Even Denmark proves to be interesting

Denmark never built or bought a power reactor but in writing up the early history of its atomic/nuclear efforts, I grew fascinated despite myself. What complicated this history was the towering presence of Niels Bohr. Bohr was central in launching the theory of nuclear fission and apparently promised U.S.A after World War II that he wouldn’t use his insider knowledge. So for a decade he made sure Denmark did nothing, even as the nation’s neighbors began studying and preparing. Then the dam burst and Bohr clicked into action:

During the spring of 1955 the government appointed a Preparatory Atomic Energy Commission, chaired by Niels Bohr, that was empowered to contract with the USA and the UK for the delivery of two (soon to become three) nuclear research reactors for a Danish atomic research site. The contracts were signed and made public in the UK, the USA, and Denmark simultaneously on 10 June 1955, an event that was barely noted in the English and American press, but was treated as a sensation in Danish newspapers.

What I like about that 1955 image is the “sensation” of reactors in the press!


Nielsen, Henry, & Knudsen, Henrik. 2010. “The troublesome life of peaceful atoms in Denmark.”  History and Technology. Vol. 26, Issue 2, p. 97.