Alamogordo Glass: Proof of Cataclysmic Power of the Atomic Bomb

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Samples of trinitite from the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History. (Maggie West)

A Chunk of Trinitite Reminds Us of the Sheer, Devastating Power of the Atomic Bomb

by Richard Rhodes Smithsonian Magazine

The first atomic bomb ever exploded was a test device, insouciantly nicknamed the Gadget. In mid-July 1945, American scientists had trucked the five-ton mechanism from their secret laboratory at Los Alamos, New Mexico, 230 miles south, to a place known to the scientists as Trinity in a stretch of southern New Mexico desert called the Jornada del Muerto—the journey of death. There they hoisted it into a corrugated-steel shelter on a 100-foot steel tower, connected the tangle of electric cables that would detonate its shell of high explosives, and waited tensely through a night of lightning and heavy rain before retreating to a blockhouse five and a half miles away to begin the test countdown.

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