The glow of an atomic bomb test at nearby Yucca Flats, Nevada, draws Las Vegas casino workers in the early 1950s.
Photograph by Volkmar K. Wentzel, National Geographic
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On January 27, 1951, the United States government detonated the first of its series of atomic bombs at the Nevada Test Site. The isolated Nevada Test Site, now the Nevada National Security Site, was the primary location used for testing nuclear devices in the United States.
The U.S. nuclear research and development program altered the geography of the West. On the one hand, federal funding allowed new research stations to be built, infrastructure to be expanded, and resulted in economic benefits for the state of Nevada. On the other hand, the explosions caused habitat destruction in the unique desert area. Craters still pockmark the landscape. The detonations also created radioactive fallout. When a nuclear device is detonated, it creates radioactive atoms. These radioactive atoms can cause cancer and other health problems. The lasting effect of the levels of radioactivity on the people and organisms in the Nevada Test Site area has been debated. However, it was significant enough as to cause the government to stop testing at the site.
explosive device that draws energy from the interaction of atomic nuclei. Also called an atom bomb, a-bomb, or nuclear bomb.
growth of abnormal cells in the body.
bowl-shaped depression formed by a volcanic eruption or impact of a meteorite.
to cause something to explode.
having to do with money.
to grow or get larger.
having to do with a nation's government (as opposed to local or regional government).
system or order of a nation, state, or other political unit.
environment where an organism lives throughout the year or for shorter periods of time.
structures and facilities necessary for the functioning of a society, such as roads.
separation from other people, habitats, or communities.
detonation of an atomic or hydrogen bomb outside an inhabited area, to determine the effect of such weapons.
first or most important.
having unstable atomic nuclei and emitting subatomic particles and radiation.
structure or structures built for scientific study of the surrounding region, possibly including residential and lab facilities.
important or impressive.