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157654.  Mon Mar 19, 2007 2:28 pm Reply with quote

There was some great stuff from eggshaped in today's meeting about how Las Vegas' early claim to fame was that people used to go there to watch Atom bombs being tested in the desert (they billed themselves as "The Up-and-Atom City"). I'm sure he'll post it up in due course. Don't hold your breath, though; when last seen he was getting bombed himself, with Bunter, Vitali, and Frederick the Monk - a critical mass of Elves.

157661.  Mon Mar 19, 2007 3:21 pm Reply with quote

Eggshaped didn't let a drop of alcohol pass his lips, but bloody wishes he had as he sits waiting for a delayed flight which means if he's lucky he's going to get home in the early hours of the morning.

Atom facts to follow.

157728.  Tue Mar 20, 2007 3:20 am Reply with quote

What were sunbeam, nougat, grommet, toggle and teapot?

Possible alternative question something about Vegas (especially if Johnny Vegas is appearing):

They were nuclear explosions in Nevada.

In the 1950s and 60s, the Nevada desert was the site of choice for America’s testing of nuclear bombs. There have been nearly 1000 detonations in the area since 1951, which, predictably have lead to a huge number of cancer cases. To date, over 10,000 people (downwinders as they are called) have received over $541 million in compensation from the US Government.

The bombs were visible from Las Vegas (dropped only 65 miles away) and became tourist this was one of the main reasons for the growth of the city. Vegas embraced the nuclear age, calling itself the “up and atom city” and crowning a Miss Atomic Bomb. Days after the first bomb was detonated on January 27, 1951, the Las Vegas Chamber of Commerce issued a stream of press releases excitedly describing the new testing grounds as one of the many attractions Las Vegas had to offer. For twelve years, an average of one bomb every three weeks was detonated

The British were no angels either, they blew up parts of Southern Australia. Project buffalo hit Maralinga, close to sacred aboriginal sites, and even used Aussie servicemen to crawl around in ground zero to see how well their clothes protected them against the fallout.

Maralinga is Pitjantjatjara Aboriginal dialect for "Field of Thunder"

names of tests

claims to date


Miss Atomic Bomb

Atomic Testing Museum


Britons in S. Oz

Maralinga in the news, 2003

157730.  Tue Mar 20, 2007 3:29 am Reply with quote

I am of the opinion that these tests were perhaps the most important reason for Vegas becoming such a huge resort.

If you look at the population growth of the town:

1920 2,304
1930 5,165
1940 8,422
1950 24,624
1960 64,405
1970 125,787
1980 164,674
1990 258,295
2000 478,434
2005 545,147

The huge jumps coincide, not with the building of the hoover dam (1936) or the legalisation of gambling (1931) - but with these tests in the 50s and 60s. Add this to the huge tourism push, and I think we would be ok to over-egg the importance of the explosions, or at least put it forward as a possible beginning of the city's popularity.

I'd be interested in what you guys think.

157753.  Tue Mar 20, 2007 5:06 am Reply with quote

Picture researchers, see if you can get this image:

It's attributed to "Las Vegas News Bureau" on the site linked to as "tourism" above.

157756.  Tue Mar 20, 2007 5:19 am Reply with quote

The thing that set Vegas off as a tourist destination was apparently the Hoover Dam in 1936. The Flamingo Hotel, the first of the big hotel-casinos, opened at the end of 1946, but I think this is OK - we can't say that Vegas was all about the bomb, I guess, but it's still a damn good topic.

The Flamingo was built by the gangster Bugsy Siegel. One of the foremen was eyeing him nervously on the building site one day, and he said "Don't worry - we only kill each other". Sure enough, when Bugsy was caught with his hand in the till, he himself got rubbed out by his business partners.

157816.  Tue Mar 20, 2007 7:46 am Reply with quote

I had a mis/fortune to spend three first years of my life (1954-57) in a so-called "secret town" near Zagorsk (now Sergiyev Possad), Moscow region, Russia. The town (which is still there!) had no name, just a PO BOX number. It housed 40,000 people and a nuclear bomb factory on the grounds of a former monastery, behind a concrete wall, with barbed wire on top. One could not leave or enter without a special pass. My parents (father - Doctor of Physics, mother - an engineer) were both employed there. My father often went to the A bomb testing range in Kazakhstan, codenamed "Lemonia" - the fact that probably accounted for his early death (at 56) due to long-term effects of radiation. The protection at the factory was minimal - just a shower after the shift!
The irony of the situation was that all the efforts of the Soviet scientists were wasted: Stalin and Beria (who was the head of the nuclear bomb "project") did not trust them and preferred to use stolen designs of "Little Boy", the first American A bomb for the first Soviet one which is an exact copy of the former. One can see both in the Atomic Museum in New Mexico, USA which also claims to have mapped all Soviet "secret towns" (there were several dozen). Yet, as I could make sure during my recent visit to the Museum, that very town where I grew up, was NOT on the map!
In 1994, I visited Chernobyl (making a Channel 4 documentary) and could see for myself the long-lasting effects of a nuclear explosion: the "dead forest", mutant animals and plants etc. etc.
Don't know whether all this is of any use...

157828.  Tue Mar 20, 2007 8:05 am Reply with quote


Were these towns secret because of the bomb factories - and if so does that mean that there were several dozen substantial towns all dedicated to building nuclear weapons? Or were they secret for some other reason as well?

And are we saying that the Chernobyl slip-up was effectively the same thing as a bomb detonating, or do we need to draw a distinction?

157849.  Tue Mar 20, 2007 8:40 am Reply with quote

Flash, I wonder if the Hoover Dam was supposed to be the main reason for Vegas's growth, why does it not chronologically co-incide with the population growth of the town?

157859.  Tue Mar 20, 2007 9:17 am Reply with quote

I don't know that it was the main reason, so much as the first one: I think the idea is that they started up some hotels to accommodate visitors, then the hotels started attracting visitors themselves, then the Flamingo bumped the stakes up and attracted gamblers and the gamblers attracted the other casinos. And somewhere in all that is the A-bomb thing, alongside these other factors.

Don't know how to factor in the admirable original research re population. I guess population isn't the same thing as visitor numbers and may not even correlate very closely if the hotel staff etc are brought in by bus from other towns each day. But if we can make your theory stick it will make me very happy.

157864.  Tue Mar 20, 2007 9:27 am Reply with quote


158387.  Wed Mar 21, 2007 12:10 pm Reply with quote

Answering Flash. No, they were not all making A bombs. But all were involved in some sort of army weapons (including H bombs, too) and machinery development. The space town - Akademgorodok (near Moscow) - was one of them. It is not closed any longer, I think.
Chernobyl disaster can be compared to an A-bomb explosion, albeit a relatively minor one.

158461.  Wed Mar 21, 2007 2:45 pm Reply with quote


158585.  Thu Mar 22, 2007 5:38 am Reply with quote


Molly Cule
165579.  Fri Apr 13, 2007 5:07 am Reply with quote

okay this is nothing to do with a nuclear explosion but its a squire worthy fact and it may as well go here so it doesn't get lost...

Louis XIV who gets a bad rep for pouring his countries wealth into building himself palaces and so on did do something admirable; he stopped the progress of biological weapons. An Italian chemist came to him with a bacteriological weapon he had invented, Louis XIV did not develop it or use it he gave the chemist a pension on the condition that he never divulge his invention.



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