On July 16, 1945 at exactly 5:29:45 a.m., the world entered the unprecedented atomic age with the successful testing of the most powerful weapon known to man.
“Gadget,” the first atomic bomb, was born out of theEinstein-inspiredManhattan Project, and was detonated in the desert near Alamogordo, New Mexico.
Overseeing the project was US Brigadier-General Leslie Groves and Los Alamos director and American physicist Robert Oppenheimer.
Designed and launched under Oppenheimer’s chosen codename “Trinity” — inspired by a poem by John Donne — the original $US6,ooo program budget skyrocketed to a cool $US2 billion after Einstein raised multiple concerns that the Nazi’s were close to perfecting their own game-changing weapon.
Ahead of testing, crews built a steel 100-foot tall tower to launch Gadget and three observational bunkers for Manhattan Project researchers to safely watch from.
The bunkers were built 10,000 yards around the steel tower, according to the Department of Energy.
The day before testing, a team hoisted Gadget up the center of the tower and set it in position:
And then, in the middle of the desert on the morning of July 16, America detonated the world’s first atomic bomb.
The explosion vaporized the steel tower, sent a massive shockwave across the desert sand, and produced a mushroom cloud soaring 40,000 feet into the air, according to the Department of Energy.
Here’s what scientists saw when Gadget was detonated:
Immediately after the blast, Oppenheimer reportedly exclaimed, “it worked!”
In an interview about the decision to drop the bomb, Oppenheimer said at the moment of the explosion he thought of a line from the Hindu scripture Bhagavad-Gita, “Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds.”
On August 6, 1945, the US dropped a 5-ton atomic bomb on the Japanese city of Hiroshima. The blast killed 80,000 people immediately and leveled four square miles of the city.
Three days later, the US dropped another bomb on Japan’s Nagasaki, killing about 40,000 people instantly; thousands more would die of radiation poisoning.
Eight days later, Japan informally surrendered to the Allied forces, effectively ending World War II.
Here is a full video of the first nuclear bomb test:
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