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Project PlowshareThe Peaceful Use of Nuclear Explosives in Cold War America$
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Scott Kaufman

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780801451256

Published to Cornell Scholarship Online: August 2016

DOI: 10.7591/cornell/9780801451256.001.0001

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Promoting the Peaceful Atom

Promoting the Peaceful Atom

(p.1) Introduction Promoting the Peaceful Atom
Project Plowshare

Scott Kaufman

Cornell University Press

This introductory chapter outlines how President Dwight D. Eisenhower proposed a more benign use for nuclear explosives, calling it Atoms for Peace. His proposal caught the attention of scientists at the Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) and the University of California's Radiation Laboratory. Together, they developed a program called Project Plowshare. Those who support the program argue that “peaceful nuclear explosions,” or PNEs, could excavate harbors and canals, stimulate the production of gas and oil, provide storage facilities for water or fuel, help gain access to deeply buried ores, enhance power production, and generate new atomic elements and isotopes for general use. Plowshare survived as long as it did and received the funding it did despite intense, widespread opposition. In that respect, Project Plowshare is a story of the power of an idea—one advertised as innovative and beneficial to the United States, if not the world.

Keywords:   Project Plowshare, Atoms for Peace, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Atomic Energy Commission, University of California, Radiation Laboratory, peaceful nuclear explosions

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