[Image above] Nuclear science is about much more than building nuclear bombs—nuclear research has applications in energy generation, space power, and healthcare as well. Credit: Nuclear Science Week
When it comes to science holidays, October is surprisingly full of them. October 9 was National Nanotechnology Day, October 10 was Metric Day, and this upcoming Friday is Mole Day.
However, not every science holiday this month is based on the date representing a numerical value. In some cases, October just happened to be a convenient time to host activities and events. Such is the case for Nuclear Science Week, which takes place the third week of October.
Nuclear Science Week was first celebrated in 2010, following discussions by the Smithsonian-affiliated National Museum of Nuclear Science & History and its nuclear industry partners on ways to increase communication and public awareness of the achievements of nuclear science.
Celebrations for Nuclear Science Week were held in late January for the first three years, but the national steering committee decided the January timeframe was too cold for some parts of the country to host programs. So Nuclear Science Week moved to October starting in 2013.
Traditionally, a U.S. city or geographical region is chosen each year to host Nuclear Science Week, with selections covering all parts of the country. This year was supposed to be Atlanta, Georgia, but with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the national steering committee pivoted to hosting celebrations in the form of virtual events.
A series of 30-minute videos released each day this week is the cornerstone of the Nuclear Science Week events. They cover what is considered the five major benefits of nuclear science: carbon-free energy, global leadership, transformative healthcare, innovation and technology, and space exploration.
In addition, the National Museum of Nuclear Science & History is releasing a series of longer educational videos on its YouTube channel that provide more detail on specific topics and applications of nuclear science, including nuclear medicine and nuclear in space. In the video below, you can learn about the history of nuclear bombs during World War II and the Cold War.
Looking for more ways to celebrate Nuclear Science Week? The Nuclear Science Week website includes a list of virtual activities that other organizations are hosting throughout the week, plus there is a collection of lesson plans for educators in grades K–12.