Day 294 – National Museum of Nuclear Science and History
Before I began a long drive from Albuquerque to Wichita
Falls on an extremely windy day;
tumbleweeds bounced across the highway as dust filled the sky; I stopped
at the National Museum of Nuclear Science and History. The museum included exhibits on WWII, the
Manhattan Project, nuclear scientists, the cold war, the Cuban Missile Crisis,
the falling of the Berlin Wall, and a variety of weapons, some still in use
Not having been interested in history as a teenager, the
exhibit on the atomic bomb, the Manhattan Project, and World War II were truly
mindboggling, especially the numbers of people in multi-millions who were
killed. It’s hard to imagine everyone in
the Dallas/Ft. Worth metroplex plus millions more being murdered by a government.
The exhibits included information on how nuclear fission and
fusion was discovered, the names of the scientists from all over the world who
recognized the power, and how the decision was made to drop the atomic
bomb. It also included prototypes of the
bomb and it casing as well as the Packard limousine that transported the
The Cold War area of the museum included a list of Broken
Arrows which is the military code name for nuclear weapons accidents. There have been 32 accidents involving
nuclear weapons owned by the United States since 1950, all of them occurring prior
to 1970 except one. The weapons are
designed with safety features, thus none of the weapons detonated. Two of the accidents occurred in New Mexico…the
state in which this museum presides.
It was interesting to see the difference in the size of the
missiles that are launched from a nuclear submarine versus the size of missiles
launched from planes. I’m told it is
because the missiles from the submarines are designed to be launched from
anywhere in the world while the ones launched from a plane are flown to a
nearby area. Another thing I learned is
the missiles launched from a plane (perhaps others as well but I don’t know)
are designed with a parachute. The
parachute slows the missile from 1,000 mph to 150 mph in two seconds!! The parachute is made of Kevlar.
For some reason, the falling of the Berlin Wall struck
me. I think it is because it is one of
the view events I lived through that was included in the museum, yet seems so
long ago, and it wasn’t. With all due
respect to those who suffered under these conditions and probably feel like it
was just yesterday, it was an event that I had forgotten about, and I even have
a piece of the wall. I felt bad having
to be reminded of it.
In addition to the exhibits on war and weapons, the museum
also included old hospital equipment, archaic TV’s, and an ancient 1984 MAC computer
complete with a floppy disk drive! After
an hour or so in the museum, I crossed the entryway that was designed like a
periodic table and spent the rest of the day driving 600 miles to my home state
just as my book on CD is getting very gripping.
I’ll be reaching Dallas before it is over. I might have to go find the paperback to
finish it. Only a couple hundred more in
the morning! ETB
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