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The Atomium, designed to last six months, was not destined to survive the 1958 World's Fair, but its popularity and success made it a major element of the Brussels landscape.

Its destruction was therefore postponed year after year, until the city's authorities decided to keep it.

In the 1950s, faith in scientific progress was great, and a structure depicting atoms was chosen to embody this.

The Atomium depicts nine iron atoms in the shape of the body-centred cubic unit cell of an iron crystal, magnified 165 billion times.

On 21 December 2005, the new Atomium outdoor lighting was tested.

The meridians of each sphere were covered with rectangular steel plates, in which LED lighting was integrated.

Its nine 18 m (60 ft) diameter stainless steel clad spheres are connected, so that the whole forms the shape of a unit cell of an iron crystal magnified 165 billion times.

Renovation of the Atomium began in March 2004; it was closed to the public in October, and remained closed until 18 February 2007.

The renovations included replacing the faded aluminium sheets on the spheres with stainless steel.

Likewise, while the subject of Atomium was chosen to depict the enthusiasm of the Atomic Age, iron is not and cannot be used as fuel in nuclear reactions.

The Atomium was built as the main pavilion and icon of the 1958 World Fair of Brussels.

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