The Atom and Sin City

In the old days, Las Vegas was a destination for tourists who were fascinated to see an amazing sight: a mushroom cloud from the nearby atomic bomb testings!  This was well before they knew how dangerous the fallout from the bombs was, and when they still did above-ground testing.  Everyone had heard of The Bomb, especially after the US used the only two that were operational on Japan at the end of WWII.  They wanted to see it up close. “Safely”.

We spent a few hours at the Atomic Testing Museum in Vegas, a fascinating place if ever there was one.  It’s been very well designed, using a timeline to guide us through the process from Einstein’s theory to Oppenheimer’s nightmare, to today, when the testing ground is pockmarked with hundreds of craters – remnants of the underground testing that followed the above-ground blasts.

We learned about radiation, the research on splitting the atom, the Cold War and nuclear proliferation (and non-proliferation treaties), what countries have them and don’t have them (Canada has the technology, but has decided to be a non-atomic bomb country).  It was  a fascinating trip through recent history — and, yes, there was film showing children hiding beneath their school desks to practice what to do if a bomb should explode nearby.  We even experienced in a theatre what it might look and sound like if we were to experience a blast.  It was unsettling.

A little bit of sober reality before we returned to the Strip.

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