From unbridled optimism to the public’s skepticism and back again
7 March 2022 – 3 June 2022
Cutting edge new technology, interactive and moving displays, a beautifully designed exhibit and an actual working nuclear reactor, the exhibition Het Atoom in 1957 marveled audiences with its optimistic, future forward approach to the miracle of nuclear energy. Held at Schiphol Airport, it marked an important moment in the propagation of nuclear energy in postwar Netherlands. Over half a century later, only the actual working reactor remains, the very reactor that is still in use today on TU Delft’s campus. Yet the public’s opinion on nuclear energy wavers over the decades. As the reactor is undergoing renovation, we revisit the current state of nuclear science on campus and in the psyche of society.
Nuclear science evokes a mix of images and emotions. You might think of whitecoats harnessing atoms in reactors, radioactive materials being dumped into our oceans or third world wars. Do you see the promise of freedom from fossil fuels or fear the dangers of radiation that remain for centuries? Since its inception roughly 70 years ago, the information and knowledge (made) available about nuclear energy have been manipulated, distorted or simply misinterpreted, and as a result, so have our associations. Society’s opinions are coloured by our educational and cultural backgrounds. Similarly, the framing of nuclear energy in media, politics, or the arts influences our judgment.
In this exhibition and programme of arts events, lectures, and workshops, TU Delft Library aims to untie the messy knot formed around this topic. Join us in asking the tough questions: What political, ethical, ecological, and mythological frames comprise our perspectives? How informed are we with the current state of atomic science –its history and presence on campus? Can we disconnect from how charged this subject has become in cultural myths?
The exhibition and the complementary programme will run from the beginning of March to early June 2022. The program consists of a building series of events. This programme is a collaboration between the TU Delft Library teams of Studium Generale, Open Spaces, and Academic Heritage and is part of TU Delft’s programme for its 180th lustrum. The theme for this lustrum year is: energy transition.
Programme Atomic Reactions
- 7 March – 3 June Exhibition | From post-war exhibition Het Atoom to twenty-first century renovation of a TU Delft reactor
- 7 March Het Filosofisch Café | Radioactieve verhalen: Beelden van kernenergie (NL)
- 8 March Lunch Lecture | Nuclear fuel: where does it come from?