Seventy-four years ago, in a remote stretch of desert outside Alamogordo, N.M., a brilliant flash of light heralded a new age. This week, a YouTube channel devoted to sharing video from America’s nuclear age has a newly remastered clip of the world’s first nuclear weapons test, codenamed Trinity.
The YouTunnel channel has been bringing important archival footage about nuclear weapons to the world’s attention for a dozen years now, covering topics as diverse as nuclear tests, missile production, and even interviews with individuals like Edward Teller, considered the father of the hydrogen bomb. Many of the videos are cleaned up and restored by the channel’s author.
Atomcentral’s latest video is a look at the very first nuclear weapons test ever conducted. According atomcentral, the restoration process for this clip included, “removing dirt and scratches and minimizing some defects in the processing of the original negative.”
The Trinity test took place at 5:30 on the morning of July 16, 1945. As the Department of Energy account of the text explains:
While Manhattan Project staff members watched anxiously, the device exploded over the New Mexico desert, vaporizing the tower and turning the asphalt around the base of the tower to green sand. Seconds after the explosion came a huge blast wave and heat searing out across the desert. No one could see the radiation generated by the explosion, but they all knew it was there. The steel container "Jumbo," weighing over 200 tons and transported to the desert only to be eliminated from the test, was knocked ajar even though it stood half a mile from ground zero. As the orange and yellow fireball stretched up and spread, a second column, narrower than the first, rose and flattened into a mushroom shape, thus providing the atomic age with a visual image that has become imprinted on the human consciousness as a symbol of power and awesome destruction.
J. Robert Oppenheimer, lead physicist in charge of the effort to develop the bomb, later said the event reminded him of a line from the Indian epic The Bhagavad Gita, "Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds."
The explosion was so powerful that General Leslie Groves, the officer in charge of the secret Manhattan Project, said it . While the Trinity explosion happened before dawn it was brighter than several suns at midday.