Published: 15th February 2022
What happened on February 15? A unique Olympic record and culmination of the Human Genome Project
When Eddie Eagan aced the Winter and Summer Games and the human genome was first published
For February 15, we have a bit of sporting trivia that is unparalleled in history. It was on this day, way back in 1932, that Edward "Eddie" Patrick Francis Eagan of the United States of America won a gold medal in the 4-man bobsleigh event at the 1932 Winter Olympics held at Lake Placid, New York in 1932. The piece of history here, you ask? Eddie became the first-ever and is still the only athlete to win gold medals at the Summer and Winter Olympics in different events. He had earlier won top honours in boxing at the 1920 Antwerp Summer Olympics where he competed in the light-heavyweight category. Interestingly, he even practised as a lawyer and joined the US Air Force as well, later in life. He retired as a Lieutenant Colonel. He also set a world record for the then fastest circumnavigation of the globe by scheduled airlines on December 13, 1948. He travelled 20,559 miles, stopping at 18 different stations, and beat the previous record by 20 hours and 15 minutes. A whirlwind of a life indeed!
On 15 February 2001, the world's largest collaborative biological project came to fruition when a group consisting of hundreds of scientists published the complete human genome in the science magazine Nature. To get an exact idea of the enormity of the project, one needs to understand that this meant identifying all 14.8 billion base pairs in the human DNA. The project began in 1990 and was completed two years ahead of schedule. It gave us the ability to read nature's complete blueprint for building a human being. The project cost about $2.7 billion at that time, which in today's worth is more than $5 billion.