Eighty years ago today, 2 December 1942, is an epochal date in the history of humanity : the first controlled nuclear fission chain reaction. The very existence of Chicago Pile 1, and the effort in which it was a central part, was a dire secret at the time. The measurements made on CP–1 would provide vital information for the designers of atomic bombs, and the Hanford production reactors for making bomb material. And yet…
Also in this programme, from Let’s Talk About the Atom, Volume 2 :
- “Atomic Power, Today and Tomorrow” (Milton Shaw, Director, Division of Reactor Development and Technology, USAEC) ― Atomic power is becoming more important in our daily lives with each passing year. Mr Shaw tells about the AEC’s efforts to make this new energy source more efficient, reliable, and economical. He talks about our supplies of fuel for the futrue, “breeder” reactors under development, and atomic power to desalt sea water for irrigation.
- “Atomic Energy at the Smithsonian” (Dr Philip Bishop, Curator in Charge, National Museum of History and Technology) ― A new hall of atomic energy is under construction at the Smithsonian Institution. Dr Bishop and his colleagues have assembled an impressive array of unique artifacts that deal with the history of the atomic age ― among them an atom smasher, a replica of the first nuclear reactor, and the historic cigar box in which the first minute sample of man-made plutonium was stored. The Smithsonian has opened up a new world of atomic energy for the six million people who tour its exhibits each year.
- “What Can the Moon Rocks Tell Us?” (Robert Weeks, Senior Physicist, ORNL) ― Questions about the origin and age of the Moon have puzzled scientists for many years and, at long last, bits of the lunar surface can be studied at first-hand. Samples brought back by Apollo astronauts are now under exhaustive analysis at laboratories across the country. Robert Weeks discusses the scientific search for clues to lunar history and the history of Earth itself.
Listen to the show here
About this transcription
In the late 1960s and early 1970s, the United States Atomic Energy Commission released at least six records : three volumes entitled Let’s Talk About the Atom, one entitled Let’s Talk About Energy, one entitled Atomic Year 25, and one entitled Century of the Atom. The last–named was given away to visitors to the US display at the 1971 Geneva “Atoms for Development” conference. The other five were intended for broadcast on radio stations as public–affairs programming.
Atomic Year 25 is a single half–hour program, commemorating the anniversary of the first controlled fission chain reaction (2 December 1942), whereas the Let’s Talk… records are 3–LP sets, each with two 10–minute programs per side. The general format of the Let’s Talk… programs is that an announcer (credited on this release as John Flynn) introduces Ed Ronne of Argonne National Laboratory, who then interviews an eminent scientist employed by the USAEC about his specialty.
I have been making an attempt to acquire these records (and whatever similar ones may exist), as I have with atomic energy public information films, and printed materials of similar character. As I acquire and transcribe them, I will have them available for use as “fillers” in my aNONradio shows.
Continue reading “Let’s Talk About Energy”
In the late 1960s and early 1970s, the United States Atomic Energy Commission released at least six records : three volumes entitled Let’s Talk About the Atom, one entitled Let’s Talk About Energy, one entitled Atomic Year 25, and one entitled Century of the Atom.
While the others were produced for radio broadcast use, this last was given away to visitors to the US exhibit at the 1971 (Fourth) Geneva Conference on the Peaceful Uses of Atomic Energy, known as the “Atoms for Development” conference. The record, narrated by Chet Huntley and Glenn Seaborg, tells the story of the development of atomic science and nuclear energy, beginning with the work of John Dalton in Britain, the founder of modern atomic theory. The voices of JJ Thomson, Lord Rutherford, Albert Einstein, and other noteworthy scientists can be heard. The double LP in its gatefold jacket was accompanied by a lavishly–illustrated book, which transcribes the dialogue from the record and translates it into French, Spanish, and Russian, and also by a wall–chart timeline, all enclosed in a slipcase box.
I have been making an attempt to acquire these records (and whatever similar ones may exist), as I have with atomic energy public information films, and printed materials of similar character. You can listen here to my transcription of this one. Each side is only about 12 minutes, so the two platters fit easily into a single hour time slot. It has not been cleaned up, although I will presumably do that in the future.
Not my most edifying, informative, or entertaining show ever, by a long chalk. It’s thirty minutes of sheer, uninterrupted “something has gone horribly wrong with the humans on this planet and I need to vacate, soonest.”