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Transcribed. Thanks thanks thanks. Thanks thanks. Thanks for your university grant from the Educational Television and Radio Center in cooperation with the National Association of educational broadcasters. Today's program written and produced by Bob McMahon. There's the title the power picture.
How important was atomic power to you. Do you recognize this sound. Or this one. How about this one. There is no doubt you recognize them all. The vacuum sweeper electric razor and washing machine. Just to mention a few of the 37 electrical servants in the average United States home today. We seldom think twice about electricity since all we need to do is this when we turn it on electric power brings these sounds to us and electricity performs their tasks for us. And even though we don't think about it we know that electricity doesn't just happen. It has to be manufactured. Most of the electric power we consume is manufactured or generated from heat derived
from a coal fire which produces the steam which in turn causes gigantic turbines and generators to operate. Have you ever thought what would happen if suddenly there were no more coal or oil or gas or any of the numerous kinds of fossil fuels we've become so accustomed to having if tomorrow or next year our vacuum cleaners washing machines and the family car ceased to operate. This may happen someday perhaps even within the lifetimes of some of us if we don't make better use of the fuel supplies we still possess and begin to develop new sources of power to supplement our dwindling supplies of organic or fossil fuels. The energy the world uses today comes almost entirely from coal oil of wood or Fallingwater of these all but wood and falling
water which together can supply only a fraction of the world's needs are exhaustible sooner or later. Even at the present rate of consumption which is bound to increase with time the end of our supply of present day fuels is in sight. Only in the past century has man utilized more of the sun's energy than was readily apparent and easily accessible. It was little more than 100 years ago that the steel industry took on greater possibilities for expansion when it was discovered that coal reduced to cold could replace charcoal. And the further discovery of oil about 90 years ago provided a broader base for an even greater industrial expansion. It is these products of the sun. Coal oil and natural gas which have made possible the enormous advances in living standards and help meet the requirements of the enormous increase in population in this country and throughout the world today fossil fuels provide 16 times as much energy as do man and beast.
It has taken us only a little over a century to progress to this point. One hundred and fifty years ago all the figures were exactly reversed how acute is the power problem in concrete terms. We won't try to convince you ourselves. We're going to have scientists do that about five years ago all the Atomic Energy Commission employed Mr Palmer SEE Putnam a consulting engineer to conduct a survey on world energy resources for the sake of simplicity. He employed an energy unit known as Q which is equal to a billion billion British thermal units of heat or the heat content contained in thirty eight billion tons of bitumen is coal. Here is what Mr. Putnam had to say about the rate of consumption of energy in our highly mechanized world. The world is presently consuming energy at a rate of 20 percent tree and if present trends continue this rate will of climb to 100
percent tree by the year 2000. This calculation includes energy consumption and all forms for propelling ships automobiles trains and aircraft for heating homes offices and factories for supplying heat for industrial processes for producing electric power. It is sobering to match these figures against the best estimates of the world's reserves of coal oil and gas for economical recoverable coal reserve estimate is about 70 CU for oil and gas together. It is about 8. Q If these estimates are correct they are probably not too far wrong. The world's fuel reserves would last for about 400 years. At the present rate of consumption and for less than 80 years at the rate of consumption that will very likely be reached by the year 2000.
Whatever the margin of error is it is plain that we cannot continue to rely forever upon traditional sources of energy. What is the answer to our power needs both present and future. Well the best answer that seems to have come up so far lies in the following discoveries in 19 0 5 a man whom nobody had ever heard of predicted that it would be possible one day to convert mass into energy. He said it was theoretically possible to release from extremely small masses of material on conventionally large masses of energy. That man's name was Albert Einstein. Thirty seven years after this prediction was made in 1940 to another man and an experiment made in the midst of the urgent need of a nation at war proved by the first practical use of that energy that Einstein was right in his prediction. This man's name was Enrico Fermi.
Today the accomplishments of these two men and the hundreds of others who have worked with them over the years have one tremendous connotation one that is contained in a single word power. Power to run factories propel ships fly airplanes and brighten homes. How quickly is this new power needed. Well the need varies depending in which part of the world you live here in the United States the need is not as great as in some other parts of the world. Our supplies of coal oil and gas are adequate to keep our industries running and our homes warm and well-lighted for several more decades. But not too many. As Chairman Lewis Strauss of the Atomic Energy Commission has said we in the United States are fortunate. In that we face no urgent shortage of conventional fuels and in consequence we have the time and the opportunity to attack the problem from every side. And experiment simultaneously with a whole variety of atomic power systems and
that is exact. What the commission has been doing even though our need is not as immediate as the needs of some. It has been the opinion of our nation's leaders that we must continue to lead the way in the field of atomic power development. But it is in the highly industrialized and developed countries of Western Europe and in underdeveloped nations such as India where the need for atomic power is immediate dire need is for today and 1965 Great Britain will require twice as much I like Rick power as he is making use of today. Britain and Ireland built on coal as currently forced to import this commodity from the United States at great expense. Because our own coal mines no longer have enough economically mine of all coal left to supply all the nation's needs. So John cock of the British atomic energy commission. Great Britain is an example of a highly industrialized country
with small hydroelectric resources with poor prospects of any substantial increase in coal production. And with a rapidly increasing demand for electricity and other forms of energy. So only nuclear power development is essential for Britain. It comes just in time for ours. And we believe that by 1975. Almost half our electricity will be developed from energy. India is another example of a country whose present need for atomic power is very great 25 percent of India's present day source of power is derived from the burning of cattle dung or coal resources are not great and her population is enormous. Dr Khomeini Jiang of India to illustrate how much the energy problem is for some underdeveloped and is the world I quote something
that's from a paper dealing with the energy problem in India. The total reserves of coal in India are roughly 40000 million tonnes all roughly one hundred and ten times ahead of population. The energy consumption the United States is equivalent to the burning of some nine tons of coal and the head. Thus India's coal resources will be insufficient to maintain the standard of living equal to the present US standard for more than a decade. In many other areas of the world the energy problems are even more acute. Dr. Bober who is president of the conference on the peaceful use of the atom held in Geneva Switzerland in August of 1955 explains in one of his speeches at the convention the power needs of mankind. He divides the broad view of human history into three discernible epics. The first is marked by the emergence of the early civilizations in the valleys of the
Euphrates the Indus in the night and. The second by the industrial revolution leading to the civilization in which we live. And by the discovery of atomic energy. And the dawn of atomic age which we are just entering. Each marks a change in the energy pattern of society. In a practical sense. Energy is the great prime mover which makes possible the multitude of actions on which I depend. Indeed it makes possible life itself. Man has existed on this earth for well over two hundred fifty thousand years. And yet the earliest civilizations which we have record only date back a thousand years. It took Man several hundred thousand years to acquire those techniques on which the early civilizations were based. And the techniques of Agriculture animal husbandry weaving making in mentality. The acquisition of these techniques and the emergence of the early civilizations must be regarded as
the first great people in human history. Despite many differences in habits culture and social patterns. All these early civilizations were built essentially on the same foundation. All the energy for doing mechanical work for tilling the ground for drawing water for carrying and for locomotion. Was supplied by muscle. With the animal. Molecular chemical energy. As for example that of pain by burning wood was only used to a limited extent for cooking and heating and in a few technical processes as intelligent. It is important to note the severe limitations that this restricted supply of energy puts on the development of civilization. A man in the course of heavy physical labor in an eight hour day can hardly turn out more than half a kilowatt hour out of Houston work. This is not much more than is necessary to maintain him at a bare subsistence level. It is to be compared with a rough figure of 20 kilowatt hours
of energy per person which is daily utilized in the industrial countries today. It followed that a high level of physical comfort and culture could only be enjoyed by a small fraction of the population making use of the collected surface labor of the rest. It is sometimes forgotten. That all the ancient civilizations were carried on the muscle of slaves of a particular class and society. Through the very limitations of the available energy. The fruits of civilization could only be enjoyed by a few. A departure from this basic pattern only began with the scientific and technical developments of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. As a result of which men began to make increasing use of chemical energy for doing and augmenting the mechanical work which has been done by muscle. The rights produce of chemical energy especially that obtained by burning the fossil fuels coal and oil. Marks the
second great people in human history. It led to the Industrial Revolution and the industrialized patent of society and civilization which is typical of this age. In one highly industrialized country today. Twenty three kilowatt hours of energy are dated daily utilized by head. Corresponding to the muscular effort of forty five slaves. In another advanced country the figure is about twice the size. This shows how radically the energy pattern of a modern industrialized society differs from that of the early civilizations and of a non industrialized society. If the total world consumption of energy amounting to one to put decades in 1950. 37 percent was in the United States if you will remember one Q was equivalent to the heat content contained in thirty eight billion tons of but human a school if the entire population were to consume energy per capita at the same rate as in the United States.
The total consumption of energy in the world would be over five and a half. But decades into the present one Q.. It was a doubling of the world's population within the next hundred years which is the least that we can expect. This would exhaust the known reserves of fossil fuels in under a century. In the simple arithmetic no allowance has been made. For the fact that the standard of living the industrially advanced countries is rising and we hope will continue to rise. This conclusion is of great significance. It shows that our presently known reserves of coal and oil are insufficient to enable the underdeveloped countries of the world which contain a major part of its. Population. To attain and maintain for long a standard of living equal to that of the industrial most advanced countries. It shows the absolute necessity of finding some new source of energy. If the light of our civilization is dop to be extinguished because we have burnt out our fuel reserves. It is in this context that we turn to atomic energy
for a solution. This then simply as an explanation of the need for atomic power development and it is here in the United States alone of all the countries of the free world that there is sufficient to can amik an industrial potential to do the job of developing the atom. If we hope to remain a leader among the nations of the world we cannot wait to find out how this can be done. Until the time when our coal and oil resources are completely exhausted. If we hope to maintain our present standard of living and to raise it further we must consider the atom in 1850 the population of the United States was 20 million people by 900 it had multiplied by 4 to 85 million. And by 1950 it had almost doubled to one hundred and fifty million. It probably will double again by the year 2000. Comparatively 100 years ago the world's population was one billion people. By 1950 it had
increased nearly two and a half times to two point four billion and is expected to double again by the year 2000. It has always been our goal to aid the future generations and the development of mankind. We do this already in the study of medicine and other fields. And so in order for them to maintain as good a standard of living as we have or perhaps to better their standard of living they must have power and we must leave them with sufficient fuel to obtain it. But not a state a more immediate and personal reason why atomic power is important to us. Here is Professor Donald J. Tandem and atomic scientist with the Department of Physics at Purdue University to tell us about it. You've already heard a few of the many good reasons why atomic power is needed today. But there's another strong argument for atomic power which has not been mentioned. There are a lot of uses for which atomic power will not be suitable. Even after
the atom has been fully developed there will still be certain jobs which oil and gas can do better and cheaper and atomic energy can. For one thing automobiles are still going to run on gasoline. Most homes are going to be heated with oil or gas. We know already that the atom is not going to act as a complete solution for all our power problems that there will always be special jobs that coal oil and gas can best fill. Therefore the sooner we can employ the comic power for the tasks for which it is best suited to take the strain off consumption of our more conventional fuels the more of them will still be around later to perform the tasks for which there are better suited and the better off we will be in the long run.
There is yet another aspect of the power picture we haven't mentioned. One equally as important to the future of atomic development as atomic power itself it concerns another kind of energy resource and energy that lies hidden in the minds of men. The energy of skilled hands and trained bodies and energy that machines are powerless to provide. We must be careful not to run out of this particular kind of energy for it is one of our truly important natural resources. Part of my work at Purdue University concerns the training of young engineers and physicists to go into various fields of atomic development. I know how much our nation needs these young men and women in connection with the work I do. If we don't find better ways of informing our young people what a bright future nuclear technology can provide for them. We cannot hope to keep up with the rest of the world in the development of its atomic future. At
present in our colleges and universities we are training fewer than 500 persons a year to take positions in the vital and challenging field of atomic power or as there is a current need for three or four times that number. It is been estimated that in 20 years our country will be generating over 80 million kilowatts of electricity from atomic energy. This means that 20 years from now we will need at least 23000 engineers and scientists in the field of atomic power or nearly five times our present number. If we add to this the requirements of the military power programme they need 20 years hence will not be twenty three thousand but 30000 or more. It means close to fifteen hundred new trained men every year whereas as I've said we are presently training fewer than
500 a year. Dr. Woodward Levy of the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission. But for the genius of the late Enrico found in me the atomic pile probably would not have been invented until years later. The Germans had made serious attempts and not succeeded. The French were on the trail but they probably would not have succeeded for several years. It seems a conservative estimate to say that Enrico phantom genius saved us five years in the actual development of the atomic pile. No one else here could have done it. The peculiar combination of experience and abilities that he possessed were made for that problem. Now our rate of development of atomic power will be determined by the rate of development of the additional families and by very little else as of the present moment because people are so anxious to help now that the only real blocks are the very tough technical problems we normally do not lack for
money or cooperation from the Congress or other branches of the government. The real difficulty is the shortage of high level technical manpower. And it is to the families that we must look for the flowering of the peace where uses and we should remember in this connection the probably the first of the peaceful uses is peace itself. As Churchill said of the RAAF in the Battle of Britain. Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few. I myself remember instances in recent years in which the true balance of world power depended on these select few where one or two men made the critical difference. And so it is that we look to these few dozen people for our improved well-being and possibly even for the continuation of civilization. This fact of course is not new in principle. On the contrary the whole development of
our civilization has been connected in large measure to the lives of a few hundred people who are called the world's great. It is no less true today in this new field. We are no less uniquely dependent upon genius today and the chances of atomic power and the unborn peaceful uses are just as good as the chance of their being conceived and delivered by their natural parents. The Enrico family. So our obvious course to maximize the peaceful uses. Since the Geneva conference and its publication an airing of the vital problems has taken place is to increase the numbers and strength of our technical and scientific or as rapidly as possible. It certainly is a matter of our well-being and it may well be a matter of life and death that we do this and do it quickly. We learn the Geneva of the vigor and strength of the
present Russian core. But more significantly of the number of students of the technical subjects and of the numbers of new technical graduates each year now though our scientific and technical reservoir probably exceeds those at the present time. The science for the future are not good. In this business everyone can help. I have a notion it begins in the high schools and with such points as the high school teacher salaries. Teachers must occupy respected positions in the community. They must be dedicated to deprivation and they must be supported by the parents or they will never consent to bother with the uncapped household headed little Italian boy who one day may be the family destined to raise our standard of living make rising wages possible and save us from rising under a Hitlers head. He is so close so vital a thing. This business of training
more and better scientists and engineers that we could afford to double our present educational expenditures if it would give us one more Fermi projet aeration this problem must be song. And for this we need your help in the same way. Pearl Harbor left us no choice. We have no choice now. So it is obvious today that we are lacking and not just one but two kinds of power an ever increasing amounts. One is power obtainable from fossil fuels which as we have shown can be supplemented by atomic energy. The other is man power for which there is only one source and no substitute. We know that at the present time our chief power rivals Soviet Russia as in the process of producing more scientists and engineers than all the
free world put together. In addition to this the Soviet Union is turning out twice the number of Ph.D. candidates each year that we do. Therefore the manpower problem in the United States as every bit as important just as real and just as immediate as any of the crucial problems that face our nation today more than at any other time in history. Scientific knowledge and skill are readily translatable into political economic or military power. Today more than at any time before. Knowledge is power. Our atomic progress will be determined primarily by the numbers of young people who study science and mathematics in our high schools and go on to college to become scientists and engineers of all kinds. This is true because the nuclear scientist is first of all a chemist a mechanical engineer a physicist or a metallurgist whose knowledge is then directed to the field of atomic energy.
They are drawn from many fields of specialization and together form a team. Today that team needs new members and it's up to us individually as Americans to find ways and means of training and supplying them now and in the future generations. Next week at this same time atoms for power will look into the sources of supply of atomic fuel to discover if there's enough to fill the needs of an ever growing world that transcribe atoms for power was written and produced by Bob but man for radio station WBA at Purdue University under a grant from the Educational Television and Radio Center recorded excerpts from the Geneva conferences were secured with the cooperation of United Nations radio scientific advisor to the program was Professor Donald J tendon of the Purdue Department of Physics. Your narrator is where James Alston and Walt rector. This is Dick Florian speaking. This program
Atoms for power
The power picture
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Purdue University
WBAA (Radio station : West Lafayette, Ind.)
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University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
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Admiral Lewis Strauss, chairman, U.S. Atomic Energy Commission; Sir John Cockcroft, British Atomic Energy Commission
This 15-part series discusses the feasibility of atomic power as an alternate energy source to replace depleted fossil fuels.
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Advisor: Tandam, Donald J.
Guest: Cockcroft, John, Sir, 1897-1967
Guest: Strauss, Lewis L.
Narrator: Richter, Walt
Producer: McMahon, Bob
Producing Organization: Purdue University
Producing Organization: WBAA (Radio station : West Lafayette, Ind.)
Speaker: Floria, Dick
Writer: McMahon, Bob
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University of Maryland
Identifier: 57-59-1 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
Duration: 00:29:05
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Chicago: “Atoms for power; The power picture,” 1957-02-08, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed September 26, 2021,
MLA: “Atoms for power; The power picture.” 1957-02-08. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. September 26, 2021. <>.
APA: Atoms for power; The power picture. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from