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The Trinity Test

Trinity: Reflections on the Bomb Transforming Science into Art

Germany launched a project to develop nuclear weapons in the 1930s. When American physicists learned of German efforts, the United States launched its own secret program in 1939. The Manhattan Project began in New York City, but for security reasons was moved to Los Alamos, New Mexico.

By the summer of 1945, three nuclear weapons were finished in Los Alamos. The scientists tested The Gadget on July 16, 1945 at 5:29:45 A.M. Manhattan Project scientists debated whether an atomic blast might ignite the atmosphere and incinerate the planet. The Trinity detonation solved this theoretical issue. The other two, nicknamed Little Boy and Fat Man, were shipped to Tinian Island in the Pacific, and then detonated over Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Communities nearby and downwind from the Trinity test were not informed about what would occur on the morning of July 16, 1945. The Gadget was loaded with 13 pounds of plutonium, but only 3 pounds fissioned. The blast, along with westerly winds, spread the remaining 10 pounds of radioactive plutonium into the countryside. 

Communities downwind from the test suffered detrimental health effects. Infant mortality rates jumped 21%  in the immediate aftermath of the test; cancer rates increased as well. Many areas all around the world have been affected by nuclear testing. Downwinder groups are still fighting for fair compensation for health issues as well as recognition of their unwilling and unknowing involvement in nuclear testing. 

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Mary Kavanagh, Selected Images from Trinity Archive, 1945-1946 [from Daughters of Uranium] 2019-2020

Mary Kavanagh, Selected Images from Trinity Archive, 1945-1946 [from Daughters of Uranium] 2019-2020

Mary Kavanagh, Selected Images from Trinity Archive, 1945-1946 [from Daughters of Uranium] 2019-2020

Trinity 2020

Mary Kavanagh, installation view of Trinity Archive, 1945-1946

Trinitite, 1945

Patrick Nagatani, Trinitite, Ground Zero, Trinity Site, New Mexico, 1988