Matthew Adamson is Director of Academic and Student Affairs at the Budapest campus of McDaniel College. His research has concerned the history of nuclear technology and institution-building in France in the postwar. As part of the TEUS project, he is examining uranium prospecting and its relationship to geopolitics and the growth of the geophysical sciences in the Cold War era.
Matthew’s interest in the history of atomic programs traces back to his doctoral work on the early history of the French program. His study revealed how in its first fifteen years the Commissariat à l’Energie Atomique carved out a space for itself in the French state, and created an extensive technological system comprising the accumulation of uranium and other raw materials, the building of reactors and large research instruments, and the creation of an R&D infrastructure suited to these developments, resulting in an output that ranged from marked molecules to nuclear weapons. He is currently elaborating this work to better understand the transnational processes essential to this system building, and is particularly interested in the transnational actors responsible for crucial episodes of atomic diplomacy and technology transfer.
Drawing on this research, Matthew is contributing to the TEUS project by examining uranium prospection. Geologists, mineralogists, and mining engineers were leading figures in determining the scope of the French atomic program and managing the cultivation of its transnational networks. Exploiting sources in archives in the US, France, Spain, and Italy, Matthew and his TEUS colleagues are discovering the key role the geophysics of uranium played in the establishment and at times collapse of Cold War networks and alliances to exploit atomic energy. Significantly, the first agreement reached by France and the US in the atomic field was based on the countries’ mutual interest in prospecting the rocks and sands of Morocco for uranium.