Looking back isn’t straightforward

Nuclear Power HistoryI constantly need to exhort myself to try to see things as they were seen back then. Reminders about this requirement from historians or others are always welcome. One of my most useful memoirs/autobiographies/histories is that of John Simpson, who held senior roles in Westinghouse’s nuclear business for decades. Summing up the construction and launch of the seminal Shippingport nuclear power plant in 1957, he cautions:

Perhaps most important was the demonstration that a nuclear power plant was engineeringly feasible. Today that seems obvious, but remember that at that time, the only other two high temperature reactors in the U.S. were the Nautilus reactor and its prototype.


Simpson, John W. 1989. “PWR history and evaluation.” In 50 Years with Nuclear Fission. Behrens, James W. & Carlson, Allan D. American Nuclear Society, La Grange Park, Illinois, p. 124.