Nuclear Reactions Commemoration Events on December 1 and 2

To: Members of the University Community
From: Darren Reisberg, Vice President for Strategic Initiatives and Deputy Provost
Date: Tuesday, November 21, 2017
Subject: Nuclear Reactions Commemoration Events on December 1 and 2

On December 1 and 2, the University-wide commemoration of the 75th anniversary of the world’s first nuclear chain reaction will culminate in a two-day symposium titled “Reactions: New Perspectives on Our Nuclear Legacy.”  We invite the University community and the general public to join in these events.

The program on December 1, all of which will take place at Mandel Hall, will run from 1:30 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. and include an opening address by Richard Rhodes, a Pulitzer-winning historian of the Manhattan Project, a closing address by Ernest Moniz, former U.S. Secretary of Energy, panel discussions on the impact of nuclear energy on medicine, policy, and national security, and the world premiere of the composition “Plea For Peace” by University Professor Augusta Read Thomas. There is a full schedule of the two-day symposium here, including RSVP links for each day’s events.

On December 2, there will be a full day of arts-related programming, including lectures, new musical compositions, dance performance pieces, and a unique large-scale pyrotechnic artwork by artist Cai Guo-Qiang to begin at 3:20 p.m. and end at 3:25 p.m. Cai’s work, about which you can find more details here, will be visible to the public in viewing areas near the “Nuclear Energy” sculpture on Ellis Avenue.

These discussions and performances will conclude the University’s Autumn schedule of commemorative programming around the anniversary, titled “Nuclear Reactions – 1942: A Historic Breakthrough, An Uncertain Future.” Dozens of events and activities have examined many facets of the scientific feat and its complex legacy, including debates, lectures, a collaborative College course titled “The Nuclear Age,” student-led programming, and art works. We are also fortunate that the anniversary provided an opportunity to honor individuals like Ted Petry, who worked on the Manhattan Project as a 17-year-old and now, at age 93, is the last known witness to the historic experiment that took place on December 2, 1942.

We are grateful for the enthusiastic work that has gone into this commemoration by people across the UChicago campus, The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, and Argonne National Laboratory. Please join us in the series’ concluding sessions to consider the far-reaching impact of this historic event.