Originally published 06/04/2013
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....
Originally published 03/22/2013
President Obama, who has been criticized for favoring oil and gas development over land conservation in his first term, on Monday will designate five new national monuments, according to officials briefed on the decision.They are the First State National Monument in Delaware and Pennsylvania; the Rio Grande del Norte National Monument in New Mexico; the San Juan Islands National Monument in Washington State; Charles Young Buffalo Soldiers National Monument in Ohio and a monument commemorating Harriet Tubman and the Underground Railway in Maryland....