The future of atomic energy

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There is definitely a technical possibility that atomic power may gradually develop into one of the principal sources of useful power. If this expectation will prove correct, great advantages can be expected to come from the fact that the weight of the fuel is almost negligible. This feature may be particularly valuable for making power available to regions of difficult access and far from deposits of coal. It also may prove a great asset in mobile power units for example in a power plant for ship propulsion. On the negative side there are some technical limitations to be applicability of ... continued below

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7 pages

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Fermi, E. May 27, 1946.

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Description

There is definitely a technical possibility that atomic power may gradually develop into one of the principal sources of useful power. If this expectation will prove correct, great advantages can be expected to come from the fact that the weight of the fuel is almost negligible. This feature may be particularly valuable for making power available to regions of difficult access and far from deposits of coal. It also may prove a great asset in mobile power units for example in a power plant for ship propulsion. On the negative side there are some technical limitations to be applicability of atomic power of which perhaps the most serious is the impossibility of constructing light power units; also there will be some peculiar difficulties in operating atomic plants, as for example the necessity of handling highly radioactive substances which will necessitate, at least for some considerable period, the use of specially skilled personnel for the operation. But the chief obstacle in the way of developing atomic power will be the difficulty of organizing a large scale industrial development in an internationally safe way. This presents actually problems much more difficult to solve than any of the technical developments that are necessary, It will require an unusual amount of statesmanship to balance properly the necessity of allaying the international suspicion that arises from withholding technical secrets against the obvious danger of dumping the details of the procedures for an extremely dangerous new method of warfare on a world that may not yet be prepared to renounce war. Furthermore, the proper balance should be found in the relatively short time that will elapse before the 'secrets' will naturally become open knowledge by rediscovery on part of the scientists and engineers of other countries.

Physical Description

7 pages

Notes

OSTI as DE00014576

Source

  • Other Information: PBD: 27 May 1946

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  • Other: A80036151
  • Report No.: MDDC--1
  • DOI: 10.2172/14576 | External Link
  • Office of Scientific & Technical Information Report Number: 14576
  • Archival Resource Key: ark:/67531/metadc628075

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Office of Scientific & Technical Information Technical Reports

Reports, articles and other documents harvested from the Office of Scientific and Technical Information.

Office of Scientific and Technical Information (OSTI) is the Department of Energy (DOE) office that collects, preserves, and disseminates DOE-sponsored research and development (R&D) results that are the outcomes of R&D projects or other funded activities at DOE labs and facilities nationwide and grantees at universities and other institutions.

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Creation Date

  • May 27, 1946

Added to The UNT Digital Library

  • June 16, 2015, 7:43 a.m.

Description Last Updated

  • April 1, 2016, 3:35 p.m.

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Fermi, E. The future of atomic energy, report, May 27, 1946; Oak Ridge, Tennessee. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc628075/: accessed December 15, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.