Ever Heard the Sound of a Nuclear Bomb Going
Off? Historian Unveils One of the Few Surviving Audio Recordings
of Blast From 1950's Nevada Tests
They are surely
the most horrifying offshoot of modern technology nuclear warheads
which can smite hundreds of thousands of people dead within seconds,
and leave lasting scars on a landscape for generations.
And while most
of us will have seen archive footage of nuclear explosions before,
one thing we are unlikely to have heard is their sound.
to one expert, most films we see of a nuclear blast use stock 'explosion'
sound effects for the bang and audio footage is few and far between.
But Alex Wellerstein,
an historian of science at the American Institute of Physics, has
shared a unigue video of a blast during America's testing of nukes
in the Yucca Mountain area of Nevada during the 1950s.
was sent the video below from a Russian colleague, and has now shared
it on his blog.
wrote: 'Most films of nuclear explosions are dubbed. If they do
contain an actual audio recording of the test blast itself (something
Im often suspicious of I suspect many were filmed silently
and have a stock blast sound effect), its almost always shifted
in time so that the explosion and the sound of the blast wave are
'This is, of
course, quite false: the speed of light is much faster than the
speed of sound, and the cameras are kept a very healthy distance
from the test itself, so in reality the blast wave comes half a
minute or so after the explosion. Basic physics that even a non-technical
guy like me can understand.
rare to find footage where the sound has not been monkeyed with
in post-processing. So I was pleased when a Russian correspondent
sent me a
link to footage digitized by the National Archives of a 1953
nuclear test. The footage is very raw: it hasnt been edited
much, and is a bit washed out, but the audio is still in correct,
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