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6 Mind-Blowing Fun Facts About Nuclear Energy

Nuclear energy has been around for years powering the world, but it’s all too easy to only associate it with weapons and past wars. However, there are a lot of fun facts about nuclear energy that you’ve probably never heard about.

Even better, a visit to Vegas will allow you to dive deep and learn about nuclear energy facts and perceptions and see how Las Vegas was at the center of it all.

Read on to discover six atomic power fun facts and learn more about visiting the Atomic Museum in Vegas!

  1. The Sun Is Our Largest Nuclear Reactor

Next time you go outside to enjoy a sunny day, you’ll think twice about the sun. What you may not know is that the sun is actually a gigantic, natural thermonuclear reactor, converting hydrogen into helium via nuclear reactions.

The sun produces light energy and heat from a process called nuclear fusion that occurs inside the sun’s core. This process converts hydrogen to helium to produce what we feel on warm, sunny days.

A nuclear reactor produces heat similar to the sun, and this heat can spin turbines, generating electricity.

  1. There Are 54 Operational Nuclear Power Plants in the US

It’s all too easy to put nuclear energy in the past, but the fact is nuclear energy is utilized in ways we might not always consider in our daily lives.

Nuclear power is key to powering homes and businesses in the US. As of today, there are 54 commercial nuclear power plants and 94 nuclear power reactors in 28 US states.

Illinois has more nuclear reactors than any other state, with 11 in total. In addition, Georgia is home to the Alvin W. Vogtle Electric Generating Plant, the largest nuclear power plant in the US.

Today, the US is one of the world’s largest producers of nuclear power, generating over 30% of the nuclear energy worldwide. This capacity continues to grow, despite the fact all nuclear reactors in the US were built between 1967 and 1990.

  1. Nevada Is Home to a Significant Nuclear Testing Site

Vegas is more involved in nuclear energy trivia than you might think. The Nevada National Security Site (NNSS) sits just 65 miles north of Las Vegas and played a huge role in nuclear testing between 1951 and 1992.

The US government established the Atomic Energy Commission after World War II to monitor the development of atomic technology worldwide. During the 1950s, the atomic weapons production expansion was thought to help boost and expand US powers.

January 27th, 1951 was the first official day of nuclear testing by detonating a bomb, and in total 928 tests were completed by 1992. There were also other notable tests like Operation Plumbbob, which was a series of 29 nuclear tests done by the US military in 1957.

All in all, both atmospheric and underground testing was done at this site, exposing thousands of servicemen to high levels of radiation.

  1. Nuclear Energy Provides Power for Mars Rovers 

Nuclear energy even has a place outside of our planet. In the past, Mars expeditions depended on the power of solar panels to keep the mission going. However, issues like dust build-up and a lack of sunlight have a huge impact on the exploration process overall.

Massive global dust storms can completely block the sun’s light, which happened with the Opportunity and Spirit Rover years ago.

The solution for the new Perseverance Mars Rover is a nuclear power source that involves radioactive plutonium. Remember, this isn’t in the same form as nuclear weapons, and there is protection in place in case something goes wrong during testing or the launch.

Nuclear power doesn’t stop at Mars either, traveling on various deep space missions to Saturn and beyond.

  1. Nuclear Testing Became a Vegas Tourist Attraction

Long before the true dangers of radiation were completely understood, nuclear testing was a popular site to witness.

Nuclear tests at the Nevada National Security Site created enormous mushroom clouds visible from 100 miles away. As you can imagine, this attracted quite a lot of attention, leading to the rise of atomic tourism.

People living in Las Vegas would be aware of future testing a few weeks in advance, and there was major news coverage, increasing popularity, and decreasing fears. The publicity led to Las Vegas being dubbed the “Atomic City.”

Schedules of bomb detonation times were posted all over Vegas, and party planning would begin. Locations like the Sky Room in the once-popular Desert Inn had the perfect panoramic view of the sky.

Many businesses in Las Vegas held “Dawn Bomb Parties” that began at midnight. Guests would sing and drink while the bomb flashes lit up the sky. Atomic box lunches were also popular, with many tourists having picnics outside the detonation area.

Atomic cocktails, hairdos, and beauty contests were also all the rage during this innocent time. All of this led to an entire pop culture of atomic shirts, toys, and comics.

  1. There Is an Atomic Museum in Vegas You Can Visit

If you’re looking for one place that holds the most interesting nuclear info, you don’t have to look further than the Atomic Museum in Vegas.

This museum is packed full of nuclear science facts and offers various exhibits to help you better understand the history. You’ll learn the atomic testing story through text, images, videos, and artifacts. The tests would involve real nuclear bombs and a room full of mannequins to determine the overall damage.

You’ll be able to see SPY, which is a partnership with the National Security Agency (NSA) and the National Cryptologic Museum in Fort Meade, Maryland. SPY shows how the NSA gathers intelligence and uses it to evaluate the functioning of space vehicles and missiles.

Other exhibits, including nuclear weapons projectiles like the Davy Crockett, are also on display, along with rotating exhibits, artifacts, comics, toys, and a store you can visit.

Learn More Fun Facts About Nuclear Energy by Visiting the Atomic Museum

Now that you know these fun facts about nuclear energy, you’ll be much more prepared for your visit to the National Atomic Testing Museum in Las Vegas.

At the Atomic Museum, our mission is to provide quality nuclear energy education to the public, making its history and the US nuclear weapons program accessible to everyone. We’re a private national museum dedicated to highlighting the past 70 years of nuclear testing and how it impacts everything today.

Make sure to visit us online to plan your trip, get directions, buy tickets, and more!


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Experience Nevada’s explosive History! The Atomic Museum is one of a handful of private national museums and showcases some of the rarest of artifacts relating to the nation’s atomic testing program. Nowhere else can you see a large nuclear reactor that was used in the development of the nuclear rocket and the first air-to-air missile, Genie. Personal atomic weapons that were developed to use in place of conventional weapons such as the Backpack Nuke and the Davy Crockett Weapon System (recoilless gun) are placed throughout the 8,000 square feet of museum exhibits.

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