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Atomic Pile [sketch]


On December 2, 1942 using a nuclear reactor erected under a section of the West Stands of the University of Chicago's Stagg Field, a group of scientists achieved the first self-sustaining chain reaction and thereby initiated a controlled release of nuclear energy. The reactor consisted of uranium and uranium oxide lumps spaced in a cubic lattice embedded in graphite. In 1943, the reactor was dismantled and reassembled at the Argonne National Laboratory. Photographic copy of drawing.


  • Atomic pile
  • Events (Historical)


Archival Photographic Files, apf2-00501, Special Collections Research Center, University of Chicago Library.



Associated Lesson

Gamma Ray History

This material is based upon work supported by NASA under Grant Nos. NNX09AD33G and NNX10AE80G issued through the SMD ROSES 2009 Program.

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