This 1957 video by Walt Disney was produced in parallel with a book titled “Our friend, the atom.”  It was translated into Italian and I perfectly remember having read it when I was, maybe, ten years old. Still today, half a century later, the imagery of the book is with me. When I think of atoms, electrons are blue and protons red, as they were drawn in that book.

“Our friend, the atom” was full of optimism and of hope for the wealth and prosperity that the atomic age would bring to us. It is a shock, today, to look back to those times and realize how much it had been promised and how little was actually delivered. Go to minute 4:40 of the film and watch the story of the Fisherman and the Genie. How naive it was to think that we could trick nature so easily! Our greatest mistake has always been to think that we are smarter than nature.

The clip shown here is the first of a 5-parts series. To see the whole movie, go to and type “our friend the atom” in the search box. Clip n. 5 is especially interesting as it shows animations of what were thought to be the actual benefits that atomic energy would bring to us.