Trinity (nuclear test)

First detonation of a nuclear weapon / From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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Trinity was the code name of the first detonation of a nuclear weapon, conducted by the United States Army at 5:29 a.m. MWT[lower-alpha 1] (11:29:21 GMT) on July 16, 1945, as part of the Manhattan Project. The test was of an implosion-design plutonium bomb, nicknamed the "gadget", of the same design as the Fat Man bomb later detonated over Nagasaki, Japan, on August 9, 1945. Concerns about whether the complex Fat Man design would work led to a decision to conduct the first nuclear test. The code name "Trinity" was assigned by J. Robert Oppenheimer, the director of the Los Alamos Laboratory, inspired by the poetry of John Donne.

Quick facts: Trinity, Information, Country, Test site, Dat...
Detonation of the "gadget", with an estimated yield of 25 kilotons of TNT, and the ensuing mushroom cloud
CountryFlag_of_the_United_States_%281912-1959%29.svg United States
Test siteTrinity Site, New Mexico
DateJuly 16, 1945
(78 years ago)
Test typeAtmospheric
Device typePlutonium implosion fission
Yield25 kilotons of TNT (100 TJ)
Test chronology
Quick facts: Nearest city, Coordinates, Area, Built, NRHP&...
Trinity Site
Trinity Site obelisk
Trinity (nuclear test) is located in New Mexico
Trinity (nuclear test)
Trinity (nuclear test) is located in the United States
Trinity (nuclear test)
Nearest cityBingham, New Mexico
Coordinates33.67722°N 106.47527°W / 33.67722; -106.47527
Area36,480 acres (14,760 ha)
Built1945 (1945)
NRHP reference No.66000493[1]
Significant dates
Added to NRHPOctober 15, 1966
Designated NHLDDecember 21, 1965[2]
Designated NMSRCPDecember 20, 1968

The test, planned and directed by Kenneth Bainbridge, was conducted in the Jornada del Muerto desert about 35 miles (56 km) southeast of Socorro, New Mexico, on what was the Alamogordo Bombing and Gunnery Range (renamed the White Sands Proving Ground just before the test). The only structures originally in the immediate vicinity were the McDonald Ranch House and its ancillary buildings, which scientists used as a laboratory for testing bomb components. Fears of a fizzle prompted construction of "Jumbo", a steel containment vessel that could contain the plutonium, allowing it to be recovered; but ultimately Jumbo was not used in the test. On May 7, 1945, a rehearsal was conducted, during which 108 short tons (98 t) of high explosive spiked with radioactive isotopes was detonated.

Some 425 people were present on the weekend of the Trinity test. Observers included Vannevar Bush, James Chadwick, James B. Conant, Thomas Farrell, Enrico Fermi, Hans Bethe, Richard Feynman, Isidor Isaac Rabi, Leslie Groves, Robert Oppenheimer, Frank Oppenheimer, Geoffrey Taylor, Richard Tolman, Edward Teller, and John von Neumann. The Trinity bomb released the explosive energy of 25 kilotons of TNT (100 TJ) ± 2 kilotons of TNT (8.4 TJ), and a large cloud of fallout. Thousands of people lived closer to the test than would have been allowed under guidelines adopted for subsequent tests, but no one living near the test was evacuated before or afterward.

The test site was declared a National Historic Landmark district in 1965, and listed on the National Register of Historic Places the following year.