- History & Culture
How the advent of nuclear weapons changed the course of history
Many scientists came to regret their role in creating a weapon that can obliterate anyone and anything in its vicinity in seconds.
At 5:30 a.m. on July 16, 1945, a light brighter than the sun radiated over New Mexico. The fireball annihilated everything in the vicinity, then produced a mushroom cloud that billowed more than seven miles high.
In the aftermath, the scientists who had produced the blast laughed and shook hands and passed around celebratory drinks. Then they settled into grim thought about the deadly potential of the weapon they had created. They had just produced the world’s first nuclear explosion. (Here's what happened that day in the desert.)
The test, code-named “Trinity,” was a triumph; it proved that scientists could harness the power of plutonium fission. It thrust the world into the atomic age, changing warfare and