Renowned for its role in producing the first atomic bomb, Oak Ridge, Tennessee made its mark in history during World War II. But this is just one breakthrough among hundreds of scientific innovations that originated in the Secret City.
Since Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) was established in 1943, brilliant researchers and scientists from all over the world have gathered in Oak Ridge, churning out hundreds of astounding innovations that have transformed billions of lives.
Thanks to ORNL, touchscreens have revolutionized the way we communicate; millions of people have conquered diseases once believed insurmountable; and consumers all over the world can make purchases with just a swipe of a card.
Here are a few examples of how Oak Ridge has transformed the world.
1) Plutonium and Radioactive Isotopes
During the Manhattan Project, Oak Ridge became home to the first nuclear reactor designed and built for continuous operation. The Graphite Reactor at the X-10 Plant produced the first significant amounts of plutonium, which were used in research that led to the atomic bomb.
After the war, the reactor was used for research and production of radioactive isotopes for medicine, research and industry. In 1946, ORNL presented a small container of the radioisotope carbon-14 to a St. Louis hospital that specialized in detecting and treating cancer. Today, tens of millions of nuclear medicine procedures are performed each year.