Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Operation Crossroads

David Bradley, Dartmouth Class of 1938, was a member of the Radiological Safety Section for the Able and Baker tests conducted during Operation Crossroads, one of several peacetime nuclear bomb blasts carried out at Bikini Atoll in the Pacific Ocean. He was a member of the team that measured radioactivity at various altitudes immediately after each explosion. Bradley's book No Place to Hide (Boston: Little Brown, 1948) was a memoir about the Bikini Atoll experiments and attempted to expose the dangers associated with nuclear fallout and atomic warfare to the public at large.

In a May 5, 1947, letter to David Lilienthal, chair of the Atomic Energy Commission, Bradley explains his purpose in publishing information about the tests. He writes, "in light of current world affairs we Americans cannot afford the luxury of ignorance," and adds that "informed public opinion is the only hope in playing our cards right in the great international game going on today."

In addition to his correspondence and manuscripts of No Place to Hide, Bradley's papers contain numerous photographs associated with the tests as well as his personal log for that period. The entry for July 1, 1946, reads
For us miles away from the Target, the bomb went off unannounced. We saw no flash through our goggles, and felt no impact. But soon after we could see the fateful cloud, boiling up thru the strato cumulus, thick, dense, white. At first it looked like many another thunderhead, but its rapid climb and mushrooming, white, evil looking head soon stamped it as the McCoy.
Ask for MS-1002. A guide to the collection is available.  The published version of No Place to Hide is also available in Rauner.

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