Atomic Insights has been on the web in one form or another since the fall of 1995. It started as a paper newsletter produced by a tiny team at Adams Atomic Engines, Inc. (AAE) that was designed to help potential customers learn more about the history and technology associated with using heat from fission to do useful work for people. At the time, most people put fission power sources into two categories – military systems only useful for customers with Department of Defense sized budgets, and central station electric power plants that were only affordable because they took advantage of “the economy of scale.”
AAE’s marketing challenge was to help more people understand that fission could provide power from much smaller machines and that it could provide heat to a far larger variety of customers.
There was no technical reason to lock this amazingly dense and emission free heat source into the – admittedly large – corner of the energy market occupied by electrical power generating companies with grids large enough to serve millions of people.
The first challenge to be overcome for fission to “go small” was to create a potential customer base with enough scale and diversity to allow investors to see that “economy of scale” could be obtained by selling a large number of identical units rather than a small number of extra large units. For a long time, the front page of Atomic Insights included a description of the economy of unit volume, also known as the economy of mass production, that was demonstrated by such inventions as Eli Whitney’s cotton gin and Henry Ford’s Model T. As you might imagine, we soon bumped into politics and proliferation concerns as a main argument against our vision of tens of thousands of small, distributed nuclear fission power plants.
Therefore, Atomic Insights started broadening the topics covered into energy politics and energy economics. The monthly discipline of producing the paper version of the newsletter and then converting the articles into HTML so that they would work reasonably well on the nascent web continued for a couple of years until we ran out of topics and ran out of money to pursue development of Adams EnginesTM.
The articles have remained useful to many, so we kept investing a bit of time in keeping the site on line and adding occasional material. In 2005, Rod Adams, the primary author, tested the idea of producing new articles using the free Blogger platform. During the six years since making that selection, there have been more than 1750 posts at the Atomic Insights Blog and the monthly visitor count has been steadily increasing. The “classic” Atomic Insights site languished and began looking more and more like a site still waiting for 1999.
Even the Blogger site has a rather dated look, feel and functionality. As part of a plan to eventually produce a complete overhaul, a very talented Word Press specialist has invested a lot of thought and creativity in translating the “classic” site into this more useful and expandable version.
I hope that you take the time to click around and take a journey through our atomic memory lane. When you come across articles that are obviously out of date and contain obsolete information that should be updated, please bring those to our attention. While finishing up with the initial conversion, we have the comment feature turned off. That will change soon, but there is already a way to contact the webmaster with technical or editorial suggestions.
Thank you for visiting. Please recommend this site to people with questions about atomic energy and its history and stay tuned for frequent updates.
PS – If you like the way that the site looks and works, I can recommend a great designer and builder. You can find him at http://www.facebook.com/correiaj