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Videos of U.S. Atmospheric Nuclear Tests Are Declassified and Released to Public

For a long time cameras have been used to document history both in still images and in motion pictures. Some of these pictures have been around and publicly available for a long time, others are only available to the individuals who actually own the footage, still there are others that have been kept classified and completely unavailable to anyone without the right security clearance. This has been the case for many videos of the nuclear tests conducted by the United States, until now. The researchers at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) have just released 62 of these nuclear test videos that are newly declassified.

At the laboratory, Gregg Spriggs, a nuclear weapon physicist, is currently leading a team of film experts and code developers on a mission to track down, scan, and reanalyze somewhere in the range of 10,000 films of the 210 atmospheric tests that were conducted between 1945 and 1962. Many of the films have started to physically deteriorate and the team is working hard to preserve these films before they are gone forever. Spriggs mentioned that they have received a lot of demand for the videos and that he believes the public has the right to see the footage. Not only are they working on preserving important records of history, but they are able to use the footage to adjust their calculations in the laboratory for more consistent answers. Below are a couple of these videos that have just been released. You can head to the laboratory's YouTube channel to see the rest of the videos that have been uploaded so far.

While preserving history is important, as is sharing information with the public, the driving force behind the project is to preserve the films in order to use them to adjust ongoing monitoring for the weapons stockpile. Spriggs noted that the stockpile has been around for more than 70 years as an effective deterrent and that this project is to help the appropriate calculations be made to ensure it stays viable into the future. You can read in more depth about how these films are being used by the physicists to adjust and backup their calculations on the laboratory's website.

What are your thoughts about the need for the public to have access to information to these formerly classified images, as well as the information surrounding them?

[via Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory]

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Daniel Haußmann's picture

Is it weird to imagine how the footage would look if they shot it with the latest Phantom Flex 4K? Not that I suggest a re-shoot ... :)

Jonathan Ferland-Valois's picture

Wow, this is some of the most impressive, but also most terrifying footage ever. That second one in Nevada, where you can just see a wave slowly (but fast) going towards the camera...