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Nukespeak

Nuclear futures: how 20th century atomic science played on our hopes and fears, The Conversation, Jonathon Hogg, 23 May 13,  Radioactivity is dramatic. You can’t smell it, taste it, or see it. You may be powerless to avoid it. Nuclear history is a story of dramatic contrasts, of hope and tragedy.

Worldwide excitement over Marie and Pierre Curie’s discovery of radium in 1898 launched an era of optimism over the potential benefits of nuclear science. Not long after, H.G. Wells’ imagining of atomic war in The World Set Free in 1914, the Radium Dial Trials of the 1930s, and the top secret Manhattan Project to develop an atomic weapon in 1942 revealed a darker side to nuclear science. When atomic bombs struck Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945, it became apparent that humankind had created the means to destroy itself…….
Public knowledge of the destructive power of nuclear energy meant that carefully crafted “nukespeak” emerged from atomic institutions. Nukespeak constructed positive narratives about nuclear science, downplaying potential risks to human populations and the environment. It also served as a useful antidote to the build-up of nuclear weapons testing in the 1950s.

Nuclear states realised they had to educate and reassure their citizens. Those developing nuclear weapons invariably also developed civil defence programmes, leading to JFK’s letter to the American people in 1961, or Britain’s “Protect and Survive” in the 1980s.

These official nuclear narratives were not always trusted, and the rise of the anti-nuclear and environmental movements in the 1950s saw the emergence of increasingly articulate challenges to the government line….

May 25, 2013 - Posted by | spinbuster

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