Five Air Force men are pictured July 19, 1957, moments before an atomic warhead exploded in the atmosphere above them as part of a safety experiment.(Photo: YouTube)
Deep in the desert northwest of Las Vegas, five brave Air Force officers (and one photographer) volunteered to stand on a small patch of ground below where an atomic bomb was about be detonated above — 10,000 to 18,000 feet above, depending on the source. “They weren’t crazy,” says Robert Krulwich at NPR. “They weren’t even being punished.” The year was July 19, 1957, and the small cluster decided to deem the spot “Ground Zero. Population 5,” and scrawled such on a handwritten sign. In a video of the incredible moment, an F-89 Scorpion detonates the nuclear rocket, and you see a bright white flash. A few seconds later, you hear a thunderous boom while the sky above goes dark and is engulfed in a blazing ball of fire.
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