Friday, April 20, 2007

Cheer up! Its "The Peace Atom"!

When is a nuclear explosion not the ultimate act of war? Why, when its the fission reaction of a "peace atom" in a breeder reactor, of course!

And when is "a powerful new Navy guided missile" not a weapon of mass destruction? When its part of "a sound peacetime Air power policy". Who knew?

Yes throughout the 50's, alongside a steady diet of doom and gloom, advertisers assured the public that, not only had the good guys harnessed the power of the atom,

but that a bigger, brighter future was only years away, thanks to the mighty atom.

Despite such glowing (if you'll excuse the pun) predictions of how atomic power would change our lives for the better, you get the sense the public remained unconvinced. Consider this example: in the same July 1960 issue of The Saturday Evening Post in which The Association of National Railroads predicted we'd all soon be riding in nuclear powered trains, Mike Ludlow illustrated this angst ridden tale (below) of a couple contemplating whether life was worth living when the bombs might drop at any moment. How's that for ironic juxtoposition?

And if the bomb didn't get us, there was always "G-gas"!

And so the Cold War rolled merrily along...

* All of today's images can be found at full size in my Atomic Age and Red Menace Flickr sets.


  1. Ha. I especially like the "10 Ways to Make Your Wife More Useful".

  2. rapilje1:45 AM

    Do you know of the "Atoms for Peace" series of posters Erik Nitsche designed for General Dynamics from 1955 through 1965. Great stuff. Googled for some kind of central repository, but haven't found one yet.

  3. Sam; I wondered if anyone would comment on that! ;-)

    rapilje; that sounds like a very cool series! Hopefully one day we'll get to see it.