The Illinois Portal

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Illinois (/ˌɪləˈnɔɪ/ (listen) IL-ə-NOY) is a state in the Midwestern United States. Chicago is its largest city, and the state's capital is Springfield; other major metropolitan areas include Metro East (of Greater St. Louis), Peoria and Rockford. Of the fifty U.S. states, Illinois has the fifth largest gross domestic product (GDP), the sixth largest population, and the 25th largest land area.

With Chicago in the northeast, small industrial cities and immense farmland in the north and center, and natural resources such as coal, timber, and petroleum in the south, Illinois has a highly diverse economy. Owing to its central location and geography, the state is a major transportation hub: the Port of Chicago enjoys access to the Atlantic Ocean through the Great Lakes and Saint Lawrence Seaway, and to the Gulf of Mexico from the Mississippi River via the Illinois Waterway. Additionally, the Mississippi, Ohio, and Wabash rivers form parts of the state's boundaries. Chicago's O'Hare International Airport has been among the world's ten busiest airports for decades. Described as a microcosm of the entire United States, Illinois has long been considered a bellwether in social, cultural, and political terms.

What is now Illinois was inhabited for thousands of years by various indigenous cultures, including the advanced civilization centered in the Cahokia region. The French were the first Europeans to arrive, settling near the Mississippi River in the 17th century, in the region they called Illinois Country, part of the sprawling colony of New France. Following U.S. independence in 1783, American settlers began arriving from Kentucky via the Ohio River, and the population grew from south to north. Illinois was part of the United States' oldest territory, the Northwest Territory, and in 1818 it achieved statehood. The Erie Canal brought increased commercial activity in the Great Lakes, and the small settlement of Chicago became one of the fastest growing cities in the world, benefiting from its location as one of the few natural harbors in south-western Lake Michigan. The invention of the self-scouring steel plow by Illinoian John Deere turned the state's rich prairie into some of the world's most productive and valuable farmland, attracting immigrant farmers from Germany and Sweden. In the mid 19th century, the Illinois and Michigan Canal and a sprawling railroad network greatly facilitated trade, commerce, and settlement, making the state a transportation hub for the nation.

Selected article

A small disc of Am-241 under the microscope.

Americium is a radioactive transuranic chemical element with symbol Am and atomic number 95. This member of the actinide series is located in the periodic table under the lanthanide element europium, and thus by analogy was named after the Americas.

Americium was first produced in 1944 by the group of Glenn T. Seaborg from Berkeley, California, at the Metallurgical Laboratory of the University of Chicago, a part of the Manhattan Project. The discovery was kept secret and only released to the public in November 1945. Most americium is produced by uranium or plutonium being bombarded with neutrons in nuclear reactors – one tonne of spent nuclear fuel contains about 100 grams of americium. It is widely used in commercial ionization chamber smoke detectors, as well as in neutron sources and industrial gauges. Several unusual applications, such as nuclear batteries or fuel for space ships with nuclear propulsion, have been proposed for the isotope 242mAm, but they are as yet hindered by the scarcity and high price of this nuclear isomer.

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Selected biography

Ann Bannon in 1983.

Ann Bannon is an American writer who wrote a series of six lesbian pulp fiction books from 1957 to 1962 known as The Beebo Brinker Chronicles. The books were popular when they were first released, and have proved a remarkable longevity, especially for pulp fiction, being reprinted in three different issues, and several languages. That iconic longevity, the characters and the books themselves earned her the title of "Queen of Lesbian Pulp Fiction." When depictions of lesbians in written literature were quite rare, and what was written was dismal and unhappy, her books set her apart from other authors who wrote about lesbianism. She has been described as "the premier fictional representation of US lesbian life in the fifties and sixties," and that her books, "rest on the bookshelf of nearly every even faintly literate Lesbian. (Read more...)

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Culture: Chicago Blues FestivalChicago Jazz FestivalChicago Symphony OrchestraCornerstone FestivalDillo DayIllinois Shakespeare FestivalIllinois State FairIllinois' Poets LaureateList of museums in IllinoisLollapaloozaLyric Opera of ChicagoMusicPitchfork Music FestivalRavinia FestivalTaste of Chicago

Education: Higher educationSecondary education

Environment: Ecoregions of IllinoisGeography of IllinoisGeology of IllinoisProtected areas of Illinois

Government: ConstitutionEconomyPoliticsState Capitol

History: ChicagoIlliniwekIllinois CentralIllinois-Wabash CompanyIllinois TerritoryAbraham LincolnBlack Hawk WarCahokia1871 Great Chicago FireMakataimeshekiakiakMiamiMississippian cultureNorthwest TerritoryPotawatomiRoute 66Sauk

People: Governors of IllinoisMayors of ChicagoLongest Serving Mayor in IllinoisOrder of Lincoln Laureates

Sports: Chicago BanditsChicago BearsChicago BullsChicago CubsChicago FireChicago RushChicago SkyChicago White SoxChicago WolvesThe Fighting IlliniIllinois State RedbirdsNorthwestern WildcatsPeoria RivermenRockford IceHogsRockford ThunderSouthern Illinois MinersSouthern Illinois University SalukisChicago Yacht Club Race to MackinacChicago Marathon

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