What are the daily lives of people like during the atomic age?

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sciftw | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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The "Atomic Age" is a phrase that was coined by New York Times journalist William Laurence.  He was the official journalist of the Manhattan Project and was present at the first atomic bomb detonation.  That was in 1945, and that is considered the beginning of the Atomic Age. The end date is left up to debate.  Some historians think the Atomic Age is still present while other historians place an ending date that coincides with the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991.  

Daily lives were filled with polar opposites.  On one hand, the advent of atomic energies brought about a huge sense of national pride.  Along with that came great optimism regarding future energy technology.  People thought that just about everything would make use of nuclear power. including power plants for sure, but medicine, transportation, and food irradiation as well.  The newly found power source would lower electricity costs and quality of life would go up.  Nuclear power was heralded as something akin to creating a second industrial revolution of sorts in terms of the optimism it created in people. 

But in the late 1960s and early 1970s, those feelings of optimism began to wane.  The Cold War's mutually assured destruction concept was a constant threat to major city populations around the world.  The destructive power of nuclear energies and weapons began to sway public opinion.  Fallout shelters were built and schools would frequently drill students in what to do in case of an attack.  There was an oppressive fear that was constantly present.  Nuclear disasters like Chernobyl and near disasters like 3 Mile Island didn't help the situation either.  The film industry reflected and perpetuated these fears too by producing movies about creatures created by dangerous radiation (Godzilla). 

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