Science: Atoms Aloft

The Atomic Energy Commission was flying captive balloons last week over its Nevada test site. Magnesium flares, burned at varying altitudes, would simulate atom bombs and indicate how high a bomb could be exploded without blinding auto drivers on the highways of southern Nevada.

AEC's smaller nuclear devices are generally exploded on steel towers inside a ring of screening mountains north of Las Vegas. The towers are vaporized by the heat, and the atomic fireball, touching the ground for an instant, drags up toward the stratosphere a large amount of radioactive dust. Both...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now


Get TIME the way you want it

  • One Week Digital Pass — $4.99
  • Monthly Pay-As-You-Go DIGITAL ACCESS$2.99
  • One Year ALL ACCESSJust $30!   Best Deal!
    Print Magazine + Digital Edition + Subscriber-only Content on

Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!