Article ID: CBB014462094

The Image that Became the Icon for Atomic Energy (2013)


This article addresses the transformation of an illustration for the atom to the icon for atomic energy, with emphasis on the role of the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission in 1949 and President Eisenhower’s “Atoms for Peace” initiative that began in 1953. The images of the atom with 3 or 4 electrons in orbits at the same level around a central nucleus never represented atomic theory, but they have become recognizable as symbols for atomic energy. While these images ultimately depend on a planetary model for atomic structure promoted by Sommerfeld (among others), the underlying theory was abandoned in 1925 when Heisenberg introduced Quantum Mechanics to replace the old Quantum Theory.

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Authors & Contributors
Adamson, Matthew
Carson, Cathryn L.
Feldman, James W.
Hollinger, David A.
Johnson, Robert R.
Lavine, Matthew
Centaurus: International Magazine of the History of Mathematics, Science, and Technology
Acta Historica Leopoldina
Annals of Science: The History of Science and Technology
British Journal for the History of Science
História, Ciências, Saúde---Manguinhos
Journal of Popular Culture
Palgrave Macmillan
Biblioteca Nueva
Office for History of Science and Technology, University of California
Pennsylvania State University Press
University of Chicago Press
Nuclear power; atomic energy
Science and society
Visual representation; visual communication
Nuclear weapons; atomic weapons
Public understanding of science
Fermi, Enrico
Time Periods
20th century
20th century, late
19th century
21st century
20th century, early
United States
Soviet Union
Great Britain
European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN)
Hanford Nuclear Site (Washington)
International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)

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