While teaching Frontiers of Science,
a required freshman science course, Emlyn Hughes, Professor of Physics at Columbia University, became increasingly aware of the connection between the dangers of nuclear proliferation and the scientific foundation of nuclear energy. He decided to organize a group of young people who could approach the topic from a fresh and thoughtful perspective. In 2011, Professor Hughes selected a group of six Columbia students to comprise a nuclear proliferation study group. The six students had varying academic interests but were all deeply passionate about exploring the problem of nuclear proliferation and communicating the problem, along with potential solutions, to a wider audience.
That summer, those six students produced Chain Reaction an original documentary about the 21st century manifestation of the nuclear threat. Working over the course of ten weeks, the group members wrote papers on topics that they found particularly compelling, such as waste disposal solutions, nuclear safety inspections, and energy policy. They then worked together to shape a documentary that highlighted the most pressing issues they came across. Towards the end of the summer, the group traveled to Los Alamos, New Mexico to see for themselves the site of the first nuclear bomb test. Having spent weeks reading and interviewing people about the dangers of nuclear proliferation and countless hours discussing changing views and concerns on the topic, the chance to see the historical site where it all began was inspiring and provided a powerful influence for the well-received documentary.
Read more about the inception of the K=1 Project here.