New world of atomic energy; Atoms for peace
The following tape recorded program is a presentation of the National Association of educational broadcasters. You'll be interested to know that the Italian Navigator has just landed in the New World that with the voice of author Compton as he first reported the birth of atomic energy the birth of a new world. This series has been called the New World. Its aim is to outline some of the great benefits that atomic energy is bringing to mankind. The program's up produced by the University of Alabama.
Our base of operations for the recording of the series a very important ceremony took place on the 30th of April 1955. Over 30 students from foreign countries arrived in Oak Ridge to take a course there and. They were the first foreign students to do so under President Eisenhower's great Atoms for Peace program. These foreign students attended a big meeting on April 30th a meeting held in high school auditorium and. Many people from the Atomic Energy Commission from the Oak Ridge Institute for nuclear studies were there to teach them. The guest speaker for that morning ceremony it was doctored. He was introduced to the doctor. He was appeared before on these programs. We recorded this terrible news at morning. We're not presenting a shortened version of Dr. Abell soul's introduction and of the address my doc just mine. Oh great I think it deserves to be known as the isotope capital of the world.
And we're happy to welcome these students from all over the world to this isotope capital of the world. In introducing a well-known speaker such as not just my is always trying to say I he needs no introduction. He has written a Smyth report. The nonfiction book which is a bestseller is popping on as a Smyth report. But officially known as atomic energy for military purposes we hope the doctors Mike will soon write another book now so appropriate and final atomic energy for peaceful purposes. In 1949 he became a member of the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission. As the scientific member of the commission he had heavy responsibilities and patriotically stayed on past his original term to help course of development of not only weapons for the fans but power reactors and other peaceful uses the atom has since returned to his alma mater Princeton University as chairman of the board of scientific and engineering research.
Dr Smyth is no stranger to Oak Ridge or during the war and as a member of the commission he took special interest in the developments here is thus not only an honor to have such a thing as Baker but pro-grade years and isotope there's a real price on pleasure. To own. Dr obvious so it isn't John. On December 8 1933 President Eisenhower speaking in New York before the assembly of the United Nations. Proposed that the nations of the world should cooperate to share and develop for the benefit of all man the peaceful uses of atomic energy. The president pledged his country's continued efforts toward that great objective. There's a verse on who knew from some experience the potentialities
for good as well as for destruction inherent in atomic energy. The words of the president came as an expression of much that we had hoped. We set to work to prepare the first steps towards the realization of this go today Oak Ridge you're not great. One of the most significant of these steps for the first time since the discovery of nuclear fission at the invitation of this country. Scientists from 21 foreign countries have come here to stake a special training course in radioactive isotopes designed for that of course to be given at the Oakridge Institute of nuclear studies. I'm deeply honored to take part in the opening of this training course. As part of President Eisenhower's Atoms for Peace Plan. It is my own conviction that radioactive isotopes may well make a greater contribution to the welfare of man than any
other phase of atomic energy. For men of imagination and perception. It has been a tragedy. One of the greatest scientific discoveries of our time should find its first direct use in military technology. But the enthusiasm with which President Eisenhower's Atoms for Peace Plan was received clearly show how eager our people were to balance the negative values of nuclear energy in the right time use in the military use with the positive values inherent in its discovery. The United States government has spent more than 10 billion dollars on the development of atomic energy. In the past the government has been able to draw into the program. Some of the most imaginative and skilled minds in the country. As a result of this effort. We have a very stockpile of weapons.
We have a great quantity of fissionable material and we have knowledge. The successful implementation of the Atoms for Peace Plan. Will require that the people of this country and other countries find ways of sharing the fissionable material and knowledge. Without comparing the capacity for self-defense. That must remain of paramount importance to the free world. I know of no more worthwhile challenge to the minds and energies of men. The peaceful uses of atomic energy into two general categories. The first is the development of nuclear reactors for the production of power. We hope that ultimately such reactors can be built and operated cheaply that your rainy M will supplement or replace oil to meet the rising world demand for electric
power. How soon this will happen. No one can now tell. Estimates vary from 5 to 20 years depending largely on the native optimism or pessimism Isom ism of the man who makes the estimate. So many unpredictable factors must be taken into account that no present estimate can be exact. Nuclear reactors will be important first in areas where industries to use the power generated already exist but where power costs are high. With the increasing prospect of cheap power however countries not now industrialized may be encouraged to build factories and to supply them with power from nuclear reactors. A group of foreign scientists and engineers similar to the group beginning work here today has been invited by the United States government to study
reactor technology at the Argonne laboratory of the Atomic Energy Commission. This international group has been at work at the Argonne for two or three months. From their studies we hope to learn much about how to implement the international Atoms for Peace class. The second category in the peaceful use of atomic energy is the application of radioactive isotopes to problems in medicine agriculture technology and science. The use of these isotopes involves little capital expense and therefore they may well prove of immediate importance in every country. As soon as their use is understood. I believe that the use of radioactive isotopes in research has almost limitless possibility. It may be that some member of the scientific group beginning study here today may solve the mystery of photosynthesis. Or
may find at last how to control the growth of cancer cells. Our knowledge of radioactivity and radioactive isotopes was build up over a period of some 50 years by individuals or small groups working in many countries in the pattern of international cooperation that has historically been the strength of science. There are two points in this development of major significance to those who are interested today in the use of radioactive isotopes. Perhaps the most remarkable fact of radioactivity is that minute quantities of radioactive material can be readily detected. The high energy release in a radioactive disintegration coupled with the resultant ionization makes it possible to applying modern electronic techniques to the detection analysis. A very small amount of material.
A Geiger counter can in principle detect the disintegration of a single atom. The second major discovery made in these early studies of natural radioactive substances was that one chemical element might change spontaneously into another. This gave the first hint that such a change might sometimes be produced in the laboratory under controlled conditions. These are early studies also came the discovery of isotopes. It was found that chemically identical atoms of some of the very heavy elements resulted from different products of radioactive. Decay and themselves had different radioactive properties. The suggestion that such elements should be called isotopes was first made by Sadie in 1913. One type of toast were discovered and it had been shown that it was possible to alter the natural ratio of their abundance in a given element. It immediately became theoretically possible to use them as research to.
Unfortunately the scarcity of radioactive isotopes or more properly I should say the fact that they were known for only a few elements and the difficulty of using stable isotopes made their extent of use very improbable. I should remind you however that the idea of using isotopes. And radioactive isotopes for research was developed in the period between 110 and 120 and some use of them was actually made in that period. In 134 artificial radioactivity was discovered by Jaleo and his wife Irene Curie. It was a lot long before such before the source of such radioactivity was identified as being unstable isotopes of the usual chemical particularly the lighter out. As neutron sources and high energy machines. Machines became more and more available.
New unstable isotopes were discovered almost week by week. Finally the study of fission products and of the results of bombardment by the very strong radiation present in a nuclear reactor further facilitated the study of new isotopes and even brought us to the point where isotopes of previously unknown elements could be manufactured. Today radioactive isotopes of every chemical element have been discovered and useful quantities of many of them can be obtained here at Oak Ridge is appropriate. Consequently that the training course the special training course. For foreign students should be given in this place. It is also appropriate because Ridge is the oldest of the Atomic Energy Commission's laboratories as well as being a major source of radioisotope. I hesitated as to
whether I should give you any examples of the use of radioactive isotopes but I really do find the use of these materials fascinating perhaps. Even more than you do who are younger to whom they therefore seem less remarkable. So I would like if I may to go over some of the areas where they are useful and to get one or two examples. Now one category is based on the fact that these isotopes give off radiation. For such applications. The chemical nature of the isotope is a relatively minor import compared to the radioactive properties such as the half light wavelength of the gamma rays and so on. Such uses include the replacement of x rays by Cobalt or WM. The measurement of thickness by penetration of beta rays and a host of other applications in industry and in medical
therapy. An illustration of this category of use. Is the use of radioactive in the true treatment of the pituitary gland. And some types of human cancer has been found that removal of the pituitary gland retards the rate of growth of the tumor therefore thereby prolonging the life and comfort of the place. Although it of course is not really a cure. Surgical removal of the pituitary is a very difficult and dangerous procedure. As a substitute for a. Small pellet oxide powder can be made into a form of glass like B. These beads are then irradiated in a nuclear reactor and it is activated to APM night which is a Beta Ray. Emitter beta particle emitter.
So it is still necessary to open the skull and insert it in the pituitary gland at the base of the brain the operation is still a much simpler one than the actual removal of the gland. Once the beads are inserted the very intense beta radiation from the human mind. Destroys the pituitary gland and should therefore have the same effect as surgical removal. This is perhaps an illustration of the fact that. You gain something by the use you ask isotopes but quite often it isn't a very tremendous gain. The second category for the use of radioactive isotopes depends on both chemical and physical properties of the radioactivity of the atoms is used essentially for identification purposes. In effect a group of tag atoms of a given chemical element is
incorporated in a compound which is involved in some physical or chemical process that is under study. One of the most important illustrations of this type of research is of course in the field of agriculture. To take a very simple example. If we're trying to study the use of fertilizer some of the phosphorus in preparing a fertilizer or some of the normal phosphorus can be replaced by the radioactive phosphorus isotopes. Thirty two. Then if we put the fertilizer around the roots of a plant it's possible to determine how much of the fertilizer is absorbed in the plant within a given time simply by placing a Geiger counter next to the leaves. And measuring the degree to which the plant has become radioactive. This in turn will show us where perfect fertilizer can be most effectively placed
in the soil. Similarly radioactive tracers are now being used to show how rapidly plants can absorb nutrient nutrient material sprayed on their leaves. And it turns out that this is a much more effective way of feeding plants than had previously been supposed. Will work like this and much more advanced work than this. These are old examples and the means to carry out such work. Are to be found here at Oak Ridge Oak Ridge was founded by the United States government in one thousand forty three. As part of a desperate effort to increase the military power which this country needed to defend itself and the fundamental right of freedom to which we are dedicated. At first it was essentially a construction camp and I remember in one thousand forty four it seemed to me to consist largely of dust
and mud which some way managed to occur simultaneously. Gradually the residential city began to emerge and the plants came into operation. A more fundamental significance I think this is a shift in emphasis over the 12 years of its existence and the purposes for which this community exists. Our group was not established as a munitions plant in the ordinary sense of the word. It was founded on a gamble. It was a much more of a speculatively a much bolder thing than building a munitions plant. Because it was founded on the hope or gaffe that a totally new discovery in nuclear physics could be converted into an atomic bomb. It finished weapon of war within a few years. To succeed the cooperation of research scientists engineers
construction crews and hundreds of men and women doing every kind of work. Here at Oak Ridge the first nuclear reactor which could run at a significant power level was built in 1943. And by night March 1944 at it it had produced several grams of plutonium. A new element. Previously known only in microgram quantity. By the end of 1945. Three different methods of separating the isotopes of uranium had been cooperated in full scale industrial plants and had been successful which had been successfully operated. Quite apart from the objective which we were then. Seeking. I believe that from the point of view of science and technology and organization these were magnificent achievement which every one of my. Since
1945 and in the absence of international control of atomic weapons. Oakridge has had to continue predominately as a manufacturing center for atomic explosion. However since the plans for this purpose were operating successfully the questions became primarily the normal ones of the fission sea and. This made it possible to shift the emphasis in the scientific group here to long range research and studies of the peacetime application of atomic energy. The Oak Ridge National Laboratory was officially established in 1947. Of course it was really just a reorganization of the group that was already here. Shortly afterwards the Oak Ridge Institute for nuclear studies was organized with the cooperation of a large number of universities in the south the institute has been remarkably successful in promoting cooperation between these universities and the Oak
Ridge National Laboratory and in bringing scientists from all parts of the country here to study the peacetime uses of nuclear energy. I've given this review a very brief sketch of the review history of the. Discovery rate of radioactivity and also of Oak Ridge for a purpose because I think the methods used by the scientists who discovered radioactivity and radioactive isotopes in the 50 years preceding 1945 stand in contrast to the methods used in the great cooperative effort made it open ridge during the war. In the earlier period. Contributions were made largely by individual scientists in many countries over a long period of time. In contrast the wartime effort at Oak Ridge. Involved close cooperation
between many scientists and engineers of varying backgrounds gathered in one place. They were working with a specific goal in mind. Under the pressure of time and with practically unlimited financial support they were also working behind a cloak of secrecy. To a scientist like myself who grew up in the pre-war tradition of research. The old method has great appeal. Its emphasis on each man's judgment and imagination. On leisure for thinking and freedom for publication and mutual criticism. Has proven its value over the last three centuries of scientific progress. The whole point of view is consonant with our ideas of the importance of the individual and his freedom. And yet we would be foolish not to recognize that group effort can be of great value in science.
In the future. I think we need to make the best of both the Old and the new method. Nothing can replace the single inspired imagination which leads to basic new discoveries. But there are many problems of modern science so complex involving so many disciplines. And such expensive equipment that they can be solved successfully only by cooperative effort. In this country we have been remarkably successful I believe. In developing this kind of scientific research. As a byproduct of our democratic traditions. We seem to be able to form a cooperative research group with an identified leader. Without suppressing the initiative and imagination of the younger members of the group. I've seen this happen repeatedly in laboratories throughout this country in recent years. I would suggest that those of you who are
unfamiliar with this kind of work. Can learn a great deal about it. In your study here at Oak Ridge. The invitation given by this government to scientists of other countries to study our peacetime energy development is evidence of our belief and hope that international cooperation in furthering the peaceful uses of atomic energy will be of mutual benefit. In this work each of us will gain by the counsel of others. Development of peace time nuclear energy will of course go forward in other countries as well as in ours. I believe it will go forward most rapidly in those countries where the basis of scientific strength is understood and where a policy is followed. Sharing as much information as can possibly be released without endangering
essential military secrets. There is a great deal of scientific information about atomic energy that can be safely exchanged in this way and every effort should be made by all of us to persuade our governments to be generous in sharing. Much depends on the success of the reactor of the reactor technology course at the Argonne laboratory and of this course starting here today. The atomic conference the summer of Geneva under the auspices of the United Nations. Should Mark another great step forward. It will test the sincerity and Liber Rao I think all the participants. If these steps are successful we may hope that this great resource of nuclear energy will yet become of service and peace time for all of. The
old. You've been listening to Dr D H mind who is now chairman of the board of scientific and engineering research at Princeton University and the author of the famous report atomic energy for military purposes. This was a shortened version of the recording made at Oakridge Tennessee on April 30th 1955. Dr. Snyder was speaking in the high school auditorium to the first foreign students to come to this country as part of President Eisenhower's Atoms for Peace program. Dr. Smythe was introduced at Oak Ridge by Dr. Abel sole director of the Atomic Energy Commission's isotopes division there. You've been listening to the ninth program in the series the new work dealing with the
- New world of atomic energy
- Atoms for peace
- Producing Organization
- University of Alabama
- Oak Ridge Institute
- Contributing Organization
- University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
- AAPB ID
If you have more information about this item than what is given here, we want to know! Contact us, indicating the AAPB ID (cpb-aacip/500-3r0pwg3g).
- This program features a shortened version of an address by Dr. Henry DeWolf Smyth, author of "Atomic Energy for Military Purposes," given in Oak Ridge on April 30, 1955, as first foreign students arrive to study under Atoms for Peace Plan.
- About peacetime uses of atomic energy, with experts from Oak Ridge and other atomic energy centers.
- Nuclear energy--Military aspects--United States--History--20th century.
- Media type
Producer: Gouds, Moyra
Producing Organization: University of Alabama
Producing Organization: Oak Ridge Institute
Speaker: Smyth, Henry De Wolf, 1898-1986
- AAPB Contributor Holdings
University of Maryland
Identifier: 56-7-9 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
If you have a copy of this asset and would like us to add it to our catalog, please contact us.
- Chicago: “New world of atomic energy; Atoms for peace,” 1956-02-26, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed January 24, 2021, http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-500-3r0pwg3g.
- MLA: “New world of atomic energy; Atoms for peace.” 1956-02-26. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. January 24, 2021. <http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-500-3r0pwg3g>.
- APA: New world of atomic energy; Atoms for peace. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-500-3r0pwg3g