Tag Archives: Bikini Atoll

Age of Innocence – 1954, Part Three – The Nuclear Arms Race and the Bikini

Las Vegas Atomic Bomb

I confess to finding it an intriguing fact that it was only in 1954, the year that I was born, that Germany and Finland finally made peace and declared the end of the Second World War. I find that sobering, European conflict was still going on during my early lifetime! OK there were no serious hostilities or gun-fire but I still find that a chilling fact.

While some were making belated peace other countries elsewhere continued preparing for hostilities and in 1954 the United States began serious nuclear testing in the Pacific Ocean on the island of Bikini Atoll and they carried out the detonation of a truly massive bomb codenamed Castle Bravo.

The result was rather unexpected. Rather like a bunch of ten year old’s with a box of fireworks, they really had little idea what they were doing and when it was detonated it proved much more powerful than any of the boffins responsible for developing it had predicted and combined with other meteorological factors prevailing at the time created widespread radioactive contamination which even today has prevented people from ever returning to the island and has cost the US taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars in ongoing compensation payments to the unfortunate islanders.

Sadly, it seems to me, military people anywhere don’t mind spending millions of taxpayer’s dollars/pounds/roubles/euros anywhere that suits their inherent belligerent redneck tendencies. Between 1940 and 1996 it is estimated that the United States spent a massive $5.8 trillion on its nuclear arms programme or about $21,000 per US citizen.

Figures as massive as this are impossible to imagine, it is as meaningless as telling me that the Earth is one hundred and fifty million kilometres from the sun when I only drive my car about twenty thousand kilometres each year. It is as meaningless as telling me that UK national debt is rising by two billion pounds each week when I only get £130 a week state pension. It is as meaningless as telling me that the Earth is five billion years old when I struggle to believe that I have reached sixty!

To try and help someone once calculated if you attempted to count $5.8 trillion at the rate of $1 a second, it would take almost twelve days (non stop) to reach $1 million, nearly thirty-two years to reach $1 billion, thirty-two thousand years to reach $1 trillion and about one hundred and eighty-five thousand years to reach $5.8 trillion.  If after all that time you had counted it correctly you would certainly be guaranteed a job as a bank clerk!

Bikini Atoll Nuclear Test

A piece of advice – never trust a scientist – especially a nuclear scientist. With a yield of fifteen Megatons Castle Bravo was the most powerful nuclear device ever detonated by the USA. The scientists were completely surprised because this far exceeded the calculated yield of four to six megatons,  which by any standards is a fairly serious miscalculation.

As Charlie Croker famously said in the film ‘The Italian Job’ – “You’re only supposed to blow the bloody doors off” or as Sundance Kid similarly remarked – “Do you think we used enough dynamite there Butch?”

Enough Dynamite

More big figures – to put that into some sort of perspective the bomb was the equivalent of fifteen million tonnes of TNT and was about one thousand two hundred times more powerful than each of the atomic bombs which were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki during World War II.

This isn’t the biggest test bomb ever exploded however because that distinction belongs to the Soviet Union who in 1961 exploded a test version of the biggest bomb ever made, the Tsar nuclear bomb which was between fifty and sixty megatons, so enormous in fact that no one can be absolutely sure just how powerful it was!  Isn’t that frightening?

Castle Bravo was important for two reasons, firstly it signified the state of tension in the world called the Cold War (more about that later) that was around for the next thirty years or so which wasn’t such a good thing but secondly and much more importantly it inspired the introduction of the bikini swimsuit and I’ve always been grateful for that.

The new swimsuit pushed at the boundaries of what was previously considered acceptable in respect of flesh exposure.  Devout Catholic countries like Spain banned people from wearing it in public places.  The swimsuit, that was a little more than a provocative brassiere front with a tiny g-string back, was invented by a French engineer called Louis Réard and the fashion designer Jacques Heim. It was allegedly named after Bikini Atoll, the site of nuclear weapon tests on the reasoning that the burst of excitement it would cause on the beach or at the lido would be like a nuclear explosion. Plenty of fallout and very hot!

Read here about the War of the Bikini in Benidorm Spain

Thankfully in 1996 the nuclear powers signed the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty’ and since then only North Korea has continued to test nuclear weapons.  The USA remains the only country to use a nuclear device in a combat situation.

Next time – more about Nuclear Weapons Testing…

Miss Bikini 1954

Famous Actresses in Bikinis…

marilyn-monroe-Jane RussellJayne MansfieldDiana Dorsbrigitte-bardot-1953

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Scrap Book Project – Nuclear Test Sites and the Bikini

In 1954 the United States began serious nuclear testing in the Pacific Ocean on the island of Bikini Atoll and they carried out the detonation of a massive bomb codenamed Castle Bravo.  This was the first test of a practical hydrogen bomb and the largest nuclear explosion ever set off by the United States.  In fact, a bit like a ten year old with a box of fireworks and some matches, they really had little idea what they were doing and when it was detonated it proved much more powerful than the boffins had predicted, and created unexpected widespread radioactive contamination which has prevented people from ever returning to the island.

Castle Bravo was the most powerful nuclear device ever detonated by the United States, with a yield of fifteen Megatons. That yield, far exceeding the expected yield of four to six megatons which, combined with other factors, led to the most significant accidental radiological contamination ever caused by the United States. In terms of TNT tonnage equivalence, Castle Bravo was about one thousand, two hundred times more powerful than each of the atomic bombs which were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki during World War II.

This event was important for two reasons, firstly it signified the state of tension in the world called the cold war that was around for the next thirty years or so but secondly and subsequently much more importantly it inspired the introduction of the bikini swimsuit.  According to the official version a French engineer called Louis Réard and the fashion designer Jacques Heim invented the swimsuit that was a little more than a provocative brassiere front with a tiny g-string back.  It was allegedly named after Bikini Atoll, the site of nuclear weapon tests on the reasoning that the burst of excitement it would cause on the beach or at the lido would be like a nuclear explosion – plenty of fallout and very hot!

Nuclear testing was a big thing in the 1950s as Washington and Moscow prepared enthusiastically for wiping each other of the face of the earth on the day of Armageddon.  The fact that a major explosion even on the side of the world might have serious consequences for both sides and everyone else in between just didn’t seem to occur to them.

Years later I visited the United States and although I didn’t know this at the time travelled along a road in Nevada that was only a hundred kilometres or so southwest of the Nevada Test Site that is a United States Department of Energy reservation which was established in January 1951 for the testing of nuclear weapons.  The location is infamous for receiving the highest amount of concentrated nuclear detonated weapons in the whole of North America.

The Nevada Test Site was the primary testing location of American nuclear devices during the Cold War and began here with a one kiloton bomb on January 27th 1951.  From then until 1992, there were nine hundred and twenty eight announced nuclear tests at the site, which is far more than at any other test site in the World, and seismic data has indicated there may have been many unannounced secret underground tests as well.

During the 1950s the familiar deadly mushroom cloud from these tests could be seen for almost a hundred miles in all directions, including the city of Las Vegas, where the tests instantly became tourist attractions as Americans headed for the City to witness the spectacle that could be seen from the downtown hotels.  Even more recklessly many others would thoughtlessly drive the family to the boundary of the test site for a day out and a picnic to view the free entertainment.  In doing so they unsuspectingly acquired an instant suntan and their own personal lethal dose of radioactive iodine 131, which the American National Cancer Institute, in a report released in 1997, estimated was responsible for thousands of cases of thyroid cancer in subsequent years.

Nuclear Testing

Bikini Atoll is an atoll in the Micronesian Islands of the Pacific Ocean, part of Republic of the Marshall Islands.

It consists of twenty-three islands surrounding a deep central lagoon, at the northern end of the Ralik Chain northwest of Ailinginae Atoll and now universally significant to the world because it was admitted to the UNESCO list on 31st July 2010 with the justification that:

“Bikini Atoll has conserved direct tangible evidence … conveying the power of … nuclear tests, i.e. the sunken ships sent to the bottom of the lagoon by the tests in 1946 and the gigantic Bravo crater…. Through its history, the atoll symbolises the dawn of the nuclear age, despite its paradoxical image of peace and of earthly paradise.”

In 1954 the United States began serious nuclear testing in the Pacific Ocean on the island of Bikini Atoll and they carried out the detonation of a massive bomb codenamed Castle Bravo, which was the first test of a practical hydrogen device by the United States.

Castle Bravo was also the most powerful nuclear bomb ever detonated by the United States, with a yield of fifteen Megatons (doesn’t sound a lot but, believe me, it is). That yield, far exceeding the expected yield of four to six megatons, combined with other factors, led to the most significant accidental radiological contamination ever caused by the United States. In terms of TNT tonnage equivalence, Castle Bravo was about one thousand, two hundred times more powerful than each of the atomic bombs which were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki during World War II.

Nuclear testing was a big thing in the 1950s as Washington and Moscow prepared enthusiastically for wiping each other, and everyone else, off the face of the earth on the day of Armageddon.  The fact that a major explosion even on the side of the world might have serious consequences for both sides and everyone else in between just didn’t seem to occur to them.

Nuclear Energy

In 1954 the United States began serious nuclear testing in the Pacific Ocean on the island of Bikini Atoll and they carried out the detonation of a massive bomb codenamed Castle Bravo, which was the first test of a practical hydrogen bomb and the largest nuclear explosion ever set off by the United States.

Castle Bravo was the most powerful nuclear device ever detonated by the United States, with a yield of fifteen Megatons (doesn’t sound a lot but, believe me, it is). That yield, far exceeding the expected yield of four to six megatons, combined with other factors, led to the most significant accidental radiological contamination ever caused by the United States. In terms of TNT tonnage equivalence, Castle Bravo was about one thousand, two hundred times more powerful than each of the atomic bombs which were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki during World War II.

Nuclear testing was a big thing in the 1950s as Washington and Moscow prepared enthusiastically for wiping each other of the face of the earth on the day of Armageddon.  The fact that a major explosion even on the side of the world might have serious consequences for both sides and everyone else in between just didn’t seem to occur to them.  Years later I visited the United States and although I didn’t know this at the time travelled along a road in Nevada that was only a hundred kilometres or so southwest of the Nevada Test Site that is a United States Department of Energy reservation which was established in January 1951 for the testing of nuclear weapons.  The location is infamous for receiving the highest amount of concentrated nuclear detonated weapons in the whole of North America.

As well as weapons of mass destruction, the world’s first atomic power station was opened near at Obninsk, near Moscow in Russia on 27th June 1954 and knowing now how careless the Russians were with anything nuclear this was probably something that world needed to worry about.  To illustrate the point just look what happened at the Chernobyl nuclear plant in the Ukraine in 1986 when a reactor accident at a nuclear power plant resulted in the worst nuclear power plant accident in history and the only incident ever to record level seven on the International Nuclear Event Scale (and on a scale of zero to seven that’s pretty serious!) resulting in a severe nuclear meltdown and sending a plume of highly radioactive fallout into the atmosphere and over an extensive geographical area to the extent that it remains uninhabitable today and will be for many more years to come as well.

Mind you, we British could also arrange a nasty little nuclear disaster of our own and on 10th October 1957 the graphite core of a nuclear reactor at Windscale in Cumberland caught fire, releasing substantial amounts of radioactive contamination into the surrounding area. The event, known as the Windscale fire, was considered the world’s worst reactor accident until Three Mile Island in 1979 before both incidents were dwarfed by the Chernobyl disaster.

Here are the results of the Cold War: USA 1 (Bikini Atoll) – USSR 1 (Chernobyl) two own goals by the way!

Nuclear Test Sites and the Bikini

In 1954 the United States began serious nuclear testing in the Pacific Ocean on the island of Bikini Atoll and they carried out the detonation of a massive bomb codenamed Castle Bravo.  This was the first test of a practical hydrogen bomb and the largest nuclear explosion ever set off by the United States.  In fact, a bit like a ten year old with a box of fireworks and some matches, they really had little idea what they were doing and when it was detonated it proved much more powerful than the boffins had predicted, and created unexpected widespread radioactive contamination which has prevented people from ever returning to the island.

Castle Bravo was the most powerful nuclear device ever detonated by the United States, with a yield of fifteen Megatons. That yield, far exceeding the expected yield of four to six megatons which, combined with other factors, led to the most significant accidental radiological contamination ever caused by the United States. In terms of TNT tonnage equivalence, Castle Bravo was about one thousand, two hundred times more powerful than each of the atomic bombs which were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki during World War II.

This event was important for two reasons, firstly it signified the state of tension in the world called the cold war that was around for the next thirty years or so but secondly and subsequently much more importantly it inspired the introduction of the bikini swimsuit.  According to the official version a French engineer called Louis Réard and the fashion designer Jacques Heim invented the swimsuit that was a little more than a provocative brassiere front with a tiny g-string back.  It was allegedly named after Bikini Atoll, the site of nuclear weapon tests on the reasoning that the burst of excitement it would cause on the beach or at the lido would be like a nuclear explosion – plenty of fallout and very hot!

Nuclear testing was a big thing in the 1950s as Washington and Moscow prepared enthusiastically for wiping each other of the face of the earth on the day of Armageddon.  The fact that a major explosion even on the side of the world might have serious consequences for both sides and everyone else in between just didn’t seem to occur to them.

Years later I visited the United States and although I didn’t know this at the time travelled along a road in Nevada that was only a hundred kilometres or so southwest of the Nevada Test Site that is a United States Department of Energy reservation which was established in January 1951 for the testing of nuclear weapons.  The location is infamous for receiving the highest amount of concentrated nuclear detonated weapons in the whole of North America.

The Nevada Test Site was the primary testing location of American nuclear devices during the Cold War and began here with a one kiloton bomb on January 27th 1951.  From then until 1992, there were nine hundred and twenty eight announced nuclear tests at the site, which is far more than at any other test site in the World, and seismic data has indicated there may have been many unannounced secret underground tests as well.

During the 1950s the familiar deadly mushroom cloud from these tests could be seen for almost a hundred miles in all directions, including the city of Las Vegas, where the tests instantly became tourist attractions as Americans headed for the City to witness the spectacle that could be seen from the downtown hotels.  Even more recklessly many others would thoughtlessly drive the family to the boundary of the test site for a day out and a picnic to view the free entertainment.  In doing so they unsuspectingly acquired an instant suntan and their own personal lethal dose of radioactive iodine 131, which the American National Cancer Institute, in a report released in 1997, estimated was responsible for thousands of cases of thyroid cancer in subsequent years.

A Life in a Year – 31st July, Nuclear Testing and The Bikini

Bikini Atoll is an atoll in the Micronesian Islands of the Pacific Ocean, part of Republic of the Marshall Islands.

It consists of twenty-three islands surrounding a deep central lagoon, at the northern end of the Ralik Chain northwest of Ailinginae Atoll and now universally significant to the world because it was admitted to the UNESCO list on 31st July 2010 with the justification that:

“Bikini Atoll has conserved direct tangible evidence … conveying the power of … nuclear tests, i.e. the sunken ships sent to the bottom of the lagoon by the tests in 1946 and the gigantic Bravo crater…. Through its history, the atoll symbolises the dawn of the nuclear age, despite its paradoxical image of peace and of earthly paradise.”

In 1954 the United States began serious nuclear testing in the Pacific Ocean on the island of Bikini Atoll and they carried out the detonation of a massive bomb codenamed Castle Bravo, which was the first test of a practical hydrogen device by the United States. 

Castle Bravo was also the most powerful nuclear bomb ever detonated by the United States, with a yield of fifteen Megatons (doesn’t sound a lot but, believe me, it is). That yield, far exceeding the expected yield of four to six megatons, combined with other factors, led to the most significant accidental radiological contamination ever caused by the United States. In terms of TNT tonnage equivalence, Castle Bravo was about one thousand, two hundred times more powerful than each of the atomic bombs which were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki during World War II.

Nuclear testing was a big thing in the 1950s as Washington and Moscow prepared enthusiastically for wiping each other, and everyone else, off the face of the earth on the day of Armageddon.  The fact that a major explosion even on the side of the world might have serious consequences for both sides and everyone else in between just didn’t seem to occur to them. 

This event was important for two reasons, firstly it signified the state of tension in the world called the cold war that was around for the next thirty years or so but secondly and much more importantly it inspired the introduction of the bikini swimsuit and I’ve always been grateful for that.  According to the official version a French engineer called Louis Réard and the fashion designer Jacques Heim invented the swimsuit that was a little more than a provocative brassiere front with a tiny g-string back.  It was allegedly named after Bikini Atoll, the site of nuclear weapon tests on the reasoning that the burst of excitement it would cause on the beach or at the lido would be like a nuclear explosion.

Plenty of fallout and very hot!

A Life in a Year – 27th June, Nuclear Power

In 1954 the United States began serious nuclear testing in the Pacific Ocean on the island of Bikini Atoll and they carried out the detonation of a massive bomb codenamed Castle Bravo, which was the first test of a practical hydrogen bomb and the largest nuclear explosion ever set off by the United States.

Castle Bravo was the most powerful nuclear device ever detonated by the United States, with a yield of fifteen Megatons (doesn’t sound a lot but, believe me, it is). That yield, far exceeding the expected yield of four to six megatons, combined with other factors, led to the most significant accidental radiological contamination ever caused by the United States. In terms of TNT tonnage equivalence, Castle Bravo was about one thousand, two hundred times more powerful than each of the atomic bombs which were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki during World War II.

Nuclear testing was a big thing in the 1950s as Washington and Moscow prepared enthusiastically for wiping each other of the face of the earth on the day of Armageddon.  The fact that a major explosion even on the side of the world might have serious consequences for both sides and everyone else in between just didn’t seem to occur to them.  Years later I visited the United States and although I didn’t know this at the time travelled along a road in Nevada that was only a hundred kilometres or so southwest of the Nevada Test Site that is a United States Department of Energy reservation which was established in January 1951 for the testing of nuclear weapons.  The location is infamous for receiving the highest amount of concentrated nuclear detonated weapons in the whole of North America.

As well as weapons of mass destruction, the world’s first atomic power station was opened near at Obninsk, near Moscow in Russia on 27th June 1954 and knowing now how careless the Russians were with anything nuclear this was probably something that world needed to worry about.  To illustrate the point just look what happened at the Chernobyl nuclear plant in the Ukraine in 1986 when a reactor accident at a nuclear power plant resulted in the worst nuclear power plant accident in history and the only incident ever to record level seven on the International Nuclear Event Scale (and on a scale of zero to seven that’s pretty serious!) resulting in a severe nuclear meltdown and sending a plume of highly radioactive fallout into the atmosphere and over an extensive geographical area to the extent that it remains uninhabitable today and will be for many more years to come as well.

Mind you, we British could also arrange a nasty little nuclear disaster of our own and on 10th October 1957 the graphite core of a nuclear reactor at Windscale in Cumberland caught fire, releasing substantial amounts of radioactive contamination into the surrounding area. The event, known as the Windscale fire, was considered the world’s worst reactor accident until Three Mile Island in 1979 before both incidents were dwarfed by the Chernobyl disaster.

Here are the results of the Cold War: USA 1 (Bikini Atoll) – USSR 1 (Chernobyl) two own goals by the way!