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TODAY IN HISTORY

    SPACE DEBRIS HITS PERSON ON EARTH
    January 22, 1997 - Tulsa, Oklahoma, U.S.A.

    American Lottie Williams was reportedly the first human to be struck by a remnant of a space vehicle after re-entering the earth's atmosphere. At 3 a.m., while walking in a park in Tulsa, Oklahoma, she saw a light pass over her head. “It looked like a meteor,” she said. Minutes later, she was hit on the shoulder by a six-inch piece of blackened metallic material. The debris that struck Ms. Williams has not been examined to confirm its origin, but a used Delta II rocket, launched nine months earlier, had crashed into the Earth's atmosphere half an hour earlier. NASA scientists believe that Williams was hit by a part of it, making her the only person in the world known to have been hit by man-made space debris.

    URANIUM FISSION
    January 22, 1939 - Columbia University in New York City, U.S.A.

    The uranium atom was split for the first time using the cyclotron at Columbia University in New York City. Thus began the Manhattan Project, leading to the construction of the atom bomb. The project was subsequently moved inland to the University of Chicago to protect the research from any possible German bombing of New York. (Also the weight of the apparatus was so great that the floor was in danger of collapsing!) The cyclotron that performed the first-ever fission experiment was designed and built (1935-36) by John R. Dunning, who became Dean of the Engineering School, 1950-69). In 1965, the cyclotron was taken to the Smithsonian Institute. The original invention of the first cyclotron was by physicist Ernest Lawrence.

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