On this episode of Breaking the Set, Abby Martin goes over the ongoing nuclear crisis in Fukushima, Japan, the dangers of nuclear energy and remarks on the anniversary of the atomic bombs that devastated the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki during World War II.
Tag Archives | Atomic Bomb
After the United States detonated an atomic bomb at Hiroshima on August 6, 1945, the U.S. government restricted the circulation of images of the bomb's deadly effect. President Truman dispatched some 1,150 military personnel and civilians, including photographers, to record the destruction as part of the United States Strategic Bombing Survey. The goal of the Survey's Physical Damage Division was to photograph and analyze methodically the impact of the atomic bomb on various building materials surrounding the blast site, the first "Ground Zero." The haunting, once-classified images of absence and annihilation formed the basis for civil defense architecture in the United States.
They weren't crazy. They weren't being punished. All but one volunteered to do this (which makes it all the more astonishing.) On July 19, 1957, five Air Force officers and one photographer stood together on a patch of ground about 65 miles northwest of Las Vegas. They'd marked the spot "Ground Zero. Population 5" on a hand-lettered sign hammered into the soft ground right next to them. As we watch, directly overhead, two F-89 jets roar into view and one of them shoots off a nuclear missile carrying an atomic warhead. They wait. There is a countdown. 18,500 feet above them, the missile is intercepted and blows up. Which means, these men intentionally stood directly underneath an exploding 2 kiloton nuclear bomb. One of them, at the key moment (he's wearing sunglasses), looks up. You have to see this to believe it.
Back in the summer of 1962, the U.S. blew up a hydrogen bomb in outer space, some 250 miles above the Pacific Ocean. It was a weapons test, but one that created a man-made light show that has never been equaled — and hopefully never will:
In 1943, the top scientists from the United States and other nations gathered in Los Alamos, NM for the Manhattan Project. Among them was physicist Hugh Bradner. With informal permission from the U.S. Army, he shot a collection of home movies of life in a place that officially didn't exist, and of people working on a project that ultimately changed history. His footage represents the only look at life in the Los Alamos area during that time.
Oak Ridge Associated Universities has a groovy collection of vintage “atomic toys” and games for children which referenced and/or promoted nuclear technology. Included are board games such as “Uranium Rush” and “Nuclear War” and, below, 1952′s Gilbert U-238 Atomic Energy Lab, which came with four pieces of real uranium:
Today, it is so highly prized by collectors that a complete set can go for more than 100 times the original price. The set came with four types of uranium ore, a beta-alpha source (Pb-210), a pure beta source (Ru-106), a gamma source (Zn-65?), a spinthariscope, a cloud chamber with its own alpha source, an electroscope, a geiger counter, and a comic book (Dagwood Splits the Atom).
“In the early 1900s, radium was more valuable than gold and platinum. As such, the term “Radium” was incorporated into the brand names of any number of products even when these products didn’t actually contain radium. The same was true for the term ‘X-Ray.’”
How To Be A Retronaut has a nice collection of early to mid-twentieth century consumer brands that tapped into a general public enthusiasm for anything related to atomic bombs and radiation. Those were simpler times, when happiness meant an “atomic meal” on every kitchen table and (usually faux-) radioactive products in every medicine cabinet.
The New York Times has a jaw-dropping slideshow of photographer George Yoshitake’s images of 1950s nuclear blasts conducted in the Nevada desert and South Pacific. Yoshitake was lucky, or perhaps cursed, to be one of the “atomic cameramen” charged with documenting the detonation of atom bombs — many of the photographers died from exposure to these experiments.
President George W. Bush and many of his top administration officials were often accused of hubris in their eight-year run, but I have to say this incident from 1946 really tops the literal cake. It has the haughtiness of President Bush’s 2003 “Mission Accomplished” photo-op aboard the USS Abraham Lincoln, combined with an element as you see below, I can best describe as … callous. From CONELRAD Adjacent:
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The celebratory event took place on Tuesday evening, November 5, 1946 at the Officers’ Club of the Army War College in Washington, D.C. The occasion was to mark the disbanding of Joint Army-Navy Task Force Number One, the body that organized and oversaw the first post-war atomic tests in the Pacific. These highly publicized detonations on Bikini Atoll are remembered today, if at all, for displacing an entire indigenous population of islanders, for inspiring a revealing line of swimwear for women and for unleashing the myth that movie star Rita Hayworth’s image was once affixed to an A-bomb.