June 27, 1954: the world’s first nuclear power station opens in Obninsk, in the USSR. It was the first civilian nuclear power station in the world and doubled as a training base for the crew of the Soviet Union’s first nuclear submarine. France and the UK followed suit in 1956, with power stations in Marcoule and in Sellafield respectively, and the US was next with the Shippingport reactor in 1957. World nuclear power supplies are growing considerably but as an energy resource it remains contentious. Proponents point out that it is sustainable, reduces carbon emissions and increases energy security, but opponents believe it poses many threats to people and the environment. Examples of nuclear accidents include Chernobyl in 1986, and more recently, Fukushima in 2011, which led to Germany’s decision to close all its reactors by 2022.
Also on June 27:
- 1898 – the first solo circumnavigation of the globe is completed by Joshua Slocum from Briar Island, Nova Scotia, in his sailing boat, the Spray.
- 1982 – Space Shuttle Columbia launches on its final research and development flight mission, STS-4. Columbia completed 27 missions before disintegrating during re-entry on February 1, 2003 near the end of its 28th mission, STS-107, resulting in the deaths of all crew members aboard.
- 1985 – the U.S. Route 66 is closed. Known as the Main Street of America it covered nearly 4,000 kilometres, but was eventually replaced by the Interstate Highway System.
Born on June 27:
- 1949 – Vera Wang, American fashion designer and former figure skater.
- 1966 – J. J. Abrams, American director, writer, and producer, known for co-creating the TV show Lost.
- 1975 – Tobey Maguire, American actor, best known for his role as Peter Parker a.k.a. Spiderman.