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Photographing the Atomic Bomb

Today NPR’s The Picture Show featured photographs taken by Harold Eugene Edgerton during the 1950s which captured the earliest moments of atomic explosions. As the NPR article explains:

After the war, EG & G, Inc. (Edgerton, Germeshausen and Grier Inc.) developed the rapatronic camera for the Atomic Energy Commission to record — specifically, in one take only — the beginning of nuclear explosions… The dangers of shockwaves and radiation required the camera to be placed 7 miles from the detonation site on a tower some 75 feet in the air. Exposure time was one-hundred-millionth of a second. The exposure time was so small that no conventional mechanical shutter could be used. A magnetic field was created around two polarized lenses that were rotated, permitting light to pass through an optical system.

An example of the rapatronic camera is pictured above. To see examples from the series of atomic bomb photographs by Edgerton, visit NPR’s article.

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