New App Explores the Secret Development Location of the First Atomic Bombs – Atlas Obscura

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Editor’s note: The app is available for Android people at the Play Store – it’s called, Secret City.

Take a virtual tour of Los Alamos Laboratory, home of the Manhattan Project.

During the early part of WWII, the U.S. military brought some of the brightest scientific minds in the U.S. together in an isolated pocket of New Mexico. The top-secret location became known as the Los Alamos Laboratory. There, scientists worked on the Manhattan Project, designing and building the atomic bombs that were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August, 1945.

The Manhattan Project no longer exists, but as this video shows, the secret location has been rebuilt, virtually. Using a new, free iPhone app called Los Alamos: The Secret City of the Manhattan Project, you can tour the secret atomic city as it existed in 1945.

By exploring buildings, reading documents, and playing games, you can become part of the top-secret Manhattan Project—though the app stops short of showing users how to actually make a bomb. The experience finishes at the Trinity atomic test site, where scientists detonated the first test bomb. It’s a virtual, time-traveling counterpart to the real-world site, which still opens to visitors twice per year.

via Atlas Obscura

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Seven Minutes Of Terror, or How Ed Sullivan Sent A Shock Wave Across America

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From 1948 until 1971, Sunday nights were vaudeville nights on televisions across the U.S.. For twenty-three years Americans tuned in to CBS for Ed Sullivan’s ‘really big shooo…‘ From circus acts to ballet dancers, from ventriloquists to opera singers, from Elvis Presley and the Supremes, to the Beatles and The Doors, from classic vaudevillians to Broadway musicals, The Ed Sullivan Show meant variety.

Still, no one was prepared for the night of May 27, 1956. Scheduled to appear on the show were entertainment favorites like singer Kate Smith, and ventriloquist Senor Wences, as well as The Haslevs (tumblers & trampoline artists). Pretty normal fair for Sunday night – it would turn out to be anything but.

A Short Vision human meltdown.

… I’m gonna tell you if you have youngsters in the living room tell them not to be alarmed at this ‘cause it’s a fantasy, the whole thing is animated…It is grim, but I think we can all stand it to realize that in war there is no winner. – Ed Sullivan, 27 May 1956

After referencing the first test drop of an H-bomb the week previous, and giving a subtle hint of what was to come to the parents who might have been viewing the show with their children, Sullivan introduced the animated short film, A Short Vision. The live television audience were then shown the horrific vision of a nuclear apocalypse created by husband and wife team, Peter and Joan Folde:

A Short Vision (1956) | BFI National Archives

Needless to say, the airing of the film sent a shock wave across the country. The next morning the news and entertainment media enthusiastically covered the event and the reactions from the public. The New York World-Telegram and Sun reported that, (f)or some it was ‘seven minutes of terror.’ For others it was ‘the best piece of anti-war propaganda ever shown.’

With how tightly television is controlled these days, it’s highly unlikely that such a stunning surprise would ever be allowed to jump out at viewers today. The images played over and over again on September 11, 2001 were/are indeed ghastly, but that event was an unpredicted disaster. What occurred during The Ed Sullivan Show in May of 1956 was a grim warning about the all too predictable horror and destruction that awaits the world with the release of that Thing.

Surviving An A-Bomb Or An H-Bomb Blast – These Comics Show You How

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On August 29, 1949, the Soviet Union exploded its first atomic bomb. After the initial shock, President Truman and the United States government put the entire nation on high alert – the Cold War had begun. Americans began to question their own safety. During the 1950s the federal and state governments put a lot of effort into producing information that was intended not only to teach the public about emergency preparedness and survival, but also to assuage the fears and hopelessness associated with the thought of total annihilation.

Below are a few government publications that were printed in the 1950s as part of that propaganda campaign. They are available for complete viewing and download online – if you are interested in further viewing of any of them just click the title and you will be taken to either The Digital Comic Museum or The Government Comics Collection at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln web site.

First off, the icon of the atomic era – often thought of as somewhat laughable and naive by today’s standards, Bert The Turtle reassured children and adults alike that one could find protection in the event of an atomic blast.

Bert The Turtle Says Duck And Cover (1951)

Bert The Turtle Says Duck And Cover Civil Defense Pamplet

Bert The Turtle Says Duck And Cover Civil Defense Pamphlet

Bert The Turtle: And This Is Very Important

Bert The Turtle: The bomb might come without any warning!

Do It Instantly - Don't Stand And Look

Do It Instantly – Don’t Stand And Look. Duck And Cover!

Next is an adult oriented publication:

Many people believe that there is no defense against the atom bomb. Let us look in at a community meeting where Mr. Reed, a civil defense authority, is going to explain that there is a defense and will show us what to do in case of an atomic bomb attack.

If An ‘A’ Bomb Falls (1951)

Cover Illustration: If An A-Bomb Falls

Cover Illustration: If An A-Bomb Falls

A 1951 Lesson About Radioactivity

A 1951 Lesson About Radioactivity

Below is a publication geared at youth. It’s an overall emergency preparedness comic that deals with both natural and wartime disasters. It includes a crossword puzzle, a disaster quiz, and a glossary of ‘civil defense terms’ which mostly deal with the atomic bomb. The cover art features Li’l Abner and is signed Al Capp. It includes an extended dream sequence originating in a bomb shelter.

Operation Survival (c1957)

Cover: Operation Survival - Art By Al Capp (c1957)

Cover: Operation Survival – Art By Al Capp (c1957)

Operation Survival: Gloassary Of Terms

Operation Survival: Glossary Of Terms

And the last in this post – a pamphlet issued by the state of Maryland and endorsed by the then governor, Theodore R. McKeldin. This one discusses the civil defense procedures for surviving the power of the H-Bomb. Like the adult oriented, ‘If An A-Bomb Falls,’ this comic is meant to reassure the citizens that survival is indeed possible – it is intended for high-school age students.

The H-Bomb And You (1955)

Cover: The H-Bomb And You (1955)

Cover: The H-Bomb And You (1955)

Students are shown a film demonstrating the power of the H-Bomb.

Students are shown a film demonstrating the power of the H-Bomb. Johnny the student is impressed and questions any possibility of survival. The teacher goes on to reassure him that ‘…no matter how powerful a weapon seemed at first, ways were always found to offset the effects and survive.’

The Bottom Line: Get Used To The Threat Of War

And The Bottom Line: ‘…Get Used To The Threat Of War As A New Way Of Life.’

Some things never change.

Night And Day In Seconds

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Operation Fishbowl Bluegill - image of an atomic bomb detonating at 30,000 feet, an altitude higher than Mt. Everest.

Operation Fishbowl Bluegill – image of an atomic bomb detonating at 30,000 feet, an altitude higher than Mt. Everest. (photo: Department of Energy, United States Government via: The Appendix)

…a strangely beautiful image of an atomic bomb detonating at 30,000 feet, an altitude higher than Mt. Everest. The explosion, which occurred in October of 1962, was part of a series of experimental nuclear blasts called Operation Fishbowl Bluegill.

Johnston Island facility immedately prior and after detonation of an exoatmospheric nuke. 1 August 1958.

Night And Day In Seconds: Johnston Island facility immediately prior and after detonation of an exoatmospheric nuke. 1 August 1958. (Photo: Department of Energy, United States Government via The Appendix)

To find out how the world – via The Untied Nations – reacted to this program, please visit The Appendix by clicking this link.