Reactions: New Perspectives on Our Nuclear Legacy

Seventy-five years ago, University of Chicago scientists led by Enrico Fermi ushered in the Atomic Age by achieving the first controlled, self-sustaining nuclear chain reaction.

Recognizing the historic significance of this development, the University has organized a series of events culminating on Dec. 1 and 2. This series commemorates and enables discussion of the complex legacy of what transpired on Dec. 2, 1942. 

Friday, December 1, 2017

Program: 1:30 – 6:00 PM | Reception: 6:00 – 7:00 PM

1:30 PM Program Begins at Reynolds Club
1:30 – 1:35 PM Nuclear Reactions video premiere
1:35 – 1:40 PM

Welcome remarks by Daniel Diermeier, Provost of the University of Chicago 

1:40 – 2:10 PM Opening keynote address delivered by Richard Rhodes, Historian, Journalist, and Author
2:10 – 3:00 PM PANEL 1: The Role of Nuclear Energy in a Climate Constrained World

Moderator: Gretchen Helfrich, Attorney and Journalist

Michael Greenstone, Milton Friedman Professor of Economics and Director of the Energy Policy Institute at the University of Chicago

Chris Crane, Chief Executive Officer, Exelon
3:05 – 3:50 PM 

PANEL 2: The Role of Nuclear Weapons in the Modern World

Moderator:  Gretchen Helfrich, Attorney and Journalist

Dennis Blair, Former United States Director of National Intelligence; Retired United States Navy Admiral

Madelyn Creedon, Former (DOE) Principal Deputy Administrator, National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA)

3:50 – 4:05 PM Break
4:05 – 4:55 PM

PANEL 3: The Role of Nuclear Medicine in the World of Modern Healthcare

Introduction by Gregory Montoya-Mora, UChicago graduate student & Nuclear Reactions commemoration intern

Moderator:  Gretchen Helfrich, Attorney and Journalist


Sam Gambhir, Virginia and D.K. Ludwig Professor for Clinical Investigation in Cancer Research and Professor, by courtesy, of Bioengineering and of Materials Science and Engineering

4:55 – 5:10 PM World Premiere of “Plea for Peace” by Augusta Read Thomas,
Composer; University of Chicago Professor of Composition in the Department of Music and the College

Commissioned composition introduced by Young-Kee Kim, Louis Block Distinguished Service Professor and Chair, The Department of Physics and The Enrico Fermi Institute Department

5:10 – 6:00 PM Closing Keynote Address by Ernest Moniz, Former United States Secretary of Energy; Nuclear Physicist
6:00 – 7:00 PM Reception (open to all attendees)

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Program: Program: 2:30 – 9:30 PM | Reception: 6:15 – 7:45 PM

2:30 PM Program Begins at William Eckhart Research Center
2:30 – 3 PM Welcome Remarks by Bill Brown, Senior Advisor to the Provost for Arts, Karla Scherer Distinguished Service Professor in American Culture
3:00 – 3:15 PM Performance of “Creating Science-Art,” a movement piece by:

Young-Kee Kim, Louis Block Distinguished Service Professor and Chair, The Department of Physics and The Enrico Fermi Institute Department

Sam Pluta, Assistant Professor of Composition, Department of Music, and

Emily Coates, Choreographer, adjunct professor at Yale
3:15 – 4:15 PM Carillon performance and arts demonstration
4:15 PM Program Continues in McCormick Tribune Lounge
4:15 – 6:15 PM  LECTURE: Arts and the Nuclear Age: 1942 | 1967 | 2017

Anne Wagner, Professor Emerita in Art History, UC Berkeley, and former Henry Moore Foundation Research Curator at Tate Britain

Luke Ogrydziak and Zoë Prillinger, principals at Ogrydziak Prillinger Architects and design team behind the “Nuclear Thresholds” installation

Ludovico Centis, architect and Chicago Architecture Biennial presenter

6:15 PM Reception begins (ongoing until final concert)
7:00 – 7:45 PM Performance of commissioned works by alumni and current student composers Musicians: Emma Hospelhorn, flute; Daniel Pesca, piano; John Corkill, percussion


Clifton Callendar, PhD, Professor of Composition, College of Music, Florida State University

Amelia S. Kaplan, PhD, Associate Professor of Music Composition and Director of the New Music Ensemble, Ball State University 

Kevin Kay, MA 2018, independent composer
4:55 – 5:10 PM Guests gather in Mandel Hall for final performance of the evening
5:10 – 6:00 PM University Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Barbara Schubert (performance includes a lecture/demonstration on Penderecki’s “Threnody”)


A Hymn for the Lost and the Living,” by Eric Ewazen

“Threnody for the Victims of Hiroshima,” by Krzysztof Penderecki

“The Year of 1917,” by Dmitri Shostakovich