Canopus
November 7, 2007 2:00 PM   Subscribe

Four scanned pictures of the French nuclear test codenamed Canopus, which was fired on 24th August 1968 in the Fangataufa Atoll. The photographs are amazing.
posted by chunking express (48 comments total) 30 users marked this as a favorite

 
Having a great time! Got a sunburn! Wish you were here! xoxox K
posted by kuujjuarapik at 2:08 PM on November 7, 2007 [2 favorites]


Canopus: "The device was suspended from a large hydrogen filled balloon. It was detonated at 18:30:00.5 GMT with a 2.6 megaton yield at an altitude of 1800 feet. As a result of the successful detonation, France became the 5th thermonuclear nation."

Spectacular - and chilling - photos indeed. Thanks.
posted by googly at 2:11 PM on November 7, 2007


...For we grew up tall and proud
In the shadow of the mushroom cloud...
posted by thewalrusispaul at 2:17 PM on November 7, 2007


God, those are islands, not ships like I thought in the first picture. The scale shifted so much when I realized that.

I wish there were some information of the colors - they're so bright and saturated I could think they were put in later, but then I think I'm just so used to seeing the black-and-white footage from American tests (and I guess it is the late 1960s).
posted by The Bridge on the River Kai Ryssdal at 2:17 PM on November 7, 2007


One thing that these pictures hint at is the scale. It's hard to get an idea for how far way and thus how unutterably enormous all those features must be.

If only someone had recorded them in stereo vision.

My other most favorite nuclear explosion pictures.
posted by Skorgu at 2:20 PM on November 7, 2007 [3 favorites]


"The device was suspended from a large hydrogen filled balloon."

Did we learn nothing from the Hindenburg?
posted by Floydd at 2:21 PM on November 7, 2007


"All changed, changed utterly:
A terrible beauty is born."
posted by kirkaracha at 2:31 PM on November 7, 2007


Very nice pics. Just wish they were bigger (grumble grumble).
posted by stinkycheese at 2:36 PM on November 7, 2007


Possible newspaper headline: "French Fry Atoll."
posted by fandango_matt at 2:36 PM on November 7, 2007 [2 favorites]


Pull my finger.
posted by popcassady at 2:39 PM on November 7, 2007




Very nice pics. Just wish they were bigger (grumble grumble).


Did you try clicking "All sizes"? The full sized ones are 1500x1000 px.
posted by delmoi at 2:44 PM on November 7, 2007


Just wish they were bigger

Click "different sizes" in the right hand column of each picture page.
posted by mattbucher at 2:45 PM on November 7, 2007


Really drives home the "I am become death" comment from Oppenheimer.
posted by never used baby shoes at 2:50 PM on November 7, 2007


Sublime
posted by Rancid Badger at 2:57 PM on November 7, 2007


We'll meet again
Don't know how
Don't know when
posted by schmedeman at 2:59 PM on November 7, 2007 [1 favorite]


Insta-desktop. Nothin' like looking at one of many potential apocalypse triggers 8 or 900 times a day. Keep it real, wut wut!
posted by nosila at 2:59 PM on November 7, 2007


Thanks everybody. I feel pretty dumb now.
posted by stinkycheese at 2:59 PM on November 7, 2007


We don't want this to happen here, that is why we have taken away all your rights. - The Central Scrutinizer
posted by caddis at 3:03 PM on November 7, 2007


Two Hiroshimas per day, 365 days per year, for 36 years. Beautiful.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 3:04 PM on November 7, 2007


The full sized ones are 1500x1000 px.

Suitable for printing a 3"x5" image, unfortunately. This would make a nice poster.
posted by doctor_negative at 3:25 PM on November 7, 2007


Complete and utter annihilation moving towards you at several hundred km/hour would be a fascinating thing to see (assuming that you still have eyes, of course.)

Estimated number of France's operational nuclear warheads: 348. France ranks 3rd worldwide, after Russia with 5,670 and the United States with 5,163. China and the UK have less than 200 warheads each. Israel, Pakistan, and India: less than 100 each. North Korea: less than 10.

Iraq, 0, Iran, 0, Syria, 0.

I've always been terrible at higher math: remind me again where the worldwide threat might be coming from.
posted by cenoxo at 3:26 PM on November 7, 2007 [3 favorites]


Thanks, metafilter, for 30 minutes of fascinating youtube nuke test watching, and a new wallpaper.
posted by Mach5 at 3:43 PM on November 7, 2007


Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds.
posted by lalochezia at 3:50 PM on November 7, 2007


If beauty could kill.

oh...wait...
posted by MiltonRandKalman at 3:50 PM on November 7, 2007


"Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf said Monday he'd been prepared to use atomic weapons if Indian forces crossed into its territory earlier this year [2002] when tensions peaked – in an admission of how close the neighbors came to nuclear war."
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 3:57 PM on November 7, 2007


Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds.

I always preferred the words of Manhattan Project Director Kenneth Bainbridge:

"Now we are all sons of bitches."
posted by Rangeboy at 4:07 PM on November 7, 2007 [1 favorite]


I've never been able to enjoy looking at photos of nuclear explosions. They always freak me out. These are nice quality, though - but obviously very retouched.
posted by The Light Fantastic at 4:09 PM on November 7, 2007


great photos but it is not like being there in person...you folks missed grand show.
posted by Postroad at 4:13 PM on November 7, 2007


Terrible, horrifying, and heartrendingly beautiful all at once. It makes me just a little more grateful for being alive. Thanks, chunking.
posted by gemmy at 4:21 PM on November 7, 2007



great photos but it is not like being there in person...you folks missed grand show.


I get the feeling that one day in most of our lifetimes, we'll witness another 'grand show'.

Only this time, it won't be a test, and aesthetics wil be far from the onlookers minds.
posted by lalochezia at 4:51 PM on November 7, 2007


I used to have a poster of this one. I bought it at the Electric Fetus to decorate my first apartment. It was placed above the head of my bead.

I used to have a lot of very drunken sex under it with the girl who lived downstairs from me.

I was thinking about her, and also this poster the other day. I always wondered where it was taken and what the story was.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 5:09 PM on November 7, 2007


Interesting... last week..... Enola Gay...this week... French bombs...

When do we start learning from this... somehow I feel this slow crawl towards annihilation!
posted by HuronBob at 5:30 PM on November 7, 2007


There's an undeniable beauty in a mushroom cloud. If you can strip away the politics and the history and the suffering and the threat of armageddon, there's just nothing that can similarly express the triumph of science and the beauty of the physics in the extreme.

Just look at that first shot. It punched a hole in the sky. I actually have a 36x24" print of that photo, so I've done my share of staring at it.
posted by rlk at 5:58 PM on November 7, 2007


Rasterbated and on my wall very shortly...
posted by Parannoyed at 6:03 PM on November 7, 2007


Gosh those are beautiful.
posted by unknowncommand at 6:36 PM on November 7, 2007


Nature boy
posted by greenskpr at 7:07 PM on November 7, 2007


They are awesome images, and awful.

I read somewhere, I think it might have been in a biography of Oppenheimer, an attempt at description by some military man of just how far beyond ordinary ordnance a nuke is. You may have seen a lot of explosions and a lot of destruction and death (I paraphrase) and be expecting just a big bomb, but personally witnessing a test drives home the point that these are truly terrifying devices of a higher order. He went on to worry that, with the ban on aboveground testing, modern leaders don't really understand, viscerally, what they're dealing with.
posted by hattifattener at 7:24 PM on November 7, 2007


So unspeakably horrible and so captivatingly beautiful, at one and the same time. Repugnant and seductive. A thing of horror, a thing of beauty. And that's so excruciatingly weird.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 8:53 PM on November 7, 2007


Estimated number of France's operational nuclear warheads: 348. France ranks 3rd worldwide, after Russia with 5,670 and the United States with 5,163...

Funny, I've always heard the US "won" the cold war on tv *ducks*. this begs the question; On what grounds are you considered the victor in a "cold" war? I bet the Russians think they've won too. What are the "estimates" of these figures based on? Did the site get their information from Solid Snake?
posted by Student of Man at 9:57 PM on November 7, 2007


On what grounds are you considered the victor in a "cold" war?

You still exist and your opponent doesn't?
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 10:00 PM on November 7, 2007


Hattiefattener, due to your mention of the nuclear test ban, General Leslie Groves' Memorandum Describing the First Nuclear Test In New Mexico, July 18, 1945, is probably not the description you're referring to, but it's sobering enough. (It also contains a shorter report by General Thomas Farrell.)

Keep in mind that the Trinity Gadget test yield was about 20-22 kilotons (thousands of tons of TNT), Hiroshima's Little Boy bomb yield was about 13 kt, and Nagasaki's Fat Man about 22 kt.

Yields of today's deliverable strategic nuclear weapons may vary anywhere from 100 kt to several megatons (millions of tons of TNT). The most powerful bomb tests were Castle Bravo (U.S.A., 35 mt), and Tsar Bomba (U.S.S.R., 50 mt).

Up to a certain point, size won't matter very much to those on the receiving end.
posted by cenoxo at 10:05 PM on November 7, 2007 [1 favorite]


Student of Man wrote: What are the "estimates" of these figures based on? Did the site get their information from Solid Snake?

The estimates are from the Nuclear Information Project. Footnote A on the leading table, Status of World Nuclear Forces 2007, reads as follows:
The estimates are based on work published in the Nuclear Notebook co-authored with Robert Norris in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, the nuclear appendix in the SIPRI Yearbook co-authored with Shannon Kile and others, and the FAS Strategic Security Blog. This table is updated continuously as new information becomes available.
More about the Nuclear Information Project (whose sources may have a bit more credibility than Solid Snake.)
posted by cenoxo at 10:30 PM on November 7, 2007


looking for bigger pix?
you might have to buy the book.

('full moon' (and the story behind it) are awesome as well)
posted by sexyrobot at 11:46 PM on November 7, 2007


Et je devienne Mort, destructeur de mondes.

I feel so dirty for liking these pics.

(Also, just realized that the French word for 'death' is almost the same as the Hindi word for death, mauth.)
posted by the cydonian at 3:47 AM on November 8, 2007


I feel so dirty for liking these pics.

How do you feel about pictures of la petite mort?
posted by caddis at 6:58 AM on November 8, 2007


Those French, even their nukes are stylish...
posted by Skeptic at 7:07 AM on November 8, 2007


How do you feel about pictures of la petite mort?
Well, what do you think? :-)

Just discovered this idiom today in French, in addition to the rather elegant L’Esprit d’escalier (dans anglais). Fascinating stuff!
posted by the cydonian at 9:00 AM on November 8, 2007


Wait, that should have been en anglais, shouldn't it? Hmmmm.
posted by the cydonian at 9:01 AM on November 8, 2007


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