Part Two Point One of my series, “Broodings on the End of the World.”
See the photo? This is from May of 1957: a group of NATO observers are witnessing the Boltzmann “event” (nuclear weapon detonation) of Operation Plumbbob. The device had a yield that was equivalent of twelve thousand tons of TNT, three thousand tons less than the the weapon dropped on Hiroshima twelve years before. Certainly, there American military brass present, as well as high-level politicians and representatives of the weapon contractor.
When I stumbled over this image on Wikimedia Commons, I couldn’t help but stare at it with feelings that touched on subdued horror. As I continued to reflect on it, I wondered what I would feel if I were in their position.
I am aware that in the late 1950s and early 1960s that it was common for the general public in southern Nevada to throw “Nuclear Picnics” to watch from high ground many miles away the “shoots” that were publicly announced. Some kind of mystique had grown up around the subject and had made anything atomic cool … daddy-oh.