Writing research – atomic bomb test film declassified

For science fiction writers, and screen writers, and fiction writers, knowing a bit more about the facts behind explosions can be of use. For example, a writer could be thinking of an action sequence where a character sees an atomic bomb blast from far away (like Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull but better).

A writer might need to see different kinds of weapons detonating, not just the documentary footage of the bombing of Hiroshima or Nagisaki.

A science writer might need to know more about the impact and lasting damage of these weapons.

A team of scientists at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) have put their preservation skills to the test, and tracked down declassified filmed footage of American nuclear weapons tested between 1945 – 1962.

So far, team lead Greg Spriggs says they have restored somewhere between 400 to 500 individual weapons tests. Somewhere about 750 have been declassified. In total, there are 10,000 weapons tests filmed that the team hope to restore.

How this effort helps science writers and fiction writers is that the LLNL have released many of these films on their YouTube channel for public viewing.

Watching some of this footage can be confronting. The sheer power involved is almost unbelievable. After watching films that use the mass destruction of Nuclear Weapons as an essential narrative component, or part of the themes (Akira, Watchman, Terminator 2: Judgement Day), it is at once hard to believe what I am watching actually took place, and that these weapons have been used in actual warfare. It’s truly devastating.

Writers can make use of the valuable resource for research.

“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.”
-Greg Spriggs, Weapon physicist at LLNL.

The LLNL YouTube Channel has the complete playlist. You can read more about the project at the LLNL news page.


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