Rapatronic photographs
August 30, 2001 5:30 AM   Subscribe

Rapatronic photographs are eerie when you realise what the subject matter is. They leave me with a hole in my guts - the way I felt the time I experienced a total solar eclipse, only in this case the aftertaste is negative, rather than positive wonder. More here.
posted by southisup (17 comments total)
posted by starvingartist at 6:24 AM on August 30, 2001

*sniff* It makes me a little misty when I think about how proud I am to belong to such an awesomely destructive race of beings. God bless us, every one.
posted by dopamine at 6:29 AM on August 30, 2001

hey wow, that was really cool. thanks!
posted by kliuless at 6:39 AM on August 30, 2001

Great link, southisup. This beats the Astronomy Photo of the Day by a mile. Thanks!
posted by gleuschk at 6:45 AM on August 30, 2001

Is it just me or does the first five photos resemble human birth???

Must be just me.....
posted by gloege at 6:45 AM on August 30, 2001

I thought they looked like electron microscope images of viruses.
posted by dhartung at 6:50 AM on August 30, 2001

Honestly, I thought at first they were zygotes. This was because (a) the first link was broken, and (b) the second link, well, I skimmed right over the description of what I was looking at. Then I saw the word "fireball" in one of the picture description. Needless to say, this is sort of eerie that a special method has been created to record images of one of the most destructive things known to humankind. I've got that negative aftertaste now too...
posted by philulrich at 7:09 AM on August 30, 2001

i gotta chip in too. great link man. made me feel kinda dizzy knowing i was looking at the last thing 240,000 people saw before dying in a blink of an eye and 1000s more who slowly died from thermal burn and radiation fallout.


"A bright light filled the plane," wrote Lt. Col. Paul Tibbets, the pilot of the Enola Gay, the B-29 that dropped the first atomic bomb. "We turned back to look at Hiroshima. The city was hidden by that awful cloud...boiling up, mushrooming." For a moment, no one spoke. Then everyone was talking. "Look at that! Look at that! Look at that!" exclaimed the co-pilot, Robert Lewis, pounding on Tibbets's shoulder. Lewis said he could taste atomic fission; it tasted like lead. Then he turned away to write in his journal. "My God," he asked himself, "what have we done?" (special report, "Hiroshima: August 6, 1945")
posted by Qambient at 7:12 AM on August 30, 2001

Thanks for the link, southisup. I've been interested in photos of nuclear explosions since I was a teen, and these are the bomb.

Look at that! Just mere nanoseconds after detonation, and it's bigger than the tower that carried the bomb itself. And read this:

Cause of the surface mottling. At this point in the explosion, a true hydrodynamic shock front has just formed. Prior to this moment the growth of the fireball was due to radiative transport, i.e. thermal x-rays outran the expanding bomb debris. Now however the fireball expansion is caused by the shock front driven by hydrodynamic pressure (as in a conventional explosion, only far more intense). The glowing surface of the fireball is due to shock compression heating of the air. This means that the fireball is now growing far more slowly than before. The bomb (and shot cab) vapors were initially accelerated to very high velocities (several tens of kilometers/sec) and clumps of this material are now splashing against the back of the shock front in an irregular pattern (due to initial variations in mass distribution around the bomb core), creating the curious mottled appearance.

The unspeakable horrors of nuclear death and destruction aside, the physics involved here -- and captured on Rapatronic camera -- are just too cool.
posted by brownpau at 7:51 AM on August 30, 2001

Holy cow is that cool... although, I think I'll pass on seeing the real thing.
posted by fusinski at 7:56 AM on August 30, 2001

An altogether frightening yet wonderful link. Thanks s'up.
posted by Avogadro at 8:11 AM on August 30, 2001

"made me feel kinda dizzy knowing i was looking at the last thing 240,000 people saw before dying in a blink of an eye"

Depends on your definition of saw. Those killed by the blast itself (*) were obliterated in less than the time it took for the retina to process the visual field and send it's compacted data over the optic nerve to the brain. Nor did they feel any pain, as the nerve signals to the brain couldn't have reached it in time.

I suspect that those who were blinded by the blast may have seen such shapes and perhaps it is their last visual memory.

(*) Btw, these are photos of hydrogen bomb bursts which so far haven't been used outside of testing. The atom bombs used in Japan were much less powerful.
posted by Qubit at 8:18 AM on August 30, 2001

"these are the bomb"

please please tell me you were trying to be funny.
posted by Sapphireblue at 8:27 AM on August 30, 2001

You've got to love the names given to each test explosion. My particular favorite: Operation Upshot-Knothole. All you can say really is "I'm sure it was, I'm sure it was."

Great link, well the second one, thanks southisup.
posted by Option1 at 8:59 AM on August 30, 2001

When I read the trailer, about the "hole in my guts", I was kind-of surprised at the strength of the reaction. It reminded me of a comment on the radio I heard yesterday, apparently quoting from Novick's book - that 20 years ago, *the* thing that characterised WWII was "the bomb", but now it's the Holocaust.

Given the reactions here, maybe that's not true in general, although it rang a bell for me.
posted by andrew cooke at 9:35 AM on August 30, 2001

I think what characterized WWII for so many people (then and now) depended on what side of the world you were on at the time. For one grandfather who was stationed in Pearl Harbor and fought the Japanese, the war was all about the Pacific battles and the bomb. For another grandfather, working with the Resistance and then later, stationed in Germany, smuggling out Jews to Israel, the war was entirely about the Holocaust.

For the Jews struggling for their very existance, I wonder what impact really the war in the Pacific and the bomb had on their lives given that Hitler died May 1, 1945 and the first bomb was dropped on Hiroshima on August 6, 1945. The bomb on Nagasaki was three days later I believe. It begs several questions that are really not pertinent to this discussion save one: do you really think it was necessary to drop the bomb on Hiroshima let alone follow up with the mass destruction of Nagasaki?

Beyond that, my point was that I don't think you can rationally discuss WWII without noting the historic presence of both happenings at that time.

Back to your locally scheduled posts pertinent to subject posted....
posted by gloege at 9:55 AM on August 30, 2001

Wow. That was the best link I've seen on MeFi in a while. Thanks southisup.
posted by the bob at 12:31 PM on August 30, 2001

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