Queen Elizabeth II visits Calder Hall for its ceremonial opening in 1956. (Photo: U.K. Nuclear Decommissioning Authority)
As citizens of the United Kingdom and others around the world mourn the death of Queen Elizabeth II, many have reflected on how the world has changed during the seven decades of the queen’s reign—the same decades that saw the rise of civilian nuclear power.
Calder Hall was already under construction at the Sellafield site in West Cumbria when Princess Elizabeth became queen in 1953. Queen Elizabeth traveled to the site in October 1956 and declared, in a televised ceremony, that “It is with pride that I now open Calder Hall, Britain’s first atomic power station.” Watch the fanfare in a historical clip uploaded to YouTube by Sellafield Ltd below.
Argonne marks its 75th anniversary on July 1. (Image: Argonne)
Seventy-five years ago today, on July 1, 1946, the first U.S. national laboratory was chartered with the singular mission of developing the peaceful uses of nuclear energy. Now, the Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory is one of the nation’s largest science laboratories, working on diverse challenges in energy, climate, science, medicine, and national security.
Lise Meitner and Otto Hahn in their lab in Germany in 1913.
Comparing matter to a “lush tapestry, woven from a complex assortment of threads,” physics writer Emily Conover traces the evolution of our understanding of the atom over the past century in the recent Science News article, “How matter’s hidden complexity unleashed the power of nuclear physics.” Conover uncovers how our vision of matter changed from that of a “no-nonsense plaid” to one of an “ornate brocade,” ultimately transforming nuclear physics from an arcane academic pursuit to something that forever changed the world.