At a time when the threat of nuclear war is looming just around the corner, thanks to North Korea’s recent missile tests, California-based Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) has released 63 indelible videos of nuclear experiments conducted by the United States between 1945 and 1962. During the Cold War, both the US and the Soviet Union embarked on a nuclear arms race, in an attempt to gain supremacy over one another.
Interestingly, the first nuclear weapons were manufactured during World War II by the United States, with assistance from countries like Canada, the United Kingdom and Australia. Afterwards, it continued to enhance its nuclear prowess until the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty was signed in 1987. According to experts, as many as 210 atmospheric experiments were performed between 1945 and 1962, each of which was painstakingly documented with the help of cameras. Speaking about its decision to release the now-declassified videos, Greg Spriggs, a physicist at LLNL, stated:
You can smell vinegar when you open the cans, which is one of the byproducts of the decomposition process of these films. We know that these films are on the brink of decomposing to the point where they’ll become useless. The data that we’re collecting now must be preserved in a digital form because no matter how well you treat the films, no matter how well you preserve or store them, they will decompose. They’re made out of organic material, and organic material decomposes. So this is it. We got to this project just in time to save the data.
As part of a 5-year-long research, Spriggs and his team at the lab have uncovered 6,500 out of the original 10,000. More than 4,000 of these have been analyzed, reanalyzed and restored. Approximately 750 films, the researchers explain, have been declassified and will be released in groups via LLNL’s YouTube channel. Spriggs added:
It’s just unbelievable how much energy’s released. We hope that we would never have to use a nuclear weapon ever again. I think that if we capture the history of this and show what the force of these weapons are and how much devastation they can wreak, then maybe people will be reluctant to use them.
The entire list of 63 films can be found in one of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory’s YouTube playlists. Below are few of the harrowing footage that show just how devastating nuclear war would be for the world and its people: