Heinz Haber, Disney’s Chief Scientist, Explains the Atom in 1957
What Aristotle, Aladdin, and Captain Nemo teach us about the promise of nuclear energy.
By Maria Popova
In 1954, Walt Disney entered an unusual barter-economy arrangement with television network ABC: He would provide them with a weekly hour-long broadcast, and in exchange they’d fund the construction of Disneyland. The TV show, originally named after the theme park Disney envisioned and later renamed Tomorrowland, went on to become one of the longest-running series in TV history, producing 54 seasons, 13 of which were hosted by Disney himself.
In January of 1957, two years after the release of Disney’s illustrated gem Our Friend the Atom, German atomic physicist and science writer Heinz Haber (May 15, 1913 — February 13, 1990) — whom Disney had hired as chief scientist at Disneyland and who had authored the book — appeared on an episode of the show bearing the same title as the book and exploring the “exciting possibility” of atomic energy as a new power source for humanity through a mix of science and illustrative animations from Disney films:
The atom is our future. It is the subject everyone wants to understand.
See the wonderful mid-century illustrations from the book, sadly long out of print, here.
Published May 15, 2013