Paper on Trinity Nuclear Test during the Manhattan Project


Trinity was the initial code word denoting a nuclear weapon. The world’s first nuclear weapons test was executed by the U.S Army on July 16, 1945, as a major aspect of the Manhattan project in the devastated White Sands deserts of New Mexico. The code name was appointed by J. Robert Oppenheimer, the executive of the Los Alamos Laboratory. The project achieved the expected results following three years of research and experimentation. The first atomic bomb dropped, specifically, in Nagasaki, was given a nickname “Gadget,” and made in the form of the steel globe. Plutonium implosion gadgets are more effective and capable than firearm composed of uranium bombs like that exploded over Hiroshima (Project Trinity 1945-1946, 2).

Project Setup

A workload of construction needed to be done in preparation of the desert for its role as a nuclear test site. Kenneth Bainbridge was charged with the development of the test site. A base camp was constructed with adequate security and safety measures. Kilometers of roads were constructed to transport materials to the site. Additionally, electrical cables were wired conduct current to bomb detonating gadgets. Nevertheless, there a number of the moments that challenged the test. Specifically, there were certain problems with the Gadget’s winching to the tip of its tower. Moreover, wind and rain overwhelmed the Trinity tower on the night of July 15. Many were worried the test would be postponed for several days and any delay and rescheduling would have been a critical psychological strain on a project that had become stressful for its participants as the project entered its completion (National Atomic Museum).

The external pressure generated tensions at the Trinity in the weeks before the detonation related to concurrent events outside New Mexico. Based on moral and ethical grounds, Leo (Hungarian-American physicist) had objected the use of nuclear weapons (, and John, 2015). Hence, despite his notable influences on nuclear physics and the project, it had to be controlled. It was Leo who tried to persuade the President Truman that it was important to warn the Japanese with regards to the atomic bomb. Meanwhile, the United States military had initiated costly, brutal assaults that predicted possible destructions on the Japanese coast. Thus, a temporary organization appeared on May 1945; it was made of 7 separate groups that consolidated TR-1 (Trinity 1) – TR-7 (Trinity 7).  Originally, Bainbridge with Frank Oppenheimer, the leaders of the project, named the project simply TR, however, it was decided that it would be better to use the T. K. T. abbreviation for reasons of safety. The bombs were about to be tested in three locations, namely, New Mexico, Colorado, and also California (Project Trinity 1945-1946, 20).

Project Progress

Summer 1944, a100-ton test shot was proposed to calibrate the blast and earth shock measuring equipment at the Trinity site and to serve as a rehearsal for the summer 1945 test. It is worthy to mention that the test helped to define not only technological issues, however, also some other relevant moments. More than 100 vehicles were utilized for the test. However, it was acknowledged more would be required, and better streets were also required. More telephone lines and radios were required to enhance communication. A print was introduced to improve correspondence with Los Alamos, and a town lobby was assembled, hence, permitting extensive meetings and briefings. Back in 1944, there was a meeting in the Offie of Oppenheimer. The participants discussed the nature, as well as implication of the Trinity tests. Interestingly, it was noted that the diagnostic experiments were crucial, desirable, however, also unnecessary. Desirable equipment included measurement of the earth’s motion during the explosion and photographic analyses of the fireball (, and John, 2015). To evaluate the scope of the bomb’s energy, there were made some plans aimed at estimation of the of the fission amount of fission. Essential experiments include the pressure of the blast wave and the time spread in the firing of the detonators. The scholars chose specific tools to measure different aspects of the earth motion such as seismographs or even the geophones (Project Trinity 1945-1946, 26). The term “Gadget” was a laboratory euphemism for a bomb. A trial assembly of the Gadget without the active components or explosive lenses was carried out by the bomb assembly team headed by Norris Bradbury at Los Alamos on July 3.

According to National Atomic Museum, to conduct the test successfully, certain conditions are required. For instance, the low humidity, good visibility, and appropriate winds that would match the altitudes (Deakin 3). The Trinity gadget was detonated on Monday, 16 July 1945 at 0529hr Mountain Weather Time. The gadget detonated with a vitality measuring to around 20 kilotons of TNT (84 TJ). In the desert, the sand decomposed and changed color to a light green reminding of the atom site. It created a cavity in the leave 5 feet deep and 30 feet wide. On explosion, the encompassing mountains were enlightened for some time, and the warmth was accounted to be oven hot at the base camp (, and John, 2015). The observed shades of colors the brightening changed from purple to green and later to white. The shock wave was heard in a long distance, namely 100 miles away. As for the mushroom cloud, it was 7.5 miles in height. The heat was felt all over the site and reminded of the giant fire balls (Deakin, 4).

Because of the intense secrecy surrounding the test, accurate information of what happened was not released to the public until after the second atomic bomb had been dropped on Japan. Only several weeks later, the Alamogordo Air Base commander received a cover story from one of the officers from the General Groves. On the other hand, there was also another officer had a task to suppress the stories that were likely to disturb the community. The army issued an order grounding all commercial planes and suspending all flights from nearby military installations. The test demonstrated the functionality of the device. The blast measuring devices performed well, but the gamma ray measuring devices were overloaded. Many neutron detectors did not survive the blast. The yield and size of the fireball designated scientists to specify the height of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombs at 1,850 ft. The official results of the test were conveyed to the Secretary of War Henry L. Stimson at the Potsdam Conference in Germany in a coded message from his assistant George L. Harrison.

Considering all the outcomes of the Trinity test, it can be concluded that From the Trinity the detonation of the nuclear explosive device that is conducted close to the ground would, eventually, increase the radioactive fallout of the incident testing. At the same time, however, if the detonation is carried at high elevations, there would be less radio activities, on the one hand, and more blast power, on the other hand. It is worthy to note that the Trinity case attracted one’s attention to the potential unwanted sequela concerned with both workers and citizens (Deakin, 4) . Besides, the test helped to define that hot spots are to be viewed as the critical phenomena, and the airflow patterns, as well as features of the local terrain can considerably impact on the occurrence of the radioactive clouds. Follow-up studies of trinity fallout were continued to measure and record exposure rates (The Scientific Conquest of New Mexico, 19).

In September 1953, some individuals initially graced the particular trinity site house. Residual radiation at the Trinity test site is approximately ten-fold timed than the typical background radiation surrounding the site. In the contemporary times, visitors are permitted Ground Zero and the areas of McDonald Ranch House. Additionally, the Trinity test site was declared a National Historic Landmark in December 1965. As a result, the site was listed on the National Registry of key Historical areas (National Atomic Museum). The places include the McDonald Ranch house, Ground Zero and the Base Camp where the gadget was assembled. Post, Huffington “70 Years after Trinity Test, the Nuclear Age Inspires Concern and Tourism. Trinity Site often frequent to a notable National Historic Landmark, where hypothesis and theories of a some of the country’s most exemplary rational minds were tested with the explosion of the primary atomic bomb, which played a crucial role in ending World War II.


Manhattan project made profound changes in balancing the world power. Notably, the site is recognized as a National Historic Landmark where speculations, theories, and engineering of some of the country’s brilliant personalities are tested. After bombing Japan, it brought about a decisive end of the Second World War. Consequently, physicists were the aristocracy of the post-war science. In 1947, The Manhattan Engineering District became the Atomic Energy Commission which continued to manage established national laboratories. Finally, Atomic energy commission was re-branded to the department of energy amid the 1980s.

Works cited

Deakin, M.A.B. “G.i. Taylor and the Trinity Test.” International Journal of Mathematical Education in Science and Technology. 42.8 (2011): 1069-1079. Print. Accessed 25th Feb 2018, and John F. McGowan. “The Atomic Age That Wasn’t.” Math-blog: Mathematics Is Wonderful!. (2015): 2015-8. Print. Accessed 25th Feb 2018

National, Atomic M. Trinity Site. Project Gutenberg, 2008. Internet resource.

The Scientific Conquest of New Mexico: Local Legacies of the Manhattan Project 1942-2015. , n.d.. Internet resource. Accessed 25th Feb 2018

Project Trinity 1945-1946. , 1982. Internet resource. Accessed 27th Feb 2018