12 months ago
YouTube fans have some exciting new historical videos to watch: more than 60 Cold War-era nuclear test films.
The short clips now available are drawn from the hundreds of atmospheric nuclear tests conducted between 1945 and 1962.
Long since forgotten since their debut more than half a century ago, many of the original film canisters, locked away in high-security vaults across the country, were brimming with dust and on the verge of disintegrating. That was until five years ago, when, in an effort to preserve the footage, the US declassified the films and the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California began an extensive project to compile, scan, reanalyze, and archive the mini-movies for future generations.
“We got to this project just in time,” Gregg Spriggs, a nuclear weapon physicist at the laboratory and supervisor of the project said in a video. “This is a big part of our history. These films are on the brink of decomposing to the point where they become useless.”
Voyeurs and history fans can gaze at—and be terrified of—the massive mushroom clouds as the envelope the horizon in mere seconds. Aside from the macabre component, the films do offer a snapshot of history, as atmospheric nuclear weapon tests are essentially a relic of the past, thanks to the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty.
Here is a selection of clips available from the laboratory.
To see more clips, check out the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory Youtube page here.