NUCLEAR SCIENCE WEEK – Third Week in October

(Last Updated On: November 9, 2022)


Every year during the third week of October, Nuclear Science Week provides an opportunity to discuss the positive impact that nuclear technology has on our lives. The observance also invites educators, students, and employers to better understand nuclear science.

The word nuclear means “of or relating to the nucleus of an atom.” Atoms are a necessary component of everything around us. Even human beings are composed of atoms. Nuclear science, then, is the study of the atomic world. In order to understand the universe, and ourselves, we need to know how atoms come together and interact. Atoms can also be combined with other atoms to produce medicines and more efficient materials.

Science gives a Greek philosopher named Democritus credit for coming up with the idea of atoms back in 450 B.C. One hundred years later, Aristotle, a more well-known philosopher, thought the idea of an atom was ridiculous. Because of these beliefs, the world did not take the subject of atoms seriously until 1800.

Around 1800, a British chemist named John Dalton revived Domocritis’s idea of atoms. After much research, Dalton established a theory of the atom. While science accepts most of his theory still today, science has disproved one area. Dalton’s theory suggests that atoms are the smallest particles. Since Dalton’s theory, scientists know now that there are smaller particles than the atom. Throughout the years, different scientists discovered electrons, protons, and the nucleus. All of these are components of nuclear science.

Nuclear Science Week focuses on many uses of nuclear science found in physics, energy, medicine, environmental research, agriculture, mining, and archeology. Innovators also use nuclear science to make certain kinds of smoke detectors for the home.

HOW TO OBSERVE #NuclearScienceWeek

Around the country, organizations hold a variety of events. Each year, a different city is chosen to host national events. Past host cities have included Albuquerque, Washington D.C., Chicago, Seattle, Knoxville, and Wilmington. Events have included hands-on demonstrations, workshops, educational seminars, nuclear science competitions, and exhibits.

To participate:

  • Learn about nuclear science and its importance in the world.
  • Read about nuclear scientists including Marie Curie, Otto Hahn, Enrico Fermi, and Paul Dirac.
  • Involve your children. Do nuclear science activities and experiments with your kids.
  • Develop a nuclear science trivia contest for friends and family members.
  • Educators, host an essay-writing or poster contest for your students.
  • Do you use nuclear science? Share your experiences and innovations with others.

However you celebrate, be sure to share this week on social media with #NuclearScienceWeek


In 2009, the National Museum of Nuclear Science & History expressed the need to generate public awareness on the achievements of nuclear science. The museum, along with several energy partners, formed a steering committee for Nuclear Science Week. From 2010 to 2012, they held week-long nuclear science celebrations in January. To widen participation, organizers changed the celebration from the cold month of January to the third week in October.


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