Atomic analysis

"Nuclear Technology" highlights new research about the Trinity test.

By Whitney Spivey | April 22, 2022

Trinity Opener Opt
Ground zero of the Trinity test is viewed from the top of Compaña Hill in 2021 and 1945. Los Alamos National Laboratory

In the summer 2021 issue of this magazine, “Trinity revisited” discussed new research about the world’s first atomic blast, which took place on July 16, 1945. Much of that research—23 unclassified papers—was recently published in a special, open-access issue of the American Nuclear Society’s Nuclear Technology journal. Eighty-three people contributed to the 460 pages of articles, which were compiled by Mark Chadwick, chief operating officer and chief scientist for the Weapons Physics directorate at Los Alamos National Laboratory.

The papers (and 46 additional, related papers published in May 2021 in the Laboratory’s Weapons Review Letters journal) likely represent the most in-depth analysis of the test ever completed, at least since the years immediately following World War II, when Manhattan Project luminaries documented their findings. The papers include never-before-seen information and data that further ratify the event as one of the most important scientific experiments of all time. The papers also solidify Los Alamos’ place in history.

“In the process of researching and writing these papers, we confirmed that Los Alamos invented the field of nuclear science,” Chadwick says. “That was somewhat known, but this catalog of research shows the outside world exactly how much was invented here. The basic weapons science, physics, and engineering we use at the Lab today comes from that first breakthrough 75 years ago.”

“I can speak for all the authors when I say that we had fun writing these papers and that we learned many new things in the process,” Chadwick continues. “I trust that this collection is indeed a contribution to both the history of science and to the advancement of science.” ★