W178JD The American Museum of Science and Energy in the former secret city of Oak Ridge Tennessee USA

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American Museum of Science & Energy


During WWII the US military began the Manhattan Project, a top-secret program to develop the atomic bomb. Oak Ridge was one of the key research and development sites, along with Los Alamos, NM, and Hanford, WA. Scientists at Oak Ridge studied uranium enrichment and the creation of plutonium. This science-driven museum examines life in the secret city but supplements the fascinating history with a slew of equally fascinating exhibits about current scientific research at Oak Ridge.

If you're only slightly interested in science and energy, you'll need to up your game here. And the docents ain't kidding around – these folks will talk to you about gaseous diffusion and isotope separation as if you already have a base-level understanding of the concepts. Uh, can we watch the introductory video first, please? For a simple thrill, be sure to touch the plasma globe – it's electrifying!

On select days from March through November, admission to the Smithsonian-affiliated museum includes the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge Facilities Public Bus Tour, a three-hour trip (11:30am to 2:30pm) that shares the history of Oak Ridge and discusses the technology associated with key facilities on the site. The Oak Ridge facilities are part of the multi-site Manhattan Project National Historic Park (www.nps.gov.mapr), established in 2015 and covering research sites in Oak Ridge, Los Alamos and Hanford.

Oak Ridge is 25 miles northwest of Knoxville.

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