See the Beautiful Stained Glass at the U.S. Air Force’s Mushroom Cloud Chapel
This story originally appeared on Sept. 14, 2014. Glass has a curious relationship with nuclear energy. That’s why it’s fitting to find a stained-glass depiction of a mushroom cloud in a U.S. Air Force chapel. The Strategic Air Command Chapel at Offutt Air Force Base in Omaha, Nebraska, is... Read more
Rescuing the Atomic Dog
This story originally appeared on March 9, 2014. Can dogs survive nuclear fallout? Indeed they can. In 1958, American scientists were stunned to find a canine survivor of the disastrous Castle Bravo test—the largest ever U.S. nuclear detonation. It also took a little politicking with American Airlines to rescue... Read more
The Lithium Blues—Or How America Triggered an Out-of-Control Nuke
This story originally appeared on March 17, 2014. You know lithium as the stuff that powers your iPhone, but you may not know that the lightest solid element also powers atomic bombs. Ignorance of lithium’s true nature once sparked a nuclear disaster. In 1954, the U.S. tested its first... Read more
Nuking the Aleutians

Nuking the Aleutians

WIB history September 21, 2018

This story originally approved on Oct. 5, 2014. On Nov. 6, 1971, the United States conducted its most powerful underground nuclear test to date. The massive, five-megaton blast detonated more than a mile below remote, windswept Amchitka Island in Alaska. The Cannikin shot tested a huge warhead the Pentagon... Read more
The SLAM Missile Would Have Been a Flying Chernobyl
This story originally appeared on Sept. 7, 2014. It was the perfect airborne death machine—a supersonic drone of nearly unlimited range, loaded with hydrogen bombs zooming around Earth at more than 2,500 miles per hour. To the engineers who worked on its development, it was “technically sweet” and the... Read more
Disarming an Atomic Bomb Is the Worst Job in the World
This story originally appeared on April 5, 2015. In the spring of 1952, the U.S. government tested tactical nuclear weapons at the Nevadoa Proving Ground as part of Operation Tumbler-Snapper. It was the third nuke test series in 18 months at the Nevada site in an era of breakneck... Read more
How to Find a Missing H-Bomb
This story originally appeared on April 20, 2015. When a routine Cold War operation went terribly wrong, two planes and seven men died, a village got contaminated and a hydrogen bomb disappeared. The search and cleanup required 1,400 American and Spanish personnel, a dozen aircraft, 27 U.S. Navy ships... Read more
This Is How the World Could Have Ended
This story first appeared on Jan. 14, 2014. This is a plan for the end of the world, dated 1970. The arrows are armies and the red vertical symbols are nuclear bombs, all part of a part of Cold War contingency plan crafted by the Soviet Union and its... Read more
Those Who Witnessed Castle Bravo Looked Into Armageddon
This story originally appeared on Feb. 28, 2015. More than 60 years ago on an island in the South Pacific, scientists and military officers, fishermen and Marshall Islands natives observed first-hand what Armageddon would be like. And it almost killed them all. The Atomic Energy Commission code-named the nuclear... Read more
Dr. Strangelove in the Pentagon
If you’re having trouble sleeping thanks to, well, you know who … you’re not alone. But don’t despair. A breakthrough remedy has just gone on the market. It has no chemically induced side effects and, best of all, will cost you nothing, thanks to the Department of Defense. It’s... Read more
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