Anniversaries, Bombs, and Cakes.
Last week’s Hiroshima anniversary reminded me of some images from the testing of nuclear weapons in the ’40s and ’50s in the Marshall Islands.
One is beautiful and one is funny, and they are both completely terrifying.
I’ve spent the morning googling around on Hiroshima; it’s not for the faint of heart. Check out some incredible images here, and read about the photographer Yosuke Yamahata, who was perhaps the only person photographing on the ground directly following the devastation.
Mushroom cloud from the largest nuclear test the United States ever conducted, Castle Bravo.
The United States conducted the U.S. Nuclear Testing Program (NTP) in the Marshall Islands between 1946 and 1958. In those twelve years, the U.S. detonated 67 nuclear bombs in and around the land, air, and water of the Marshall Islands. The bombs had a total yield of 108,496 kilotons, over 7,200 times more powerful than the atomic weapons used during World War II.
In 1952, the U.S. conducted the world’s first thermonuclear detonation, the Mike Shot on Enewetak Atoll. The most famous test, the Bravo shot, detonated at Bikini Atoll on March 1, 1954, was a 15-megaton hydrogen bomb more than 1,000 times as powerful as the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima.
From its $20 billion investment in the NTP, the U.S. gained a much more sophisticated understanding of nuclear weapons and the health effects of exposure to excessive doses of radioactive fallout. Consequently, the U.S. bolstered its military and political position in the early years of the Cold War.
The Bravo shot, detonated on Bikini Atoll on March 1, 1954, was the largest thermonuclear device ever tested by the United States. The Bravo test exposed Marshallese people to near-fatal amounts of radiation, and resulted in widespread radiological contamination of people and the environment.
1946. Admiral and Mrs. Blandy celebrate operation crossroads with an atomic cake. This frequently reproduced photograph captures an uncanny resemblance between Mrs. Blandy’s hat and the mushroom cloud.