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July 16th, 2008

Trinity

On this day in 1945, Trinity, the first nuclear chain reaction explosion, was set off in the New Mexico desert, heralding the nuclear age and forever changing the world political and military balance of power.

Ever the introverted intellectual, Robert Oppenheimer quoted from Hindu theology after the power of the blast awed everyone. "If the radiance of a thousand suns were to burst at once into the sky, that would be like the splendor of the Mighty One. Now I am become Death, shatterer of worlds."

Ken Bainbridge, who was in charge of the Trinity test and known as the first person to empirically confirm Einstein's mass-energy equivalence E = mc2, was more down to earth. "Now," he said, "we're all sons of bitches."

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