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On this day: December 17

Published On: Dec 14 2012 03:50:06 PM CST   Updated On: Dec 17 2013 01:00:00 AM CST

France recognizes America as a nation, the Wright brothers take flight, Tiny Tim marries Miss Vicki in front of millions of TV viewers, and Kim Jong-il dies, all on this day.

OTD December 17 - Otto Hahn
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German Federal Archive/Wikimedia Commons

1938: German chemist Otto Hahn discovers the nuclear fission of the heavy element uranium, the scientific and technological basis of nuclear energy, thus opening the "Atomic Age" in the history of mankind.

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