The Atomic Energy Commission ( Aec )

2803 WordsJan 25, 201512 Pages
Sam Jenkins Carr AP US History January 26, 2015 In 1970, Glenn T. Seaborg, the chairman of the United States Atomic Energy Commission (AEC), predicted that by the year 2000, more than 1000 nuclear energy reactors would be operational in the United States. However, as of 2015, only 99 nuclear power plants are currently in use. What could have led to such a dramatic difference between the expectation and reality of nuclear power? The nuclear industry has always been dependent on the public’s graces, and it seems that their opinion of atomic energy has flipped back and forth from the 1960’s to the present. Many different events and issues have influenced the public’s attitude on the issue of nuclear energy, including the Cold War, nuclear incidents such as Three Mile Island, Chernobyl, and Fukushima, and media portrayals such as The China Syndrome. Additionally, the safety, environmental impact, and economic feasibility of nuclear power compared to other sources of energy was a major influence. These shifts in public opinion were the primary factor in the rise and fall of nuclear energy in the United States. The concept of nuclear fission, a form of radioactive decay in which the nucleus of an atom splits into smaller parts, was first discovered by Enrico Fermi during his experiments with uranium in 1934. Over the next 15 years, scientists such as Otto Hahn, Fritz Strassman, Lise Meitner, and Niels Bohr confirmed his results, and discovered that this reaction was
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