On July 17, 1962, the United States conducted its last atmospheric explosion of a nuclear weapon, Little Feller I in Operation Sunbeam. “It detonated perfectly, releasing its lethal radiation.” Robert F. Kennedy, then Attorney General, was in the bleachers to witness the nuclear detonation.
A concurrent military exercise, Operation Ivy Flats, brought troops to the site to execute the blast and study the effects of the weapon on equipment and personnel. That’s right, the military exploded the warhead, then “established the pattern of radiation intensities in the area of the operation,” and finally soldiers headed out over the desert to shoot artillery and mortar. “Immediately following the exercise, the battalion employed standard unit decontamination procedures to ensure that vehicles and men were freed of the main possible source of radioactive contamination. […] No one needed further decontamination. Only two vehicles required a wash-down.”
One further above-ground operation, but with no explosive yield or nuclear reaction, was conducted to test the effects of accidental dispersal of radioactive material. But after that, our nuclear tests were hidden underground. We’ll have more on the nuclear testing program after our research trip to the Atomic Testing Museum later this year.
Shhh. In 1982, the B-2 Stealth Bomber made its flying debut, though the first operational B-2 wasn’t delivered for another 11 years. We saw one fly quietly over Columbus, Ohio, more than a year earlier. It exudes malevolence.
Today is also the anniversary of physicist Henri Poincaré’s death in 1912. Among other pursuits, he laid the foundation for chaos theory. “Modern man has used cause-and-effect as ancient man used the gods to give order to the Universe. This is not because it was the truest system, but because it was the most convenient.”