A U.S. federal science facility has recovered thousands of pieces of footage depicting atmospheric nuclear tests conducted between 1945 until they were banned in 1963, highlighting the extent of the damage that would be caused by some of the most powerful weapons of mass destruction in the world.
The Lawrence Livermore National Lab (LNLL) in California has made nearly 10,000 videos public, which were previously classified and decomposing in the archives.
The high-speed videos of some 210 explosions show the atmospheric nuclear tests on land and sea at the height of the Cold War and nuclear arms race between the U.S. and the Soviet Union.
The tests were carried in atolls in Pacific and Atlantic oceans, in addition to deserts in the southwestern U.S. Due to their environmental hazards, such tests were terminated by a number of countries including the U.S. with the introduction of 1963 Treaty Banning Nuclear Weapon Tests in the Atmosphere, in Outer Space and Under Water. However, France and China continued to carry out atmospheric tests until 1974 and 1980, respectively.
The LNLL said in a statement on March 15 that a group of researchers spent five years locating, recovering and digitizing the footage, which was spread in various sites around the country. 64 of these videos were uploaded in a playlist on Youtube.
Greg Spriggs, a nuclear weapon physicist from the LNLL, said that current technology would help scientists to better analyze the data obtained from the explosion footage than technology from the 1950's.
"It's just unbelievable how much energy's released," Spriggs in the statement. "We hope that we would never have to use a nuclear weapon ever again. I think that if we capture the history of this and show what the force of these weapons are and how much devastation they can wreak, then maybe people will be reluctant to use them."
He added that the complete process of scanning, analysis and declassification would take another two years.