Milwaukee • If you want to feel old, this might do it: Madonna’s daughter, Lourdes Ciccone Leon, has enrolled as a freshman at the University of Michigan.
Leon’s choice of the same university her mother once attended is one of the milestones marked this year by the Beloit College Mindset List, a nonscientific compilation meant to remind teachers that college freshmen, born mostly in 1996, see the world in a much different way.
They’ve grown up with Facebook, selfies and web-based TV. And to them, watching cartoons has meant catching "The Simpsons" and "Family Guy" instead of Saturday morning fare.
The compilation, released Tuesday, has been assembled every year since 1998 by Ron Nief and Tom McBride, officials at the private college in southeastern Wisconsin. Over the years it has evolved into a cultural touchstone that entertains even as people wonder where the years have gone.
Here’s a look at a few of the landmark events that took place around 1996, the year Leon and most of her incoming classmates were born:
No. 23: Cloning has always been a fact, not science fiction.
Scottish scientists announced in 1997 that Dolly the sheep, the world’s first cloned animal, had been born the previous year. She’d been cloned using a process in which DNA was removed from one sheep’s egg cell and replaced with genetic material from another sheep, and then implanted into a surrogate mother. Dolly was euthanized in 2003 after she developed lung disease.
Since then scientists have cloned more than a dozen kinds of mammals, including pigs and lambs.
Dolly’s creation captured the public imagination and instantly became a scientific sensation, opening up a range of human therapeutic options but also raising serious questions about the ethics of cloning.
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No. 46: They have probably never used Netscape for web browsing.
Netscape Communications helped popularize and commercialize the Internet during the mid-1990s with its Navigator web browser. Around the same time, Microsoft Corp. released the first version of its Internet Explorer browser, which it went on to integrate so tightly into Windows functions that many web users simply used Explorer by default. The U.S. Justice Department and several states ultimately sued Microsoft, accusing it of using its monopoly control over Windows to shut out competitors in other markets. The company fought the charges for years before settling in 2002.
Microsoft’s strategy also contributed to another item on the Mindset List:
No. 37. Bill Gates has always been the richest man in the U.S.
The Microsoft co-founder has been the nation’s wealthiest man for 20 straight years, and the richest in the world for 15 of those years. Forbes estimated his net worth at $72 billion last year, helped by a rebound in Microsoft’s stock price. However, he believes in sharing the wealth. He has helped convince over 100 super-rich people to pledge to donate at least half their net worth to charity.
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