You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

Secret Nuclear Bomb Test Videos Released To Public

Newsweek logo Newsweek 18/03/2017 Tom O'Connor

The U.S. government has released hundreds of previously unseen film reels depicting declassified nuclear weapons tests conducted during the Cold War—and one California-based scientific institution has begun uploading them online. 

The mushroom cloud of the first test of a hydrogen bomb, "Ivy Mike", as photographed on Enewetak, an atoll in the Pacific Ocean, in 1952.: RTXH6PO © United States Air Force/Reuters RTXH6PO

The footage, which a team at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory began uploading to YouTube Thursday, includes dozens of videos of the 210 nuclear bombs detonated by the U.S. government from the end of World War II in 1945 to the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962, a period during which the U.S. was engaged in a nuclear arms race with the Soviet Union. The tests were caught on multiple cameras recording at around 2,400 frames per second, according to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. 

The team was led by Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory nuclear weapons physicist Greg Spriggs, who said in a video published to the institution's official YouTube channel that he was able to begin scanning the footage "just in time."

The film reels were poorly preserved and the nitrate cellulose that makes up the film was reportedly decomposing, giving off a vinegar-like odor that Spriggs said he smelled as soon as he opened the canisters. The team said it has so far recovered about 6,500 of the 10,000 films believed to exist and, with the help of film expert Jim Moye, has already scanned about 4,200 of them. 

In addition to displaying the raw power and "unbelievable" energy released by these weapons of mass destruction, Spriggs, who said he was opposed to the use of nuclear weapons, said the films offered considerable scientific value. Spriggs said he found numerous inconsistencies and errors in the accompanying data published decades ago that was associated with the tests and hoped he could create an accurate analysis for future researchers.

"The legacy I'd like to leave behind is basically a benchmark data that can be used by future weapons physicists," Spriggs said.

Experts have estimated the U.S. nuclear arsenal to possess about 6,970 warheads, second only to Russia, which is believed to have about 7,300 nuclear weapons. Both countries have agreed to limit nuclear proliferation through the 1991 START treaty and the NEW START in 2010. Both President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin have expressed the desire to once again bolster their respective nations' nuclear weapons capabilities.

More from Newsweek

image beaconimage beaconimage beacon