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The Exhibition

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On the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the Chernobyl catastrophe OSA organised an exhibition. The following is an overview of the problems and issues presented in the exhibition hall, as well as in the course of the accompanying events.

The Paradoxical Atom
By professor Paul Josephson, Colby College, USA

The atomic age consists of a series of paradoxes, tensions and realities. This exhibition captures those paradoxes, tensions and realities by focusing on the visible and invisible sides of the atom, on peaceful and military programs to put nuclear power to use. Political leaders spoke glowingly about the marvelous contributions of atomic energy to the economy through medicine, agriculture, and especially electrical energy generation. Yet they focused far more resources and attention on the military atom: on designing more effective weapons of mass destruction and delivery systems for them. They highlighted achievements in the peaceful atom that they contended indicated the superiority of the nation at hand or its economic system: the American, Chinese, English, French, and Soviet. But they ignored discussion of the darker, sinister side of sophisticated, powerful weaponry that could by the 1970s destroy the world several times over, and they also ignored realistically facing the fact that even peaceful programs had significant environmental and social costs. In the four panels that follow, you will become acquainted with the peaceful and military atom, that is, with its visible and its invisible sides. Inside each panel you will see the invisible atom; outside of each panel arrangement you will see the visible programs. Considering the visible and invisible atom will help to understand the paradox of atomic energy: How could such a great discovery dating to the rise of nuclear physics in the 1930s have such a sinister side of growing environmental uncertainties and risks? And why when we think of the nuclear age do with think of Chernobyl and the threat of nuclear war, not applications in industry and medicine?


The Paradoxical Atom | Rise of the Nuclear Age | From Hiroshima and Nagasaki to Cold War | The Industrial Atom | Chernobyl and Beyond | Concluding Comments

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