Above-ground nuclear testing was banned in 1963, but in the 18 years between the bomb’s invention and that point the United States conducted some 210 tests, of which they made 7,000 films. Lawrence Livemore National Laboratory weapon physicist named Greg Spriggs is dedicated to preserving them. Of that huge number of test films, only 740 are declassified, but, as Gizmodo reports, 64 of those have now been uploaded to YouTube. The thinking is not just to preserve the information contained on them but to provide a warning against ever using them again, which is a good thing. The videos make a striking case in favor of this argument.
Here’s Operation Hardtack-1. Not a ton of the declassified videos are in color, so it makes sense that this would be the first on the laboratory’s playlist: It is very terrifying.
Here’s Hardtack-1 again in a moodier form:
There are many different angles of just a few blasts, organized by their codename. Operation Dominic stuff is weird—a lot of slowly blooming dots. Compared with the above, it’s almost creepy for how abstract it is.
Operation Teapot’s are black and white and low fidelity but capture the destruction in pretty astonishing slow-motion. You can see the bomb actually explode mid-air.
This video from Operation Plumbbob is interesting because it focuses only on the bomb’s effects on a distant mountain:
And here’s one last completely horrifying video of man’s destructive power, from Teapot:
Yeah, let’s not use these things ever again. Spriggs provides a little more context for the project below.
[Note: Gizmodo, like The A.V. Club, is owned by Univision Communications.]