Old Nuclear Energy Videos

By Dr. Nick Touran, Ph.D., P.E., , Reading time: 2 minutes

In the olden days, the Atomic Energy Commission and other commissioned dozens upon dozens of nuclear energy related videos. Many of these have been digitized, but not all. The list of not-yet-digitized ones is shown below the list of already-digitized ones. We have been working to get a few digitized and are always looking for people who would like to help fund more digitizations. You can read more about the process of digitization and see some results at our announcement of the world re-premier of a Hallam film and our ZPPR video page.

The summary data comes from various catalogs, such as:

Old Video Directory

Title National Archives ID Date Length (mins) Color Description Notes Links
Bikini Radiobiological Laboratory


1949 22 Y This nontechnical film, for intermediate through college-level audiences, explains studies of effects of radioactivity from the 1946 atomic tests at Bikini Atoll, on plants and marine life in the area three years later. Features many scientists from the University of Washington

Digitized at the National Archives

In the Nuclear Vault

The Atom and Industry


1953 10 N This is a nontechnical film, for intermediate through college-level audiences, describing the use of radioisotope tracers in industry for gauging thickness, testing engine wear, monitoring oil in pipelines, etc

on Youtube

BORAX: Construction and Operation of a Boiling Water Reactor


1955 14 N This nontechnical film for intermediate through college-level audiences, shows the equipping of a reactor with an electrical generating system, and the operating of the nuclear power plant to light and power Arco, Idaho, the U. S. community first served exclusively by nuclear power, for an hour on July 17, 1955.

On YouTube

(Digitized by ANL in 240p)



1955 17 N This nontechnical film, for all audience levels, ties together film footage from various sources to cover the entire range of peaceful applications of atomic energy in industry, biology, medicine, and agriculture. It outlines the potential of nuclear power. Video available in NARA

On YouTube



1958 15 Y A nontechnical film for intermediate through college-level audiences. It depicts the initial stages in the development of the first U. S. nuclear- powered merchant ship, the N.S. Savannah. Included are the industrial and technical procedures in building and testing the reactor, surveying harbors, and laying the keel.

On YouTube

Power and Promise (Shippingport)


1959 29 Y This is a semitechnical film for high-school and college-level audiences. It describes the Shippingport Atomic Power Station in Pennsylvania, built to advance power reactor technology and demonstrate the practicability of operating a central station atomic power plant in a utility network. Included is an explanation of the production and control of heat and radioactivity produced by nuclear fission; manufacture of fuel elements; major components such as pumps, heat exchangers, and the pressure vessel; construction of the station; installation of components; and the erection and installation of the reactor core. Eisenhower uses a nuclear wand to start the Shippingport reactor in this one remotely.

On YouTube, digitized by PeriscopeFilm in SD

Atoms for Peace: Geneva 1958


1959 15 N This nontechnical film, for intermediate through college-level audiences, reports on U. S. participation in the Second International Conference on Peaceful Uses of Atomic Energy, held at Geneva in September 1958 under UN auspices and attended by 6000 scientists and technicians of 69 nations and 9 international agencies. It points to the technical papers program and the 722 papers contributed by the United States; provides a quick look at the Atoms For Peace Commercial Exposition held concurrently in Geneva; then devotes coverage to the U. S. Technical Exhibit made up of 64 sections, many with full-scale scientific devices in operation which covered four major areas: Physical Sciences, Reactor Sciences and Technology, Life Sciences, and Controlled Thermonuclear Research.

Digitized at the UN

Also on Youtube



1960 20 Y This is a nontechnical film for intermediate through college-level audiences. It traces the design and construction of the first U. S. nuclear-powered merchant ship, the N.S. Savannah; its hull design and assembly; the design, testing, and fabrication of the nuclear power plant; critical assembly used in core design; fuel element fabrication; erection of the reactor system's containment vessel; safety features; christening and launching.

On YouTube


Not in archives

1960 21.3 Y This semitechnical film describes operational tests (vibration, shock, acceleration, fire, explosion, land and sea impact, effects of salt water, aerodynamic heating, etc.) on the 4-lb SNAP HI isotopic-power unit, which uses 210 Po to generate more than 3 watts as a source of auxiliary power for space vehicles. Conclusion: SNAP HI will operate effectively on launch and in orbit.

Digitized by the Cape Canaveral Space Force Museum



1961 23.5 Y This semitechnical film, which is a sequel to the 1958 film "Dresden Nuclear Power Station," covers the design and development of a large dual-cycle boiling-water reactor the 180,000-kw Dresden Nuclear Power Station built by General Electric Company (GE) for the Commonwealth Edison Company, Chicago, and the Nuclear Power Group, Inc., and the history of the project from its beginning in 1955 to its completion in 1959. The film shows major stages of development, including clearance of the site 47 miles southwest of Chicago; ground-breaking; construction of foundations, sphere, and other buildings; manufacture of the containment vessel and fuel; shipment and arrival of major components; installation of the reactor core, reactor vessel, and turbine-generator; testing of completed installations; and the station's "going critical." The film also includes scenes relating to development work ...

On YouTube

(Digitized by miSci, Schenectady, NY)

The Story of Camp Century: City Under the Ice


1961 32 Y This film concerns the construction by Army Engineers of Camp Century, a nuclear-powered U. S. Army Arctic research laboratory buried below the Greenland ice cap. Although the film tells the entire story of the planning and construction of Camp Century, it contains a significant section devoted to the nuclear power plant for electricity and space heating. The film shows the selection of the isolated camp site, 150 miles from Thule; delivery of supplies and equipment by motorized bobsleds; digging and construction of 23 tunnels in the ice (trenches covered with steel arches and snow); construction of foundations for prefabricated buildings; erection of prefabricated buildings; procurement of water supplies; installation of insulated piping and sewage lines; and how the men eat and sleep. Also shown are the digging of four deep trenches for the nuclear power plant, the construction of t... Extremely awesome. Featuring Mukluck the dog.

On YouTube

Atomic Weatherman: Strontium-90 Isotopic Applications


1961 18.5 Y This semitechnical film describes the world's first radioisotope-powered weather station, which is operating unattended at a remote site in the Canadian Arctic. The "atomic" weather station is powered by a thermoelectric unit in which the heat from the decay of Strontium-90 (90 Sr) is directly converted into electricity. The film shows the major steps in the identification, testing, and preparation of the 90 Sr titanite compound; the loading of the radioisotope source in the weather-station generator; the principle of direct conversion of heat into electricity; the operation of the generator; the weather-station equipment for sensing, data processing, and control and transmission; the final testing; the 4000-mile journey north into the remote Canadian Arctic aboard an icebreaker; the weather-station installation; and the successful transmission of weather data. The film explains the p...

Archives download link

Also on Youtube

Atoms at Work: The Latin American Exhibit


1961 14 Y This film describes the Commission's exhibit on the peaceful uses of atomic energy during the Latin-American tour, including Rio de Janeiro and Buenos Aires. After the opening-day ceremonies, there is a flash-back showing the construction of the exhibit structure and facilities (e.g., the concrete foundation, the shield for the nuclear-research training reactor, the erection of steel arches, and the nature and inflation of the air- supported double-domed structure made of vinyl-coated nylon). The film shows the various exhibits and facilities, including the three-screen theater, the nuclear-power exhibit, the industrial-applications exhibit, the agricultural exhibit, the medical exhibit, the health and safety exhibit, the gamma tank, and the nuclear-research test reactor. (Nontechnical: suitable for all audience levels.)

Digitized at the National Archives

Also on Youtube

Also on NARA’s Youtube

Atoms for space


1962 28.5 Y This film describes the development and use of compact nuclear power sources for space under the Atomic Energy Commission's Systems for Nuclear Auxiliary Power (SNAP) program. The film features the first use of atomic power in the nation's space effort and briefly covers the uses of SNAP devices on land and sea. By means of animation and models, the two basic concepts of the SNAP program are shown. In one approach the energy of decay from radioactive isotopes is used to generate electricity directly, without moving parts. This method is being developed for the USAEC by the Martin Company, the aerospace division of the Martin Marietta Corporation. A SNAP isotopic-power generator was launched on board the Navy's Transit navigation satellite in June 1961, marking the first use of nuclear power in space. The other SNAP approach uses, the heat from a compact nuclear-fission reactor to gene...

Digitized by PeriscopeFilm



1963 20 Y This film shows the setting and location of the reactor built jointly by USAEC and the Consumers' Public Power District of Nebraska. An explanation of this type of reactor, using a liquid metal coolant, is given stressing its advantages. The working of the plant is shown in animation. Live footage shows construction of the reactor containment vessel, its transportation from Philadelphia to Hallam, moderator fabrication and installation, installation and operation of safety rods, use of an intermediate heat exchanger, installation of steam piping and the installation of the turbine and generator. Also shown is fuel handling, cleaning and storage cells, fuel fabrication, and testing

On YouTube

(Digitized by whatisnuclear.com :))



1963 26 Y This semitechnical film states the Army's logistical need for mobile power, and shows how that need is partially filled by the design, construction, testing and field operation of a new transportable power rector plant, the ML-1. An explanation of the design of this gas-cooled, water-moderated reactor is given. Development of the reactor at the USAEC's National Reactor Testing Station, Idaho, is shown. The design and testing of the turbomachinery takes place at the Army Engineer Research and Development Laboratory at Ft. Belvoir, Virginia. The film also covers the training of the operating crews, assembly of the ML-1, checkout and test run, testing of the transportability of the system using mock-ups, simulated transportation of the ML-1 to the field and its start-up and criticality

On YouTube

(Digitized with a red tinge)



1963 23 Y The Piqua Nuclear Power Facility is the first municipally owned power plant using steam produced by a USAEC nuclear reactor. This film gives an animated explanation of Piqua's reactor an organic moderated reactor and compares it with the liquid metal sodium graphite type reactor at Hallam, Nebraska, and the pressurized water reactor at Shippingport, Pa. Live action footage of the Organic Moderated Reactor Experiment at the National Reactor Test Station in Idaho is shown, as well as of the design and construction of the Piqua facility.

On YouTube in SD



1963 20 Y This is the semitechnical film-story of the 1500-kilowatt nuclear power station built, under contract to USAEC, for operation by the Navy at McMurdo Station, Antarctic headquarters for the joint Navy National Science Foundation Antarctic Research Project. PM-3A, the first atomic power station in the bleak Antarctic, supplies electric power and space heating for the isolated station. Use of nuclear power reduces the massive amounts of fuel oil for generating electricity that must be brought 11,000 miles by American tankers. PM-3A was designed, fabricated, and tested in 14 months. Details are given on the plant's pressure vessel, coolant, nuclear fuel, control rods, switch gear, heat-transfer equipment, turbogenerator, and many other major components. We see shots of the erection and testing of the reactor in the States, site preparation by Seabees in the Antarctic, erection and testin...

On Youtube

Related: Power for Continent Seven



1963 21.5 Y This film is a 1962 progress report on the USAEC's Project Rover, a program for the development of a nuclear rocket for spacecraft propulsion. An animated explanation of the principle of the nuclear rocket is given demonstrating the advantages of the nuclear rocket system. A survey of the work at the Los Alamos Scientific Laboratory follows, showing work done in the design, fabrication and testing of a Kiwi non-flying test reactor. This includes: core configuration studies in a "Honeycomb," the reactor design staff at work, the test facilities, the blending of graphite and uranium for fuel, and construction of the reactor components by contractors. Testing of the Kiwi at the Nuclear Rocket Development Station in Nevada is shown

Digitized by Los Alamos


Not in archives

1965 29 Y This film with an introduction by Dr. Glenn T. Seaborg, Chairman of the U. S. Atomic Energy Commission useful for both popular-level and technical audiences describes the scheduled flight test in space of the 500-watt SNAP-10A nuclear space power system. SNAP-lOAwill be mated to the forward end of an Atlas-Agena booster system and launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base, California. Primary objective of the SNAPSHOT flight, a cooperative effort of the Atomic Energy Commission and the United States Air Force, is to obtain technical information and demonstrate the utility of nuclear reactor power systems for application in America's space programs. Atomics International is the U. S. Atomic Energy Commission's prime contractor for SNAP-10A development. Orbital startup and operation in space of the reactor and the thermoelectric power converter is explained by animation. Highlighted in th...

In the Nuclear Vault



1969 29 Y This film covers Project Gnome the first nuclear detonation conducted under the USAEC's Plowshare Program for development of peaceful uses of nuclear explosives from its planning stage through the early months of the post-detonation period when scientists entered the man-created cavern. Project Gnome was an experiment under the technical direction of the Lawrence Radiation Laboratory involving the detonation on December 10, 1961, of a 3.1 kiloton nuclear explosive in a chamber about 1200 feet below the earth's surface in the Salado Salt Basin, a thick subsurface salt bed about 25 miles southeast of Carlsbad, New Mexico. The force of the explosion created an underground cavern which today measures about 170 feet across and almost 90 feet high. Animation is used to explain the scope of Project Gnome and its integrated scientific and technical programs. Project Gnome, one of the most hea... Lots of Edward Teller talking

On YouTube in 240p

List of not-yet-digitized videos in order of want

Title National Archives ID Date Length (mins) Color Description Status Notes Links
PM-1 Nuclear Power Plant


1962 20 Y A filmed story of the PM-1 nuclear power plant (a pressurized water system), a joint project of the USAEC and the U. S. Air Force, which supplies the power for the radar and space heating of a remote Air Defense Command radar station in Wyoming. The film breaks down the types and contents of 16 air transportable packages, a total weight of about 30,000 pounds: reactor, steam generator, waste tank, heat-transfer apparatus, control room, turbogenerator, etc. Details are given on major components and the design and operation of the system by information on: 741 nuclear fuel tubes in 7 fuel bundles, the "flow" of primary water, the secondary water, details on the makeup of the fuel element tubes, criticality testing, nature of the control rods, tests to determine heat transfer and flow characteristics. The film recounts the airlift of the packages, erection and assembly of the power plant...

Short clip on YouTube in SD with red tinge



1964 28.5 Y This nontechnical, documentary film, for junior-high-school through college-level audiences, covers the historical background, and the design, construction, sea trials, and initial port calls of the N.S. Savannah, the world's first nuclear-powered merchant ship. The film begins with a brief review of America's maritime growth, starting with May 22, 1819, and the story of the S.S. Savannah, the first ship to cross the ocean under steam power. The design of the N.S. Savannah and its atomic reactor and propulsion system are explained with animation and live action photography. After keel laying, various phases of the ship's construction are covered, and the assembling and testing of the reactor are explained. The ceremonies involving the launching of the ship are shown, followed by impressive scenes showing the loading of the reactor with its nuclear fuel under surgically clean condition...

Related NARA file 88200

(maybe same one? shorter/longer version?)



1965 45 Y This nontechnical film, for all audience levels, tells how the National Reactor Testing Station in Idaho is furthering the USAEC's quest for economic nuclear power. Most of the more than 40 experimental nuclear reactors built, being built, or planned there are described either historically or currently, including the Navy's prototypes for the submarine Nautilus and aircraft carrier Enterprise; the internationally known testing reactor complex (MTR, ETR, ATR); the Idaho Chemical Processing Plant, the Army's mobile low power nuclear plant (ML-1); and the importance of breeding nuclear fuel as authorized by the two Experimental Breeder Reactor complexes, EBR-I and EBR-II. Also discussed are the USAEC's leading reactor safety programs SPERT and STEP (Special Power Excursion Reactor Test and Safety Test Engineering Program). The film also explains the basic principles of power reactor cons...


1965 25 Y This film traces the history of power sources for propulsion from Watt's tea kettle to atomic rocket engines. The major steps are covered: Goddard's 1926 rocket engine, the German V-2's, U. S. Aerobees and Vikings, the Soviet 1957 Sputnik followed by the first astronauts and then reactor power for ships. The importance of Robert Goddard's liquid rocket and Enrico Fermi's atomic pile is stressed, with particular emphasis upon the inevitable fusion of these two great power sources into one massive propulsion system. Animation sequences are used to illustrate principles of rocketry, Newton's Law of Motion and operation of nuclear rocket engines. Actual development of NERVA, Nuclear Engine for Rocket Vehicle Application, is shown, including its first test firing at the AEC-NASA Nuclear Rocket Development Station in Jackass Flats, Nevada. Finally, U. S. developments for deep space payload ...

Not in archives

1955 15 Y This film explains the basic design of the small homogeneous water-boiler reactor type and describes the components and the various steps in the construction of a small homogeneous reactor. Operation of the reactor is described, and research uses are illustrated. Not in the archives
The Magnetic Bottle


1958 10 Y This film is a concise summary, for the informed layman, of the United States Sherwood Program, for research into controlled nuclear fusion. It shows various operating experimental devices, explains their principles and the many complex problems involved in possible future development of full-scale machines to create unlimited industrial power by controlling a continuous fusion process at millions of degrees of temperature.


1960 18.25 Y This film describes the use of radiation to eradicate the screwworm fly in the southeastern United States, an insect pest that had caused large losses to livestock owners. The film describes how the screwworm fly deposits its eggs in a cut or insect bite on the skin of a warm-blooded animal. The eggs hatch to worms that feed on live flesh and then fall to the ground, where they burrow into the soil and change to pupae. Ten days later the fly emerges and mates, and the cycle continues. The film shows typical cases of screwworm infestation. Entomologists of the Agricultural Research Service suggested that since screwworm flies mate only once, if a method of sexually sterilizing flies could be found, eradication was possible. Since X ray was too ex- pensive, radioactive cobalt ( 60 Co) was selected to do the sterilization job. The plan was tested on the tiny island of Curasao off the coa...

Eradication of the Screwworm (2018)



1965 59 Y Designed for high school through college-level audiences, this film surveys the role of the USAEC in guiding and supporting the nation's atomic energy programs. It reviews many of those programs, including both the peaceful applications of nuclear energy and those involved in national defense. The film opens with a visit to the community of Buchanan, New York, site of Consolidated Edison's Indian Point atomic power station. The enlightened attitude of the community toward the atomic plant is revealed as the camera visits the mayor of the town, teachers and school children, housewives, businessmen and plant personnel. Following a review of the atom's place in national defense, the film goes into the mining of uranium and processing into fissionable materials. It then explores the broad role of the USAEC, briefly discussing the make-up of the Commission and showing an actual Commission... There are three NAIDs for this one, 88180, 88181, and 88182. It's probably on more than one film reel due to length.
Atomic Power and the United States


1959 25 N This is a nontechnical film for intermediate through college-level audiences. It summarizes activities of both the government and private industry in the program for the development of economic production of electric power with atomic energy. It compares conventional and nuclear approaches, and by animation and live action explains six important nuclear power projects. It outlines industry's contributions and the sharing of technical know-how overseas through the Atoms for Peace Program.


1961 12 Y This nontechnical film, suitable for all audience levels, summarizes the nature of the USAEC exhibit on atomic energy in agriculture at the first World Agricultural Fair, New Delhi, during the winter 1959-60. Various views show the crowds examining the research reactor, master-slave manipulator, the gamma pool, the technical information center, and exhibits featuring radioactive tracers in agricultural research, plant mutations by gamma irradiation, atomic energy work in medicine, screwworm fly eradication, food sterilization by irradiation, etc.
Metals Frontier


1961 22 Y This semitechnical documentary film, a story of teamwork in research, is designed for an audience with an appreciable degree of scientific sophistication, primarily seniors and graduate students in the physical sciences and engineering. Highlights in the operations of the Ames Laboratory, a major installation of the USAEC, are shown by illustrating the steps in the development of the process for the production of yttrium metal. The film also gives insight into the facilities and the pioneering tradition of Ames Laboratory in the investigation of the rare earths. The film is panoramic in style, showing how basic research, development, and production go along together. The following steps in metal processing are shown: separation of yttrium from rare earths, conversion to fluoride, reduction, and arc melting. Special emphasis is given to purity and to the need for careful analytical con... Reached out to Ames to see if they want to fund digitization
Nuclear reactors for space


1961 17 Y The SNAP program Systems for Nuclear Auxiliary Power is an AEC program to develop long-lived auxiliary power from nuclear energy for use in satellites and space vehicles. Compact atomic reactors being developed by Atomics International for use in SNAP systems are shown in this semitechnical film. Safety characteristics of the SNAP reactor during fabrication, testing, transport, installation, launching, and use in space are described. Detailed sequences filmed at Atomics International on fabrication and testing show the simplicity and compactness of the reactors. Safety features are described in scenes that illustrate shipping, launch-site activities, and launch of the reactor into space. The burnup and dispersal of the reactor during reentry into the atmosphere are shown in a detailed animation sequence. Many beneficial uses of SNAP in the U. S. national space program are illustrated.... National Archives incorrectly has "reactor" without the plural in the title


1961 57 Y This semitechnical film surveys the current widespread uses of radio- isotopes throughout American industry. Three major areas of use are described: nuclear gauging (thickness, density, and level), radiography, and tracing with various examples of each filmed at 26 sites nation-wide, including the rubber industry, thin strip metal production, plastics, paper mills, nylons, food canning, cement, submarine construction, oil industry, automobiles, etc. Covered briefly are luminescence, static elimination, isotopic power, and uses of high-intensity radiation. Basic principles are explained by animation, followed by examples of in-plant uses. Benefits to the consumer and manufacturer are high-lighted. The excellent safety record is noted. The film, although of interest to a wide audience, is designed to acquaint industrial management with the versatility, economy, and ease with which radio...


1962 28 Y This popular-level film, narrated by news commentator John Daly, surveys the widespread use of radioisotopes by American industry to make better products from ships to nylon hose more efficiently and with an impressive record of safety. By means of animation and live action, the film explains what radioisotopes are and how they are used to (1) measure and control the thickness of sheet materials, (2) measure densities of materials, (3) control product quality, (4) increase flexibility and mobility of industrial radiography (taking X-ray type pictures to assure safe construction), and (5) act as tracers to follow physical movement and chemical reactions. Examples are given of thickness gauges of nylon cord-rubber ply for automobile tires, sheet plastic, and cord-rolled alloy sheets for computers and space-age instruments, as well as examples of gauges which measure densities without sh...


1963 28 Y This semitechnical film offers an extensive tour of the facilities of the Puerto Rico Nuclear Center (operated for the USAEC by the University of Puerto Rico) and a study of the Center's curricula and research programs. The Center was conceived primarily to aid the Latin American nations in developing skills essential to nuclear energy activity, by providing graduate- and post graduate-level education and research opportunities. At the Center's Bio-Medical building, work is shown involving radioisotopes and their clinical applications, and other nuclear work related to biology, chemistry, and medicine is reviewed. Study and research in nuclear engineering and technology, health physics, agriculture and marine biology are shown at the Center's reactor and laboratories located on the campus of the University of Puerto Rico's College of Agriculture and Engineering, and aboard the Center'...


1963 14.5 Y This film presents the background, planning, and construction of the Elk River Reactor for Minnesota's Rural Cooperative Power Association. After the rural background and setting are established, the planning of the reactor is shown. Animation is used to explain the principle of the boiling water reactor with conventional superheated steam. A comparison is made with the hot air heating system used in the home, and the reactor's control rods are compared with a thermostat. The reactor control room is shown. A "Scram" is explained. Fuel operations are also explained, as well as the air monitoring system.
Of Man and Matter


1963 29 Y This film describes the design, development and operation of the alternating gradient synchrotron (AGS) at Brookhaven National Laboratory, shows the various major components of this 33 billion-electron-volt particle accelerator, and explains how the high energy protons produced in the machine are used in physical research. An actual experiment is seen, in which the particle beam is guided into a bubble chamber and the resultant interactions with the target nuclei are photographed. The methods adopted in scanning and analyzing the photographs are also shown. By means of a brief lecture, a Brookhaven physicist explains that such gigantic and complex machines as the AGS are necessary in order to study the fundamental particles and the forces within the atomic nucleus that are the basic components of all existing matter. Reached out to BNL to see if they want to fund digitization
The Many Faces of Argonne


1963 60 Y Although the film is about Argonne National Laboratory, it will be useful to both technical and nontechnical audiences who wish an interesting survey of the objectives, methods, and hardware of the broad range of nuclear research conducted by a typical national laboratory of the USAEC. With both artistry and clarity, the ANL narrator shows the CP-5 and the range of work accomplished with this powerful research reactor. In an ANL chemistry laboratory, investigation of atomic forces with "color center" studies of the structure of crystals is shown. Information is given on methods of protecting atomic scientists from radiation: film badges and dosimeters; the checking of air, water, walls, dust; the remote-control devices involving periscopes and television in order to see and work despite massive shielding. Argonne's efforts in the power reactor field are summarized, using the Experim...


1963 28.5 Y This popular-level film, suitable for audiences from junior high school through college, discusses many aspects of radiation and offers a survey of their widespread beneficial applications in medicine, industry, agriculture, power, and research. A historical survey of the discovery of radiation is followed by an animated explanation of different types of radiation, including alpha, beta, and gamma. A brief explanation of radioisotopes and how they are produced is given, followed by scenes depicting some of their uses, including the use of Calcium-47 to diagnose bone cancer. The detection and study of radiation by sensitive instruments is explained. The study of radiation in the laboratory is demonstrated with work in photosynthesis using radiochromatography. Several important industrial uses of radiation are shown. The use of irradiation for prolonged food preservation, particularly o...
Nuclear power for space - SNAP-9A


1963 12 Y This is a semitechnical film for high-school and college-level audiences. After showing the launching of a new satellite, which is being wholly powered by a nuclear generator, animation is used to explain the use of its isotopic generator to create power to run electronic equipment, recording equipment, and transmit data back to earth for analysis. The advantages of nuclear energy are shown over the use of chemical energy and solar energy. The principles of power generation by isotopic decay are explained, showing how thermocouples convert the decaying isotopes' heat directly to electricity. A comparison of the isotopes Plutonium-238 and Curium-242, both used in SNAP isotope power systems, is made. It discusses the design features of the SNAP-9A which are the result of 7 years of research. Safety tests of the isotope capsule, including explosion tests, fire tests, impact tests, and re...


1964 5.5 Y This nontechnical film, for all audience levels, briefly explains the principle of atomic power production, states the need for its continued development while showing that it is already in use in many locations across the country. The film explains why the energy of the atom is needed to supplement that of conventional fossil fuels. Animation is used to explain how nuclear fission creates heat and how that heat is converted to electrical power. A comparison is given between the energy released from the uranium atom and coal, gas, and oil. The film concludes with a brief survey of representative atomic power plants in the United States, noting location and kilowatts of electrical power


1965 25 Y Useful to both educated-lay-level and technical audiences, including high school and college groups, this film summarizes the parallel development of a family of fully shielded thermoelectric power converters and chemical processing of the radioisotope Strontium-90 fuel. Laboratory procedures are depicted for thermoelectric couple assembly into a compact operating system capable of converting heat energy into electrical current without the need for moving parts. Compacting of Strontium-90 raw material into ceramic titanate pellets and encapsulation of the fuel pellets into high strength metal containers are illustrated. Fully shielded Strontium-90 fueled, thermoelectric generators have been placed into operational service at remote outposts from north of the Arctic Circle to the South Pole. Developed by the U. S. Atomic Energy Commission under the SNAP (Systems for Nuclear Auxiliary P...


1969 13 Y Describes SNAP-27, its mission and its role in the Apollo program. On an early Apollo flight, astronauts on the moon will install a small scientific laboratory to conduct lunar surface experiments. After they depart for earth, the laboratory—known as ALSEP, Apollo Lunar Surface Packages will remain, transmitting its research data to receiving stations on earth for several years. ALSEP is powered by electricity from atomic energy a highly reliable, radioisotope-fueled thermoelectric generator called SNAP-27. The film explains how tiny grains of radioactive plutonium-238 in a sealed fuel capsule generate heat which, in turn, generates electricity directly by means of thermocouples. In simulated action on earth, we see astronauts unloading ALSEP and inserting the nuclear fuel capsule. The film discusses the type of lunar surface information in the radioisotope-powered ALSEP will send ba...


Not in archives

1955 40 Y In this nontechnical film, for all audience levels, Fred McMurray, playing a nuclear scientist, explains to his teenage son, concerned over the destructive uses of the atom, the various peaceful applications of atomic energy. It also contains a section describing the development of nuclear power for submarine propulsion. Produced by Westinghouse. Not in NARA.
Gauging Thickness with Radioisotopes


1958 4.5 N This technical film, for high school and college-level audiences, shows briefly how beta gauges are used for precise measurement and control of feed-back apparatus in steel, plastic, rubber, and paper manufacturing
Our nearest star


1961 12 Y A SNAP isotopic power system has been placed in orbit aboard the Transit-4A navigational satellite. This simple, powerful device is the first application of nuclear power in space. The system, which powers two of Transit's four navigational radio transmitters, is designed to operate for five years or more. Against a background of the Transit Program, this semitechnical film follows the development and testing of the radioisotope fuel capsule and the thermoelectric generator that make up this SNAP system. The film shows the Thor-Able-Star gantry at Cape Kennedy as the SNAP unit is mounted on Transit, and, when the system is launched, the view is from the blockhouse and the launch pad. Potentially mis-cataloged?

Entry in American Archive of Public Broadcasting

Identically-named film from the same time about the sun?



1962 13.5 Y The purpose of this film is to explain to junior and senior high-school students in biology, general science, or physics the meaning of high-energy radiation and to show how this radiation is used in biological research. To accomplish its objective, this film briefly reviews light from the sun (wave radiation), radio waves, X rays, etc. It also touches on the various sources of radiation (X-ray machines, nuclear reactors, cosmic rays, the sun, etc.). Radioisotopes are defined, and their life is traced from production through their use as tools in the study of radiation damage. The effect of radiation on living cells is demonstrated by comparisons of plants grown from irradiated and nonirradiated seeds and of mice that had been irradiated with those that had not been irradiated. The film also shows the effects of radiation on bone marrow, on the protective lining of the intestine, and ...


1963 20 Y Produced with the technical assistance of the USAEC, Brookhaven National Laboratory and Michigan State University, the film illustrates the progress achieved by U. S. scientists in using radiation to create new strains of disease- and weather- resistant food crops with higher yields. We see both the research work at USAEC's Brookhaven National Laboratory and the field work with new varieties of commercial crops. The specific example shown is the development of the Sanilac bean by Michigan State University plant geneticists. The Sanilac bean is disease-resistant and stands upright, permitting machine-harvesting. The film explains simply the theories of radiation-induced plant mutations, the methods, and the complexity of the long-term work


1963 28 Y With emphasis on safety, this film surveys the widespread uses of radioisotopes in industry. Animated explanations of the principles involved in radioisotope gauging instruments, tracing and radiography are given. Applications of these principles are shown in various processes in the food industry, automotive research, road construction, heavy industry, oil refining and shipping, and system troubleshooting.

See Also