31 December 1501

The First Battle of Cannanore starts.

The First Battle of Cannanore was a naval engagement between the Third Portuguese Armada under João da Nova and the naval forces of Calicut, which had been assembled by the Zamorin against the Portuguese in order to prevent their return to Portugal.

The battle was fought over two days, between 31 December 1501 and 2 January 1502, and was the first major Portuguese naval engagement in the Indian Ocean. Although badly outnumbered, da Nova’s bold tactics, better trained and prepared men and superior weaponry proved decisive for the Portuguese to defeat the blocking force of Calicut, break out of Cannanore, and emerge victorious from the battle.

The battle is also historically notable for being one of the earliest recorded deliberate uses of a naval line of battle, and for resolving the battle by cannon alone. These tactics would become increasingly prevalent as navies evolved and began to see ships less as carriers of armed men, and more as floating artillery. In that respect, this has been called the first ‘modern’ naval battle at least for one side. After it, João da Nova returned to Portugal.

31 December 2004

Taipei 101, the tallest skyscraper at that time in the world is officially opened.

Taipei 101, the world’s tallest building, will be officially inaugurated in Taipei, Taiwan, on Dec. 31. The 1,666-foot skyscraper tops the previous record holder, the Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur, by 183 feet.

Designing the 101-story building in the earthquake- and typhoon-prone region presented quite a challenge. Engineers had to account for the fact that the tower stands about 650 feet from a major fault line, and that it will face winds of 100 mph.

Still, Taipei 101 won’t hold the title of world’s tallest skyscraper for long. Buildings in Shanghai and Dubai are expected to surpass it, as will the Freedom Tower in New York — on the World Trade Center site — which is scheduled for completion in 2009.

NPR’s Melissa Block discusses the engineering know-how behind Taipei 101 with structural engineering consultant Dennis Poon of the Thornton-Tomasetti Group.

Taiwanese skyscraper, a 101-story tower in Xinyi District, Taipei. The building was officially classified as the world’s tallest in 2004, and remained such until the completion of Burj Khalifa in Dubai in 2009. In 2011, the building was awarded the LEED platinum certification, the highest award according to the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) rating system, and became the tallest and largest green building in the world.

Construction started in 1999 and finished in 2004. The tower has served as an icon of modern Taiwan ever since its opening. The building was architecturally created as a symbol of the evolution of technology and Asian tradition. Its postmodernist approach to style incorporates traditional design elements and gives them modern treatments. The tower is designed to withstand typhoons and earthquakes. A multi-level shopping mall adjoining the tower houses hundreds of stores, restaurants and clubs. Fireworks launched from Taipei 101 feature prominently in international New Year’s Eve broadcasts and the structure appears frequently in travel literature and international media.

Taipei 101 is primarily owned by pan-government share holders. The name originally planned for the building, Taipei World Financial Center, until 2003, was derived from the name of the owner. The original name in Chinese was literally Taipei International Financial Center.

31 December 1857

Queen Victoria chooses Ottawa to be the capital of Canada.

December 31, 1857 will always be one of the most important dates in Canadian history. On this day, Queen Victoria chose Ottawa, Ontario as the capital city of Canada. While Ottawa is now a major city in Canada, at the time it was primarily a logging town in the hinterland and far away from the colony’s major cities. One of the primary reasons the Queen chose the city of Ottawa was that it was the only city that was located on the border of then Canada East and Canada West that was of significant size. This was important as it was seen as a compromise between the English and French speaking colonies.

Secondly, the Queen wanted to chose a city that was well protected from potential attack. At the time, Ottawa was surrounded by dense forests which made it very tough to attack (oppose to other cities which were located very close to the American border.

Today, Ottawa is a major metropolitan city. The Capital is the fourth largest city in Canada and has a population of over 800,000. The city is regarded as “most educated city in Canada” as it has the highest concentration of engineers, scientists, and residents with a Ph