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February 17, 2006

Brief history of an atomic blast

Several photos of an atomic test made in Nevada.

Photos of the First Few Microseconds of an Atomic Blast
Courtesy of Harold Edgerton (photographer)

Ever wondered what an atomic blast looks like before it obliterates everything around it? Before the smoke, the mushroom cloud, the devastation, it's really quite amazing to see the first few fractions of an atomic bomb upon detonation.

Edgerton built a special lens 10 feet long for his camera which was set up in a bunker 7 miles from the source of the blast which was triggered Nevada - the bomb placed atop a steel gantry anchored to the desert floor by guide wires. The exposures are at 1/100,000,000ths of a second.


Posted by joke du jour at February 17, 2006 07:33 PM

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One of the photo captions refers to "electric-like energy" going down the guywires. It is not electrical at all.

This phenomenon is known as a "rope trick" and was researched & named by physicist John Malik. It is caused by vaporization of the metallic cables by VISIBLE light - confirmed by his experiments involving different types of cable and various cable coverings & treatments.

...and can you believe that this is entirely from my memory? I'm such a geek.

Posted by: codewritinfool at February 17, 2006 08:15 PM

Hey fool

1. Thanks for the background on Malik and his "rope trick" research. I didn't know about that. (For others, you can find a reference at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rope_trick_effect.)

2. Can I believe that somebody with the handle 'codewritinfool' is such a geek? Now that's a good example of a question that answers itself.

3. I get that this cable-vaporizing energy isn't carried by a burst of charged particles or some other mechanism. But to pick a nit, I'd say that visible light is pretty "electric-like" - just a matter of the frequency.

Posted by: JdJ at February 18, 2006 08:16 AM

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