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This year is an important year for nuclear energy by Clay Schile.

  • By Admin
  • December 11, 2023

This year is an important year for nuclear energy. It is the 70th anniversary of the “Atoms for Peace” speech by Dwight Eisenhower where he called for worldwide cooperation to develop atomic energy for peaceful purposes.

In 1939, a group of scientists & engineers, with the U.S. Government, embarked on the development of one of mankind’s greatest achievements. For years, physicists had worked to understand the science of nuclear physics. In 1946, the Atomic Energy Commission was established to focus the resources that led to one of its most important demonstrations in 1951 – the production of electricity from a process known as nuclear fission. Two years later, in 1953, the U.S. would launch the submarine USS Nautilus – harnessing the power of fission for undersea propulsion. That same year, a U.S. president would give a speech, the “Atoms for Peace,” from the United Nations. His purpose was to inspire nations to support & pursue the peaceful endeavor of nuclear power, one that would require vast resources of engineering & scientific development. Over 25 more years, the members of this movement invented the technologies needed to create the first civilian nuclear power plants. Inventions that benefit everyday needs of mankind came from this endeavor – things like the smoke detector & medical isotopes. They applied science & engineering in ways never done before, to a physical problem which in part could not be seen by the eye, but they were inspired, & they invented, built, & tested to bring this force to the world.

When I thought about this, it sounded familiar. This is why:

In 1945 post WW 2 Europe, the U.S. was recruiting top German aerospace engineers to come to America. One of them, Werner Von Braun, had a lifelong goal to build a rocket that could fly to the moon. Between 1945 & 1958, engineers & scientists would make multiple achievements in aerospace technology, leading to the National Aeronautics & Space Administration (NASA) & project Gemini in 1958. This was a partnership with the U.S. Government, engineers, & scientists, to focus on space exploration. They invented & developed technologies that never existed before, many of which continue to benefit mankind like cordless tools & satellite navigation. A president in 1962 would give a speech from Rice University, “We Choose to Go the Moon,” to inspire Americans to pursue the endeavor that would require vast resources of engineering & scientific innovation. Projects Gemini & Apollo would be born, & in 1969, an American crew of Michael Collins, Buzz Aldrin, & Neal Armstrong would land on the moon & return safely to earth. These events led to the establishment of a new industry.

While each of these industries are different, their pioneers shared common bonds: the incredible challenges of creating real technology from what had only been in the public’s imaginations, & that each endeavor was inspired to use science & engineering to achieve a peaceful & hopeful future for humankind.