Sixty Three years ago today, the first atomic bomb test, known as the Trinity Test, was conducted in New Mexico:
The first atomic bomb is tested successfully at the Alamogordo Bombing and Gunnery Range in a remote section of desert near Los Alamos, New Mexico. The instant the bomb detonated at 5:30 a.m. that Monday, the atomic age was born, and the world changed forever.
The Trinity test, as it was known, was the culmination of the American effort to win the race against Germany (and, ultimately, the Soviet Union) in building an atomic bomb. A mere three weeks after the test, the United States used atomic bombs to destroy the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
J. Robert Oppenheimer, scientific director of the Manhattan Project, was under no illusions about what he and his fellow physicists had wrought. The effects of the blast, the equivalent of 20,000 tons of TNT, moved the intellectual Oppenheimer to quote from the Bhagavad Gita: “If the radiance of a thousand suns were to burst at once into the sky, that would be like the splendor of the mighty one. Now I am become Death, destroyer of worlds.”
Coincidentally, or not, in a speech today in Indiana, Presidential candidate Barack Obama promised to “make the goal of eliminating all nuclear weapons a central element in our nuclear policy,” if he were to be elected president. One step forward, one step back, and yet onwards we spin through eternity.