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Dates That Matter

June 27, 1954

The world's first nuclear power station opens in Obninsk, near Moscow, Russia.

 Why does it matter?

The first successful experiment with nuclear fission was conducted in Berlin, Germany in 1938. Soon after that a number of countries began to work with this technology. Enrico Fermi, a scientist at the University of Chicago, was the first to sustain a nuclear chain reaction in 1942 and this discovery led to the development of the atomic weapons used against Japan at the end of World War II. It wasn't until 1951 that a nuclear reaction was successfully used to generate electricity by scientists in Idaho.

In 1954, Russians in Obninsk (near Moscow) used a nuclear power plant to generate enough electricity to power 2,000 homes. The energy crisis of the 1970s led to growth in the number of nuclear power plants, but at the same time, concern over the safety of nuclear power has significantly limited its use world wide. Current fears of global warming and the depletion of fossil fuels may reverse that trend in the future.

For more information...

Energy Kids Page
From the US Department of Energy, a site for students focused on all kinds of energy and its uses.This site would be useful for teaching about all kinds of energy sources.

The History of Nuclear Technology
A Russian site (in Russian, but most browsers will do the translation for you) on the history of nuclear technology. Photos of Obninsk.

How Nuclear Power Works
From the "how stuff works" web sites, this gives nice diagrams and explanations about how nuclear power plants work.