NPR

Digitization Unearths New Data From Cold War-Era Nuclear Test Films

The U.S. conducted hundreds of atmospheric nuclear tests between 1945 and 1962 — and filmed them. A project to digitize those films has changed the analysis of the nuclear explosions themselves.
A still from a film recently digitized by a team at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. The film shows a 1958 explosion at Bikini Atoll in the Marshall Islands. Source: Screen grab by NPR

The film is silent, but it starts with a bang. The screen blows out white, then a tropical beach comes into view, before an explosion tears across the horizon. A two-tiered mushroom cloud flows skyward, revealing a dark, intense plume of smoke that smolders in the distance.

Another film, showing the charmingly titled "Operation Teapot," is a black-and-white nightmare: A ball of fire comes into the frame over a mound in the distance, engulfing the

You're reading a preview, sign up to read more.

More from NPR

NPR2 min read
Ambience, Vocalized: Instrumentalist Tycho Adds Saint Sinner's Vocals To 'Weather'
Tycho, whose real name is Scott Hansen, is famous for his ambient instrumental tracks. But for Tycho's latest album, Weather, Hansen enlisted Saint Sinner to add vocals to the ambience.
NPR5 min readFood & Wine
50 Years After Apollo 11, Here's What (And How) Astronauts Are Eating
Ever since astronaut John Glenn's first bite of applesauce in 1962, eating in space has been a challenge. NPR talks to former NASA food scientists to see how cosmic cuisine has evolved over the years.
NPR2 min readPolitics
Some Title X Recipients Will Have More Time To Comply With New Abortion Rules
The rules block recipients of federal grants from referring patients for abortion. The Trump administration says groups working in "good faith" will have until Aug. 19 to provide written assurance.