Atomic Age

The Atomic Age, also known as the Atomic Era, is the period of history following the detonation of the first nuclear ("atomic") bomb, Trinity, on July 16, 1945, during World War II. Although nuclear chain reactions had been hypothesized in 1933 and the first artificial self-sustaining nuclear chain reaction (Chicago Pile-1) had taken place in December 1942,[1] the Trinity test and the ensuing bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki that ended World War II represented the first large-scale use of nuclear technology and ushered in profound changes in sociopolitical thinking and the course of technology development.

While atomic power was promoted for a time as the epitome of progress and modernity,[2] entering into the nuclear power era also entailed frightful implications of nuclear warfare, the Cold War, mutual assured destruction, nuclear proliferation, the risk of nuclear disaster (potentially as extreme as anthropogenic global nuclear winter), as well as beneficial civilian applications in nuclear medicine. It is no easy matter to fully segregate peaceful uses of nuclear technology from military or terrorist uses (such as the fabrication of dirty bombs from radioactive waste), which complicated the development of a global nuclear-power export industry right from the outset.

In 1973, concerning a flourishing nuclear power industry, the United States Atomic Energy Commission predicted that, by the turn of the 21st century, one thousand reactors would be producing electricity for homes and businesses across the U.S. However, the "nuclear dream" fell far short of what was promised because nuclear technology produced a range of social problems, from the nuclear arms race to nuclear meltdowns, and the unresolved difficulties of bomb plant cleanup and civilian plant waste disposal and decommissioning.[3] Since 1973, reactor orders declined sharply as electricity demand fell and construction costs rose. Many orders and partially completed plants were cancelled.[4]

By the late 1970s, nuclear power had suffered a remarkable international destabilization, as it was faced with economic difficulties and widespread public opposition, coming to a head with the Three Mile Island accident in 1979, and the Chernobyl disaster in 1986, both of which adversely affected the nuclear power industry for many decades.[5]

An early nuclear power plant that used atomic energy to generate electricity.

Early years

In 1901, Frederick Soddy and Ernest Rutherford discovered that radioactivity was part of the process by which atoms changed from one kind to another, involving the release of energy. Soddy wrote in popular magazines that radioactivity was a potentially “inexhaustible” source of energy, and offered a vision of an atomic future where it would be possible to “transform a desert continent, thaw the frozen poles, and make the whole earth one smiling Garden of Eden.” The promise of an “atomic age,” with nuclear energy as the global, utopian technology for the satisfaction of human needs, has been a recurring theme ever since. But "Soddy also saw that atomic energy could possibly be used to create terrible new weapons".[6][7]

The concept of a nuclear chain reaction was hypothesized in 1933, shortly after Chadwick's discovery of the neutron. Only a few years later, in December 1938 nuclear fission was discovered by Otto Hahn and his assistant Fritz Strassmann, and proved with Hahn's radiochemical methods. The first artificial self-sustaining nuclear chain reaction (Chicago Pile-1, or CP-1) took place in December 1942 under the leadership of Enrico Fermi.[1]

In 1945, the pocketbook The Atomic Age heralded the untapped atomic power in everyday objects and depicted a future where fossil fuels would go unused. One science writer, David Dietz, wrote that instead of filling the gas tank of your car two or three times a week, you will travel for a year on a pellet of atomic energy the size of a vitamin pill. Glenn T. Seaborg, who chaired the Atomic Energy Commission, wrote "there will be nuclear powered earth-to-moon shuttles, nuclear powered artificial hearts, plutonium heated swimming pools for SCUBA divers, and much more".[8]

World War II

The phrase "Atomic Age" was coined by William L. Laurence, a New York Times journalist who became the official journalist for the Manhattan Project which developed the first nuclear weapons.[9][10] He witnessed both the Trinity test and the bombing of Nagasaki and went on to write a series of articles extolling the virtues of the new weapon. His reporting before and after the bombings helped to spur public awareness of the potential of nuclear technology and in part motivated development of the technology in the U.S. and in the Soviet Union.[11] The Soviet Union would go on to test its first nuclear weapon in 1949.

In 1949, U.S. Atomic Energy Commission chairman, David Lilienthal stated that "atomic energy is not simply a search for new energy, but more significantly a beginning of human history in which faith in knowledge can vitalize man's whole life".[12]


This view of downtown Las Vegas shows a mushroom cloud in the background. Scenes such as this were typical during the 1950s. From 1951 to 1962 the government conducted 100 atmospheric tests at the nearby Nevada Test Site.[13]

The phrase gained popularity as a feeling of nuclear optimism emerged in the 1950s in which it was believed that all power generators in the future would be atomic in nature. The atomic bomb would render all conventional explosives obsolete and nuclear power plants would do the same for power sources such as coal and oil. There was a general feeling that everything would use a nuclear power source of some sort, in a positive and productive way, from irradiating food to preserve it, to the development of nuclear medicine. There would be an age of peace and plenty in which atomic energy would "provide the power needed to desalinate water for the thirsty, irrigate the deserts for the hungry, and fuel interstellar travel deep into outer space".[2] This use would render the Atomic Age as significant a step in technological progress as the first smelting of Bronze, of Iron, or the commencement of the Industrial Revolution.

This included even cars, leading Ford to display the Ford Nucleon concept car to the public in 1958. There was also the promise of golf balls which could always be found and nuclear-powered aircraft, which the US federal government even spent US $1.5 billion researching.[2] Nuclear policymaking became almost a collective technocratic fantasy, or at least was driven by fantasy:[14]

The very idea of splitting the atom had an almost magical grip on the imaginations of inventors and policymakers. As soon as someone said – in an even mildly credible way – that these things could be done, then people quickly convinced themselves ... that they would be done.[14]

In the USA, military planners "believed that demonstrating the civilian applications of the atom would also affirm the American system of private enterprise, showcase the expertise of scientists, increase personal living standards, and defend the democratic lifestyle against communism".[15]

Some media reports predicted that thanks to the giant nuclear power stations of the near future electricity would soon become much cheaper and that electricity meters would be removed, because power would be "too cheap to meter."[16]

When the Shippingport reactor went online in 1957 it produced electricity at a cost roughly ten times that of coal-fired generation. Scientists at the AEC's own Brookhaven Laboratory "wrote a 1958 report describing accident scenarios in which 3,000 people would die immediately, with another 40,000 injured".[17]

However Shippingport was an experimental reactor using highly enriched uranium (unlike most power reactors) and originally intended for a (cancelled) nuclear-powered aircraft carrier. Kenneth Nichols was a consultant for the Connecticut Yankee and Yankee Rowe nuclear power stations wrote that while considered "experimental" and not expected to be competitive with coal and oil, they "became competitive because of inflation... and the large increase in price of coal and oil." He wrote that for nuclear power stations the capital cost is the major cost factor over the life of the plant, hence "antinukes" try to increase costs and building time with changing regulations and lengthy hearings, so that "it takes almost twice as long to build a (US-designed boiling-water or pressurised water) atomic power plant in the United States as in France, Japan, Taiwan or South Korea." French pressurised-water nuclear plants produce 60% of their electric power, and have proven to be much cheaper than oil or coal.[18]

Fear of possible atomic attack from the Soviet Union caused U.S. school children to participate in "duck and cover" civil defense drills.[19]

Atomic City

During the 1950s, Las Vegas, Nevada, earned the nickname "Atomic City" for becoming a hotspot where tourists would gather to watch above-ground nuclear weapons tests taking place at Nevada Test Site. Following the detonation of Able, one of the first atomic bombs dropped at the Nevada Test Site, the Las Vegas Chamber of Commerce began advertising the tests as an entertainment spectacle to tourists.

The detonations proved popular and casinos throughout the city capitalised on the tests by advertising hotel rooms or rooftops which offered views of the testing site or by planning "Dawn Bomb Parties"[20] where people would come together to celebrate the detonations. Most parties started at midnight and musicians would perform at the venues until 4.00AM when the party would briefly stop so guests could silently watch the detonation. Some casinos capitalised on the tests further by creating so called "atomic cocktails", a mixture of vodka, cognac, sherry and champagne.[21]

Meanwhile, groups of tourists would drive out into the desert with family or friends to watch the detonations.

Despite the health risks associated with nuclear fallout, tourists and viewers were told to simply "shower". Later on, however, anyone who had worked at the testing site or lived in areas exposed to nuclear fallout fell ill and had higher chances of developing cancer or suffering pre-mature deaths.[22]


By exploiting the peaceful uses of the "friendly atom" in medical applications, earth removal and, subsequently, in nuclear power plants, the nuclear industry and government sought to allay public fears about nuclear technology and promote the acceptance of nuclear weapons. At the peak of the Atomic Age, the United States government initiated Operation Plowshare, involving "peaceful nuclear explosions". The United States Atomic Energy Commission chairman announced that the Plowshares project was intended to "highlight the peaceful applications of nuclear explosive devices and thereby create a climate of world opinion that is more favorable to weapons development and tests".[23]

Project Plowshare “was named directly from the Bible itself, specifically Micah 4:3, which states that God will beat swords into ploughshares, and spears into pruning hooks, so that no country could lift up weapons against another”.[24] Proposed uses included widening the Panama Canal, constructing a new sea-level waterway through Nicaragua nicknamed the Pan-Atomic Canal, cutting paths through mountainous areas for highways, and connecting inland river systems. Other proposals involved blasting underground caverns for water, natural gas, and petroleum storage. It was proposed to plant underground atomic bombs to extract shale oil in eastern Utah and western Colorado. Serious consideration was also given to using these explosives for various mining operations. One proposal suggested using nuclear blasts to connect underground aquifers in Arizona. Another plan involved surface blasting on the western slope of California's Sacramento Valley for a water transport project.[24] However, there were many negative impacts from Project Plowshare’s 27 nuclear explosions.[24] Consequences included blighted land, relocated communities, tritium-contaminated water, radioactivity, and fallout from debris being hurled high into the atmosphere. These were ignored and downplayed until the program was terminated in 1977, due in large part to public opposition, after $770 million had been spent on the project.[24]

In the Thunderbirds TV series, a set of vehicles was presented that were imagined to be completely nuclear, as shown in cutaways presented in their comic-books.

The term "atomic age" was initially used in a positive, futuristic sense, but by the 1960s the threats posed by nuclear weapons had begun to edge out nuclear power as the dominant motif of the atom.

1970 to 2000

View of Chernobyl taken from Pripyat
A photograph taken in the abandoned city of Pripyat. The Chernobyl nuclear power plant can be seen on the horizon.

French advocates of nuclear power developed an aesthetic vision of nuclear technology as art to bolster support for the technology. Leclerq compares the nuclear cooling tower to some of the grandest architectural monuments of western culture:[25]

The age in which we live has, for the public, been marked by the nuclear engineer and the gigantic edifices he has created. For builders and visitors alike, nuclear power plants will be considered the cathedrals of the 20th century. Their syncretism mingles the conscious and the unconscious, religious fulfilment and industrial achievement, the limitations of uses of materials and boundless artistic inspiration, utopia come true and the continued search for harmony.[25]

In 1973, the United States Atomic Energy Commission predicted that, by the turn of the 21st century, one thousand reactors would be producing electricity for homes and businesses across the USA. But after 1973, reactor orders declined sharply as electricity demand fell and construction costs rose. Many orders and partially completed plants were cancelled.[4]

Nuclear power has proved controversial since the 1970s. Highly radioactive materials may overheat and escape from the reactor building. Nuclear waste (spent nuclear fuel) needs to be regularly removed from the reactors and disposed of safely for up to a million years, so that it does not pollute the environment. Recycling of nuclear waste has been discussed, but it creates plutonium which can be used in weapons, and in any case still leaves much unwanted waste to be stored and disposed of. Large, purpose-built facilities for long-term disposal of nuclear waste have been difficult to site, and have not yet reached fruition.[26]

By the late 1970s, nuclear power suffered a remarkable international destabilization, as it was faced with economic difficulties and widespread public opposition, coming to a head with the Three Mile Island accident in 1979, and the Chernobyl disaster in 1986, both of which adversely affected the nuclear power industry for decades thereafter. A cover story in the February 11, 1985, issue of Forbes magazine commented on the overall management of the nuclear power program in the United States:

The failure of the U.S. nuclear power program ranks as the largest managerial disaster in business history, a disaster on a monumental scale … only the blind, or the biased, can now think that the money has been well spent. It is a defeat for the U.S. consumer and for the competitiveness of U.S. industry, for the utilities that undertook the program and for the private enterprise system that made it possible.[27]

So, in a period just over 30 years, the early dramatic rise of nuclear power went into equally meteoric reverse. With no other energy technology has there been a conjunction of such rapid and revolutionary international emergence, followed so quickly by equally transformative demise.[28]

21st century

Fukushima I by Digital Globe crop
The 2011 Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster in Japan, the worst nuclear accident in 25 years, displaced 50,000 households after radiation leaked into the air, soil and sea.[29]

In the 21st century, the label of the "Atomic Age" connotes either a sense of nostalgia or naïveté, and is considered by many to have ended with the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991, though the term continues to be used by many historians to describe the era following the conclusion of the Second World War. Atomic energy and weapons continue to have a strong effect on world politics in the 21st century. The term is used by some science fiction fans to describe not only the era following the conclusion of the Second World War but also contemporary history up to the present day.

The nuclear power industry has improved the safety and performance of reactors, and has proposed new safer (but generally untested) reactor designs but there is no guarantee that the reactors will be designed, built and operated correctly.[30] Mistakes do occur and the designers of reactors at Fukushima in Japan did not anticipate that a tsunami generated by an earthquake would disable the backup systems that were supposed to stabilize the reactor after the earthquake.[31] According to UBS AG, the Fukushima I nuclear accidents have cast doubt on whether even an advanced economy like Japan can master nuclear safety.[32] Catastrophic scenarios involving terrorist attacks are also conceivable.[30] An interdisciplinary team from MIT has estimated that if nuclear power use tripled from 2005–2055 (from 2%[33] to 7%), at least four serious nuclear accidents would be expected in that period.[34][35]

In September 2012, Japan announced that it would completely phase out nuclear power by 2030, although under the Abe administration this is now unlikely, with Germany, and other countries in reaction to the accident at Fukushima.[36] Germany plans to completely phase-out nuclear energy by 2022.[37]


A large anti-nuclear demonstration was held on May 6, 1979, in Washington D.C., when 125,000 people[38] including the Governor of California, attended a march and rally against nuclear power.[39] In New York City on September 23, 1979, almost 200,000 people attended a protest against nuclear power.[40] Anti-nuclear power protests preceded the shutdown of the Shoreham, Yankee Rowe, Millstone I, Rancho Seco, Maine Yankee, and about a dozen other nuclear power plants.[41]

On June 12, 1982, one million people demonstrated in New York City's Central Park against nuclear weapons and for an end to the cold war arms race. It was the largest anti-nuclear protest and the largest political demonstration in American history.[42][43] International Day of Nuclear Disarmament protests were held on June 20, 1983 at 50 sites across the United States.[44][45] In 1986, hundreds of people walked from Los Angeles to Washington, D.C. in the Great Peace March for Global Nuclear Disarmament.[46] There were many Nevada Desert Experience protests and peace camps at the Nevada Test Site during the 1980s and 1990s.[47][48]

On May 1, 2005, 40,000 anti-nuclear/anti-war protesters marched past the United Nations in New York, 60 years after the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.[49][50] This was the largest anti-nuclear rally in the U.S. for several decades.[51]

Discovery and development

Nuclear arms deployment

"Atoms for Peace"

Three Mile Island and Chernobyl

Nuclear arms reduction

  • 8 December 1987 – The Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty is signed in Washington 1987. Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev agreed after negotiations following the October 11–12, 1986 Reykjavík Summit to go farther than a nuclear freeze – they agreed to reduce nuclear arsenals. IRBMs and SRBMs were eliminated.
  • 1990–Present – Nuclear power is the primary source of electricity in France. Throughout the 1990s and 2000s (decade), France produces over three quarters of its power from nuclear sources (78.8%), the highest percentage in the world during these 2 decades.[67][68]
  • 31 July 1991 – As the Cold War ends, the Start I treaty is signed by the United States and the Soviet Union, reducing the deployed nuclear warheads of each side to no more than 6,000 each.
  • 1993 – The Megatons to Megawatts Program is agreed upon by Russia and the United States and begins to be implemented in 1995. When it is completed in 2013, 500 tonnes of uranium derived from 20,000 nuclear warheads from Russia will have been converted from weapons grade to reactor grade uranium and used in United States nuclear plants to generate electricity. This has provided 10% of the electrical power of the U.S. (50% of its nuclear power) during the 1995–2013 period.[69]
  • 2006 – Patrick Moore, a founder of Greenpeace and other environmentalists such as Stewart Brand[70] suggest the deployment of more advanced nuclear power technology for electric power generation (such as pebble bed reactors) to combat global warming.
  • 21 November 2006 – Implementation of the ITER fusion power reactor project near Cadarache, France is begun. Construction is to be completed in 2016 with the hope that the research conducted there will allow the introduction of practical commercial fusion power plants by 2050.
  • 2006–2009 – A number of nuclear engineers begin to suggest that, to combat global warming, it would be more efficient to build nuclear reactors that operate on the thorium cycle.[71][72]
  • 8 April 2010 – The New START treaty is signed by the United States and Russia in Prague. It mandates the eventual reduction by both sides to no more than 1,550 deployed strategic nuclear weapons each.


The Atomic Age in popular culture

cover of Atomic War number one, November, 1952.

See also


  1. ^ a b Holl, Jack (1997). Argonne National Laboratory, 1946–96. University of Illinois Press. ISBN 978-0-252-02341-5.
  2. ^ a b c Benjamin K. Sovacool (2011). Contesting the Future of Nuclear Power: A Critical Global Assessment of Atomic Energy, World Scientific, p. 259.
  3. ^ John Byrne and Steven M. Hoffman (1996). Governing the Atom: The Politics of Risk, Transaction Publishers, p. 99.
  4. ^ a b Stephanie Cooke (2009). In Mortal Hands: A Cautionary History of the Nuclear Age, Black Inc., p. 283.
  5. ^ "Nuclear Follies", February 11, 1985 cover story in Forbes magazine.
  6. ^ Zia Mian & Alexander Glaser (June 2006). "Life in a Nuclear Powered Crowd" (PDF). INESAP Information Bulletin No.26.
  7. ^ The two words atomic and nuclear are synonymous in the context of atomic power and weapons. The atom consists of a nucleus and one or more electrons. All atomic reactions involve changing one atom into another by changing the nucleus. Historically atomic power is an older term, and nuclear power is newer.President Eisenhower's "Atoms for Peace" Speech
  8. ^ Benjamin K. Sovacool, The National Politics of Nuclear Power, Routledge, p. 68.
  9. ^ Laurence, William L. (1945-09-26). "Drama of the Atomic Bomb Found Climax in July 16 Test". The New York Times.
  10. ^ Gonzalez, Juan (9 August 2005). "ATOMIC TRUTHS PLAGUE PRIZE COVERUP". New York Daily News. Laurence, the only journalist the U.S. government permitted to witness the bombing of Nagasaki, is also the reporter who first coined the term "Atomic Age." ... Nagasaki, Laurence launched his Times series, where he extolled the bomb and sought to discredit other accounts about effects of the bomb.
  11. ^ On this incident, see David Holloway, Stalin and the Bomb: The Soviet Union and Atomic Energy, 1939–1956 (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1994): 59–60.
  12. ^ John Byrne and Steven M. Hoffman (1996). Governing the Atom: The Politics of Risk, Transaction Publishers, p. 85.
  13. ^ Simon, Steven; Bouville, Andre (2006). "Fallout from Nuclear Weapons Tests and Cancer Risks". American Scientist. American Retrieved 27 March 2016. Exposures 50 years ago still have health implications today that will continue into the future.
  14. ^ a b John Byrne and Steven M. Hoffman (1996). Governing the Atom: The Politics of Risk, Transaction Publishers, pp. 50–51.
  15. ^ Benjamin K. Sovacool (2011). Contesting the Future of Nuclear Power: A Critical Global Assessment of Atomic Energy, World Scientific, p. 266.
  16. ^ "Too Cheap to Meter?". Canadian Nuclear Society. 2007-03-30. Archived from the original on 2007-02-04. Retrieved 2007-06-17.
  17. ^ John Byrne and Steven M. Hoffman (1996). Governing the Atom: The Politics of Risk, Transaction Publishers, p. 55.
  18. ^ Nichols, Kenneth David (1987). The Road to Trinity: A Personal Account of How America's Nuclear Policies Were Made. New York: William Morrow and Company. p. 344. ISBN 978-0-688-06910-0. OCLC 15223648.
  19. ^ Remember Duck and Cover? What Safety Experts May Have Been Thinking
  20. ^ "Atomic City: Las Vegas' Deadly Obsession With Atomic Bombs – Best UK Online Casino Sites 2018 - Licensed by Gambling Commission". Best UK Online Casino Sites 2018 - Licensed by Gambling Commission. Retrieved 2018-10-04.
  21. ^ Bosker, Gideon (1998). Atomic Cocktails. San Francisco: Chronicle Books. p. 8.
  22. ^ Loria, Kevin (August 17, 2017). "Nuclear explosions from the past are still causing cancer and health problems today". Business Insider. Retrieved 24 October 2018.
  23. ^ Charles Perrow (September–October 2013). "Nuclear denial: From Hiroshima to Fukushima". Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists.
  24. ^ a b c d Benjamin K. Sovacool (2011). Contesting the Future of Nuclear Power: A Critical Global Assessment of Atomic Energy, World Scientific, pp. 171–172.
  25. ^ a b John Byrne and Steven M. Hoffman (1996). Governing the Atom: The Politics of Risk, Transaction Publishers, pp. 20–21.
  26. ^ Congressional Research report, Nuclear Energy: Overview of Congressional Issues, CRS Report, 2015.
  27. ^ "Nuclear Follies", a February 11, 1985 cover story in Forbes magazine.
  28. ^ Andy Stirling (2014). "Transforming power". Energy Research and Social Science. 1: 83–95. doi:10.1016/j.erss.2014.02.001.
  29. ^ Tomoko Yamazaki & Shunichi Ozasa (June 27, 2011). "Fukushima Retiree Leads Anti-Nuclear Shareholders at Tepco Annual Meeting". Bloomberg.
  30. ^ a b Jacobson, Mark Z. & Delucchi, Mark A. (2010). "Providing all Global Energy with Wind, Water, and Solar Power, Part I: Technologies, Energy Resources, Quantities and Areas of Infrastructure, and Materials" (PDF). Energy Policy. p. 6.
  31. ^ Hugh Gusterson (16 March 2011). "The lessons of Fukushima". Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists. Archived from the original on 6 June 2013.
  32. ^ James Paton (April 4, 2011). "Fukushima Crisis Worse for Atomic Power Than Chernobyl, UBS Says". Bloomberg Businessweek. Archived from the original on 2011-05-15.
  33. ^ World Energy Outlook 2007 pp 74,360
  34. ^ Benjamin K. Sovacool (January 2011). "Second Thoughts About Nuclear Power" (PDF). National University of Singapore. p. 8. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2013-01-16. Retrieved 2012-12-04.
  35. ^ Massachusetts Institute of Technology (2003). "The Future of Nuclear Power" (PDF). p. 48.
  36. ^ Japan Plans To Abandon Nuclear Power
  37. ^ "The history behind Germany's nuclear phase-out". Clean Energy Wire. Retrieved 2015-11-20.
  38. ^ a b "D.C. Anti-Nuke Rally Draws 125,000", WRL News, July–August 1979, War Resisters League, New York, NY
  39. ^ a b Giugni, Marco (2004). Social Protest and Policy Change: Ecology, Antinuclear, and Peace Movements in Comparative Perspective. Rowman & Littlefield. p. 45. ISBN 978-0-7425-1827-8.
  40. ^ a b Herman, Robin (September 24, 1979). "Nearly 200,000 Rally to Protest Nuclear Energy". The New York Times. p. B1.
  41. ^ Williams, Estha. Nuke Fight Nears Decisive Moment Valley Advocate, August 28, 2008.
  42. ^ Jonathan Schell. The Spirit of June 12 The Nation, July 2, 2007.
  43. ^ 1982 – a million people march in New York City Archived 2008-05-16 at the Wayback Machine
  44. ^ Klehr, Harvey (1988). Far Left of Center: The American Radical Left Today. Transaction Publishers. p. 150. ISBN 978-1-4128-2343-2.
  45. ^ 1,400 Anti-nuclear protesters arrested Miami Herald, June 21, 1983.
  46. ^ Hundreds of Marchers Hit Washington in Finale of Nationwaide Peace March Gainesville Sun, November 16, 1986.
  47. ^ Robert Lindsey. 438 Protesters are Arrested at Nevada Nuclear Test Site The New York Times, February 6, 1987.
  48. ^ 493 Arrested at Nevada Nuclear Test Site The New York Times, April 20, 1992.
  49. ^ Lance Murdoch. Pictures: New York MayDay anti-nuke/war march Archived 2011-07-28 at the Wayback Machine IndyMedia, 2 may 2005.
  50. ^ Anti-Nuke Protests in New York Archived 2010-10-31 at the Wayback Machine Fox News, May 2, 2005.
  51. ^ Lawrence S. Wittner. Nuclear Disarmament Activism in Asia and the Pacific, 1971–1996 The Asia-Pacific Journal, Vol. 25-5-09, June 22, 2009.
  52. ^ a b Asimov, Isaac Atom: Journey Across the Sub-Atomic Cosmos New York:1992 Plume Page 92
  53. ^ a b Asimov, Isaac Atom: Journey Across the Sub-Atomic Cosmos New York:1992 Plume Page 125
  54. ^ Asimov, Isaac Atom: Journey Across the Sub-Atomic Cosmos New York:1992 Plume Page 95
  55. ^ Klaus Hoffmann: Otto Hahn – Achievement and Responsibility. Springer Verlag, Inc., New York-Berlin-London-Tokyo etc. 2001. p. 81. ISBN 0-387-95057-5.
  56. ^ Asimov, Isaac Atom: Journey Across the Sub-Atomic Cosmos New York:1992 Plume Page 154
  57. ^ Otto Hahn: A Scientific Autobiography. Charles Scribner's, New York 1966.
  58. ^ Klaus Hoffmann: Otto Hahn – Achievement and Responsibility. Springer Verlag, Inc., New York-Berlin-Barcelona-Hong Kong-Milan-Paris-Singapore-Tokyo 2001. ISBN 0-387-95057-5.
  59. ^ Lise Meitner: Erinnerungen an Otto Hahn. S. Hirzel, Stuttgart 2005. ISBN 3-7776-1380-0.
  60. ^ Lise Meitner: Otto Hahn – the discoverer of nuclear fission. In: Forscher und Wissenschaftler im heutigen Europa. Stalling, Oldenburg-Hamburg 1955.
  61. ^ Asimov, Isaac Atom: Journey Across the Sub-Atomic Cosmos New York:1992 Plume Page 182
  62. ^ Too Cheap to Meter?: Archived February 4, 2007, at the Wayback Machine
  63. ^ Samuel Upton Newtan (2007). Nuclear War I and Other Major Nuclear Disasters of the 20th Century. AuthorHouse. pp. 237–240. ISBN 978-1-4259-8512-7.
  64. ^ Fortune magazine November 1961 Pages 112–115 et al
  65. ^ "Nuclear Pulse Propulsion: A Historical Review" by Martin and Bond, Journal of the British Interplanetary Society, 1979 (p.301)
  66. ^ Interstellar Transport Physics Today October 1968
  67. ^ EnerPub (2007-06-08). "France: Energy profile". Spero News. Archived from the original on 2007-10-04. Retrieved 2007-08-25.
  68. ^ World Nuclear Association (August 2007). "Nuclear Power in France". Archived from the original on 7 August 2007. Retrieved 2007-08-25. (alternate copy Archived 2008-03-03 at the Wayback Machine)
  69. ^ USEC Progress Report on Megatons to Megawatts Program: Archived October 8, 2012, at the Wayback Machine
  70. ^ Tierney, John (2007-02-27). "Findings; An Early Environmentalist, Embracing New 'Heresies'". The New York Times. The New York Times Company. Retrieved 2008-03-23.
  71. ^ "Scientist Urges Switch to Thorium". Archived from the original on 2010-03-28. Retrieved 2010-01-20.
  72. ^ Wired Magazine—December 2009—“Uranium Is So Last Century—Enter Thorium, the New Green Nuke”:
  73. ^ "Japan to raise Fukushima crisis level to worst". Archived from the original on 12 April 2011. Retrieved 12 April 2011.
  74. ^ "Japan raises nuclear crisis to same level as Chernobyl". Reuters. 12 April 2011.
  75. ^ H. G. Wells And The Atom Bomb – Trove
  76. ^ Brosterman, Norman Out of Time: Designs for the Twentieth Century Future New York:2000 Henry N. Abrams, Inc. Page 79 shows Howard M. Duffin's 1939 painting of his impression of what an atomic power plant would look like; see "The Atomic Age" pages 78–83
  77. ^ The Bikini Turns 60:
  78. ^ Animation World Magazine Issue 3.1, April 1998 — The Making of Our Friend the Atom
  79. ^ "Aly Khan's Son, 20, New Aga Khan", The New York Times, 13 July 1957, p. 1
  80. ^ Breyer, Melissa (2010-09-21). "Where did the peace sign come from?". Shine. Yahoo!. Archived from the original on 4 October 2010. Retrieved 2010-09-30.
  81. ^ Image of the cover of the 1970 underground comic book Hydrogen Bomb Funnies:
  82. ^ The End:
  83. ^ Bachelor Pad: The New Digest of Atomic Age Culture:

Further reading

  • "Presidency in the Nuclear Age", conference and forum at the JFK Library, Boston, October 12, 2009. Four panels: "The Race to Build the Bomb and the Decision to Use It", "Cuban Missile Crisis and the First Nuclear Test Ban Treaty", "The Cold War and the Nuclear Arms Race", and "Nuclear Weapons, Terrorism, and the Presidency".

External links


Atomic may refer to:

Of or relating to the atom, the smallest particle of a chemical element that retains its chemical properties

Atomic physics, the study of the atom

Atomic Age, also known as the "Atomic Era"

Atomic (magazine), an Australian computing and technology magazine

Atomic Skis, an Austrian ski producer

Atom (order theory), in mathematics

Atomic, Living in Dread and Promise, a 2015 documentary by Mark Cousins

The "Atomic Kid" Buddy Wayne, American professional wrestler from All Star Wrestling

Atomic Age (comics)

Atomic Age is a four-issue comic-book miniseries, cover-dated November 1990 to February 1991, published by the Marvel Comics creator-owned imprint Epic Comics. It was created by writer Frank Lovece and penciler Mike Okamoto, and inked by Al Williamson.

The series was among the items featured in the Bowling Green State University exhibition "The Atomic Age Opens: Selections from the Popular Culture Library." Collaborator Al Williamson won the 1991 Eisner Award for Best Inker for his work on it and other series that awards-year, with Okamoto winning the Russ Manning Award for most promising newcomer.

Atomic Age (design)

Atomic Age in design refers to the period roughly corresponding to 1940–1963, when concerns about nuclear war dominated Western society during the Cold War. Architecture, industrial design, commercial design (including advertising), interior design, and fine arts were all influenced by the themes of atomic science, as well as the Space Age, which coincided with that period. Atomic Age design became popular and instantly recognizable, with a use of atomic motifs and space age symbols. Retrofuturism is a current resurgence of interest in Atomic Age design.

Atomic tourism

Atomic tourism is a relatively new type of tourism in which visitors learn about the Atomic Age by traveling to significant sites in atomic history such as museums with atomic weapons, vehicles that carried atomic weapons or sites where atomic weapons were detonated.In the United States, the Center for Land Use Interpretation has conducted tours of the Nevada Test Site, Trinity Site, Hanford Site, and other historical atomic age sites, to explore the cultural significance of these Cold War nuclear zones. The book Overlook: Exploring the Internal Fringes of America describes the purpose of this tourism as "windows into the American psyche, landmarks that manifest the rich ambiguities of the nation's cultural history." A Bureau of Atomic Tourism was proposed by American photographer Richard Misrach and writer Myriam Weisang Misrach in 1990.The phenomenon is not exclusive to North America. Visitors to the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone often visit the nearly deserted city of Pripyat. The Hiroshima Peace Memorial (Genbaku Dome), which survived the destruction of Hiroshima, is now a UNESCO World Heritage site at the center of Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park. Bikini Atoll was at one time the site of a diving tourism initiative. As of 2012, China planned to build a tourist destination at its first atomic test site, the Malan Base at Lop Nur in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region.During a time in the early atomic age when fission was viewed as a sign of progress and modernity, the city of Las Vegas and its Chamber of Commere nickamed Vegas as the "Atomic City" in the mid 1940s and early 50s in an attempt to attract toursists. So called "bomb viewing parties" took place on desert hilltops, or more famously at the panoramic Sky Room at the Desert Inn, and casinos held Miss Atomic pageants while serving Atomic Cocktails.

Frank Lovece

Frank Lovece is an American journalist and author, and a comic book writer primarily for Marvel Comics, where he and artist Mike Okamoto created the miniseries Atomic Age. He was additionally one of the first professional Web journalists, becoming an editor of a Silicon Alley start-up in 1996. His longest affiliation has been with the New York metropolitan area newspaper Newsday, where he has served as a feature writer and film critic.

For an Entertainment Weekly article on direct-to-video movies representing themselves as theatrical releases, he produced the first — and, after the article's publication, only — home video to obtain an MPAA rating.

Golden Age of Comic Books

The Golden Age of Comic Books describes an era of American comic books from the late 1930s to circa 1950. During this time, modern comic books were first published and rapidly increased in popularity. The superhero archetype was created and many well-known characters were introduced, including Superman, Batman, Captain Marvel, Captain America, and Wonder Woman.

Googie architecture

Googie ( GOO-gee) architecture is a type of futurist architecture influenced by car culture, jets, the Space Age, and the Atomic Age. It began in Southern California with the Streamline Moderne architecture of the 1930s, and was popular nationwide during the late 1940s into the mid-1960s. Googie-themed architecture was popular among motels, coffee houses and gas stations. The style later became widely known as part of the Mid-century modern style, elements of which represent the populuxe aesthetic, as in Eero Saarinen's TWA Flight Center. The term "Googie" comes from a now-defunct coffeehouse in Hollywood designed by John Lautner. Similar architectural styles are also referred to as Populuxe or Doo Wop.Features of Googie include upswept roofs, curvaceous, geometric shapes, and bold use of glass, steel and neon. Googie was also characterized by Space Age designs symbolic of motion, such as boomerangs, flying saucers, diagrammatic atoms and parabolas, and free-form designs such as "soft" parallelograms and an artist's palette motif. These stylistic conventions represented American society's fascination with Space Age themes and marketing emphasis on futuristic designs. As with the Art Deco style of the 1930s, Googie became less valued as time passed, and many buildings in this style have been destroyed. Some examples have been preserved, though, such as the oldest McDonald's stand (located in Downey, California).

Machine Age

The Machine Age is an era that includes the early 20th century, sometimes also including the late 19th century. An approximate dating would be about 1880 to 1945. Considered to be at a peak in the time between the first and second world wars, it forms a late part of the Second Industrial Revolution. The 1940s saw the beginning of the Atomic Age, where modern physics saw new applications such as the atomic bomb, the first computers, and the transistor. The Digital Revolution ended the intellectual model of the machine age founded in the mechanical and heralding a new more complex model of high technology. The digital era has been called the Second Machine Age, with its increased focus on machines that do mental tasks.

Mademoiselle (magazine)

Mademoiselle was a women's magazine first published in 1935 by Street and Smith and later acquired by Condé Nast Publications.

Mademoiselle, primarily a fashion magazine, was also known for publishing short stories by noted authors such as Truman Capote, Joyce Carol Oates, William Faulkner, Tennessee Williams, James Baldwin, Flannery O'Connor, Sylvia Plath, Paul Bowles, Jane Bowles, Jane Smiley, Mary Gordon, Paul Theroux, Sue Miller, Barbara Kingsolver, Perri Klass, Mona Simpson, Alice Munro, Harold Brodkey, Pam Houston, Jean Stafford, and Susan Minot. Julia Cameron was a frequent columnist. The art director was Barbara Kruger.In 1952, Sylvia Plath's short story Sunday at the Mintons won first prize and $500, as well as publication in the magazine. Her experiences during the summer of 1953 as a guest editor at Mademoiselle provided the basis for her novel, The Bell Jar.The August 1961 "college issue" of Mademoiselle included a photo of UCLA senior class president Willette Murphy, who did not realize she was making history as the first African-American model to appear in a mainstream fashion magazine.In the sixties, Mademoiselle magazine was geared “to the smart young woman”. They categorically stated in their editorials that despite their young, maidenly name they were not geared to young teenagers. The majority of their readers may have been in college, in a job, some may have been married. Mademoiselle was interested in reaching mature college freshmen and up, who were being exposed to the greatest literature, facing the greatest moral problems coping with all the complexities of the atomic age.

Mademoiselle continued to be a top shelf magazine throughout the eighties and nineties featuring the top models on their covers and in the pages of their editorial sections.

In 1993, Elizabeth Crow was appointed editor-in-chief of the magazine. The November 2001 magazine was the final issue. Some of the 93 employees and features moved over to Glamour, also published by Condé Nast. The magazine's demise was due to multiple factors, including an editorial inability to update the magazine to appeal to a sufficient audience and an overall decline in advertising revenues across the magazine industry.

Man and Power

Man and Power: the Story of Power from the Pyramids to the Atomic Age is a science book for children by L. Sprague de Camp, illustrated with documents and photographs, and with paintings by Alton S. Tobey, first published in hardcover by Golden Press in 1961.

Manhattan Project (song)

"Manhattan Project" is a 1985 song by Canadian progressive rock band Rush, named for the WWII project that created the first atomic bomb. The song appeared on Rush's eleventh studio album Power Windows in 1985. "Manhattan Project" is the third track on the album and clocks in at 5:07. Despite not being released as a single, it did reach #10 on the U.S. Mainstream Rock Chart.Lyricist Neil Peart read "a pile of books" about the Manhattan Project before writing the lyrics so that he had a proper understanding of what the project was really about. The song consists of four verses, addressing the following:

1) A time, during the era of World War II,

2) A man, representing J. Robert Oppenheimer and other scientists around the world who were engaged in nuclear weapons research,

3) A place, the Los Alamos facility in New Mexico at which American scientists carried out their work,

4) A man, Paul Tibbets, pilot of the bomber Enola Gay that dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima.

The chorus refers to the explosion as "the big bang", in allusion to the start of a new universe following the singular event, although the absolute reference is the use of Fat Man and Little Boy, America's two nuclear bombs to bring an end to the Pacific conflict with Japan ("shot down the rising sun"), which only happened after both were dropped, repeating the theme of the verses marking when and/or where "it all began." The remaining lines refer to the start of the Atomic Age and the reactions of different segments of the global population ("the big shots," "the fools," "the hopeful," "the hopeless").

Mike Okamoto

Mike Okamoto (born Detroit, Michigan, United States) is an American comic book artist and commercial illustrator best known for co-creating Marvel Comics' Atomic Age; as a "good girl art" cartoonist; and as the five-time International Network of Golf Illustrator of the Year.

Nuclear propulsion

Nuclear propulsion includes a wide variety of propulsion methods that fulfill the promise of the Atomic Age by using some form of nuclear reaction as their primary power source. The idea of using nuclear material for propulsion dates back to the beginning of the 20th century. In 1903 it was hypothesised that radioactive material, radium, might be a suitable fuel for engines to propel cars, boats, and planes. H. G. Wells picked up this idea in his 1914 fiction work The World Set Free.

Otto Hahn Peace Medal

The Otto Hahn Peace Medal in Gold is named after the German nuclear chemist and 1944 Nobel Laureate Otto Hahn, an honorary citizen of Berlin.

The medal is in memory of his worldwide involvement in the politics of peace and humanitarian causes, in particular since the dropping of the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945 by the United States Army Air Forces.

It was established by his grandson Dietrich Hahn in 1988 and is awarded by the United Nations Association of Germany (Deutsche Gesellschaft für die Vereinten Nationen, DGVN, Berlin-Brandenburg) to persons or institutions that have rendered "outstanding services to peace and international understanding". By tradition, the gold medal, together with a leather-bound diploma inlaid in gold, is presented in Berlin at a biennial ceremony on 17 December by the Governing Mayor of Berlin and the President of the DGVN.

On 17 December 1938, in Berlin-Dahlem, Otto Hahn and his assistant Fritz Strassmann had discovered a new reaction in uranium (which exiled Lise Meitner and her nephew Otto Frisch two weeks later correctly interpreted as "nuclear fission") thus laying the scientific and technical foundations of nuclear energy. This 17 December 1938 therefore marks the beginning of the Atomic age, which from the scientific, political, economic, social and philosophical point of view has fundamentally changed the world.

Science and technology in the United States

Science and technology in the United States has a long history, producing many important figures and developments in the field. The United States of America came into being around the Age of Enlightenment (1685 to 1815), an era in Western philosophy in which writers and thinkers, rejecting the perceived superstitions of the past, instead chose to emphasize the intellectual, scientific and cultural life, centered upon the 18th century, in which reason was advocated as the primary source for legitimacy and authority. Enlightenment philosophers envisioned a "republic of science," where ideas would be exchanged freely and useful knowledge would improve the lot of all citizens.

The United States Constitution itself reflects the desire to encourage scientific creativity. It gives the United States Congress the power "to promote the progress of science and useful arts, by securing for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries." This clause formed the basis for the U.S. patent and copyright systems, whereby creators of original art and technology would get a government granted monopoly, which after a limited period would become free to all citizens, thereby enriching the public domain.

The Making of the Atomic Bomb

The Making of the Atomic Bomb is a contemporary history book written by the American journalist and historian Richard Rhodes, first published by Simon & Schuster in 1987. It won the Pulitzer Prize for General Non-Fiction, the National Book Award for Nonfiction, and a National Book Critics Circle Award. The narrative covers people and events from early 20th century discoveries leading to the science of nuclear fission, through the Manhattan Project and the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Praised both by historians and former Los Alamos weapon scientists, the book is considered a general authority on early nuclear weapons history, as well as the development of modern physics in general, during the first half of the 20th century. Nobel Laureate I. I. Rabi, one of the prime participants in the dawn of the atomic age, called it "an epic worthy of Milton. No where else have I seen the whole story put down with such elegance and gusto and in such revealing detail and simple language which carries the reader through wonderful and profound scientific discoveries and their application."

The Way of Peace (film)

The Way of Peace is a 1947 puppet animation film, financed by the Lutheran Church in America, giving a Christian view of life in the Atomic Age. It was directed by Frank Tashlin, produced by Wah Ming Chang, and narration read by Lew Ayres. In 2014, the film was named to the National Film Registry as being deemed "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant".

Trinity (video game)

Trinity is an interactive fiction computer game written by Brian Moriarty and published in 1986 by Infocom. It is widely regarded as one of the company's best works. Trinity was included as one of the titles in the 2010 book 1001 Video Games You Must Play Before You Die.The plot blends historical and fantastic elements as part of a prose poem regarding the destructive power of the atomic bomb and the futile nature of war in the atomic age. The name refers to the Trinity test, the first nuclear explosion, which took place in July 1945. It is Infocom's twentieth game and the last game released by the company when it was solvent.

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