Virtual Tour: Turn Back the Clock

‘Atoms for Peace,’ cancer research and nuclear energy in a postwar America

In the early 1950s, the Atomic Energy Commission funded the Argonne Cancer Research Hospital in Chicago, which successfully pioneered the use of radiation in cancer treatment.

On December 8, 1953, U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower reassured the United Nations General Assembly that “peaceful power from atomic energy” could become “a great boon, for the benefit of all mankind.” Although his call for international oversight of nuclear energy went unheeded, other aspects of his “Atoms for Peace” speech came to fruition.

Within several decades, nuclear energy fueled a fleet of U.S. submarines and generated electricity at more than 100 power plants across the country. Today, in many of the world’s hospitals and clinics, physicians use therapies and diagnostic tools, such as MRI and PET scans, made possible by nuclear science. These and other breakthroughs in nuclear energy and medicine have fulfilled many of the peacetime promises of the Atomic Age.

Medicine gained unexpected benefits from wartime research. In the early 1950s, the Atomic Energy Commission funded the Argonne Cancer Research Hospital in Chicago, which successfully pioneered the use of radiation in cancer treatment. Later called the Franklin McLean Memorial Research Institute, the hospital also developed radiology to diagnose and treat other diseases.

On December 20, 1951 in a remote lab in Idaho, federal scientists produced the world’s first nuclear-generated electricity. Scientists at Chicago’s Argonne National Laboratory provided the fuel core needed to sustain the reaction, which lit up four light bulbs that cold winter day. As of 2017, nuclear energy makes up about 20 percent of U.S. electrical generation.

This artifact is featured in our virtual Turn Back the Clock tour. Take the tour to learn more about the history of the Doomsday Clock and discover how you, today, can help “turn back the Clock.” Start here

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This artifact is featured in our virtual Turn Back the Clock tour, based on an all-ages exhibit presented by the Bulletin at the Museum of Science and Industry from 2017 to 2019. Enter the tour to learn more about the history of the Doomsday Clock and what it says about evolving threats to humanity. See why Doomsday Clock matters more than ever and discover how you, today, can help “turn back the Clock.”

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