Today marks the 76th anniversary of the dawn of the nuclear age with the Trinity Test in Los Alamos, New Mexico.
The Manhattan Project scientists and others who witnessed the first nuclear test were in awe. Many were silent.
Here’s a compilation of their words:
We knew the world would not be the same. A few people laughed, a few people cried. Most people were silent. I remembered the line from the Hindu scripture, the Bhagavad-Gita; Vishnu is trying to persuade the Prince that he should do his duty, and to impress him, takes on his multi-armed form and says, ‘Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds.’ I suppose we all thought that, one way or another.
– J. Robert Oppenheimer, recalling in a 1965 documentary how he felt after watching the Trinity Test
This is the nearest thing to doomsday that one could possibly imagine. I am sure that at the end of the world — in the last millisecond of the Earth’s existence — the last human will see what we saw.
– George Kistiakowsky, after watching the Trinity Test
The effects could well be called unprecedented, magnificent, beautiful, stupendous and terrifying. No man-made phenomenon of such tremendous power had ever occurred before…Words are inadequate tools for the job of acquainting those not present with the physical, mental and psychological effects. It had to be witnessed to be realized.
– Major General Thomas Farrell, describing the Trinity Test in a report to the Secretary of War
Finally I could remove the goggles and watch the ball of fire rise rapidly. It was surrounded by a huge cloud of transparent purplish air produced in part by the radiations from the bomb and its fission products. No one who saw it could forget it, a foul and awesome display.
Now we are all sons of bitches.
– Kenneth Bainbridge, immediately after watching the Trinity Test