Science: The Philosophers' Stone

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Trade Fair. The atom's potential as a business was not overlooked. In downtown Geneva, private concerns from nine countries staged their own unofficial "Trade Fair" of atomic products. The largest exhibit is from Britain, which is striving to become the world's atomic workshop. Its firms show the flow meters, leak detectors, radiation monitors, flux meters, etc. which are the simple, indispensable tools of the new technology. The French show a replica of a uranium mine entrance. The U.S. exhibit, with contributions mostly from big firms such as General Electric and Union Carbide, suggested the industrial look of tomorrow: privately designed power and research reactors; such strange gadgets as electromagnetic pumps that have no moving parts except a stream of molten sodium pushed through them by magnetism, purified graphite blocks widely used in reactors, silicone resins for high-temperature insulation. Absent from the industrial exhibit: the Soviet Union.

New Future. The assembling of such an array of facts, brains and machines dedicated to a peaceful atomic age was an event to excite the imagination. It suggested to the world, even the poorest, most desperate parts of it, that in the atom lies not just menace but hope, a new start, a new future. Nuclear reactors already promise cheap energy to power-starved countries. "Just ten years from now," predicts one U.S. delegate, "no one will ever consider building a non-nuclear power generating plant." The magic of radio isotopes is already enhancing medicine, industry, agriculture, food storage.

No possibility is too small or too big.

The atom can ultimately move mountain ranges, drain seas, irrigate entire deserts, transmute poverty into plenty, misery into mercy.

Such are the offerings of the Philosophers' Stone if man, having found its secret, can find the trust and will to use it well.

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