"Atomic Tourist"
On July 16, 1945 at 05:29:45 Mountain War Time (equivilant to today's Mountain Daylight Savings Time,) at a remote location in the New Mexico desert, the world changed. When the sun rose that morning, it rose upon a world armed with nuclear destruction.
On October 07, 2006 I made a pilgrimage to that historic site. The site was named "Trinity" by J. Robert Oppenheimer, the scientific director of the Manhattan Project, the World War II effort to develop the first nuclear weapons, at the secret Los Alamos laboratory in New Mexico.
The following contains pictures I took on 10/07/06, and collected historic photos of the "Trinity Test Site."
Dawn of the Nuclear Age. The first man-made atomic explosion on planet Earth, 07/16/45, ten thousand (10,000) yards from ground zero. Nicknamed "Gadget," it yielded an approximate nineteen (19) kiloton explosion.

Many sources state that Oppenheimer quoted this verse from the Hindu holy book "Bhagavad Gita," "Now, I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds." after witnessing the sucessfull atomic test. Other sources, including his brother Frank, state that he exclaimed, "It worked!" It is a fact that in later inverviews, he did make mention to passages from the "Bhagavad Gita."
Trinity Test 1945
View of Trinity Test Site at eight hundred (800) yards from ground zero at one of the original instrument bunkers, 10/07/06.
Trinity 2006
Passing through the outer perimiter gate, 1/4 mile from ground zero.
Radiation Alert
Monument at ground zero. It is centered between the footings of the tower that "Gadget" was suspended from, and is made from the lava-rock from the mountains in the background. The plaque says, "TRINITY SITE Where the world's first nuclear device was exploded on July 16, 1945. Erected 1965, White Sands Missile Range, J. Frederick Thorlin, Major General U.S. Army, Commanding" The bottom plaque is from the National Park Service and notes that Trinity Site is a "National Historic Landmark" as of 1975
Ground Zero Monument
Oppenheimer and Gen. Leslie Groves inspecting what's left of one of the towers' footings.
Footing 1945
One of the footings today. The rebar and other metal pieces have been cut short to prevent injury lawsuits from morons who would otherwise find a way to injure themselves.
Footing 2006
After the test, the ground-zero crater was coated with trinitite (a mineral created from sand by the heat from the explosion and named after the test site.) Its green color is due to the presence of iron in the sand. The original theory was that is was created on the surface by the heat from the fireball above. But a new theory has recently emerged. Los Alamos National Lab Scientists Robert Hermes and William Strickfaden published the results of their investigation of trinitite in a Fall 2005 issue of "Nuclear Weapons Journal." Their theory states that the fireball did not remain close enough to the surface to melt the sand into glass to the thickness present. Instead, they believe that the sand was scooped up into the fireball. Inside the mushroom cloud, the melted sand behaved just as water does in a regular cloud: tiny droplets aggregated into bigger droplets that became too heavy to remain suspended and fell as a rain of molten glass. Most of the trinitite was gathered and burried in 1952, but some small pieces still remain. After the site was declared a national historical landmark in 1975, trinitite became classified as an artifact. Removal of trinitite is prohibited and violators are subject to Federal prosecution resulting in fines and or prison sentence.

The piece of trinitite on the left is about one inch long. And, just in case you're wondering: Unless someone else picked them up after I photographed them, they are still laying where I left them.
Trinitite
Then and now aerial photos of Trinity. The left photo is twenty eight (28) hours after detonation. The right photo is not the same scale as the left. The outer ring is the fence around the crater perimeter. The oblong in the center is the area open to public access and contains the monument. The pathway from the south leads from the parking lot and is 1/4 mile long. The circle to the bottom right of the 1945 photo is the crater from the "One Hundred Ton Test."
Comparing 1945-1996
On May 7, 1945 a calibration test was conducted comprising of one hundred (100) tons of HE (high explosive) to provide a baseline reading. (Remember, "Gadget" yielded nineteen (19) kilotons: 100 vs 19,000.)
100 Ton Test
Aerial view of ground zero taken in 1996, looking from east to west. The retangle-shaped object in the top of the photo is a shelter that is protecting an undisturbed portion of the original crater. It has viewing ports which are now closed and have notices placed on them that say that the original surface is now covered with sand, and that the original surface is no longer viewable. (DAMN!! Someone get an airhose and a "dust-buster!" Can't find anyone to do it? CALL ME, I'LL GO!)
1996 Aerial View
Map of the Trinity Test Site. The site is usually open only on the first Saturdays of April and October. For more information contact the White Sands Missle Range: http://www.wsmr.army.mil/wsmr.asp?pg=y&page=576
Trinity Map
Lastly, there's "Jumbo." It was built to withstand the force of the conventional exposives in Gadget. In the case that a chain-reaction was not acheived, the extremely rare and expensive uranium would have been contained and could be retrieved. Otherwise, Jumbo would have been vaporized in the atomic explosion. As the test date grew nearer, increasing confidence that Gadget would function, lead to a decision that the use of Jumbo would not be necessary.
Original Jumbo
This is all that remains of Jumbo. In the 1960's Jumbo was loaded with several five hundred (500) pound bombs for a test. The results are that both ends of the capsule were obliterated.
Jumbo Remains
Concerned about visiting Trinity? You should be more worried about living in a brick house on "Planet Earth," in Denver, Colorado, or a visit to your dentist than visiting an atomic explosion test site. Radiation exposure: One hour visit to the Trinity test site = 1/2 millirem. One "Bitewing" dental x-ray = 14 millirem (which you usually have four (4) taken = 56 millirem.)
Take this little quiz to determine your annual radiation exposure.
Radiation from the sun and outer space reaches the Earth. Add: 28 millirem
Ground radiation (U.S. Average.) Add: 26 millirem
Water, food, air radiation (U.S. average.) Add: 28 millirem
Residual fallout from atmospheric nuclear weapons tests (before 1963.) Add: 4 millirem
So far, your annual radiation exposure is: 86 millirem
Write that number down, and add to it:
Building materials are radioactive. If your house is:
Brick or concrete, add:
Wood, add:

70 millirem
30 millirem
Some radiation is stopped by the atmosphere, but not all. For every 100 feet
above sea level that you live, add:

1 millirem
For each dental x-ray you've had this year, add: 14 millirem
If you live within 5 miles of a nuclear or coal-fired power plant, add: .3 millirem
For each 1,500 miles you've flown in a jet airplane during the year, add: 1 millirem
I live in a wood constructed home in a town that is 4,300 feet above sea level
and within 5 miles of a coal-fired power plant and have been to my dentist
twice this year. My annual radiation exposure is:
Oops, forgot my trip to that dangerous Trinity site, revised total:


271.3 millirem
271.8 millirem
I probably won't make it to Atomic Tourist sites #2 Hiroshima and #3 Nagasaki, Japan. But, there is the Yucca Flats test site in Nevada...
Thanks for stopping by. And, don't be afraid to become an Atomic Tourist.
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