Trinity test site still has radiation traces

tags: nuclear weapons, WaPo, New Mexico, White Sands, Trinity test



The sun was rising as a teenage boy swung a metal wand back and forth, back and forth. The Geiger counter hanging at his waist clicked, testifying to the radiation streaming from the ground and through his body.

The White Sands Missile Range in the New Mexico desert is home to Trinity, the place where the nuclear age began on July 16, 1945. Twice a year, in April and October, the site has opened to the public. Each time, thousands of people arrive by Winnebago, motorcycle and tour bus, making a pilgrimage to check out the slight crater left by history’s first atom bomb test. Measuring just 340 feet across, the depression is underwhelming, a slight dent in the ground. A stone obelisk marks ground zero, where the bomb was detonated atop a 100-foot steel tower.

The Trinity weapon, a version of which destroyed Nagasaki on Aug. 9, 1945, used plutonium. That fuel was more far more efficient than the uranium in the bomb dropped over Hiroshima on Aug. 6, but it was thought to be less certain to work....



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