It’s not only an atom, it’s an atom with style. It’s got a classic late-1950s/early-1960s asymmetrical, jaunty swagger. Those electrons are swinging, baby!I realized that I must tell Alex the story of the shirts.
Once upon a time-- it may have been the summer of 2006-- a bunch of us were about to go camping on land owned by a friend. One of many activities planned was the explosive dyeing of T-shirts: wrap primacord around a bag of dye, surround it with wooden racks holding wet T-shirts, detonate. The "pyrocolor" process results in an interesting splatter pattern; if you do it right, not many holes are torn in the shirts by flying debris.
Anyway, Richard Rostrom, whom I know as a programmer, science fiction fan, history buff, and raconteur, wanted some inexpensive white T-shirts to pyrocolor. So he went to a store in Chicago that sells cheap discounted garments.
He found the white T-shirts he was looking for. But he also found a surprise.
There was a whole rack of nice polo shirts, navy blue with cream trim.
Each was embroidered with the logo of the IAEA, and the words "INTERNATIONAL ATOMIC ENERGY AGENCY, VIENNA."
Dickering with the store's owner, Rich took the polo shirts off his hands.
Every. Single. One.
The first I learned of this was a few days later, at Camp Wannamakeabigboom. Rich produced a large garbage bag. He told the story I have just told you. And he gave away all the shirts, save one for himself.
As Alex says of the IAEA, "Heck, I’ll go so far as to say that they have the coolest logo of any atomic-energy organization in history." Never have campers been more nattily attired. Blue shirts were everywhere. We realized that, if we wanted to, we could dine in the restaurants of the Upper Peninsula posing as a group of international weapons inspectors. (Not that we did such a thing.)
I love my shirt dearly, and I am very grateful to Mr. Rostrom for his generous gift. I was an Atomic Age boy. I grew up to work in a physics lab. I admire the work of the IAEA in taming proliferation of nuclear weapons. This is one cool shirt.
This has also become my "shirt to wear when you are having your picture taken someplace interesting." (Which is related to my motto, "Never pass a fiberglass mascot!")
In the cockpit of a B-29.
Ernest Rutherford's laboratory at McGill University in Montreal.
Aboard a German halftrack.
At the dish-level of the Green Bank Telescope.
With Henry Moore's "Nuclear Energy" sculpture on the site of the first fission reactor.
I won't bother you with my favorite IAEA-shirt photo, which I have reprinted often and you are probably tired of, the one where I'm saluting, but click here if you want to see it anyway.
Who knows how or why these shirts found their way to a Chicago store? All I know is that I benefited from Rich's serendipitous find.
It's a great agency. It's a great logo. It's a great shirt.