Dec. 2, 1942: Scientists stage the first successful nuclear chain reaction in a makeshift lab beneath the grandstand of the University of Chicago football stadium.
Dec. 2, 1957: The first U.S. commercial nuclear reactor goes online in Shippingport, Pennsylvania. U.S. President formally dedicates the plant as part of the “Atoms for Peace” program in May of the following year.
Dec. 2, 1970: Decimated by shrimp trawlers, habitat destruction, and direct hunting, the Kemp’s Ridley sea turtle (at right) is declared a U.S. endangered species.
Dec. 2, 1980: U.S. President Jimmy Carter signs the Alaska Lands Bill into law.