The First Milliseconds After An Atom Bomb Blast

On May 11, 2013 by Lazer Horse

Milliseconds Rope trick effect atom bomb

The following three photographs were taken of an atomic bomb detonated by the military as part of the “Tumbler Snapper” test series. They were taken by Harold Eugene Edgerton (1903-1990) an all round smart chap with a busy brain. They show the blast just milliseconds after the detonation.

At first I thought they might be bad fakes, as they look so perfectly otherworldly, but I’ve done a surface scratch on the www and they’re terrifyingly real. He used Rapatronic cameras with lenses 10 feet long set up in banks of 4 to 10 to take multiple shots. They were set up 7 miles from the blast zone and each photo had an average exposure time of three millionths of a second.

They’re just amazing, but I don’t need to tell you that really, look:

Atom Bomb Photo - Harold Edgerton 1

Atom Bomb Photo - Harold Edgerton 2

Atom Bomb Photo - Harold Edgerton 3

In the second shot above you can see the “rope trick effect” where bursts of energy shoot out of the fireball along the guide ropes. Although this has nothing to do with Edgerton, here’s a 7 second video of the rope trick phenomenon in super slow motion:



Edgerton was an MIT professor and earned dozens of patents for his devices. He also won the US Army’s Medal of Freedom (1946), the National Medal of Science (1973), and induction into the National Inventors Hall of Fame (1986), among other honors, and also wrote or co-wrote four books. Busy busy boy. Puts us all to shame. He also produced some iconic photographs like this Milk Drop Coronet from 1957 that we probably all recognise but don’t know why. Harold Edgerton’s motto for life was:

“Work hard. Tell everyone everything you know. Close a deal with a handshake. Have fun!”

Harold Edgerton - Milk Drop Coronet - Photo - 1957





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