The Day the Sun Rose Twice: The Story of the Trinity Site Nuclear Explosion, July 16, 1945

By Ferenc Morton Szasz | Go to book overview

CHAPTER FIVE
The Blast

As July 16 approached, the tension in Santa Fe and in Los Alamos almost matched that at Trinity. From her office at 109 E. Palace, Dorothy McKibbin noted that the scientists' voices over the phone became strained and taut.1 On the Hill, husbands became noticeably edgy and disappeared for longer periods of time. The wives began to worry silently about a possible malfunction. Just before her husband was preparing to leave for the Trinity test, Elsie McMillan asked him what might happen. "We ourselves are not absolutely certain what will happen," Ed McMillan, one of the discoverers of plutonium, said. "In spite of calculations, we are going into the unknown. We know that there are three possibilities. One, that we all [may] be blown to bits if it is more powerful than we expect. Two, it may be a complete dud. Three, it may, as we hope, be a success, we pray without loss of any lives."2 Lois Bradbury joined Elsie McMillan and both worried throughout the night. Several of the women, including Ruby Wilkening, journeyed to a nearby high ridge where they waited until dawn, listening to the shortwave radio that had been tuned to the Trinity frequency.

These wave lengths, by chance, were identical with those of a railway freight yard in San Antonio, Texas. During the final preparations, the scientists could hear the trainmen shifting cars, and, presumably, the trainmen could also hear the scientists. The ground-to-plane frequency turned out to be identical with that of the Voice of America. Anyone listening to Voice of Amer

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The Day the Sun Rose Twice: The Story of the Trinity Site Nuclear Explosion, July 16, 1945
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Preface ix
  • Introduction 3
  • Chapter One - The Origins of Los Alamos 7
  • Chapter Two - The Construction and Naming of Trinity 27
  • Chapter Three - Theoretical Considerations 55
  • Chapter Four - The Question of Weather 67
  • Chapter Five - The Blast 79
  • Chapter Six - The Aftermath I: Fallout 115
  • Chapter Seven - The Aftermath II: Cattle, Film, and People 131
  • Chapter Eight - The International Legacy 145
  • Chapter Nine - The Local Legacy 159
  • Epilogue 173
  • Abbreviations 179
  • Notes 181
  • Bibliography 213
  • Index 225
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