Scientists released more than 60 declassified videos last week of nuclear weapons tests carried out by the U.S. government.
Published on YouTube Friday by the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL), the 62 videos show atmospheric nuclear detonations carried out between 1945 and 1962.
The LLNL for the last five years has attempted to locate and preserve aging footage taken during the 210 tests.
“[A]round 10,000 of these films sat idle, scattered across the country in high-security vaults,” the LLNL YouTube page explains. “Not only were they gathering dust, the film material itself was slowly decomposing, bringing the data they contained to the brink of being lost forever.”
A team comprised of LLNL weapon physicist Greg Spriggs and numerous “film experts, archivists and software developers” were responsible for securing and restoring the footage.
“The goals are to preserve the films’ content before it’s lost forever, and provide better data to the post-testing-era scientists who use computer codes to help certify that the aging U.S. nuclear deterrent remains safe, secure and effective,” the LLNL adds.
Footage included in the release shows several high-profile tests such as the 1962 detonation of a 1.2 megaton bomb, dubbed the “Harlem Event,” over Christmas Island.
“We’ve received a lot of demand for these videos and the public has a right to see this footage,” Spriggs said in a press release. “Not only are we preserving history, but we’re getting much more consistent answers with our calculations.
“It’s been 25 years since the last nuclear test, and computer simulations have become our virtual test ground. But those simulations are only as good as the data they’re based on,” Spriggs added. “Accurate data is what enables us to ensure the stockpile remains safe, secure and effective without having to return to testing.”
While many of the tests are in black and white, some, including a 1958 test of a 25.1 kiloton nuclear device, show color.
This latest batch of footage follows the initial release of 64 other videos in March.
At the same time the LLNL also released a detailed video explaining the tools and techniques used to restore the Cold War-era footage.
The team plans to continue publishing the remaining videos “as they are scanned and approved for public release.”
“These are devastating weapons, and I hope they’re never used in war,” Spriggs said. “But the stockpile has been an effective deterrent for more than 70 years. My hope is that this project can help to make sure it stays viable into the future.”