Our Friend the Atom

From the blog Older Than Me.


The 1956 book Our Friend the Atom, produced by Walt Disney Productions, includes this prologue about the destructive power of the atom:

Deep in the tiny atom lies hidden a tremendous force. This force has entered the scene of our modern world as a most frightening power of destruction, more fearful and devastating than man ever though possible.

We all know of the story of the military atom, and we all wish that it weren't true. For many obvious reasons it would be better if it weren't real, but just a rousing tale. It does have all the earmarks of a drama: a frightful terror which everyone knows exists, a sinister threat, mystery and secrecy. It's a perfect tale of horror!

But, fortunately, the story is not yet finished. So far, the atom is a superb villain. Its power of destruction is foremost in our minds. But the same power can be put to use for creation, for the welfare of all mankind.

What will eventually be done with the atom? It is up to us to give the story a happy ending. If we use atomic energy wisely, we can make a hero out of a villain.

This, then, is the story of the atom. It is a story with a straightforward plot and a simple moral - almost like a fable. In many ways the story of the atom suggests the famous tale from Arabian Nights: "The Fisherman and the Genie." Perhaps this tale even hints at what lies in our atomic future . . . .

Ah, the good ol' Atomic Age . . .


  • edited January 2008
    Hahahahahaha! That is so very Disney.
  • Maybe I've been playing a little too much Mass Effect, but I'm pretty damn sure we'll be seeing something similar to this if and/or when we learn to utilize dark energy/antimatter in the same way.
  • Anti-matter? What, I thought that existed in Star Trek only!
  • Nope, antimatter is very real and scientists are making and experimenting with it right now. Of course in atomic scale only to prevent the creation of dangerous black holes and nuclear explosions, but they're working on it. :D

  • Oh my, what devilish endeavours! What perils shall our futures bring! ;)
  • There was a proposal for an anti-matter reactive thruster some years ago. It would require a containment bottle for anti-articles (similar to the CERN anti-protons containment). However, by combining equal molar quantities of particles with anti-particles, one only gets a huge flux of radiation.

    The way they decided to do it was by using a tiny quantity of anti-matter combined with a large quantity of water in a sort of "combustion" chamber creating an exhaust of... you guessed it.
  • Exactly the sort of propulsion system we should be investigating for our spaceship!
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