Thursday, May 9, 2019

National Museum of Nuclear Science and History

                                               "Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds."

                                                               -- Robert Oppenheimer, quoting the Bhagavad-Gita,
                                                                   on the day of the first atomic bomb test

During World War II, New Mexico played a major role in the development of nuclear weapons.  The first atomic bombs were built in Los Alamos and tested at the Trinity site 200 miles south of Los Alamos.  Today New Mexico still plays a major role in nuclear weapons development.

To document that legacy, on a few acres of scrubby sand near Kirtland AFB in Albuquerque stands the National Museum of Nuclear Science and History.  

The museum has a replica of a Los Alamos lab room . . .

the bomb casings . . .

and a full-size replica of the 100-foot tall forest fire watchtower that housed the bomb and was vaporized in the first test on July 16, 1945.

In addition to the history of the bomb, the museum features actual planes and missiles that could be used for bomb delivery, including a B-29 like the one used in WWII . . .

a B-52, which in updated form are still in service today . . .

a Titan II ICBM designed to be launched from an underground silo . . .

and various smaller missiles that could carry a single or multiple warheads.

But what fascinated me from a photographer's visual perspective were the interiors of the missiles.  A few of the larger missiles (like the Titan II) were broken into sections so I could see at least part of the inside.

Here's an image looking into the throat of one of the exhaust nozzles of a Titan II rocket motor:

And cross-sections of the missile:

In addition, close-ups of the exteriors of the missiles -- decaying in the extreme sun and temperature changes -- made for interesting abstract images:

And finally, in the museum gift shop there was an installation of bottles hanging from threads.  I have no idea why it was there, but it was visually fascinating:

If you would like to see these images (and more) in a larger format, please visit my photography website, Todos Juntos Photography, by clicking here.


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