Inside a Nuclear Reactor: LIFE Photos

"Ever since the first nuclear reactor was created, however briefly, under the stands of a football field at the University of Chicago on Dec. 2, 1942, much of the world has become reliant on nuclear energy for its electrical grids, warships and doomsday scenarios," according to the introduction to a new photo gallery at LIFE.com reproduced here in part and with permission. "But though nuclear power provides 20 percent of the United States' electrical needs, few Americans have actually been inside a reactor."

LIFE.com pulls together photos from various photographers, agencies and generations to offer a glimpse inside some of this country's most guarded and secure locations. From Three Mile Island to New York's Brookhaven National Laboratories to the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station near San Clemente, California, these images provide a look at the work being done by men and women everyday to feed this nation's need for power.

View more photos at LIFE.com.

RELATED LIFE.COM PHOTO GALLERIES:

Presented by

Nicholas Jackson is a former associate editor at The Atlantic.

Google Street View, Transformed Into a Tiny Planet

A 360-degree tour of our world, made entirely from Google's panoramas

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

Google Street View, Transformed Into a Tiny Planet

A 360-degree tour of our world, made entirely from Google's panoramas

Video

The 86-Year-Old Farmer Who Won't Quit

A filmmaker returns to his hometown to profile the patriarch of a family farm

Video

Riding Unicycles in a Cave

"If you fall down and break your leg, there's no way out."

Video

Carrot: A Pitch-Perfect Satire of Tech

"It's not just a vegetable. It's what a vegetable should be."

Video

The Benefits of Living Alone on a Mountain

"You really have to love solitary time by yourself."

More in Technology

Just In