Super Explosively Hot Bikini Photos From 1946!
Following World War II, the U.S. military was all gung-ho about testing its new atomic weapons. The goal was to see how destructive they were (very), how much radiation they produced (a lot), how we could protect our own forces (badly) and how scared the Soviets would get (not much).
In July 1946, the military and Manhattan Project scientists (that guy from Oppenheimer!) began Operation Crossroads to study the effects of atomic weapons on warships. They chose Bikini Atoll in the Marshall Islands — one of the most beautiful places on the planet — and spectacularly blew it to hell.
One of the most famous tests, Test Baker, occurred 77 years ago on July 25 and produced some of the most startling photos and images of the Atomic Age.
According to the Naval History and Heritage Command:
“On 25 July 1946, the task force conducted their first underwater nuclear explosion: Test Baker. This bomb detonated 90 feet beneath the surface of the water. This underwater explosion threw tons of radioactive water onto to the decks of the target fleet. Eight of the ships in the target fleet were reported sunk, including the aircraft carrier Saratoga (CV-3). The Navy towed eight ships and two submarines to Hawaii for further radiological inspection. Twelve ships were determined to be safe and crewed for their return voyage to the United States. The surviving contaminated ships were towed to nearby Kwajalein Atoll for possible decontamination or scuttled in the lagoon of Bikini Atoll. Altogether, the blasts from Test Able and Baker sank 14 ships, not including those later sunk or scuttled due to their radioactivity.”
From 1947-58, the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission conducted 23 detonations at Bikini Atoll.
The human cost of Operation Crossroads is astounding. Bikini islanders were displaced from their homes and told they would be able to return when the tests were completed. That finally happened in 1970, but high levels of radiation still remained in the environment and they were displaced again in 1978. U.S. military personnel and other naval salvage workers were exposed to high levels of ionizing radiation, but secrecy surrounding the tests often prevented them from discussing their exposure to doctors.
In the late 1990s, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) advised against any permanent resettlement of Bikini Atoll.
Aside from all that horror, the atomic tests at Bikini Atoll did inspire the name for a two-piece swimsuit. On July 5, 1946, French designer Louis Réard unveiled the new fashion in Paris with model Micheline Bernardini. This is not her:
It also gave an end to Dr. Strangelove:
And it sent Anthony Kiedis running for his life: