September 29, 2005 9:13 AM   Subscribe

If the radiance of a thousand suns were to burst forth at once in the sky, that would be like the splendor of the Mighty One... I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds. ---> part one and Part two of Operation Crossroads, one of many atomic testing operations conducted during WWII, documented extensively on film and preserved in excellent condition here at the Archive. For further viewing: Operation Ivy, the testing of the first hydrogen fusion bomb. Operation Cue (1955 version), testing bomb damage done to housing and infrastructure. Special Delivery, a look at the preparation and technology, especially planes, used for the testing. Duck and Cover, a classic safety film from 1951 detailing the best schoolyard response to a nuclear attack. Caution! Interesting, disturbing, and at least an hour's worth of viewing!
posted by BlackLeotardFront (15 comments total)
If you want to read more about the story behind the atomic bomb, I heartily recommend this . Basically, the authoritative history of A-Bomb.

For the H-Bomb, this, by the same author is less impressive, mainly becuase the characters are drier and the history is, to some extent still classified.

No history of nuclear weapons is complete withour reference to FAS or Pugwash
posted by lalochezia at 9:32 AM on September 29, 2005

I heartily recommend this

I'll see your This and raise you This
posted by Peter H at 9:46 AM on September 29, 2005

If you ever get to Los Alamos, NM, don't leave town without having dropped by the Black Hole for a chat with the owner, Ed Grothus. In the '50s, he worked on the implosion shells that surround the uranium 'pit' and drive it critical, and as since become an ardent anti-nuclear activist. He's a wonderful bit of first-person history.
posted by Triode at 9:59 AM on September 29, 2005

Its iteresting to watch these videos, my grandfather was one of the soilders out at the NV test site in the early 1950s, exposed to all that radiation. He ended up dying from cancer a few years ago - but the govt. has a program for people like him - $75,000 to him (or in this case, his widow) for being exposed to radiation.
posted by SirOmega at 10:09 AM on September 29, 2005

If you put the names of the books you're recommending in the link, we won't have to visit Amazon if we don't wanna.
posted by OmieWise at 10:09 AM on September 29, 2005

Op Ivy
posted by OmieWise at 10:10 AM on September 29, 2005

Funny, the band site has a better history than the FPP.
Operation Ivy
posted by team lowkey at 10:45 AM on September 29, 2005

posted by NedKoppel at 12:04 PM on September 29, 2005

Another good atomic bomb site is Conelrad. They have a page dedicated to one of my favorite atomic movies Panic in Year Zero.
posted by Fat Guy at 12:44 PM on September 29, 2005

As a historian who has had only limited study on the cold war this is an awesome find. Immediately going into the archives.
posted by Numenorian at 2:38 PM on September 29, 2005

The Atomic Cafe
posted by jaronson at 2:52 PM on September 29, 2005

Always fun in these discussions:

The Nuclear Weapon Archive, and
Richard Brown's Nuclear Warhead Diagrams

I always get a little worried searching for this shit on Google when I forget the URL.
posted by Ryvar at 3:27 PM on September 29, 2005

No kidding, Ryvar.

Seriously watch the movies all the way through, though - and next time you're in a Barnes & Noble or something, check out the book 100 Suns, by Michael Light, it's all photographs from the original tests, I bought it recently and it's stunning, and contains a lot of interesting history at the end, after the explosions.

Thanks for the additional links, by the way.
posted by BlackLeotardFront at 8:00 PM on September 29, 2005

These are fantastic links. Some of them are particularly laden with pathos - the sailors putting on goggles and "impatiently waiting for the blast", or the goats tethered to the deck to "simulate the effect of blast on military personnel".

Duck and Cover is particularly fascinating. I wonder whether the Government knew that getting under your desk, or covering the back of your neck "to prevent burns", would probably not give you much hope in the event of a nuclear strike. By way of comparison, there was a Whitehall document recently declassified in the UK which showed the planning civil servants conducted in the event of a nuclear strike in the 1950s - it woefully overestimated the number of survivors and underestimated the impact on the country's infrastructure. Of course the UK only developed its own weapons in the 1950s and so may not have been as aware of the effects. It would be interesting to know whether Duck and Cover - which dates from the same period - was meant genuinely or was simply an attempt to prevent civilians from freaking out too much.
posted by greycap at 11:14 AM on September 30, 2005

"Nuclear weapons can wipe out life on earth, if used properly." -- David Byrne, in liner notes of some TH album
posted by neuron at 1:10 PM on September 30, 2005

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