The Return to History

Planes, even cars, once were viewed as having an atomic future.

Drawing by the author in pen and ink with marker.

I allowed this blog to, in essence, go dark because I was very busy with other things. Right now, I am both a graduate student in the Writing MFA program at the Savannah College of Art and Design and the school's assistant coach for its track and field and cross country teams. My days most often begin on a dew-misted track and end in front of a computer's dim screen writing papers. And I have no complaints in that whatsoever. However, now and then I get emails alerting me to comments people have made on my blog posts here or emails directly to me about the same. Former workers at long-shuttered power stations and gentlemen who are now retired USN officers but fondly hold grand memories and personal tales of Admiral Rickover. And when I hear these things, when I hear my little blog over here made some degree of difference to men who themselves made a difference in nuclear industry or, even more profoundly, America's national security, I don't think I can yet send this blog off into the sunset.

I am truly humbled by many of the emails, of the comments, I have been provided on my work here. I can only apologize that some of the topics I've covered have not been covered in better detail and by more esteemed forums than my own efforts. They deserve that. Men, and some women, dedicated their lives to advancing science for the protection and energy independence of our great nation—men and women who could have sought greater fortune and financial rewards almost certainly in other fields with the acumen and intellects they brought to nuclear science and engineering.

My original goal with this blog was to discuss two things: how nuclear power has long suffered from false media portrayals and from a liberal vantage of reportage that hardly ever played fair to the vast scientific and commercial advances the field has begat and, secondly, the little-known history of specific institutions, people, and projects in nuclear science. On the latter especially I feel I found some powerful topics. At one point in the 1950s, we dreamed so big: we envisioned atomic-powered jets and even atomic cars. An atomic Detroit. And atomic America. In doing so, no matter what one thinks of nuclear power itself, America reached far—we touched the stars, we landed upon the moon. We believed that our science, unequalled the world over at its apex, could provide answers for most every problem. We counted on that and we would not have won World War II without it.

As I return to this blog, I do so with a desire to make its content longer, even better-researched, fuller, and more unified. I want it to be work which will stand alone as a powerful and astute account of some of the rarer and more obscure episodes in nuclear history, because I am now very aware my accounts here may be the only accounts anywhere in some cases. I've been told as much by the people who made the history I am now simply reporting. That's heavy.

Nuclear won't go away—it cannot as it is perhaps the most prudent and pragmatic of hopes for global energy surety we have. However, even if it did vanish, the historical contributions of the extended nuclear industry would still demand as much accurate and serious historiography as we can furnish them, because they set the stage for so much more which has happened in politics, society, culture, and yes science.

Cintichem, this is for you. Every ensign who looked up to Admiral Rickover while cursing him under their breath at the same time, this is for you.