Iconic Photos

Famous, Infamous and Iconic Photos

First Atomic Blast

with one comment


Forget Hiroshima. Above was the aerial picture of the first atomic bomb crater near Alamogordo, New Mexico on July 16th, 1945. The site was called Trinity Site; despite its subsequent notoriety, only one nuclear test took place at this location which itself was 60 miles from Alamogordo.

From two bunkers ten and seventeen miles away, Generals Thomas Farrell and Leslie Groves watched the detonation. J.Robert Oppenheimer, who came up with the name ‘Trinity’ from poetry of John Donne, was in the first bunker. The blinding light they saw was the dawn of so-called ‘Atomic Age’.

The photographer of the above image, Fritz Goro visited the first nuclear ground zero with Oppenheimer and Groves while it was still ‘hot’. For this German emigre photographer, it was a big deal but it was not the only ‘first’ he witnessed. During his four decades as a science photographer for Life magazine, he documented images made possible only by this turbulent century’s scientific advances: atomic orbitals, DNA helices, stars, blood circulation in animals, computer chips, and photos of the first plutonium ever produced. Goro unblinkingly documented fish eggs with well-developed eyes, minuscule yet recognizable cow fetuses (that became poster images for anti-abortion), a cancerous growth in a rabbit’s eye, a chick with an experimental transplanted eye, a rat with a walnutlike tumor growing from its head, and his most memorable and horrific 1965  photograph of surgery being conducted on a prenatal monkey.  Stephen Jay Gould called Goro “the most influential photographer that science journalism (and science in general) has ever known.”

Written by Alex Selwyn-Holmes

July 6, 2009 at 6:11 am

One Response

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. I’m pretty offended by your choice of first lines, here. I know what you meant–‘forget the image of the first *dropped* bomb–THIS is the image you should remember’ but the way you phrased it here is not okay. Minimizing trauma like that for the sake of a catchy first line is never okay. I strongly suggest for the sake of all that the choice of using the bomb meant for all involved, that you change this line to be more sensitive to its topic.


    October 2, 2009 at 5:26 am

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: