The concept of nuclear energy was first theorized in 1934 by Enrico Fermi

The concept of nuclear energy was first theorized in 1934 by Enrico Fermi, who found that neutrons could be utilized to split atoms apart to form lighter elements. This idea is the cornerstone of the self-sustaining reaction that is nuclear fission, the process of breaking apart the atoms of a radioactive element in order to release the energy held in its atomic bonds. It wasn’t until December 2, 1942, when Enrico Fermi and his group at the University of Chicago built the first self-sustaining nuclear reactor, bringing the dream of harnessing such colossal amounts of energy into reality. At this point in time, the major focus on nuclear research was for the development of atomic bombs, given the high tensions that World War II had created around this time. After the war had ended, towards the 1950s, people sought to commercialize nuclear energy, turning their attention towards learning how to harness the energy released through nuclear fission, and seeking to control the immense power of the atom. Nowadays, nuclear energy has become a much larger player in the electricity industry. According to the World Nuclear Association website, “Around 11% of the world’s electricity is generated by about 450 nuclear power reactors. About 60 more reactors are under construction, equivalent to 16% of existing capacity, while an additional 150-160 are planned, equivalent to nearly half of existing capacity.”. For something with such a large role in the energy industry, there’s a lot of stigma around its image.