General Physics Colloquium - Kristian Hvidtfelt Nielsen: 'Camp Century: The Incredible Story of How US Army Engineers Built an All-American, Nuclear-Powered City under Greenland’s Icecap'
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General Physics Colloquium
Camp Century: The Incredible Story of How US Army Engineers Built an All-American, Nuclear-Powered City under Greenland’s Icecap
Kristian Hvidtfelt Nielsen
Centre for Science Studies, Department of Physics and Astronomy, Aarhus University
Located on the beeline between the two nuclear superpowers, Greenland took on vital strategic importance during the early phases of the Cold War. As part of its polar strategy, the United States undertook the construction of several bases in Greenland. Camp Century, known as ‘City under the Ice’, was an experimental-military American city built entirely inside the ice sheet in 1959-60. A 225-person, nuclear-powered army base, Century was the precursor for a much larger installation of intercontinental ballistic missiles (which never materialized), but was also used to disseminate popular images of techno-scientific control, nuclear containment, and American values. In popular books and films, “the city under the ice” was depicted as an outstanding example of man’s never-ceasing quest for knowledge, as the epic conquest of the harsh Arctic environment by US Army engineers, as an Arctic sword and shield against the Soviet aggressor, and as a friendly collaboration between the US and Denmark. In the end, however, Camp Century had to be abandoned much earlier than originally planned due to the glaciological forces of the moving ice sheet which crushed the tunnels, but also due to changes in the high politics of the Cold War and the political difficulties underscoring nuclear installations on Danish territory.
Coffee/tea and cake will be served at 3 p.m.