70 Years After Trinity Test, The Nuclear Age Inspires Concern — And Tourism

Earlier this week, world powers joined forces to curb Iran’s controversial nuclear program. But 70 years ago, the rush to build “the bomb” ushered in the powerful — and dangerous — nuclear age.

The first detonation of an atomic bomb (code name: Trinity) took place at 5:29 a.m. on July 16, 1945, on the Alamogordo Bombing and Gunnery Range, located about 230 miles south of the Manhattan Project’s headquarters in Los Alamos, New Mexico. When the implosion-design plutonium device (known as the “Gadget”) exploded, it filled the sky with a terrifying radioactive cloud, scorched the earth below and released the explosive energy of about 19 kilotons of TNT.

The blast was witnessed by 425 people, including physicist Enrico Fermi, physicist and chemist Richard Tolman and J. Robert Oppenheimer, theoretical physicist and director of the Los Alamos Laboratory. Oppenheimer is believed to have assigned the test’s code name after the poem “Holy Sonnet XIV: Batter My Heart, Three-Personed God” by John Donne, which notes in part:

Batter my heart, three-personed God; for you

As yet but knock, breathe, shine, and seek to mend;

That I may rise and stand, o’erthrow me, and bend

Your force to break, blow, burn, and make me new.

When asked to describe his reaction to the testing of the most destructive weapon mankind had ever created, Oppenheimer said, “We knew the world would not be the same. A few people laughed, a few people cried, most people were silent. I remembered the line from the Hindu scripture, the Bhagavad Gita. Vishnu is trying to persuade the Prince that he should do his duty and to impress him takes on his multi-armed form and says, ‘Now, I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds.’ I suppose we all —> Read More