23 February 1941

Plutonium is first produced and isolated by Dr. Glenn T. Seaborg.
Plutonium is a radioactive metallic chemical element with the symbol Pu and atomic number 94. It is a member of the actinide series of elements, which are known for their radioactivity and many of which are synthetic. Plutonium is typically produced in nuclear reactors through the irradiation of uranium-238.

Discovery: Plutonium was first synthesized by Glenn T. Seaborg, Edwin McMillan, Joseph W. Kennedy, and Arthur Wahl in 1940 at the University of California, Berkeley. They bombarded uranium-238 with deuterons (nuclei of heavy hydrogen, or hydrogen-2) to produce neptunium-238, which then underwent beta decay to form plutonium-238.

Isotopes: Plutonium has several isotopes, but plutonium-239 is the most important one from a practical standpoint. It is fissile, meaning it can sustain a nuclear chain reaction, making it useful for both nuclear power and nuclear weapons. Plutonium-239 has a half-life of about 24,100 years.

Nuclear Weapons: Plutonium-239 is a key component in nuclear weapons. It can be used in both fission and fusion bombs.
Nuclear Power: Plutonium-239 is also used as fuel in some types of nuclear reactors, particularly in breeder reactors where it can be bred from uranium-238. However, its use in civilian nuclear power is less common compared to its military applications.
Radioisotope Thermoelectric Generators (RTGs): Plutonium-238, which is produced in small quantities, is used as a heat source in RTGs for space missions, satellites, and remote terrestrial applications.

Radioactivity: Plutonium is highly radioactive and poses significant health risks if mishandled. Its decay products emit alpha particles, which can be stopped by a sheet of paper or even skin, but can be highly damaging if inhaled or ingested.

Hazards: Plutonium is toxic and can pose both chemical and radiological hazards. Inhaling or ingesting even small amounts can lead to serious health problems, including cancer. Proper handling and storage are essential to minimize risks.

Production: While plutonium can be produced in nuclear reactors, it can also be synthesized in particle accelerators or by neutron irradiation of other elements.

Due to its role in nuclear weapons and its potential use in nuclear proliferation, plutonium is subject to strict controls and safeguards under international agreements such as the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT).

23 February 1947

International Organization for Standardization is founded.

The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) is an independent, non-governmental international organization that develops and publishes standards for various industries and fields. ISO is headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland, and has members from over 165 countries.

ISO’s main objective is to promote worldwide standardization and to facilitate international trade by developing and publishing internationally recognized standards for products, services, and systems. These standards cover a wide range of topics, including quality management, environmental management, information technology, energy management, and many more.

ISO standards provide a common set of guidelines and best practices that businesses, governments, and other organizations can use to improve the quality, safety, and efficiency of their products, services, and operations. Compliance with ISO standards can also help organizations demonstrate their commitment to meeting customer needs and regulatory requirements.

ISO standards are developed through a consensus-based process that involves input from industry experts, national standards bodies, and other stakeholders. Once a standard is developed and published, it is reviewed regularly to ensure it remains relevant and up-to-date with changes in technology, industry best practices, and regulatory requirements.

23 February 1934

Leopold III becomes King of Belgium.

orn Leopold Philippe Charles Albert Meinrad Hubertus Marie Miguel in Brussels, Leopold III was crowned King of Belgium on 23 Feb 1934. The WW1 veteran of the 12th Belgian Regiment very briefly attempted to resist the invading German troops in May 1940 before he surrendered. The Belgian people, who thought their King had given up too quickly, accused him of treason, but Leopold III tried proved the accusers wrong by refusing to obey Nazi policies. London, however, never recognized his right to rule.

During the winter of 1944 to 1945, he and the royal family were placed under arrest on Heinrich Himmler’s orders and they were not freed until May 1945 when the American troops reached the last location of their captivity, Strobl, Austria. He spent the next six years in exile in Switzerland due to the accusations of him being a German collaborator. In 1950, a referendum showed a slight majority of Belgians favoring his return, but upon his return he realized the nation was deeply divided over his rule. On the verge of a civil war within Belgium, Leopold III abdicated on 16 Jul 1951 and passed the crown to his son Baudouin.

23 February 1903

Cuba leases Guantánamo Bay to the United States “in perpetuity”.

Guantanamo Bay Naval Base, officially known as Naval Station Guantanamo Bay or NSGB also called GTMO because of the airfield designation code or Gitmo because of the common pronunciation of this code by the U.S. military, is a United States military base located on 120 square kilometres of land and water at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, which the U.S. leased for use as a coaling station and naval base in 1903 for $2,000 in gold per year until 1934, when the payment was set to match the value in gold in dollars; in 1974, the yearly lease was set to $4,085. The base is on the shore of Guantánamo Bay at the southeastern end of Cuba. It is the oldest overseas U.S. Naval Base. Since the Cuban Revolution of 1959, the Cuban government has consistently protested against the U.S. presence on Cuban soil and called it illegal under international law, alleging that the base was imposed on Cuba by force.

Since 2002, the naval base has contained a military prison, the Guantanamo Bay detention camp, for unlawful combatants captured in Afghanistan, Iraq, and other places during the War on Terror. Cases of torture of prisoners, and their alleged denial of protection under the Geneva Conventions, have been condemned internationally.

During the Spanish–American War, the U.S. fleet attacking Santiago secured Guantánamo’s harbor for protection during the hurricane season of 1898. The Marines landed at Guantanamo Bay with naval support, and American and Cuban forces routed the defending Spanish troops. The war ended with the Treaty of Paris of 1898, in which Spain formally relinquished control of Cuba. Although the war was over, the United States maintained a strong military presence on the island. In 1901 the United States government passed the Platt Amendment as part of an Army Appropriations Bill. Section VII of this amendment read

That to enable the United States to maintain the independence of Cuba, and to protect the people thereof, as well as for its own defense, the government of Cuba will sell or lease to the United States lands necessary for coaling or naval stations at certain specified points to be agreed upon with the President of the United States

After initial resistance by the Cuban Constitutional Convention, the Platt Amendment was incorporated into the Constitution of the Republic of Cuba in 1901. The Constitution took effect in 1902, and land for a naval base at Guantanamo Bay was granted to the United States the following year.

USS Monongahela 1862, the old warship served as a storeship at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba until totally destroyed by fire on March 17, 1908. A 4-inch gun was salvaged from her wreck and put on display at the Naval Station. Since the gun was deformed by the heat from the fire, it was nicknamed “Old Droopy”. The gun was on display on Deer Point until the command disposed of it, judging its appearance less than exemplary of naval gunnery.

23 February 1941

Plutonium is isolated for the first time by Glenn Seaborg.

Seaborg, a world-renowned nuclear chemist, Nobel laureate in chemistry, professor and educator, and scientific advisor to ten U.S. presidents, is probably best known for the discovery of plutonium (1941) and for his leadership of the team that developed plant processes for its purification for use in the U.S. World War II atomic bomb program, and his “revolutionary” actinide concept , which led to the discovery of elements 95 and 96 between 1944 and 1945. Plutonium, the 94th element, was first produced and isolated at the Berkeley Radiation Laboratory, CA, USA, on December 14, 1940. The team of Glenn T. Seaborg used the lab’s cyclotron to bombard uranium with deuterons, which generated neptunium, element 93. Subsequent ?-decay resulted in the formation of plutonium.

Seaborg was also a codiscoverer of elements 97 and 98 and in 1951 he and Professor Edwin M. McMillan shared the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for their research on the transuranium elements. Subsequently, Seaborg was codiscoverer of elements 99–102, and in 1974 of element 106, officially named seaborgium in his honor in 1997. From 1961 to 1971 he chaired the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission, strongly supporting peaceful uses of atomic energy, including as a source of electricity.