Although the threat of nuclear war looms in the backs of our minds, seldom do we stumble upon the chance to view a collection of motion picture images depicting these apocalyptic beauties in their purest form—detonation.
Here is a collection of the best film footage of nuclear explosions, thanks to the thoughtful government employees around the world:
They buried a nuke, put a camera in a tower 1,500 feet tall, and let the good times roll. What ensued was an astonishing display of power. The desert literally ripples up like water, and the explosion tears through the ground with a fury similar to a… well… similar to a nuclear bomb going off underground. It was so cool that afterwards everyone wanted to fire the guy who named the operation. “Project Sedan” sounds like something Toyota should initiate to help with their latest recall, not an underground nuclear bomb test. Come on, US Military, let’s get serious out there (“Project Sedan” – Nevada, 1962).
9. Slow Motion
Let’s take a drive to a little nowhere-town in New Mexico. Here we’ll set up some lawn chairs, don our Oakleys, crack a few Cokes, and watch the end of humanity in slow motion to an epic soundtrack. Bingo, bango, bongo.
8. Multiple Explosions
This is a particularly cool video, although the explosion (or multiple explosions) is not mentioned expressly by name. A better, more prolonged glimpse of the terrain during the explosion is allowed, which is often omitted in many other videos.
7. Nuclear Space Test
Ever wondered what would happen if a nuke went off over the ocean or was accidentally detonated in the upper atmosphere by a Patriot missile? This will give you a brief overview of that process. Although the video doesn’t go into detail, rest assured that radioactive debris floating around the upper atmosphere won’t be good for anybody.
6. Birds Eye View
Just one in a series of tests, this blast is viewed from the air. The explosion disrupts the atmosphere in an almost peaceful way, by spinning off large rings of clouds and condensation. The resulting fireball forms a palm tree shape, making it an almost tropical experience for the aviators (and us). (Ivy King, US Military, 1952.)
5. Inside the Explosion
The footage itself is interesting from the perspective that the blast differs greatly from many similar bombs. The wave of condensation—the white shell that gives the explosion that “hard-boiled egg” look—dissipates unexpectedly, leaving a naked view of the inner workings of the explosion. At first it’s hard to tell if they’ve used some sort of trick photography, but then one realizes what is happening (Ivy Mike, US Military, 1952).
4. The Big One
Just when you thought it couldn’t get any bigger: this is the largest in-atmosphere dry fuel thermonuclear hydrogen bomb ever detonated by the USA. The bomb was 3 times more powerful than our scientists had imagined, and natives and military personnel were dusted by the ashes, resulting in horrific disfigurement and even death. Very few people smiled and shook hands over this one (Castle Bravo, Bikini Atoll, Marshall Islands, 1954).
3. Under Water
“Let’s take a big ole’ nuke, put it underwater, go up in an airplane, and videotape what happens when it goes off.” Someone in the United States military in the 70s must have said this, because that’s what they did. The slow motion footage of this blast is very worthwhile. Thanks, Uncle Sam, you’ve really brightened our day!
2. The King of Bombs
Aptly named “The King of Bombs,” this behemoth blew apart the Russian landscape like nothing before or since. Similarly, the footage, albeit brief, will blow your mind. The sheer magnitude and continuance of the blast rings is enough to make you shiver. Were you to be in the vicinity, third degree burns would occur up to and including 62 miles from the blast’s epicenter. This means that the Tsar Bomb has a kill-or-severely-wound diameter of roughly 124 miles from ground zero. Go ahead TNT… eat your heart out (Tsar Bomb 1961, Russia).
1. And the Award Goes To…
The best balance of appropriate music, tasteful film editing, and crisp images of nuclear explosions I could find. Breathtaking. Epic. Beautiful. Deadly. Enjoy!