The Failed Promise of Nuclear Power

The Failed Promise of Nuclear Power

The Failed Promise of Nuclear Power

The Failed Promise of Nuclear Power

Excerpt

During the past 30 years the industrial world has spent more than $200 billion in attempts to produce useful energy from nuclear fission. Many of the seminal events and personalities in this unprecedented effort have already passed into legend.

There was the drama of the converted University of Chicago squash court where, under the leadership of the virtually canonized Enrico Fermi, a group of scientists operated the world's first atomic reactor. There was the poetry of J. Robert Oppenheimer's recollection of the ominous lines from a sacred Hindu text two and one-half years later at Alamogordo.

If the radiance of a thousand suns were to burst at once into the sky, that would be like the splendor of the Mighty One.... I am become death, the destroyer of Worlds.

And, of course, there was the mushroom-shaped cloud over Hiroshima. This was possibly the most powerful image of the century, perhaps even of the millennium.

A persistent, intimate association between legend and experience is the most obvious theme in the story of nuclear fission. Only slightly less obvious has been the extravagance . . .

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