This is insanity. The government really wanted to test new toys and showcase them for propaganda purposes.
Though we know a lot about how dangerous nuclear radiation is today, back in the earliest days of the Atomic Age, people were simply oblivious to the cancer risks. Ignorance is really the only excuse for this July 1957 footage showing a group of five Air Force volunteers standing directly below a detonating nuclear bomb.
Ludicrous as it may sound, this video was actually made for propaganda purposes to show the U.S. public how safe air-to-air nuclear weapons were to use in normal military operations. And apparently, this test was rather safe, or so NPR was told by Alex Wellerstein, a science historian at the American Institute of Physics. “The bomb itself was a small one (by nuclear standards — 2 kilotons) and it was way, way above their heads. They weren’t in a zone to be too affected by the immediate radiation. The bomb was small enough and high enough that it wouldn’t have sucked up dust to produce muchfallout. The remaining cloud would have been full of (nasty) fission products, but it would have been extremely hot and most of it would have stayed aloft until it cooled down, by which point it probably would have been spread more diffusely.”
- Watch five volunteers withstand a 1957 nuclear bomb test (news.yahoo.com)
- Video: Nuclear bomb detonated above volunteers 55 years ago (cbsnews.com)
- The Day Five Air Force Officers Stood Underneath An Exploding Nuclear Bomb (outsidethebeltway.com)
- Five Men Agree To Stand Directly Under An Exploding Nuclear Bomb (npr.org)
- 5 guys hanging out under a nuclear bomb (holykaw.alltop.com)