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Addendum: terrible beauty

I have these three photographs, which I've taken from an article I was directed to by sfmarty. They record the first few fractions of a second of an atomic explosion. Unfortunately, the article wasn't terribly informative, so I don't know the strength/yield or any specifics of the bomb in question or even what year the photos were taken. I do know that the exposures are 1/100,000,000ths of a second apart from one another, that the camera was 10 miles from the blast, and that the test site was somewhere in Nevada. I've been looking at these since last night, trying to think how I could ever hope to write anything half so terrible as these images, knowing that I can't, and that I wouldn't want to try. But, also, few things so effectively illustrate mankind's paradoxical ability to create and destroy, and few other things can stand as such an eloquent expression of the complexity of that emotional state that is too often shorthanded as "horror." I keep coming back to them. Is this the face of "god," the power humans have always longed to commune with? Is this the "shatterer of worlds"? Is revelation and epiphany the same as suicide? Is it merely pretty lights, an insignificant flash in the void? Whichever, these three photos say it all (behind the cut):



( 13 comments — Have your say! )
Feb. 17th, 2006 11:22 pm (UTC)
Spotted this at random.

Yeah, I'd say that was the face of God. Or as close to it as we will ever get.

Feb. 17th, 2006 11:30 pm (UTC)
Those sent a chill down my spine.

Feb. 17th, 2006 11:32 pm (UTC)
I have become fascinated with Robert Oppenheimer. I've been meaning to read a couple books on him. I first heard this speech he gave about how he felt being part of the creation of the bomb as part of some very spooky music several years ago. I used to play it as an intro when I was DJing. I have just recently found the video of him giving that speech and it breaks my heart to see him wipe away the tears. What a terrible thing to be the creator of. See the video here:

"We knew the world would not be the same. A few people laughed, a few people cried, most people were silent. I remembered the line from the Hindu scripture, the Bhagavad-Gita. Vishnu is trying to persuade the Prince that he should do his duty and to impress him takes on his multi-armed form and says, "Now, I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds." I suppose we all thought that one way or another."
-J. Robert Oppenheimer
Feb. 17th, 2006 11:35 pm (UTC)
Also, I've been meaning to get this movie about it - I hear it's very good:
The Day After Trinity (1981)
Feb. 17th, 2006 11:43 pm (UTC)
In these photos, the blast takes on such different appearances, one looks like a cancerous tumour, the last one could almost look like the creation of a new world. Of course it's really the destruction of one, but I suppose in destroying one world, another would be created.

People and their toys... one of human nature's biggest downfalls is our unwillingness to accept the concept of limiting ourselves and accepting what we have as being enough.
Feb. 17th, 2006 11:50 pm (UTC)
Decidedly creepy... the sheer magnatude... very "why god why, oh the humanity" and such... ::shiver::
Feb. 18th, 2006 03:35 am (UTC)
That's just unreal. Wow. I don't know what to say to those images.
Feb. 18th, 2006 04:46 am (UTC)
It looks like a universe turned inside-out. I get a weird taste in my mouth when I look at that, slightly different with each of the images.
Feb. 18th, 2006 08:27 pm (UTC)
I believe these photos are found in "The Making of the Atomic Bomb," by Richard Rhodes. I can't say if the book gives you any more information about the blasts.

Feb. 18th, 2006 09:43 pm (UTC)
My son (sf-nic ) said that the first photo is on the photographer's web site, and has been for some time.
Feb. 18th, 2006 10:50 pm (UTC)
The last one gets me the most, because it's so pretty, yet knowing what it is, it is anything BUT that.
Feb. 18th, 2006 10:56 pm (UTC)
This does the same thing to me. I haven't bought the book yet, fifty dollars and all that, but even the website is unbelievably powerful.
Feb. 19th, 2006 12:01 am (UTC)
Hmm, they took the images away. Maybe they'll come back later, but I'm sure you could find the book in the library if you were so inclined.
( 13 comments — Have your say! )