The United States Army carried out the first-ever successful nuclear detonation on July 16, 1945. Known as “Trinity,” the explosion was detonated in New Mexico’s Jornada del Muerto desert. This experimental trial, which resulted in the detonation of a bomb with the nickname “The Gadget,” marked the start of a new kind of arms race and kicked off what became known as the “Nuclear Age.”
“We knew the world would not be the same,” nuclear scientist Robert Oppenheimer said after the 20-kiloton explosion took place. “A few people laughed, a few people cried. Most people were silent. I remembered a line from Hindu scripture… ‘Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds’.”
In August 1945, the U.S. went on to drop nuclear bombs on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. “Including later deaths from radiation sickness,” Matt Broomfield of the Independent reports, “the bombs were responsible for killing nearly a quarter of a million people, all but 20,000 of whom were civilians. This is despite the fact that only 1.7 percent of the material in the Hiroshima bomb actually detonated.”
Although the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings remain the only wartime use of nuclear weapons, in the decades that followed several other nations developed — and detonated — nuclear weapons, with the majority being conducted by the U.S., France and the former USSR.
Now, thousands of successful nuclear detonations since 1945 can be viewed in a new interactive online map, created by Esri UK. In addition to military detonations of nuclear devices, the visualization also charts non-military detonations, primarily carried out by the USSR. These include tests to stimulate production of natural gas, excavation of man-made harbors, and explosions to collapse earth onto fires burning in gas or oil fields.
The map allows site visitors to zoom in and out, as well as pan laterally between countries, and a progress bar plays the complete timeline from 1945 to present day. Selecting individual detonations provides contextual pop-ups, which include links to further information.
Esri is an international supplier of geographic information system (GIS) software, web GIS and geodatabase management applications. The company’s mission is to improve quality of life through geographic information system (GIS) technology by inspiring and enabling governments, universities and businesses worldwide to save money, lives and the environment through a deeper understanding of the changing world around them. Esri’s mapping software, ArcGIS, is a location platform that’s “accessible to anyone, anywhere, anytime.”
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