Bombs Away
May 8, 2011 11:28 AM   Subscribe

"...anyway, we delivered the bomb."
posted by puny human (40 comments total) 17 users marked this as a favorite

 
Before I was married, I rented a nice place from an retired executive from Radio Shack. In fact, he was one of the 4 founding guys with Tandy. I would go over and pay the rent, and sit and chat with him and would love his stories. In the course of our conversations, I found out he had been an officer on the Indianapolis. He spent the entire war on the ship. It was even hit by a kamikaze at one point. He wanted to see his girl, and usually, officers were transferred off the ships after a certain time. He asked for a transfer and leave time and disembarked in San Francisco. As he was getting off, they were loading giant 10 X 10 crates onto the ship. When he made his way to New York to start his time on the Juno, he saw the paper that said, "Indianapolis missing.." He ran immediately to the Naval headquarters and found out most of his buddies were dead after delivering the bomb. He said that where the torpedoes hit, would have taken out his bunk, so he would never have been eaten alive by sharks. When I asked him about Quint, nah, I didn't do that, I was in too much awe. William Collins lived into his mid-eighties, and he had one hell of a life.
posted by Senator at 11:38 AM on May 8, 2011 [30 favorites]


These are some beautiful and amazing photos. I also enjoy the Jaws framing.
posted by Brainy at 11:49 AM on May 8, 2011


Footage of the Sedan nuclear test. (The resulting crater, which you can still tour, is one of the images in the FPP.)
posted by escabeche at 12:31 PM on May 8, 2011


Wait, the purpose of these tests was, what, exactly?
Yes, cool photos. But I am saddened that we were still doing this into the 1960's. Seems like the human race would have learned by about 1946 that nuclear bombs are unacceptably destructive.

We are really very hard headed though.
posted by SLC Mom at 12:44 PM on May 8, 2011


This shot from space, could be the opening image of a really scary movie. The really scary bit is that it isn't.
posted by dabitch at 12:45 PM on May 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


I have always loved and simultaneously hated how god damn awesome those explosions looked.
posted by Senor Cardgage at 1:04 PM on May 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


Yeah, I always have a similar reaction. Amazement and fear. Some of the exposures at the instant of detonation look otherworldly.
posted by Splunge at 1:11 PM on May 8, 2011


This photo, with Oppenheimer in silhouette, has always haunted me... The photos and little films we were shown as kids in elementary school in the mid-60s were so abstract - brilliant flashes and crazy cloud formations - but that one, first seen much late r(probably high school?), is the one I sometimes would see in dreams. The Devil, it appears, wears a Panama hat...
posted by OneMonkeysUncle at 1:27 PM on May 8, 2011


Wait, the purpose of these tests was, what, exactly?

To give a shitload of people in the American west and their unborn children cancer, I believe.
posted by Roman Graves at 1:30 PM on May 8, 2011


Compare the beauty of the mushroom clouds to the horror of jellyfish babies.

Destroyer of worlds, indeed.
posted by Afroblanco at 1:51 PM on May 8, 2011 [5 favorites]


Yes, cool photos. But I am saddened that we were still doing this into the 1960's. Seems like the human race would have learned by about 1946 that nuclear bombs are unacceptably destructive.

You mean super awesomely destructive, I think.

Slightly more seriously, atomic bomb technology wasn't standing still. The atomic bombs of 1945 were fission weapons - very simple. By the 60s, nuclear weapon technology had reached the point of two-stage thermonuclear explosives - "hydrogen bombs".

Little Boy, the first bomb to be dropped on an occupied city, had an explosion yield equivalent to roughly 15 kilotons of TNT, give or take. The B41 bombs deployed by the US to strategic bombers in 1961 had an equivalent yield of 25 megatons. Stupidly powerful. Pointlessly powerful. Utterly, mind-numbing terror-inducingly powerful.

If the idea of a bomb so powerful that its destructive force is wasteful - radiated upwards, battering the bomber that delivered it out of the sky, obliterating the fragments of buildings already obliterated - doesn't thrill you to the bone... well, you're saner than the military leadership of the world's most powerful nations for decades.
posted by running order squabble fest at 1:57 PM on May 8, 2011 [5 favorites]


It appears that father figures seated in sensible armchairs are notably unaffected by atomic blasts. I'm concerned about an armchair gap!
posted by ScotchRox at 1:59 PM on May 8, 2011


It's pretty fucked to think about. I mean, that there was a time when we'd just straight up nuke an island, just to see what would happen.
posted by Afroblanco at 2:03 PM on May 8, 2011 [5 favorites]


Terrifying and brilliant pictures. Vaguely related: I was at the Imperial War Museum in London a couple of months back, and was wandering around looking in a semi-detached fashion at most of the exhibits - most of them are interesting but unremarkable.

Then I saw the replica of Little Boy (first image on this page), and had to stop. Once you know what it is, it takes on a peculiarly menacing aspect - this thing, rather smaller than your average car, had the power to flatten an entire city in an instant. That anyone could not only use that on civilians, but could then think "you know what we need? That, but hundreds of times bigger" is the kind of thing that has me wondering how on earth humanity survived the 20th century.
posted by ZsigE at 3:04 PM on May 8, 2011


> This shot from space

That's not from space -- that's the explosion high in the atmosphere as seen from the ground
posted by hank at 3:12 PM on May 8, 2011


Oh, wait, I'm being stupid -- you're right, the caption says it's 'from above' and that has to be from a satellite. I'm thinking of a different image from below of a high-altitude or space test.
posted by hank at 3:13 PM on May 8, 2011


Lord lord lord lord lord forgive us, we do not know...
posted by eeeeeez at 3:34 PM on May 8, 2011


It's pretty fucked to think about. I mean, that there was a time when we'd just straight up nuke an island, just to see what would happen.

They also detonated an H bomb in the Van Allen Radiation Belt, just to see what would happen to it.
posted by empath at 3:39 PM on May 8, 2011 [3 favorites]


I understand why you build it. I really do. Once you realize you can make an explosion that big, how do you not do it? You have to do it at least once.

Now, using it against people, I will never understand.
posted by empath at 3:41 PM on May 8, 2011


Will you at least admit a nuclear explosion is awesome.
posted by Scoo at 3:53 PM on May 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


"...anyway, we delivered the bomb," said George Clinton.
posted by Wolfdog at 4:42 PM on May 8, 2011 [3 favorites]


I don't know, Scoo. Now that Lady Gaga's latest video is "awesome," I think I'd have to go with "awe-inspiring". (Until they debase that, too.)
posted by Crabby Appleton at 4:59 PM on May 8, 2011


If you're interested in the development of the American nuclear program, you could do worse than read American Prometheus, a biography of Oppenheimer. It's enormous - over a thousand pages - but incredibly well researched. Really fascinating.
posted by backseatpilot at 5:03 PM on May 8, 2011


Oh, wait, I'm being stupid -- you're right, the caption says it's 'from above' and that has to be from a satellite.

I suspect a weather balloon, actually, or even a rocket such as one of these.
posted by dhartung at 5:59 PM on May 8, 2011


"Sometimes that shark, he looks right into you. Right into your eyes. You know the thing about a shark, he's got...lifeless eyes, black eyes, like a doll's eyes."
posted by puny human at 6:47 PM on May 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Gosh, at least click the link.
posted by Scoo at 7:20 PM on May 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


So. The United States had an ATOMIC CANNON.

A cannon that shoots atom bombs.

That kind of blows my mind and makes me want to laugh and cry at the same time.
posted by marxchivist at 7:28 PM on May 8, 2011


We had an atomic rifle too, the M65 Davy Crockett.
posted by Scoo at 7:38 PM on May 8, 2011


Also: NUCKLEAR ROCKET
posted by Sebmojo at 8:04 PM on May 8, 2011


Holy crap it blew her shoes ON.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 8:10 PM on May 8, 2011


Seems like the human race would have learned by about 1946 that nuclear bombs are unacceptably destructive.

They were not considered unacceptably destructive enough.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 9:02 PM on May 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


Heck, the United States took one of those atomic cannons and put it on a hillside overlooking I-70 with a giant red, white and blue billboard inviting those driving by to stop for a spell and take a look, just like any other tourist trap out there.

It's how the US of A rolls.
posted by rewil at 11:31 PM on May 8, 2011


"So. The United States had an ATOMIC CANNON.

A cannon that shoots atom bombs.

That kind of blows my mind and makes me want to laugh and cry at the same time
."

They were preparing for the next all out, balls to the wall world war. Both sides deploy everything in their arsenals and the loser is obliterated, while the winner rebuilds and rules his radioactive world for a thousand years. It really seemed like history was building to a climax, where democracy and collectivism would fight it out just like Jesus and Satan in the Bible. If a few battlefields or even half the globe glowed in the dark afterwards that was a small price to pay for victory.
posted by Kevin Street at 2:02 AM on May 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm disappointed the US military stopped at the atomic rifle. They should have gone all the way and made nuclear hand grenades, nuclear land mines, perhaps even little nano-nuclear firecrackers.
posted by kcds at 5:59 AM on May 9, 2011


I think it's kind of funny that they all run like hell after they push the button. Like the extra 10 feet is gonna make a huge difference if something goes wrong.
posted by empath at 6:07 AM on May 9, 2011


Seems like the human race would have learned by about 1946 that nuclear bombs are unacceptably destructive.

The existence of nukes probably prevented WWIII, didn't it?
posted by empath at 6:10 AM on May 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


Seems like the human race would have learned by about 1946 that nuclear bombs are unacceptably destructive.

These very tests are what taught us that nuclear bombs are unacceptably destructive.

I mean, I wish to God they'd have found a different means to test this. But if I had to choose between a series of tests to ascertain the destructive capability of nuclear bombs, and "oh, let's just hang on to them and use them, we'll see what the aftereffects are by just monitoring battlegrounds after we use them for real", I'll take the testing. (Although, maybe not quite so much of it.)
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:40 AM on May 9, 2011


I invite everyone to read "In Harm's Way: The Sinking of the U.S.S. Indianapolis and the Extraordinary Story of Its Survivors" by Doug Stanton.

I always knew that Quint's speech was based on a true story, but reading this book smacked me in the face with the fact that the U.S. was willing to make such enormous sacrifices to end WWII. God bless those poor men in the water, and God bring peace to Captain McVay.
posted by wenestvedt at 9:04 AM on May 9, 2011


The existence of nukes probably prevented WWIII, didn't it?

Remains to be seen.
posted by Afroblanco at 7:47 PM on May 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


The existence of nukes probably prevented WWIII, didn't it?

"As long as they killed people with conventional rather than nuclear weapons, they were praised as humanitarian statesmen. As long as they did not use nuclear weapons, it appeared, nobody was going to give the right name to all the killing that had been going on since the end of the Second World War, which was surely 'World War Three.'" -- Kurt Vonnegut, Galapagos
posted by Galaxor Nebulon at 7:15 AM on May 11, 2011


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