The Atom: Instant Crater

Some 650 ft. below the hard clay surface of Nevada's Frenchman Flat, technicians carefully installed the device in a 6-ft.-high and 75-ft.-long chamber lined with plywood and floored with fine gravel. For a while a contrary wind sweeping across the area threatened to postpone the shot. Then the wind faded and the device was detonated. Standing on a mountain-top 57 miles away, observers could not hear the explosion. But they saw its effect perfectly: a great mass composed of thousands of tons of granite boulders, sand, clay, yucca trees, sagebrush, tumbleweed, and...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now

Subscribe
Subscribe

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 TIME.com

Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

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