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


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

A Chance to Grab A Real Hot Collectable at Hake’s – The GILBERT NUCLEAR PHYSICS NO. U-238 ATOMIC ENERGY LAB” BOXED 1952 SET


It’s been a bit since the last post in this little corner of the World-Wide-Web – life can be quite the journey here in time and space – but some time must be taken to share this bit of interesting info. Nothing Earth shattering, but quite worthy of note for those who hold a curiosity for that which we have all come to know as the Atomic Age.

Hake’s Americana & Collectables is in the final days of bidding for their Auction #221 and do they have a classic up for grabs – Item 1066. It’s the GILBERT NUCLEAR PHYSICS NO. U-238 ATOMIC ENERGY LAB” BOXED 1952 SET in pristine condition. Folks have shown a bit of interest in this item at the Atomic Flash Tumblr site since it was first posted in September 2016.

Today it could be yours – for a pretty fancy price. We give the floor to Hake’s:

The Gilbert U-238 Atomic Energy Lab cover Graphics

The Gilbert U-238 Atomic Energy Lab cover Graphics

16.5×25.25×4.75″ deep textured paper-covered case contains A.C. Gilbert Co. set No. U-238 (a clever reference to Uranium-238, the most common isotope of uranium found in nature). This infamous lab’s intention was to allow children to create and watch chemical reactions using radioactive material.



The lab contains a cloud chamber that allowed the viewer to watch alpha particles travel at 12,500 miles per second, a spinthariscope (a device for observing individual nuclear disintegrations caused by the interaction of ionizing radiation w/a phosphor or scintillator) that showed the results of radioactive disintegration on a fluorescent screen and an electroscope that measured the radioactivity of different substances included in the set. Looked upon as being dangerous because of the radioactive material in the set, Gilbert claimed that none of the materials could conceivably prove dangerous.

The lab contains a cloud chamber, a spinthariscope, and an electroscope.

The lab contains a cloud chamber, a spinthariscope, and an electroscope.

In addition to items mentioned above, lab also includes – Geiger-Mueller Counter, nuclear spheres, Alpha, Beta and Gamma radioactive sources, radioactive ores, three illustrated books – “Prospecting For Uranium, How Dagwood Splits The Atom” and “Gilbert Atomic Energy Instruction Book” – Deionizer, three cardboard encased Winchester batteries. Underside of lid features great illustration of boy using lab w/atomic imagery and content listing as well as promotional text including US Government’s $10,000 reward for anyone finding uranium ore deposits.

The Gilbert Atomic Energy Instruction Book and Prospecting for Uranium.

The Gilbert Atomic Energy Manual and Prospecting for Uranium. The later was published by the United States Atomic Energy Commission and the United States Geological Survey – it was sold to those citizens who had an interest in hitting it rich in the Atomic Age ‘gold rush’ for Uranium ore.

The cover of Learn How Dagwood Splits the Atom

The cover of Learn How Dagwood Splits the Atom – it’s all very scientific, you know. (The image is not on the item page but this book is also available with the set.)

Case shows little to no wear and displays Exc. Contents are complete and unused w/original packing material and show some scattered aging/dust soiling and are VF overall. Books/manuals show more moderate aging w/some pinch creases to spines. Fine overall. Unlike other chemistry sets released by Gilbert, the U-238 Atomic Energy Lab never gained popularity and the toy was taken off shelves, selling only from 1950 through 1952. Old store stock, choice condition example of this later 1952 version, as nice as they come. Special shipping required due to contents. This is the second example from this collection, the previous example selling for $8,696 w/o Dagwood books and added Prospecting book. Barry Lutsky Collection.

So there ya’ have it!

A set in this condition is extremely hard to find. The current bid is $4,500 – if you’re a serious collector you have a shot at getting this on a real deal. Go for it now if you’ve ever wanted a marvelous piece of Atomic Age Americana.



Special Thanks To: Todd Franklin

Hey kids! Pull up your bobby socks and get ready to duck and cover ’cause we’re visiting the American Museum of Atomic Energy! I’m sure you’ve heard about that little project during WWII called the Manhattan Project, right? You know, atomic bombs and such. The souvenir beanie above is telling the truth when it says, “Oak Ridge, Tennessee is the home of the atomic bomb. This “secret city” sprouted up during the war years and in its factories the atomic bomb was built. After the war, the town shifted to civilian control.

In 1949, Oak Ridge also became the home of the American Museum of Atomic Energy! This was the place to learn about the benefits of the all powerful atom. More importantly, it was the place where you could get a radioactive dime to take home as a souvenir!

In the brochure pictured above, it looks like those teenagers are having fun feeding the machine dimes. Boy, that sure beats getting a wooden nickel for a souvenir!

Unfortunately, the dime didn’t glow like my exaggerated example, but that’s how I like to imagine it when it came out of the machine. In reality, the radiation faded away quickly and the dime was supposedly safe to stick in your pocket. (Click here for more info on irradiated dimes and here for another photo.)

The museum was much more than radioactive dimes according to these excerpts from the brochure.

The Dagwood Splits the Atom exhibit looks like fun! Science is always better when explained by comic characters. Apparently this exhibit made the rounds to various fairs and museums. Click here and here to view the official comic.

Here you get to see a schematic model of plants that helped build the atomic bomb.

The first gas diffusion separation is on display. (You know, I really don’t know what any of this means, but it sure does sound interesting!

The Theatre of the Atom. I think this is where an audience member would get their hair zapped. Click here to see this gal get a new atomic hairdo!

The American Museum of Atomic Energy moved to a new location in 1975 and in 1978 the name was changed to American Museum of Science and Energy. Even though they don’t have a dime irradiator machine the place still looks like a fun family outing.

I leave with you this very cool photo of a vintage bowling shirt from Oak Ridge. I snapped this pic at the Bowling Hall of Fame back when it was located in St. Louis, Missouri.


If an A-Bomb Falls… Will You Know What to Do?


If An A-Bomb Falls was an 8-page Instructional comic published in 1951 (see comic pages below). It is in the public domain and can also be viewed on-line at various sites like Summary from My Comic Shop: “If an A Bomb Falls… Will You Know What to Do? (1951), published by Commercial Comics. 8 pages, full color, standard comic book dimensions, all newsprint, no cover price. This promotional educational giveaway comic book describes what to do in the event of an atomic blast. Includes: 1) How important it is to know the signals of an impending atomic attack; 2) The meaning of the different tones of air raid sirens; 3) What to do if you are attacked without warning ; 4) How to react to the brilliant flash of an atomic explosion; 5) How to find the safest place in your home; 6) The equipment you need for a home safety and emergency kit; 7) How to store a good supply of canned goods and water for extended sheltering; 8) How to prepare for an attack if you have advance warning How to seek protection from an impending attack; 9) Remembering to keep calm to stifle panic during an attack ; 10) How people caught outdoors will suffer the greatest casualties; 11) What to do if you are on a car, bus, or train during an attack; 12) How the worst danger from atomic attack is radiation in the air and water; and 13) How to decontaminate yourself if you think you have been exposed to radioactive dust or mist. The back cover features a chart showing the number of deaths and the number of injured people that can be projected if an A-bomb explodes in a populated area.” Additional pages below from Ethan Persoff.

The H-Bomb and You was an educational 16-page comic published by the government in 1954. Page #1 reproduced below from Ethan Persoff. We’ll take a closer look at what these educational comics tell us about the era in the future.


‘Future Fantasy’ In 1930 Germany


German Engineering.

Those words have traditionally conjured up thoughts of quality and creativity. During the period of the Third Reich, physicists, scientists, and engineers were encouraged to stretch their imaginations and develop things that had previously been only dreamed of in science fiction.

While most people are familiar with the works carried out at the The Peenemünde Army Research Center – the birthplace of modern rocketry and spaceflight – very few people are aware of other areas of technological research that had been in progress during that time. A very hushed bit of technological history is the part where the United States and the Soviet Union obtained a wealth of information and designs while pillaging after the fall of the Third Reich. Much of that technological information was incomplete as the scientists and engineers attempted to either hide or destroy it in order to keep it from the victors’ hands.

Because the U.S. required German know-how in order to further develop these technologies the government instituted the now well known Operation Paperclip in which more than 1,500 German scientists, engineers, and technicians were brought to the United States from Nazi Germany and other countries for employment in the aftermath of World War II. The celebrated rocket scientist, Wernher von Braun, was one alumni from this class. A number of researchers contend that the big UFO phenomenon in the late 1940s and particularly in the 1950s was the result of projects originating at a remote detachment of Edwards Air Force Base within the Nevada Test and Training Range officially referred to as Restricted Area 4808 North (R-4808N) – popularly known as ‘Area 51’ aka ‘Groom Lake’. It was here that U.S. and Operation Paperclip members worked on the research and development of the German technologies discovered post conflict – including ‘flying disc’ engineering designs. A few of the recognized aircraft developed at Groom Lake are the A-12 OXCART, SR-71 Blackbird, and the F-117A Nighthawk – aircraft so advanced that CIA documents acknowledge that they account for dozens of UFO sightings over the years.

One last point relevant to the following pictorial presentation is that while the incredible research and inventions of the great scientist Nikola Tesla were marginalized and ignored in the U.S. due to moneyed interests, the Germans were very much interested in his advanced and forward thinking works. Tesla was passionate about wireless communications and ‘free energy’ – while theoretical physicists obsessed over Newtonian science, Tesla took an electric field and plasma (aether) energy approach. German tech developers seemed to take this approach to heart. One of the most storied and controversial projects of the Third Reich – one that Adolf Hitler counted on until the end – was ‘the secret weapon’ known as ‘Die Glocke’ (‘The Bell’). Some skeptics say that this bizarre anti-gravity device never existed, but there is increasing evidence that it had indeed been at an advanced stage of development previous to the fall of the Third Reich. From the schematics it appears to be very much a Tesla inspired technology.

Now to the fun part of this post. In 1930, a company known as True Wagner Margarine produced the third of a series of books designed as a display for a collection of stickers made available separately. In this book is a section called Future Fantasy. No artist or author is credited. The illustrations are beautiful, the technology is actually quite brilliant and not so far fetched. The book is called, Echte Wagner Margarine Album Nr. 3″, Serien 12 und 13 (Genuine Wagner Margarine Album Nr. 3″, series 12 and 13). It was published by Elmshorn in Holstein, Germany. With what is now known about the developments in German technology during this period, one could imagine that a lot of the designs and ideas presented might have been considered a bit more seriously than ‘fantasy’.

Echte Wagner Album Nr. 3 - Cover Image

Echte Wagner Margarine Album Nr. 3 – Cover Image

The Artificial Island

The Artificial Island – Since there is no island located on the shortest route to America which could serve the aircraft as a port of refuge, a good idea is to anchor an artificial landing place on the ocean. Of course, located on the island are hotels, spas, restaurants and a movie theater, so that the passengers have their convenience if a storm detains for several days on the island.

The Rocket Plane

The Rocket Plane – The aircraft of the future powered by rockets. The rockets are fitted at the stern of the vessel, which propel the aircraft forward through the recoil of the escaping gases. The aircraft shown here is just going to skim past the Nankoupaß and the ancient Great Wall Of China with 10000 kilograms of mail on the way from Berlin to Tokyo. Since it has an hourly rate of 1,000 km, it takes nearly 8 hours for the Berlin-Tokyo route. A steamer today needs about 50 days!

The Rocket Airships

The Rocket Airships – The rocket planes have assumed huge proportions and consist only of a pair of wings in the shape of a parabola. The lavishly decorated cabins are built into the wings and take 400 passengers. Because there is no hull, the control fins are located at the ends of the wings. The driver’s cab, from which the missiles are made to fire, is located in the middle of the air cruiser deck.

Private Aircraft With Nuclear Propulsion

Private Aircraft With Nuclear Propulsion – Here we have the opportunity to meet a plane nearby. Yes, where is the propeller? That was once! The aircraft rises vertically and settles down vertically. The motor is a small capsule, in which the atom fragmentation takes place. On the right is an aircraft and an aircraft parking garage.

A New Driving Force

A New Driving Force – To move loads forwards, one exploits the tremendous power that is released during the disintegration of atoms. All cars drive with only a tiny motor which is driven by nuclear power. The speed of cars has grown accordingly. In the divided road, take 200 to 300 kilometers through the city, on the major highways the speed of 1000 km speed per hour is not uncommon!

Wireless Home Phone and Television

Wireless Home Phone and Television – Each person now has their own transmitter and receiver and can converse on a certain wave with acquaintances and relatives. But the television technology has become so perfected that one can look the friends in the face at the same time. Transmitter and receiver are no longer bound to the location, but is carried in a box the size of a photo apparatus.

Landing Of A Spaceship On The Moon

Landing Of A Spaceship On The Moon – Is this not wrong? Shouldn’t the rockets ignite at the stern of the vessel and spew their fire back? No, it’s for accuracy! The ship is landing, and therefore it has brought the Retropackage to deploy and quickly reduce the frenzied speed. Now you can easily make the landing on the Moon.

Spaceship Post

Spaceship Post – Because there are rare minerals on the Moon, capital was formed in America with $20 billion by the MoMA-A.G. (Moon minerals yield A.G.), which maintains a busy space ship traffic. At the stopover, the ships renew their rocket fuel on the ports floating freely in space.

The images above are via Retro-Futurismus – to see more click here.

The M65 – Not The Spiral Galaxy, The Atomic Cannon


Operation Upshot-Knothole – 25 May 1953

The M65 Atomic Cannon, often called Atomic Annie, was a towed artillery piece built by the United States and capable of firing a nuclear device. It was developed in the early 1950s, at the beginning of the Cold War, and fielded by 1953 in Europe and Korea.

On May 25, 1953 at 8:30am, the Atomic Cannon was tested at Nevada Test Site (specifically Frenchman Flat) as part of the Upshot-Knothole series of nuclear tests. The test — codenamed Grable — was attended by then Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Arthur W. Radford and Secretary of Defense Charles Erwin Wilson; it resulted in the successful detonation of a 15 kt shell (W9 warhead) at a range of 7 miles. This was the first and only nuclear shell to be fired from a cannon.

The Grable mushroom cloud with the Atomic Cannon in the foreground.

The Grable mushroom cloud with the Atomic Cannon in the foreground. (Photo courtesy of National Nuclear Security Administration/Nevada Field Office)

After the successful test, there were at least 20 of the cannons manufactured at Watervliet and Watertown Arsenals, at a cost of $800,000 each. They were deployed overseas to Europe and Korea, often continuously shifted around to avoid being detected and targeted by opposing forces. Due to the size of the apparatus, their limited range, the development of nuclear shells compatible with existing artillery pieces (the W48 for the 155mm and the W33 for the 203mm), and the development of rocket and missile based nuclear artillery, the M65 was effectively obsolete soon after it was deployed. However, it remained a prestige weapon and was not retired until 1963.

Of the twenty M65s produced, at least eight survive on display.

The How And Why Wonder Book Of Atomic Energy (With Cool Illustrations)


This 1970 publication for young people is actually pretty good. It’s good for anyone, of any age, who would like to understand the workings of atomic power/energy.

Click on the book above to open a small reader. Clicking on that one will get the full screen view. Just hit escape on your keyboard or tap the arrows at the lower right of the screen to return to the page.