DALL-E

DALL·E Just Dreamed A Better Future For Nuclear Power

Using a revolutionary AI tool to re-imagine nuclear energy.

David de Caires Watson
The Kernel
Published in
4 min readAug 3, 2022

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“Triumphant majestic monumental Hinkley Point B power station in Somerset in pop art style, Andy Warhol”

DALL·E is a ground-breaking artificial intelligence tool trained using millions of images and capable of generating original art, photos and illustrations via a simple, natural language text prompt. And I do mean original; none of the below images are real or exist anywhere on the internet.

The technology behind DALL·E is so advanced that running your first prompt is almost unnerving, like if you were from the 1920s and a time-traveller just handed you a smartphone. As Arthur C. Clarke once said, “any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.”

Created by tech company OpenAI, this AI will surely change how we think of art and creativity forever. This has been written about countless times across the internet, so I won’t pretend I have anything new to add here.

Instead, let’s unleash DALL·E on to my favourite topic: the imagery surrounding nuclear power.

“A sci-fi nuclear reactor building surrounded by playing families, in an urban area on a sunny morning, memphis style” (DALL·E)

I’ve written many times (e.g. here and here) about nuclear power’s image problem. It may be a clean energy giant but is seen as dirty, dangerous and secretive. I’ve been trying to change that through the imagery I collect (and occasionally commission) for my Instagram channel, Atomic Trends.

I challenge myself not to use photos of nuclear plants on Atomic Trends; instead I post images that speak to themes I associate with nuclear: sci-fi, nature, future, cyberpunk, myth, superheroes, urbanism, and many others. While this has been fun, I often have imagery ideas in my head I wish I could put to paper but — alas — I’m no artist. But what if I could use DALL·E to turn ideas in my head into images on the screen?

Although I’m on the waiting list, I haven’t yet been granted access to DALL·E, so thanks to brother Tom for letting me use his account for nuclear dreaming :)

Do androids dream of electric sheep?

I’ve only had DALL·E for a few days, but have already built up a huge repertoire of fresh imagery. The below is just a small sample — the rest I’ll be releasing on Instagram and Twitter in the coming weeks and months.

Note: the caption for each image is the exact prompt given to DALL·E.

Sci-fi rewilding

One my favourite themes is nuclear as a sci-fi technology that enables global rewilding. The only problem is that no one knows what I mean by that…Save me, DALL·E, you’re my only hope!

“a clean small modular reactor surrounded by a tranquil forest, with a utopian sci-fi city in the background, national geographic landscape photo, shot from a helicopter” (DALL·E)
“a clean small modular reactor surrounded by a tranquil mountain forest, powering a towering utopian sci-fi city in the background, national geographic landscape photo, shot from a helicopter” (DALL·E)
“Advanced nuclear microreactor in the style of the Eden project greenhouse in Cornwall, gushing waterfall greening a parched desert, shot from a drone, 4k, national geographic” (DALL·E)

Nuclear isn’t just about electricity; it could also be used to make clean fuels for shipping. How about one of those sci-fi reactors on the Hudson River right in front of Manhattan?

Yeah, I put it where the Statue of Liberty is meant to be…

“bright Clean epic sci-fi nuclear reactor on island in the hudson river in front of downtown manhattan, intricate, 4k photo” (DALL·E)

Give me pretty

Who’s sick of boring, poor quality photos of nuclear power plants? *Everyone raises hands*

I want something more expressive…

“Monumental glass nuclear reactor containment building growing from the side of granite cliff, rough seas, mostly silhouetted in soft shadow, harsh light, nordic, national geographic, sea birds in soaring in background” (DALL·E)
“Monumental clean futuristic nuclear reactor on top of a forested mountain in an epic stark landscape” (DALL·E)

Artistic licence

There is definitely not enough nuclear artwork out there, either depicting the power plants themselves or else abstract ideas related to nuclear energy.

Let’s see what we can do…

“A sci-fi nuclear reactor building surrounded by playing families, in an urban area on a sunny morning, ukiyo-e” (DALL·E)
“A hand-drawn sailboat circled by birds passing in front of Diablo Canyon nuclear plant at sunrise, california, warm, vibrant” (DALL·E)
“olkiluoto nuclear power plant in the style of a Keith Haring artwork” (DALL·E)

Pick your favourite style

DALL·E can even create images in a particular style or genre. Let’s try a few.

a clean sci-fi nuclear reactor building surrounded by a blooming meadow, in a tranquil forested mountain valley on a sunny day, in the style of a 1950s Ladybird book illustration (DALL·E)
“Art deco travel poster for sizewell B nuclear plant in Suffolk” (DALL·E)
“Diablo Canyon nuclear plant in the style of Théophile Steinlen 1896 le chat noir poster” (DALL·E)

Your imagination is the limit

We’re only just beginning to learn what is possible with DALL·E. To me, it feels like the only limit is your own imagination. These should be exciting times.

The future is in our hands.

“Close up of a glowing atom in the palm of a human hand against an urban backdrop, energetic, vibrant, street photography” (DALL·E)

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David de Caires Watson
The Kernel

Nuclear futurist, chartered physicist, safety engineer, amateur birder and pedal power enthusiast. Writer for The Kernel mag. Founder of Atomic Trends.