70 Years Since Trinity: The Day the Nuclear Age Began

On July 16, 1945, the United States Army detonated the world’s first nuclear weapon in New Mexico’s Jornada del Muerto desert. The test, code-named “Trinity,” was a success, unleashing an explosion with the energy of about 20 kilotons of TNT and beginning the nuclear age. Since then, nearly 2,000 nuclear tests have been performed. Most of these took place during the 1960s and 1970s. When the technology was new, tests were frequent and often spectacular, and they led to the development of newer, more deadly weapons. Since the 1990s, there have been efforts to limit the testing of nuclear weapons, including a U.S. moratorium and a U.N. comprehensive test ban treaty. As a result, testing has slowed—though not halted—and there are looming questions about who will take over for those experienced engineers who are now near retirement. Gathered here are images from the first 30 years of nuclear testing. (A version of this article first ran here in 2011.)

Read more
Hints: View this page full screen. Skip to the next and previous photo by typing j/k or ←/→.

Most Recent

  • Juan Oliphant / oneoceandiving.com / Reuters

    Photos of the Week: Ice Disk, Pet Blessings, Presidential Burgers

    Teachers on strike in Los Angeles, “Kiss a Ginger Day” in Ireland, a terror attack in Nairobi, fashion shows in Berlin and Paris, the “No Pants Subway Ride” in New York, and much more

  • Ricardo Mazalan / AP

    Photos From the 2019 Dakar Rally

    On January 7, a group of 334 competitors began the 41st annual Dakar Rally: a punishing 10-day, 3,000-mile race across the Peruvian desert.

  • Ilya Terentyev / Getty

    Built to Separate: Border Barriers Around the World

    As more and more walls are built along borders worldwide, a look at some famous and some lesser-known barriers across the globe.

  • Costfoto / Barcroft Media via Getty

    Photos of the Week: Denver Longhorns, Camel Shaving, Hero Pups

    Heavy snow across Central Europe, a partial solar eclipse in China, a Transformer on the streets of Bogota, the Golden Globe Awards in Beverly Hills, Christmas fire in Saint Petersburg, and much more