several times, finally settling at Mountain View in 2003. This marked a phase of rapid growth, with the company making its initial public offering in 2004 and quickly becoming one of the world's largest media companies. The company launched Google News in 2002, Gmail in 2004, Google Maps in 2005, Google Chrome in 2008, and the social network known as Google+ in 2011 (which was shut down in April 2019), in addition to many other products. In 2015, Google became the main subsidiary of the holding company Alphabet Inc.

The search engine went through many updates in attempts to eradicate search engine optimization.

Google has engaged in partnerships with NASA, AOL, Sun Microsystems, News Corporation, Sky UK, and others. The company set up a charitable offshoot,, in 2005.

The name Google is a misspelling of Googol, the number 1 followed by 100 zeros, which was picked to signify that the search engine was intended to provide large quantities of information.

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🔗 Traitorous Eight

🔗 California 🔗 California/San Francisco Bay Area 🔗 Computing 🔗 Computing/Computer hardware

The traitorous eight was a group of eight employees who left Shockley Semiconductor Laboratory in 1957 to found Fairchild Semiconductor. William Shockley had in 1956 recruited a group of young PhD graduates with the goal to develop and produce new semiconductor devices. While Shockley had received a Nobel Prize in Physics and was an experienced researcher and teacher, his management of the group was authoritarian and unpopular. This was accentuated by Shockley's research focus not proving fruitful. After the demand for Shockley to be replaced was rebuffed, the eight left to form their own company.

Shockley described their leaving as a "betrayal". The eight who left Shockley Semiconductor were Julius Blank, Victor Grinich, Jean Hoerni, Eugene Kleiner, Jay Last, Gordon Moore, Robert Noyce, and Sheldon Roberts. In August 1957, they reached an agreement with Sherman Fairchild, and on September 18, 1957, they formed Fairchild Semiconductor. The newly founded Fairchild Semiconductor soon grew into a leader of the semiconductor industry. In 1960, it became an incubator of Silicon Valley and was directly or indirectly involved in the creation of dozens of corporations, including Intel and AMD. These many spin-off companies came to be known as "Fairchildren".

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🔗 Emperor Norton

🔗 United States 🔗 Biography 🔗 California 🔗 California/San Francisco Bay Area 🔗 Micronations 🔗 United States/American Old West

Joshua Abraham Norton (February 4, 1818 – January 8, 1880), known as Emperor Norton, was a citizen of San Francisco, California, who proclaimed himself "Norton I, Emperor of the United States" in 1859. In 1863 he took the secondary title of "Protector of Mexico" after Napoleon III invaded that country. Norton was born in England but spent most of his early life in South Africa. He sailed west after the death of his mother in 1846 and his father in 1848, arriving in San Francisco possibly in November 1849.

Norton initially made a living as a businessman, but he lost his fortune investing in Peruvian rice to sell in China due to a Chinese rice shortage. He bought rice at 12 cents per pound from Peruvian ships, but more Peruvian ships arrived in port which caused the price to drop sharply to 4 cents. He then lost a lawsuit in which he tried to void his rice contract, and his public prominence faded. He re-emerged in September 1859, laying claim to the position of Emperor of the United States. Though Norton received many favors from the city, merchants also capitalized on his notoriety by selling souvenirs bearing his name. "San Francisco lived off the Emperor Norton," Norton's biographer William Drury wrote, "not Norton off San Francisco."

Norton had no formal political power; nevertheless, he was treated deferentially in San Francisco, and currency issued in his name was honored in the establishments that he frequented. Some considered him insane or eccentric, but citizens of San Francisco celebrated his imperial presence and his proclamations, such as his order that the United States Congress be dissolved by force and his numerous decrees calling for the construction of a bridge and tunnel crossing San Francisco Bay to connect San Francisco with Oakland.

On January 8, 1880, Norton collapsed at the corner of California and Dupont (now Grant) streets and died before he could be given medical treatment. Upwards of 30,000 people lined the streets of San Francisco to pay him homage at his funeral. Norton has been immortalized as the basis of characters in the literature of Mark Twain, Robert Louis Stevenson, Christopher Moore, Morris and René Goscinny, Selma Lagerlöf, and Neil Gaiman.

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