What Happened On This Day – December 18
1966 Saturn's Moon, Epimetheus, discovered
One of Saturn's 150 natural satellites or moons, Epimetheus shares its orbit with another moon, Janus. Saturn's largest moon is Titan, which is the only natural satellite in the Solar System with an atmosphere.
1958 World's first communication satellite launched
A product of a highly secretive project, SCORE (Signal Communications by Orbiting Relay Equipment) was launched aboard the Atlas rocket from Cape Canaveral, Florida. Once in orbit, it relayed the first message sent to Earth from space - a short statement by American President Dwight D. Eisenhower.
1912 Piltdown Man Hoax
The announcement by British archeologist Charles Dawson at a conference of the Geological Society of London was received with very little skepticism in the field of paleoanthropology. The discovery of fossilized remains of an unidentified human ancestor in Piltdown, East Sussex, England, was thought to have provided valuable clues about human evolution. It wasn't until 1953 that the Piltdown Man was discovered to be a hoax - with the skull consisting of the jawbones of an orangutan and the cranium of an adult human being.
1892 The Nutcracker makes it debut in St. Petersburg, Russia
The two-part ballet was inspired by German author Ernst Theodor Amadeus Hoffmann's novella The Nutcracker and the Mouse King. Even though the ballet's score was composed by the famous Russian composer, Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, it did not get good reviews. It was only in the mid-20th century, that The Nutcracker gained popularity among theater goers, especially during Christmas time in the United States.
1865 US abolishes slavery
The US secretary of state proclaimed the adoption of the 13th Amendment, officially bringing it into force. The first of the 3 Reconstruction Amendments, the 13th Amendment abolished slavery and involuntary servitude. The other two Reconstruction Amendments – the 14th and the 15th Amendments – extended citizenship rights, equal protection of the law, and the right to vote to all Americans irrespective of their "race, color, or previous condition of servitude."
Births On This Day,
1980 Christina Aguilera
American singer-songwriter, producer, actress
1964 Stone Cold Steve Austin
American wrestler, actor, producer
1963 Brad Pitt
American actor, producer
1946 Steven Spielberg
1878 Joseph Stalin
Soviet marshal, politician, 4th Premier of the Soviet Union
Deaths On This Day,
2011 Václav Havel
Czech politician, 1st President of the Czech Republic
2008 Mark Felt
American agent of the Federal Bureau of Investigation
2006 Joseph Barbera
American animator, director, producer, co-founded Hanna-Barbera
1980 Alexei Kosygin
1892 Richard Owen