Friday, August 19, 2011

Peaceful Atom: Early Daze

New World Notes News
Vol. 4, No. 34 -- August 19, 2011

This week in New World Notes, radio program #181, August 23, 2011

Peaceful Atom: Early Daze

In brief
In the early 1950s the federal government began strongly encouraging civilian uses of nuclear technology--good news for reactor makers General Electric and Westinghouse! "Atoms for Peace," the massive sales campaign was called.

President Eisenhower gave an important speech on the subject at the United Nations. The Post Office issued an "Atoms for Peace" commemorative first-class stamp (3 cents!) in 1955. In March 1956, Mechanix Illustrated magazine featured a profusely illustrated article, "Why Don't We Build an Atoms-for-Peace Dirigible." Not even a question mark.

A nuclear-powered blimp. What could be more sensible?

Yes, the propaganda was flowing fast and furiously. As I recall, "Our friend, the atom" was a slogan in wide use. As for nuclear-generated electricity, the watchword was, "Too cheap to meter!"

This week, in another nice audiocollage, Virtual Renderings explores the wild promises made made for civilian nukes--and the very scary reality behind the propaganda--from 1950 through the meltdown at Three Mile Island in 1979. Sound sources include old propaganda films, news reports, interviews from documentary films, and some music--as usual, all very nicely woven together.
Most graphics: Click to enlarge.

Notes, credits, & links
Dozens of Virtual Rendering's *audiocollages* are available, without charge, here:

New World Notes is produced under the auspices (Latin for "thumb") of WWUH-FM, a community service of that beacon of light in darkest Connecticut, the University of Hartford.

You can listen to any installment of New World Notes online or else download it (as an mp3 audio file) for later listening. The show is archived at both and (from #90 onwards) The Internet Archive. Either link should get you a reverse-chrono listing of available installments. Or browse the show's Web site: Each installment has a page, and each page has links to the recorded audio. See the gray sidebar on the right ("CONTENTS [Links]") for a table of contents.

Series overview:
Political and social commentary in a variety of genres. Exploring the gap between what we want ... and what they're trying to make us settle for.
Above: from Mechanix Illustrated, March 1956.
Below: Nuclear power plant.

Coming soon (Tuesday air debut date shown)
  • August 30 -- Can This Honeymoon Be Saved?
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