The first nuclear fission experiment took place on January 22, 1939 at Columbia University

The first scientist who managed to split the atom was the New Zealander Ernest Rutherford in 1917. On January 31 of that same year, the Germans Otto Hahn and Lise Meitner discovered protactinium, a radioactive element that is produced in the disintegration of uranium. In 1938, the team made up of the two researchers and Fritz Strassmann discovered nuclear fission by realizing that if they bombarded uranium with neutrons, they obtained barium. Hahn would win the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for this discovery a year later. The discovery crossed the Atlantic and reached Columbia University, where in January 1939 they carried out the first nuclear fission experiment in the United States.

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