Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory published more than five dozen films of nuclear weapons tests salvaged from government installations where they had sat idle for years. The footages show some of the blasts sending incredible mushroom clouds into the sky and massive fireballs across the landscape. Others start with blinding flashes of light followed by rising columns of smoke.
Physicist Greg Spriggs said the films were in danger of decomposing and being lost. He called them a big part of the nation’s history and an important tool for providing better data to modern scientists who now use computer codes to help certify that the U.S. nuclear stockpile remains safe and effective.
Thanks to the images, the team discovered that much of the data initially published were wrong. “One of the payoffs of this project is that we’re now getting very consistent answers,” Spriggs said. “We’ve also discovered new things about these detonations that have never been seen before.”
Of the 10,000 or so films that are thought to have been made over the testing period, Spriggs and his team have located about 6,500 of them. Only a fraction of the films have been reanalyzed and declassified.