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Over 73 years ago, on the 16th of July 1945, in an isolated stretch of desert about 56 kilometers away from Socorro New Mexico, the world has experienced the first ever detonation of a nuclear bomb. Recently, the Youtube channel Atomcentral has managed to remaster the archived footage of the world’s first nuclear weapons test, codenamed Trinity.
As part of the Manhattan Project, the trinity test took place at 5:29 am just before sunrise. The device exploded with a force equivalent to about 22 kilotons of TNT, the explosion was so powerful that there are reports that the shockwaves released from the device managed to shatter glass over 100 miles away from the blast site.
For a second or two immediately after detonation, the surrounding mountains were illuminated brighter than daylight, while heat from the blast was felt at base camp. Ralph Carlisle Smith, an eyewitness of the explosion, mentions that the colors illuminated from the blast transitioned from purple to green to white.
One report of an “accidental” witness to the explosion was of John R. Lugo, who at the time of the detonation was flying a U.S. Navy transport westward about 100 miles away from the blast. He claimed that the ball of fire was so bright that his first impression of what he saw was that the sun was rising to the south. The explosion was so bright it completely lit up his cockpit. When Lugo asked about the bright lights to the south, he was simply told: “don’t fly south”.
The mushroom cloud that emerged from the blast reached over 7 miles in height and the crater that was left from the blast was 5 feet deep and over 30 feet wide. The desert sand near the explosion melted and mixed with radioactive material to create a light green glass, which was later named trinitite, according to an article by Parekh et al. in the journal of environmental radioactivity.
Observers of the blast looked in awe at the first mushroom cloud that resulted from a nuclear explosion, something that would later become a visual symbol of mankind’s ability to create something so destructively powerful.