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Will. You. This is the first program in a series called The New World. Its aim is to outline some of the great benefits atomic energy is bringing to mankind. The programmes are produced by the University of Alabama. This title was chosen because of the famous cold birth of atomic energy. The message was sent on December 2nd one thousand forty two. It was sent by professor author h Compton physicist who was at that time
director of the mythological atomic project in Chicago and had been awarded the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1907. Here is a story of that historic event which took place on December 2. It is told by Professor Compton himself. I want to tell you of the dramatic experiment that marked the birth of the controlled release of atomic energy. Think of the setting for a generation. Physicists had dreamt of the possibility that the energy of the nucleus of the atom. Might be released. So that. People would have available to them. They had great resources of atomic power. Amounts of energy hundreds of millions of times greater than might be obtained by chemical processes of the usual type. On this day December 2nd Nineteen
forty two there was coming to Chicago they reviewing Committee set by the government to determine whether the government should support for their atomic program. They asked for Enrico Fermi. I told them that for me it was so busy in the laboratory that day that he had begged to be excused. Ask them. May I answer your questions. For an hour or two. The conversation went back and forth and then the phone rang in my office. Here was the voice of Dr. Vali Wilson. He said the experiment is ready to go. I knew what he meant. And I turned to the members of the reviewing committee asked them to choose one of their members to go with me across the campus to where this experiment was to be performed. I chose the youngest member of the group because it was evident that. They were apt to see we were apt to see something of real importance that
someone should remember for a long time and the youngest member of this group was more apt to remember it for many years. Crawford Green a walk went with me and as we entered the squash cart in the at the corner of the athletic field of the University of Chicago we saw in that large your own perhaps 80 feet long and forty feet wide and high. A mass of graphite and urine him piled at the end of the rope some 30 foot 30 feet on the edge it was this cute. We entered at a balcony at the opposite end and watched what was happening. Preliminary experiments had indicated that as soon as a control rod would be withdrawn from the pile. The neutrons should gradually accumulate and. These would multiply themselves as they produced further fictions in the uranium atoms
at a given signal from me said withdraw the control rod another foot. This meant we knew that. They. Were. Nuclear reaction should occur if it was ever going to occur. And according to prediction we heard the conjurers on the balcony. Click faster and faster until the clicks became a rattle. Then. As I was watching the spot of light from the galvanometer. It started to move gradually. Faster and faster until it came to about the center of the scale. That was the point where according to our calibrations the radiation on the balcony became dangerous and Fermi said there when the control rods of the spot of light moved back toward zero and the clicks died down to an occasional one or two we realized that we had
produced the reaction control and it brought it to a stop. One of the men drew from behind him a bottle of bottle of Italian wine. Handed it to Fermi. A little chair went up. That was the reaction. I remember the face of fire me from a was. Cool and collected. The experiment had gone as he had expected it to go. But he saw that the men were tired. They'd been working night after night in order to get ready for this experiment. He told them lock the control rod in place so that nothing can happen and go home. Tomorrow morning we'll come back and we'll start the series of experiments that are necessary to make the pile that is to go in at Oak Ridge. The pilot plant that will show us the pattern according to which the
production unit will be made to produce power in large quantities. But. There was the face of green or green or welts eyes were aglow. He had seen the vision and as we were walking back across the campus to the place where their revealing committee was in my office. He talked. He saw visions of the wheels of industry being turned by atomic power. He saw. New scientific results being made possible by they. They knew isotopes radioactive isotopes that could be used for tracer purposes. Many things he saw in the offing a new world was opening up. I told him Green a lot. You'll remember that this is secret you're not allowed to tell anybody. But he didn't have to tell when he went into the reviewing Committee. They could read it in his face. They nature of the report that the
revealing committee was a foregone conclusion. As they left I took up the telephone called Dr Conant at Harvard. He was the chairman of the National Defense Research Committee that had been responsible for this atomic program as he answered the phone. I said to him Jim you'll be interested to know that the Italian Navigator has just landed in the New World. Konitz reply was a media to immediately alert. The natives friendly. Everyone landed safe and happy I told him and with great relief he hung up the phone and the conversation was over. This was the report of the birth of atomic energy. The scientific brains of this experiment were divided among many people but the leader of the group was for me. It was he
who had found. The. Procedure that the principles according to which slow neutrons could made could be captured and made to produce nuclear fission. It was his spirit that inspired us all and with the guidance of that spirit we saw dreams of the use of atomic power for all kinds of purposes. Purposes that would enable us to do many things that man had dreamed of that would. Rock him home turn the wheels of industry. And this was the vision that was in fair May's mind. A lover of freedom he had come to our country to the United States
and here had done his part. It was a great part. Thank you Dr. Compton for telling us in your own words about the story given of December Asika 1042 when the first nuclear chain reaction was achieved under the guidance of the late Professor Enrico Fermi. To find out more about this new world of atomic energy. We went down to Oak Ridge Tennessee. What is being done there is representative of the work being done in other centers throughout the United States. This is the oldest of the laboratory is run by the Atomic Energy Commission. And on we go from IOM self and work there at one time. The great majority of the recordings in the series of programs were made at Oakridge. Many people in the Atomic Energy Commission and its agencies there and in the Oak Ridge Institute of nuclear studies are to be thanked for their kind and enthusiastic cooperation. On my first visit there I met Dr. Paul's the Ebersol director of the isotope division at all Grange. He gave me a
general picture on the all kinds of purposes as Dr. Compton said in which atomic energy is of benefit to mankind. Dr. Robert Sowle told me comic energy is one of the basic energies of the universe. It is as fundamental as the energy of the sun. Indeed they are one and the same in itself. It is neither good nor bad for them or it can only become good or bad through the applications. Man make of it. We should constantly remind ourselves that atomic energy like most other forces of nature can be two sided. We should not lose sight. I was to modest peacetime potentialities for there in lie its real benefits for mankind. When I public statement authorizing the greatly expanded facilities of the atomic energy program the president sat. The expansion in the scope of our atomic energy program gives added emphasis to the fact that atomic energy has great potentialities for destruction and for the benefit of
mankind from the very onset we have stood on we continue to stand firm in our desire for effective international control of atomic energy to ensure its use for peaceful purposes only. This is a fundamental objective to which this government and the vast majority of the United Nations have committed their best efforts. Agreement on this goal would make the facilities of our atomic energy enterprise fully available for peaceful purposes. Well the basis of current spending within the atomic energy program approximate temper sent of the funds are allocated for purely peacetime efforts for research in fundamental atomic science. A somewhat larger percentage maybe 15 or so percent goes for purely weapon hearing for weapons development. The ballots are approximately 70 percent of the commission's budget expended on what in the end may yield either weapons for war purposes or power and other benefits for peacetime uses.
As the chairman of the commission has pointed out practically all of the monies represented in the acquisition of ore and in the processing of feed materials and in the production of uranium and plutonium model should be regarded as funds which have not been and need not necessarily be wasted in war but rather which may be devoted either to war or peace as the necessity requires or as the opportunity develops. In outlining threaded briefly some of the peacetime uses of atomic energy that I've already come to the front we find that they may be placed in four broad phases of development. First the use of atomic energy to produce heat and electrical power. Second the use of atomic radiation atomic heat to induce chemical and physical changes in materials. There heard the application of the results of researches in atomic sciences to other fields and for the applications of special radioactive and stable forms of
elements are isotopes for tracing our other uniquely useful purposes. Thank you Dr. Raber slow. To learn more about the first of these uses the use of nuclear reactors for the production of electric power. I went over and visited Dr. clemency Lawson. He is director of the Oak Ridge National Laboratory and here is what he had to say. In considering the entire power situation of this country and the world it is evident that in the very near future we will be called upon to furnish the electric power from sources other than the conventional sources at the present time. The only source of power that seems to be practical is the power from nuclear energy. It is possible that the United States may need substantial amounts of power from these other sources by the year
1975 in order to furnish this power. The Atomic Energy Commission has embarked on a program to demonstrate the production of power from nuclear sources and this program is called the five year program of the Atomic Energy Commission. This program plans the production of electricity by several different types of nuclear reactors. There is the pressurized water reactor which is being constructed near Pittsburgh Pennsylvania. There is the Saudi m graphite reactor which is being built in California. There is the boiling water reactor which is being developed by the Argonne National Laboratory and the
homogeneous reactor which is being developed by the Oak Ridge National Laboratory. The all of these reactors are being planned to demonstrate the feasibility of economic nuclear power so that electricity will be available from this new sarce app costs which will be competitive with the production of electric power by the more conventional means. By 1960 therefore we will probably have demonstrated the best approach to nuclear power. This will enable us to actually go forward with confidence in this particular field. The United States will need this power by 1975. But it is evident that the rest of the world may need power from nuclear sources
long before the United States will need power. The rest of the world with the exception of perhaps countries like Norway and South Africa. You are on the borderline of power malnutrition. The United States can make great contributions to the economic and political well-being of the rest of the countries by furnishing the knowledge and technology necessary to develop in this particular way. We are confident that this development will be a great contribution to peace. And if we are successful we should be able to help the countries of the world advance in this manner. In the Oak Ridge National Laboratory Dr. Clarence the last one was talking about the use of atomic reactors for power. This was the first broad finese of atomic energy
development mentioned by Dr. Raber suld. I went back to see him and ask him about the second phase. The use of nuclear radiation from reactors to go is chemical and physical changes in materials. This is an almost entirely unexplored field. However certain laboratory experiments have shown that the very intense radiation from a nuclear reactor or from its large amount of radioactive byproducts will produce changes in a wide variety of materials. Also all the intense heat produced during reactor operation can be used to speed up many ordinary chemical and physical processes. What physical chemical applications might be derived from the use of reactor heat and reactor radiation is not now unknown. Some useful changes have been coming to light hollar and there are prospects that these unique capacities of the nuclear reactor and its by products may someday find special industrial applications. Right now they can best be described
as unpredictable dividends of future research. This third phase you mentioned Dr. Davis all in peace time atomic energy was the application of the results of research in atomic science to other scientific fields. And could you give me some examples perhaps of these applications. For example much of the research carried out by the commission and its laboratories is on a type that will yield information valuable to fields other than those of Nuclear Science and Technology. One of the items of atomic energy development which has produced benefits for the physical sciences and industrial life is the materials production and testing program. The development of special materials equipment and instrumentation needed for construction of the various atomic energy plants has been a tremendous operation. It was necessary and destructing nuclear reactors to develop methods for preparing materials such as uranium graphite I thought I am really young and aluminum of extremely high purity. The lessons learned and the data acquired during these development programs will certainly be valuable information for future
applications. Materials developed during the construction of other installations may be of more immediate interest to other industries. Among the most interesting of these are the floor Carmen's different species of which now number in the thousands. These materials never before synthesize even on a laboratory scale were developed to compensate for plant scale corrosion problems in consistency they range from light of oils through heavy tires to plastics and in applications from lubricants to balance these some of these materials are already available on the open market. Some of the materials that were developed in the atomic energy program are fluorine so Conium which are coming into wide scale industrial use. The industry also stands to gain in other areas outside of materials for instance asked of us especially of the pneumatic and electronic time design for plan operations like smoke control are certainly subject to alteration and adaption through other manufacturing
plants. The cases grabble for heavy equipment such as blowers and pumps. These are but a few of such benefits representing a much larger number continually coming from atomic energy plants and from atomic energy development programs. Now at the start you referred to red you isotopes in there especially useful properties. What about peaceful development here Dr. Abel song. Now we come to the phase of atomic energy development which constitutes the most vigorous and perhaps the largest peacetime use of atomic energy. That is the use of atomic energy by products called radio isotopes in the cosmic reactors that we have an oak ridge we can make almost anything radioactive they can make radioactive forms. Obviously all the elements these radioactive forms of elements are called radio isotopes for example we have radio isotopes of carbon hydrogen. Or. Iron I having gold a large number of valves.
These can be used as sources of radiation in many ways for treatment of patients are in industrial taking up pictures of castings and so for art they may also be used as tracer rounds to follow atoms do you know a wide variety of processes both living systems and industrial processes chemistry and so on. Thank you doctor a result in later programs in the series which will be going into the uses of these radio isotopes in a great deal more detail. There will be separate programs on there it uses and history in medicine and in agriculture. Most of the people I spoke to in Oak Ridge stressed the importance of training new people in these four fields of the peacetime development of atomic energy. This cropped up again and again. To give you just one example of the big training program that is underway in lover of Tori's all over the country I asked Jack Westbrook of the University of Tennessee to drive out to the Oak Ridge National
Laboratory and find out something about the Oak Ridge School of reactor technology that. He recorded this interview at the school. This is Jack Westbrook and I am at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory which by the way is operated by the Union Carbide and carbon company for the ABC. We're talking now to Dr. Arnie sharpies who is associate research director of the Oak Ridge National Laboratory. We're going to talk to Dr. sharpie particularly about the Oak Ridge School reactor technology. Dr. Harvey would you tell us something about this coup its nature its purpose when it was started. Some background information. While the Oak Ridge School of reactor technology was started formally in the year 1950 its purpose is to provide training in a specialized field of reactor technology for a selected small group of people drawn from engineering graduates and engineering corporations who will then following the special training go out into
industry and university work prepared to train and use their information to train other people. When I what was the impetus for starting the school it was recognised in the late 40s that they. Discover the fission process and the energy which kind of take be obtained from it. What ultimately lead to a very large industry in electrical power production and perhaps associated aspects in order to develop the people required to operate such an industry if we realize that education was the first point what should be covered and so the school was established. I'd be interested to know why it was decided that the school should be made a part of the Oak Ridge National Laboratory. Why not some of the great universities. This decision was made largely because of two reasons in the first place. The whole of reactor technology at the time the school was established lay within the national laboratories and the ADC contractors associated with the reactors. In the second place it is recognized that reactor technology is such a new field that it is
difficult to establish a formal curriculum except on a year to year basis as we discover new things and formulate new arts. It is important for the practicing individual in the field to have these immediately available to him not delayed in textbooks by three to five years. What you mentioned earlier that the students are drawn both from universities those who are just getting out of universities and from industry. I wonder approximately what proportion of students come from each of these sources while at the present time roughly one third of our students are recent university graduates who have no industrial affiliation. The other two thirds are drawn from industry and ADC associations including the military. Do the students that you have here at the Oak Ridge School reactor technology get actual experience in the reactor operation. Oh yes they do experiments which include as a special case they are bringing the reactor to the critical stage at which it is self
sustaining in the chain reactor. But do they again experience in operation of the different reactors what sorts of reactors. Well the reactor with which the students have their own personal experience is one of the swimming pool type. This is a very flexible type of reactor which has been useful in research and as such is an excellent teaching tool. Now Dr. Sharp can you tell us perhaps of some of the individuals who have been here at the Oak Ridge School reactor technology who are out in industry who are or who are in the atomic field in some capacity who are making some contribution now. Yes I can do that. Perhaps the easiest way would be to cite two cases of recent graduates of the school Mr Robert Dunne Worth who came to the school two years ago from Duquesne electric company in Pittsburgh has recently been named the head of the Duquesne group which is charged with the responsibility of building the pressurized water reactor at shipping Park
Pennsylvania which will serve as part of the network of supplying electricity to Pittsburgh. Another example of an individual who has gone to the school is a Mr. Lawrence widows who is presently affiliated with the University of Michigan and is in charge of the reactor design which they have proposed for construction as part of the Phoenix research project which is the last University of Michigan. Not sure if it was a pleasure talking to you thank you very much. Thank you. Jack Westbrook will be heard again in the next program in the series. This will be about one of the nuclear reactors here at Oak Ridge and the radioisotopes produced front. We took our recording equipment inside the reactor building to give you a picture of it in operation. A hundred. Yards you have been listening to the quest program in the New World a
series dealing with the peaceful uses of atomic energy in the cause. You heard Dr. Atick Compton noted physicist Dr. Clarence E. Larson director of the Oak Ridge National Laboratory. Dr. Paul T Ebersol director of the Atomic Energy Commission isotope division and Dr. Ira choppy associate research director of the Oak Ridge National Laboratory. The series is produced by station Wu always of the University of Alabama under a grant from the Educational Television and Radio Center in cooperation with the National Association of educational broadcasters. Producer is more a youde the narrator was Ron White. Your announcer Greg Hyman. This is the NASB tape network.
New world of atomic energy
Producing Organization
University of Alabama
Oak Ridge Institute
Contributing Organization
University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
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Episode Description
This program features the voices of Professor Arthur Compton, Dr. Paul Aebersold, Dr. Clarence Larsen, Dr. R. A. Charpie, all of Oak Ridge.
Series Description
About peacetime uses of atomic energy, with experts from Oak Ridge and other atomic energy centers.
Broadcast Date
Fermi, Enrico, 1901-1954.
Media type
Embed Code
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: Larson, Clarence E. (Clarence Edward), 1909-
Interviewee: Compton, Arthur Holly, 1892-1962
Interviewee: Aebersold, Paul C. (Paul Clarence), 1910-1967
Producer: Gouds, Moyra
Producing Organization: University of Alabama
Producing Organization: Oak Ridge Institute
AAPB Contributor Holdings
University of Maryland
Identifier: 56-7-1 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
Duration: 00:28:56
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Chicago: “New world of atomic energy; Introduction,” 1956-01-01, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed May 26, 2024,
MLA: “New world of atomic energy; Introduction.” 1956-01-01. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. May 26, 2024. <>.
APA: New world of atomic energy; Introduction. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from