11 May 1998

India conducts three underground atomic tests in Pokhran.

At 6pm on May 11, 1998 the Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee announced the successful completion of India’s first nuclear tests since the ‘peaceful nuclear test’ of 1974. He read the following statement.

“Today at 1545 hrs, India conducted three underground nuclear tests in the Pokhran range. The tests were conducted with a fission device, a low yield device and a thermonuclear device. The measured yields are in line with expected values. Measurements have also confirmed that there was no release of radioactivity into the atmosphere. These were contained explosions like the experiment conducted in may 1974. I warmly congratulate the scientists and engineers who have carried out these successful tests.”
The photograph is Mr Vajpayee announcing the tests.

According to the Times of India earlier in the day the 500 residents of Pokhran, 35km from the 1974 blast were evacuated. The tests were conducted within hours about 3km north of Khetolai, the people of Pokhran felt the earth shake 3 times within 5 seconds. The residents who also observed the 1974 test immediately knew a nuclear test had just been completed. This also came as no surprise as the increase in military activity at the site had significantly increased over the last year.

When the official announcement came that India has successfully undertaken the nuclear tests, the people of Pokhran started dancing with joy in the main bazaar. Celebrations erupted throughout India, evidence of broad popularity of the tests. All political parties announced their support for the tests.

The tests resulted in immediate condemnation from around the world. The U.S., Japan and Canada imposed sanctions, other countries withdrew ambassadors and made strong complaints.

22 April 1998

Disney’s Animal Kingdom opens at Walt Disney World.

Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park opened its doors on Earth Day April 22, 1998, giving families a whole new way to appreciate, enjoy and interact with animals.

This park was the fourth to be built at the Walt Disney World Resort. It’s also the largest, spreading out over 500 acres, which gives the theme park’s 1,000 residents plenty of room to roam, run, crawl, slither and swim.

In 1998, an elaborate grand-opening ceremony was attended by a crowd of 2,000, with primatologist Jane Goodall, Ph.D., playing a special role in the festivities. Then-CEO Michael Eisner introduced the theme park to the world, calling it “a kingdom we enter to share in the wonder, gaze at the beauty, thrill at the drama and learn.”

Although the park opened in 1998, Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park actually has a lot of ties to Walt Disney, and the passion and respect he displayed for animals and nature throughout his life. Growing up on a farm in Marceline, Mo., the subject of some of Walt’s earliest sketches were local animals. Later on in his career, Walt cast many animals in important roles in his animated films, and took a more serious look at life in the animal kingdom in his “True-Life Adventure Series” documentaries, which were considered to be groundbreaking at the time of their release.

Today, Walt’s legacy continues at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park in the form of attractions that take guests up close with some of the most beautiful and interesting animals from around the world, such as Kilimanjaro Safaris, and the newly launched behind-the-scenes Wild Africa Trek tour.

1 March 1998

The film, Titanic became the first to gross over $1 billion worldwide.

Throughout the years, the public opinion of James Cameron’s ‘Titanic‘ wavered. Some roll their eyes at the “pointless” love story and some find it to be the best movie ever. But this film without any doubt found a place in the history books.

On March 1st in 1998, the epic romantic drama became the first film to gross over $1 Billion worldwide. This was an outstanding feat at the time!

BoxOfficeMojo.com estimates that 128 million tickets were sold in the first run. Crazy to think some critics felt this was going to be a box-office bomb! Even critics who expected good things never saw what a behemoth ‘Titanic‘ would become. By the time it left theaters in October 1998, the film had a worldwide total of $1,843,201,268.

For 12 years, it was the highest grossing movie ever. The reign seemed unbeatable but James Cameron found a way to overcome his own monster. ‘Avatar‘, another Cameron film, knocked it off the top spot with an meteoric rise to over $2 Billion.

In April of 2012, ‘Titanic‘ was re-released in 3D. This made the film only the second to pass the $2 Billion worldwide mark so the history making didn’t stop in 1998.

What do you think of historic legacy James Cameron’s ‘Titanic‘ created?

Do you know a film fact that happened on March 1st? Let me know in the comments!

Fun March 1st facts are the births of famous directors Ron Howard in 1954 and Zack Snyder in 1966. Films ‘Tank Girl‘ and ‘The Jazz Singer‘ were released on March 1st.

26 November 1998

The Khanna rail disaster takes 212 lives in Khanna, Ludhiana, India.

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At least 150 people were feared killed and 250 injured in a train accident between Kaudi and Daudpur villages near Khanna railway station on the Khanna-Ludhiana section of the Northern Railway in Punjab, a couple of hours before dawn today.

The accident occurred at about 0315 hours IST when the Calcutta-bound 3152-down Jammu Tawi-Sealdah Express rammed into 10 derailed coaches of the Amritsar-bound 2903-up Frontier Mail (recently renamed the Golden Temple Express).

Ten coaches of the Frontier Mail got decoupled from the train and derailed, six of them falling onto a parallel track where they were hit by the oncoming Sealdah Express even as passengers were alighting from the other four coaches.

Northern Railway General Manager V K Mehta said there was “a gap of just one minute” between the Frontier Mail coaches getting derailed and the Sealdah Express ramming into them.
Driver Subhash Chander and co-driver Sewa Ram Murti of the Sealdah Express were among those killed.

Railway and police officers said 101 bodies had been extricated, but feared that at least 50 more could be trapped in the wreckage.The extricated bodies were removed to A S College at Khanna. The deputy commissioner of Ludhiana district has permitted relatives of the victims to take the bodies away for last rites without post-mortems.

The injured have been admitted to the Post-Graduate Institute in Chandigarh, Rajendra Medical College Hospital in Patiala, Dayanand Medical College and Christian Medical College hospitals in Ludhiana, and the civil hospitals in Ludhiana, Samarala, Khanna, Doraha, Mandi Gobindgarh, and Sirhind.

Railway Minister Nitish Kumar, who visited the site, said it was yet to be ascertained if decoupling had led to derailment or vice-versa.He said the toll could go up as some of the injured passengers are in a critical condition, with multiple head and chest injuries.The commissioner of railway safety has been asked to ascertain the cause of the accident.

Kumar declined to speculate on the possibility of sabotage, saying this would be known only after the inquiry. But Punjab Director General of Police P C Dogra ruled out sabotage. He said preliminary investigations had revealed that the accident was caused by a mechanical failure.

The accident occurred on the electrified track in Ambala division, but both trains were being hauled by diesel engines.

2 September 1998

All 229 people on board are killed when Swissair Flight 111 crashes in Nova Scotia.

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Scores of bodies and bits of debris were recovered from choppy seas off Nova Scotia as officials sought to determine why a Swissair jetliner bound from New York to Geneva fell into the Atlantic minutes short of an emergency landing in Halifax, apparently killing all 229 people on board.

As Canadian naval vessels and a flotilla of fishermen searched the crash site five miles off a picturesque village called Peggy’s Cove on Nova Scotia’s southeastern shore, it seemed unlikely that any survivors would be found, though all hope was not abandoned. Many of the victims’ grieving families gathered in New York and Geneva, and some were flown to Nova Scotia.

Investigators said that, although the cause of the crash was still a mystery and might not be learned for weeks or months, there were no indications that the wide-bodied jet, a McDonnell-Douglas MD-11, had been brought down by an act of criminality or terrorism.

Searchers, who retrieved about 60 bodies, as well as body parts and debris that included clothing, baggage and seat cushions, said that searchers in the afternoon had spotted what seemed to be a large piece of the aircraft intact perhaps the fuselage, containing many of the victims and the flight data recorders in about 120 feet of water.

Thus, unlike Trans World Airlines Flight 800, which blew up without warning in the sky off the South Shore of Long Island two years ago, with a loss of 230 lives, Swissair Flight 111 apparently did not explode, investigators said, but ran into trouble about 15 minutes before it crashed and did not break up until it hit the water.

The pilot, identified by Swissair officials as Urs Zimmermann, 50, aided by the co-pilot, Stefan Low, 36, turned again toward Halifax and flew on for 11 minutes, gradually descending to 9,600 feet, according to radar tracking data. During that time, the passengers and crew were told of the emergency and put on life jackets, which rescuers said they later found on some bodies.

14 May 1998

The final show of television series, Seinfeld airs on NBC.

“It’s just very difficult to end a series,” Sopranos creator David Chase once said, years after he aggravated millions of fans by cutting to black before Tony could get his comeuppance. “For example, Seinfeld, they ended it with them all going to jail. Now that’s the ending we should have had. And they should have had ours, where it blacked out in a diner.”

Seventeen years after the Seinfeld finale, people are still crapping on it. Not just haters, but even its stars. Like when Julia Louis-Dreyfus went on David Letterman’s final show last month and cracked, “Thanks for letting me take part in another hugely disappointing series finale.”

On May 14, 1998, approximately 76 million people tuned in to see how the show “about nothing” would execute its farewell. Co-creator Larry David, who’d left the show after season 7, returned to write the finale, and NBC’s hype machine was running full throttle. Would Elaine and Jerry get hitched? Would Newman be killed in some delightfully ghastly accident? Of course, what actually happened was Jerry and George finally got their TV deal, but before they could celebrate with Elaine and Kramer in Paris, the four of them were arrested in Latham, Mass., for failing to help a man being car-jacked. A media circus descended on their trial, where they were found guilty and sentenced to a year in jail—essentially for being horrible people. All the fringe characters they’d ever wronged during nine seasons of TV—from Marla the Virgin to library cop Joe Bookman—testified against them. The penultimate scene was of the four guilty losers discussing the buttons on George’s shirt—a throwback to the show’s first episode.

27 March 1998

Viagra is approved by the FDA for a treatment for male impotence.

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Viagra is an FDA-approved medication used to treat erectile dysfunction problems in men. After being introduced in 1998, Viagra became the most popular treatment for erectile dysfunction issues. Viagra is a fast-acting medication that can last up to four hours. It works well for men at any age, regardless of how long the patient has been having issues getting and maintaining an erection.

Viagra interferes with the production of a hormone called PDE5. It relaxes the blood vessels surrounding the penis to allow increased blood flow during sexual arousal. When using Viagra, men can easily get and maintain a hard erection after being sexually stimulated. You will only get an erection after becoming sexually aroused and the erection will go away on its own. Even if you have been having erectile dysfunction problems for a long time, Viagra will start working right away.

Viagra can start working within 15 minutes. It’s a popular treatment for ED issues because it has been scientifically proven to help approximately 80% of men experiencing sexual difficulty. It was the first FDA-approved treatment for erectile dysfunction problems and it has a long history of success. Clinical trials from around the world have shown that Viagra is an effective treatment for erectile dysfunction issues. Each dose lasts up to four hours and some men can get multiple erections from a single dose. Typically, Viagra is covered by most health insurance plans.

19 November 1998

The portrait of the ‘Artist Without Beard’ by Vincent van Gogh sells at auction for US$71.5 million.

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The last self portrait of the famous artist Vincent van Gogh, titled “Portrait de l’artiste sans barbe ” or “Portrait of the Artist Without Beard ” sold at an auction in New York for US $71.5 million, making it one of the most expensive paintings of all time. The Dutch artist painted the 1889 self-portrait after he had shaved and gifted the painting to his mother for her 70th birthday, not long before he committed suicide in 1890. In 1998, the Van Gogh painting was one of 10 paintings put up for auction by the heirs of Jacques Koerfer, a German-born collector and the former chairman of the BMW who had died in 1991. The highest bid for the painting reached, almost three times its high estimate at $71.5 million. The buyer remains anonymous even today.