. . . I've been told that I write novels for email messages. Perhaps this is the way to go. I'll try to make each entry, or Gemstone, a "precious" one. On mediocre days, all I might be able to produce is a "semi-precious" entry. In any case, an entry might be a "neat" Gemstone--something that is uniquely mine.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Ground Zero: Trinity Site

Ground Zero Monument
Trinity Site is where the first atomic bomb was tested on July 16, 1945. According to the pamphlet given to visitors on the one day a year that they open the site to visitors (first Saturday in April), “The 19-kiloton explosion not only led to a quick end to the war in the Pacific but also ushered the world into the atomic age.”

The story of the Trinity Site begins with the formation of the Manhattan Project in 1942. “The project was given overall responsibility for designing and building an atomic bomb. At the time it was a race to beat the Germans who, according to intelligence reports, were building their own atomic bomb.” Along with sites at Oak Ridge, Tennessee and Hanford, Washington, Los Alamos, New Mexico was established as the place that the bomb was designed and built. Many of the greatest scientific minds of the day studied nuclear theory and labored over the actual construction of the bomb.

Two bombs were designed at Los Alamos: one using uranium 235 and another using plutonium. The uranium bomb was simple enough that scientists did not think it needed testing but the plutonium bomb was more complex and worked by compressing the plutonium to a critical point that would set off a chain reaction that split atoms in the explosion. The test of the plutonium bomb occurred the early morning of July 16th just before dawn at the Trinity Site. The shock wave broke windows 120 miles away and was felt by many at least 160 miles away. There was not much of a crater left, but the desert sand was scooped up into the fireball and melted into a new rock called “Trinitite” that covered the ground.

After visiting Trinity Site, I have come to the conclusion that every New Mexican (and even every American) should visit this historic monument. It is a sobering experience when thinking about the power that was unleashed there 69 years ago--the power that led to such destruction and loss of life that ended World War II.
Mushroom Cloud After 15 Seconds at 10 Miles Away
“The effects could well be called unprecedented, magnificent, beautiful, stupendous, and terrifying. No man-made phenomenon of such tremendous power had ever occurred before. The lighting effects beggared description. The whole country was lighted by a searing light with the intensity many times that of the midday sun.”--Brig. Gen. Thomas Farrell

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