These massive nuclear blasts happened decades ago. We’re just seeing the videos now via USA Today

The United States government declassified hundreds of Cold War-era nuclear testing films, allowing the public release of dozens of previously secret videos of exploding nuclear weapons.

Most of the 64 videos released by the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California are in black and white and range from just a few seconds to several minutes. Under the names “Operation Teapot,” Operation Hardtack” and “Operation Upshot-Knothole” among others, the explosions often start with bright flashes of light followed by massive, billowing smoke clouds.

The collection, released on YouTube in March, are part of an estimated 10,000 videos of the 210 atmospheric nuclear tests conducted by the U.S. government from 1945 to 1962. A team of film experts at Lawrence Livermore tracked down about 6,500 of the tapes, of which about 750 have been declassified. The rest are somewhere in the crowded and sometimes poorly cataloged archives of the United States government.


Altogether, Spriggs estimates about 3,000 films will be released in the coming years. It could take about two years to scan the rest of the films. Then the films will need to analyzed and declassified.

Spriggs hopes the team’s work is useful to future generations of weapon physicists.

“It’s just unbelievable how much energy’s released,” Spriggs said. “We hope that we would never have to use a nuclear weapon ever again. 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.”

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