Throwback Thursday — Kennedy’s Nuclear Visit

hpDr_Alvin_Sen_KennedyBefore John F. Kennedy became president, he was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate. During his time on Capitol Hill, he visited the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee. Here, he’s photographed with ORNL Director Alvin Weinberg. Can you guess the year this photo was taken and who accompanied the then-Senator Kennedy? Extra points if you know what nuclear technology Weinberg is credited with spearheading. (Photo taken by Ed Westcott/DOE)


Author: Moderator

Public Affairs Officer for the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission

8 thoughts on “Throwback Thursday — Kennedy’s Nuclear Visit”

  1. As I understand it, at the time of the Photograph, Alvin Weinberg was concerned with the Safety Aspects of the PWR and the solid nature of the Fuel and the production of the Neutron Hungry Xenon Gas as well as the production of Hydrogen from the fast Neutrons breaking water (Steam) molecules into the component gasses , and actually was opposed to the further development of PWR’s for those reasons… He was very much in favour of his latest Reactor Design the LFTR which was developing from the MSRE which would have been “Walk Away Safe” something that even the latest Build Gen 3 Nuclear Power Plants “Are Not”!… Unfortunately that was not the direction that the Nuclear Industry was heading in due to pressures from the “Cold War” and Military Requirements for Weapons Grade Plutonium which was only available from the PWR and its extension the Plutonium “Fast Breeder Reactor”… Great photo of Alvin and John Fitzgerald Kennedy… So sad that he was murdered in Dallas, maybe we would have had the LFTR as Well as the First Man on The Moon if he had lived…

  2. According to the NRC historian, that would be possible (Al Gore, Sr.) but we can’t say for certain.

  3. He looks so handsome in that picture! Thanks for sharing!

    I remember seeing another picture of JFK, Jacqueline, and Al Gore with Weinberg also in 1959. Was this picture from the same visit?

  4. You said the right,I agree with you.Your information about John F. Kennedy is too good.Its an very informative post.
    Thanks for it.
    Best wishes for you.

  5. The innovation widely used in the the nuclear industry and championed by Weinberg was the pressurized water reactor.

  6. Your answers are correct. The photo was taken in 1959, and he was accompanied by Jackie Kennedy. You are quite right on your second response as well, Oak Ridge, under Weinberg’s leadership, spearheaded the development of the MSRE, which went critical in 1965.

    However, we were thinking of another innovation championed by Weinberg that predates this photograph and was widely used in the nuclear industry.

  7. 1) February of 1959 with his wife, Jackie Kennedy.
    2) Alvin Weinberg was known for his Molten Salt Reactor Experiments at Oak Ridge. The MSRE proved that a fission reaction in molten fluoride salts could be contained in Hastelloy-N, and that a molten salt fueled reactor concept was viable.

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