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The year 1972 in science and technology involved some significant events, listed below.
- January 5 – President of the United States Richard Nixon orders the development of a Space Shuttle program.
- February 4 – Mariner 9 sends pictures from Mars.
- February 21 – The Soviet unmanned spacecraft Luna 20 lands on the Moon.
- March 2 – Launch of Pioneer 10 spacecraft.
- April 16 – Apollo 16 launched.
- June 30 – The International Time Bureau adds the first leap second to Coordinated Universal Time (UTC).
- July 23 – The United States launches Landsat 1, the first Earth-resources satellite.
- December 7 – Apollo 17 launched with three astronauts and five mice, and The Blue Marble photograph of the Earth is taken.
- December 11 - NASA astronauts Eugene Cernan and Harrison Schmitt land on the Moon and begin a three-day exploration.
- February – S. J. Singer and Garth L. Nicolson describe the fluid mosaic model of the functional cell membrane.
- September – Geoffrey Burnstock proposes the existence of a non-adrenergic, non-cholinergic (NANC) neurotransmitter, which he identifies as adenosine triphosphate (ATP), originating the term 'purinergic signalling'.
- Niles Eldridge and Stephen Jay Gould publish their landmark paper on punctuated equilibrium.
- Socorro doves (Zenaida graysoni) last seen in the wild. The species precariously survives in captivity. A reintroduction program is being prepared.
- April 6 – Cray Research founded.
- May – Magnavox release the first home video game console which can be connected to a television set – the Magnavox Odyssey, invented by Ralph H. Baer.
- July 12 — First C compiler released.
- October – The First International Conference on Computer Communications is held in Washington, D.C. and hosts the first public demonstration of ARPAnet, a precursor of the Internet.
- November 29 – Atari release the production version of Pong, one of the first video games, devised by Nolan Bushnell and Allan Alcorn.
- Karen Spärck Jones introduces the concept of inverse document frequency (idf) weighting in information retrieval.
- Write-only memory is devised as a joke in Signetics.
- January 31 – Immunosuppressive effect of ciclosporin discovered by a team at Sandoz, Basel, under Hartmann F. Stähelin.
- Harvey J. Alter identifies the presence of hepatitis C virus.
- Tu Youyou and collaborators obtain a pure extract of the antiplasmodial drug artemisinin.
- Archie Cochrane publishes Effectiveness and Efficiency: Random Reflections on Health Services in the U.K.
- John Yudkin publishes Pure, White and Deadly in the U.K., warning of the dangers of sucrose in diet.
- February 1 – The first scientific hand-held calculator (labeled Hewlett-Packard, later designated the HP-35) is introduced, at a price of $395.00.
- July 10 – Jack Cover files U.S. Patent 3,803,463 for the original form of Taser electroshock weapon.
- English inventor Peter Powell develops a steerable dual-line kite.
- February 20 – Maria Goeppert Mayer (b. 1906), German-American theoretical physicist, recipient of the Nobel Prize in Physics.
- May 4 – Edward Calvin Kendall (b. 1886), American chemist, recipient of the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine.
- May 8 – Beatrice Helen Worsley (b. 1921), Canadian computer scientist.
- August 11 – Max Theiler (b. 1899), South African-born American virologist, recipient of the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine.
- August 22 – Ștefan Procopiu (b. 18990), Romanian physicist.
- August 25 – Lucien Bull (b. 1876), Irish-born French pioneer in chronophotography.
- October 1 – Louis Leakey (b. 1903), British paleoanthropologist.
- November 25 – Henri Coandă (b. 1886), Romanian aeronautical engineer.
- Singer, S. J.; Nicolson, G. L. (1972). "The fluid mosaic model of the structure of cell membranes". Science. 175 (4023): 720–31. doi:10.1126/science.175.4023.720. PMID 4333397.
- G., Burnstock (1972). "Purinergic nerves". Pharmacological Reviews. 24: 509–81. PMID 4404211.
- Eldredge, N.; Gould, S. J. (1972). "Punctuated equilibria: an alternative to phyletic gradualism". In Schopf, T. J. M. (ed.). Models in Paleobiology. San Francisco: Freeman, Cooper. pp. 82–115.
- "Cray Timeline" (PDF). Cray. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2011-03-31. Retrieved 2011-04-04.
- Moore, Michael E.; Novak, Jeannie (2010). Game Industry Career Guide. Delmar: Cengage Learning. p. 7. ISBN 978-1-4283-7647-2.
In 1966, Ralph H. Baer ... pitched an idea ... to create interactive games to be played on the television. Over the next two years, his team developed the first video game system—and in 1968, they demonstrated the "Brown Box," a device on which several games could be played and that used a light gun to shoot targets on the screen. After several more years of development, the system was licensed by Magnavox in 1970 and the first game console system, the Odyssey, was released in 1972 at the then high price of $100.
- Thompson, Ken; Ritchie, Dennis M. (June 12, 1972). UNIX Programmer's Manual, Second Edition (PDF). Bell Telephone Laboratories. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2016-10-06.
- Spärck Jones, K. (1972). "A Statistical Interpretation of Term Specificity and Its Application in Retrieval". Journal of Documentation. 28: 11–21. CiteSeerX 10.1.1.115.8343. doi:10.1108/eb026526.
- Pease, Bob. "The origin of the WOM – the "Write Only Memory"". National Semiconductor. Archived from the original on 2011-09-10. Retrieved 2012-11-11.
- Chlupáč, Ivo; Hladil, Jindrich (January 2000). "The global stratotype section and point of the Silurian-Devonian boundary". CFS Courier Forschungsinstitut Senckenberg. Retrieved 2020-12-07.
- "About The Ecologist". The Ecologist. Retrieved 2012-02-10.
- Lovelock, J. E. (August 1972). "Gaia as seen through the atmosphere". Atmospheric Environment. 6 (8): 579–580. Bibcode:1972AtmEn...6..579L. doi:10.1016/0004-6981(72)90076-5. ISSN 0004-6981.
- Gorenstein, D. (1979). "The classification of finite simple groups. I. Simple groups and local analysis". Bulletin of the American Mathematical Society. New Series. 1 (1): 43–199. doi:10.1090/S0273-0979-1979-14551-8. ISSN 0002-9904. MR 0513750. Appendix.
- Blair, Byron E., ed. (1974). Time and Frequency: Theory and Fundamentals (PDF). National Bureau of Standards. p. 32.
- Graterol, Javier (18 May 2009). "La astronomía es una ciencia apasionante". El Nacional.
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