1956: First Thermonuclear Bomb Dropped on Bikini Atoll

1956: First Thermonuclear Bomb Dropped on Bikini Atoll
Photo Credit To https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Disposition_of_ships_baker.JPG

On this day, the first thermonuclear bomb was dropped on the Bikini Atoll. Interestingly, this is linked to the name of the bikini swimsuit. The bikini swimsuit was named after the Bikini Atoll in the Pacific Ocean, one of the most important American sites for nuclear testing. The inventor of the bikini was French designer Louis Réard. Here is how it got its name: in 1946, Louis Réard and his main rival Jacques Heim competed who would design the smallest bathing suit in the world. Jacques Heim made ​​a tiny swimsuit and called it Atom, to emphasize that it is small like an atom (in physics).

Just at that time the Americans tested the first nuclear bomb at Bikini Atoll – the test was called Operation Crossroads. It was the first bomb detonated after Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Louis Réard made a suit that was even smaller than Atom and called it Bikini, claiming that it was the “splitting of the atom” (a physics term that describes the process that occurs in the atomic bomb explosion). The name Bikini quickly became very popular, among other things, due to the nuclear tests that were on the front pages of newspapers. The local population of Bikini Atoll had to be evacuated because of these nuclear tests (they were moved to another island).

Thermonuclear (hydrogen) bombs are several times more powerful than ordinary nuclear bombs because, besides the splitting of the uranium atoms (fission reaction), the joining of light atoms (fusion) occurs, which is even more energy-abundant and similar to the processes which take place in the Sun. The bomb dropped on this day had the power of 3.8 megatons (it was about 245 times stronger than the one dropped on Hiroshima). Because of these numerous nuclear tests, the Bikini Atoll is uninhabited today, being only occasionally visited by divers and adventurers who are not afraid of radiation poisoning.

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