Week 5/ Nuclear Science in Art

Most people may think that nuclear science has nothing to do with art because of the risk of health and limitation of the applications in art field. The reflections of nuclear science by a lot of people are not quite positive because as we know that it used to be using in the war and in the military field, and the radiation could be fetal. That is the reason why only few artists focus on the nuclear science. Another reason is that the state has a very strict institution which only few people can use the nuclear materials.

James_L_Acord_in_front_of_FFTF,_Hanford,_WA,_USAIn Wilson’s book, he introduces an American artist called James Acord, which “works directly with radioactive materials”. “He attempts to create sculpture and events that probe the history of nuclear engineering in a complex way that honors both its positive and negative aspects” (Wilson 231). He can use the radioactive materials because both the U.S. Department of Energy and the European Energy Commission give him the world license to own them, and perhaps he is the only one. He has successfully produced plutonium by himself, which is the chemical element, and also it is the radioactive metal. I think one of the reason why Acord works with the radioactive materials is that he wants all the people to know the real function of these materials and to provide some knowledge and information about how it works in his art works and also in the “real life”. In a speech Acord pointed out, “efforts to keep nuclear knowledge from the public have not made the world a safer place”. From my point of view, to be honest to the public about how actually the harm thing and the helpful thing of the nuclear science is a good way for people to get close to the nuclear world.

Four videos of James Acord’s speech of The Influencers 2010

Another example about the nuclear science in art is used in the church for protecting the wooden sculptures by using the irradiation materials with gamma rays. This can widely use in other stuffs such as books, furniture, and instruments under the precondition of harmless to our health. “The techniques are supported by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), which operates projects to preserve cultural heritage artifacts using radiation.” Overall, nuclear science can not only be used in the military or medical field, it now preserves the art in order to let more and more people get close to it.


-Mengchun Tao




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