Explosive U.S. Nuclear Bomb Test Footage Declassified And Uploaded For Your YouTube Viewing Pleasure

These videos are sure to explode all over the Internet; they are just the bomb. In all seriousness, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) weapons physicist Greg Spriggs went through the lengthy process to have United States nuclear test footage declassified for public viewing.

The United States conducted 210 atmospheric nuclear tests between 1945 and 1962. The tests were usually conducted with multiple cameras at 2,400 frames per second. Roughly 10,000 of these videos have been hidden away in high-security vaults for the last few decades.
atomic testing

The team hunted down and preserved these decomposing films. Their ultimate goal is to help scientists who rely on computer codes to determine whether the United States nuclear deterrent remains safe and effective. The team has so far uncovered 6,500 of the estimated 10,000 films. 4,200 films have been digitally scanned, over 400 have been reanalyzed, and roughly 750 of these films have been declassified. The team estimates that it will take another two years to scan all of the films and even more time to analyze them.

Spriggs remarked, “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.”


Spriggs started this project alone by finding the films, acquiring their data sheets, and attempting to scan the film with a jury-rigged scanner. He soon discovered that his scans were largely inaccurate and that the project was simply too large to do on his own. Spriggs eventually found a pair of film experts and also started working with software developers at the Los Alamos National Laboratory. The team now has an automated process to scan and analyze the films.

Spriggs added, “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."

You can check out the whole playlist here

Tags:  Film, nuclear test
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