Those words are written on the wall of a nuclear reactor in Arco, Idaho, a site now designated as a Registered National Historic Landmark by the U.S. Department of the Interior . The inscription is signed by 16 scientists and engineers responsible for this event.
The production of electricity from nuclear power was truly a momentous occasion. Scientists had known for nearly two decades that such a conversion was possible. Use of nuclear energy as a safe, efficient energy source of power was regarded by many people in the United States and around the world as one of the most exciting prospects for the "world of tomorrow."
Until 1945, scientists' efforts had been devoted to the production of nuclear weapons . The conclusion of World War II allowed both scientists and government officials to turn their attention to more productive applications of nuclear energy. In 1949, the United States Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) authorized construction of the first nuclear reactor designed for the production of electricity. The reactor was designated Experimental Breeder Reactor No. 1 (EBR-I).
The site chosen for the construction of EBR-I was a small town in southern Idaho named Arco. Founded in the late 1870s, the town had never grown very large. Its population in 1949 was 780. What attracted the AEC to Arco was the 400,000 acres (162,000 ha) of lava-rock-covered wasteland around the town. The area provided the seclusion that seemed appropriate for an experimental nuclear reactor. In addition, AEC scientists considered the possibility that the porous lava around Arco would be an ideal place in which to dump wastes from the reactor.
On December 21, 1951, the Arco reactor went into operation. Energy from a uranium core about the size of a football generated enough electricity to light four 200-watt light bulbs. The next day its output was increased to a level where it ran all electrical systems in EBR-I. In July 1953, EBR-I reached another milestone. Measurements showed that breeding was actually taking place within the reactor. The dream of a generation had become a reality.
The success of EBR-I convinced the AEC to expand its breeder experiments. In 1961, a much larger version of the original plant, Experimental Breeder Reactor No. 2 (EBR-II) was also built near Arco on a site now designated as the Idaho National Engineering Laboratory of the U.S. Department of Energy . EBR-II produced its first electrical power in August of 1964.
[David E. Newton ]
"A Village Wakes Up." Life (9 May 1949): 98–101.
Crawford, M. "Third Strike for Idaho Reactor." Science 251 (18 January 1991): 263.
Elmer-DeWitt, P. "Nuclear Power Plots a Comeback." Time 133 (2 January 1989): 41.
Schneider, K. "Idaho Says No." The New York Times Magazine 139 (11 March 1990): 50.
U.S. Congress, Office of Technology Assessment. The Containment of Underground Nuclear Explosions. OTA-ISC-414. Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1989.
"Arco, Idaho." Environmental Encyclopedia. . Encyclopedia.com. (November 16, 2018). https://www.encyclopedia.com/environment/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/arco-idaho
"Arco, Idaho." Environmental Encyclopedia. . Retrieved November 16, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: https://www.encyclopedia.com/environment/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/arco-idaho
Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).
Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.
Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:
Modern Language Association
The Chicago Manual of Style
American Psychological Association
- Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
- In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.