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46 States, Canada and Mexico All Affected by the Trinity Nuclear Test

By: Amy Jin

On July 16, 1945, in a New Mexico desert, as J. Robert Oppenheimer and numerous other researchers from the Trinity Test assembled for the experiment of the nuclear atomic bomb, no one had any clue what the immense effect of the bomb would be.

On the day of the launch, the atomic bomb exploded atop a metal tower hovering over 100 feet in height. During the test run for Trinity, the blast was more powerful than expected, and the smoke cloud from the collision went quite high into the atmosphere, a total of about 50,000 to 70,000 feet.

The researchers were thinking about the radioactive dangers that could occur but felt they were minor concerns. “They were aware that there were radioactive hazards, but they were thinking about acute risk in the areas around the immediate detonation site,” nuclear historian at the Stevens Institute of Technology in New Jersey, Alex Wellerstein, stated.

Trinity’s deposition fallout still remains unknown, although a few other atomic bomb test dispositions (mostly in Nevada) are known. "How much of Trinity’s fallout still remains at original deposition sites across the country is difficult to calculate.” Susan Alzner, an author of the study, states.

Decades of insufficient data could have been a reason to explain this. “The data sets for the Nevada tests and the available data that we could possibly find for Trinity were not comparable.” Dr. Alzner explains.

After many tries, the research team broke through. Dr. Alzner and Megan Smith (co-founder of shift7 and former US chief technology officer in the Obama administration) had contacted the NOAA. Gilbert P. Compo (a senior researcher at the University of Colorado and the NOAA Physical Sciences Laboratory) revealed to them that the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts had found “historical data that charted weather patterns extending 30,000 feet or higher above Earth’s surface” a week earlier.

All the new information shows that the Trinity Test’s outcome greatly affected New Mexico. A shocking 87 percent of New Mexico’s deposition was accounted for by Trinity’s fallout.

Tina Cordova, a co-founder of the consortium, states, “This new information about the Trinity bomb is monumental and a long time coming.”

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