Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Arco, Idaho

It has been quite warm here in Idaho, so museums have been our better bet.  Before leaving Idaho Falls, we spent a good part of Monday at the Museum of Idaho.  It has an interesting temporary exhibit with the title "Guitar: The Instrument that Rocked the World".  Considering that 3 million guitars are sold yearly, more than all the other instruments combined, it would seem that there would be a lot of interest in this exhibit of everything having to do guitars.  It was a busy place when we there.  On display is an 8-neck guitar built by the National Guitar Museum, which has been played by 8 musicians- it is called the Rock Ock.  Also in this exhibit is the world's largest playable guitar.  It is 43.5 feet long and 16 feet wide.  It has been certified by Guiness Book of World Records.  A fun part of this exhibit features hands-on experiences with the science of sound and the design and engineering of the guitar.
On Tuesday we moved our home to Arco, the first town to be powered by atomic energy.  Before parking our home we stopped at a building outside of the town where the peaceful use of nuclear power was born. 
On Dec.20,1951 EBR-1 (Experimental Breeder Reactor) became the first power plant in the world to produce usable electricity using atomic energy.  The best way I have here to explain how it all happened is to quote from an interpretive sign in the museum.  "In the core reactor speeding neutrons smashed into the nuclei of uranium and plutonium, splitting them in half.  The result: release of energy- and more neutrons.  The heat generated electricity."  That is about all I can tell you, it is much more involved; especially the details of how the irradiated elements and subassemblies had to be handled.  Pictured below is the turbine and generator, which in 1951, lit 4 light bulbs hanging nearby. When they lit up it was proven that atomic energy had been harnessed for electricity.  On a chalk board in this area are the signatures of the crew who made it happen.  The bright light at the end of the generator is where the light bulbs are hanging.
Another important area of Idaho is also located near Arco.  Craters of the Moon will be in my next posting.

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