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.

Join the Discussion

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

Please note that The Atlantic's account system is separate from our commenting system. To log in or register with The Atlantic, use the Sign In button at the top of every page.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

A Miniature 1950s Utopia

A reclusive artist built this idealized suburb to grapple with his painful childhood memories.

Video

Why Principals Matter

Nadia Lopez didn't think anybody cared about her school. Then the Internet heard her story.

Video

A History of Contraception

In the 16th century, men used linen condoms laced shut with ribbons.

Video

'A Music That Has No End'

In Spain, a flamenco guitarist hustles to make a modest living.

More in Technology

Just In