This nuclear physicist, his most important job is to watch movies.
This nuclear physicist, his most important job is to watch movies.
Discover new data from the old film of half a century ago

recently I saw a story about a nuclear physicist addicted to watching movies.

Greg Spriggs is an American nuclear physicist who spends a large part of his daily work watching nuclear weapons explosions-not in person, of course, because nuclear tests have been stopped here for many years (ground parts were stopped in 1963). What the physicist did was actually collect images of past nuclear tests, scan them, digitize them, and reanalyze them.

(this is the one. Photographer: Sachi Cunningham)

from 1945 to 1962, the United States conducted more than 200 ground nuclear tests, resulting in thousands of videos of different angles and distances. The task of Spriggs is to extract as much new data as possible from these old images for reference.

now, physicists studying nuclear weapons are in a delicate position: for obvious reasons, they can no longer conduct nuclear tests directly to collect data, as they did in the past. But the need to understand the laws of nuclear weapons and predict their possible consequences still exists. Therefore, computer analysis and simulation have become an important part of their work. If you want to know whether these computer models are accurate, you have to refer to the first-hand information obtained from nuclear tests in the past.

(one of the nuclear test films, original video: WIRED:Movies of Cold War Bomb Tests Hold Nuclear)

in the process of searching for these data, Greg Spriggs found that there were many deficiencies in the analysis of these images during nuclear tests in the past. At that time, the analysis had to be done by hand, and it was often carried out in a hurry, so there would be inaccuracies. So he decided to carry out another round of excavation of the original images.

after some questioning, he found the whereabouts of 7000 original films-lying at the Los Alamos National Laboratory (Los Alamos National Labs) in New Mexico. These original films have been neglected for so long that people even forget their existence. Old-fashioned cellulose acetate film is quite fragile, especially after half a century, some of the film has been seriously aging. To preserve these precious data, Spriggs needs to scan and digitize them as soon as possible (and with extra care).

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the physicist hired film experts to do the job with the scanners used by Hollywood studios to deal with old films. The team has finished scanning all the declassified films, and then they have devoted themselves to the analysis of the films. Now, analyses that were done manually in the 1950s can be done on computers, every pixel.

now, videos of old nuclear explosions that have been lifted and digitized also appear on the Internet, and on youtube, you can see a lot of images of nuclear tests uploaded by Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. Nuclear weapons are terrible, but it is also very important to understand them. The publication of these images can provide reference for more experts on the one hand and give the public a more intuitive understanding of the destructive power of nuclear weapons on the other.



is interested in the published images of the nuclear test, here is the portal: