Ars Technica has an article up about recently declassified nuclear tests, which are now being plastered on youtube. I watched two of the videos, and realized I was physically pulled back, half turned away, in cringe mode. Yes, I can see where someone could find these mesmerizing, but I don’t, I just find them terrifying. I find every single thing about it terrifying – that we ever reached this point at all is a terror.
From 1945 until the practice was ended in 1963 with the Limited Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, the US conducted 210 above-ground nuclear weapons tests. The majority of those took place at the Nevada National Security Site, then on remote Pacific atolls. Obviously, since the purpose of the tests was to understand this powerful new class of weapon, all of the tests were captured with multiple high-speed cameras (running at roughly 2,400 frames per second). And until now, many of those films have languished in classified vaults. But Greg Spriggs and his colleagues at Lawrence Livermore National Labs (LLNL) are rescuing and declassifying many of them, posting them on YouTube in the process.
The first 64 declassified films were uploaded this week, with footage from Operations Upshot-Knothole, Castle, Teapot, Plumbbob, Hardtack I, Hardtack II, and Dominic. And they’re utterly mesmerizing. In fact, they’re truly awesome, in the literal sense of the word.
No, I don’t find them awesome, either. They don’t fill me with awe, they fill me with dread. I find them disgraceful, discouraging, darkly dystopian, and we are now tottering on the edge of actual deployments, not tests. What I find even more dismal is that there will be too many people who will shout “oh cool, look at that, destroyed!” or some such, like cheering on destruction in a video game, rather than enough people who will take these for the warning they should be. And yes, I know there is a fascination to watching shock waves intersect and all, but these make me want to hide in a cave. Not that it would help.
Via Ars Technica.