Van de Graaff particle accelerator, Westinghouse Electric and Manufacturing Co., Pittsburgh, PA, August 7, 1945.
flipFlip to Clinton Anderson, (left), and Lewis L. Strauss examine a photograph of America's first full scale commercial power plant, under construction at Shippingport, PA, May 24, 1956.
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Huge pear shaped atom smasher tank.

Credit: Image donated by Corbis-Bettmann

In 1937 Westinghouse Electric constructed this massive 5-million-volt Van de Graaff generator, which it used as a particle accelerator in atom smashing and other experiments to explore the potential of nuclear energy as a practical power source. The generator gathered and stored electrostatic charges, which could then be released in a single spark and accelerated by way of a magnetic field to produce an accumulated charge equivalent to a bolt of lightning.

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