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Few minutes from the gaudy energy of the Las Vegas Strip is a quiet museum dedicated to an age when nuclear fireballs lit up the Nevada desert like second suns. Starting in 1951, more than 1000 atomic devices were detonated at what is now called the Nevada National Security Site, about 100 kilometers north of Las Vegas. Detonations went underground in 1963 and were suspended completely in 1992. The National Atomic Testing Museum (NAT M) chronicles the history of the period, as well as some of the work at the site that continues to this day. · While many visitors will be drawn to the museum by the dark glamour of the atomic age, the museum is in truth a celebration of test and measurement engineering. For obvious reasons, minimal details are given regarding the nuclear bombs at the heart of the tests. So the focus is squarely on the equipment used to capture the nuances of the highly energetic yet incredibly brief operating lives of these devices.

Published in:

IEEE Spectrum  (Volume:51 ,  Issue: 4 )