60th anniversary of the first nuclear explosion
July 16, 2005 On this day sixty years ago, the world changed forever when it entered the nuclear age. Today is the 60th anniversary of the World’s first nuclear explosion which took place on the Alamogordo Test Range, in the Jornada del Muerto (Journey of Death) desert, in the famous top secret test named “Trinity” by Robert Oppenheimer. Oppenheimer had an avid interest in Sanskrit literature and the reference was to the divine Hindu trinity of Brahma (the Creator), Vishnu (the Preserver), and Shiva (the Destroyer).
The detonation took place at 5:29:45 local time on July 16, 1945, when “The Gadget" (code-named as such during its development) proceeded to explode (pictured from 10,000 metres). Upon witnessing the explosion, which proved the theoretical predictions and calamitous effects of the new weapon, Oppenheimer is reported to have recited the following passage from the Bhagavad-Gita:
If the radiance of a thousand suns Were to burst at once into the sky, That would be like the splendor of the Mighty One... I am become Death, The shatterer of Worlds.
The Manhattan project had begun six years earlier when Albert Einstein wrote to President Franklin D. Roosevelt telling him of efforts in Nazi Germany to build an atomic bomb. US$2 billion was spent culminating in the Trinity test and manifesting itself as a weapon of war three weeks later (August 6) when a uranium bomb was dropped on Hiroshima instantaneously killing 66,000 people. On August 9, 1945, a Plutonium bomb fell on Nagasaki instantly killing 40,000. Japan offered to surrender on August 10, 1945.