Issue 11 Flight Summer 2003

The Clean Room / Domesticating the Hiroshima Maidens

David Serlin

“The Clean Room” is a column by David Serlin on science and technology.

In September 1958, millions of tourists from around the world flocked to the World’s Fair in Brussels, Belgium, to climb inside the Atomium, an enormous and somewhat exaggerated model of an atomic particle comprised of spherical exhibition rooms connected by enclosed escalators. Like the Trylon and Perisphere, its precursor at the 1939 World’s Fair in New York, the Atomium gave visitors a glimpse of the “world of tomorrow” in which the tools of Western science—and, at the 1958 World’s Fair, the benefits of atomic energy and nuclear power—would help to build a modern and sustainable global