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Six Guys Stood At Nuclear Ground Zero And Lived To Tell The Tale

In 1957, five Air Force officers volunteered (and one cameraman was voluntold) to stand directly below a mid-air detonation of a 2-kiloton nuclear warhead.

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In 1957, says NPR’s Robert Krulwich, five Air Force officers volunteered (and one cameraman was voluntold) to stand directly below a mid-air detonation of a 2-kiloton nuclear warhead.

They just wanted to see what would happen, apparently.

The stunt was carried out 65 miles northwest of Las Vegas to, “to demonstrate the relative safety of a low-grade nuclear exchange in the atmosphere.”

Krulwich asks,

Who are these guys? And why is the narrator joyously shouting, “It happened! The mounds are vibrating. It is tremendous! Directly above our heads! Aaah!”

Readers apparently wanted to know, too, and Krulwich looked into the identities of these men. According to his investigation,

I did find a list of the people who were in the film.

  • Col. Sidney Bruce
  • Lt. Col. Frank P. Ball
  • Maj. Norman “Bodie” Bodinger
  • Maj. John Hughes
  • Don Lutrel
  • George Yoshitake (the cameraman, not seen)

He says that of the six men who stood nonchalantly at ground zero, two may still be alive, and the others lived on for three decades or more.

 

More from Smithsonian.com:

The National Museum of Nuclear Science & History

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About Colin Schultz
Colin Schultz

Colin Schultz is a freelance science writer and editor based in Toronto, Canada. He blogs for Smart News and contributes to the American Geophysical Union. He has a B.Sc. in physical science and philosophy, and a M.A. in journalism.

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