Declassified Films Remind Public of Horror of Nuclear Testing

By Samantha Pitz

Greg Spriggs, a weapon physicist at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, and a team made up of film experts, archivists, and software developers have set out to find, preserve, and declassify the 10,000 films made depicting the 210 U.S. atmospheric nuclear tests from between 1945 to 1962. The team has located around 6,500 of the films of which 4,200 have been scanned, 400 to 500 have been reanalyzed and around 750 have been declassified. Because the films have been stored for many years, some of the films are decomposing and need to be digitized as soon as possible.

Since the films have been digitized, scientists will now be able to have consistent and reliable data to back up their findings about past detonations. The ability to digitize and automate years of nuclear tests underscores the unnecessary cost of future nuclear explosion tests. When asked why he is passionate about this project Spriggs explained, “I think that if we capture the history of this and show what the force of these weapons are and how much devastation they can wreak, then maybe people will be reluctant to use them.”

The partial playlist of 62 declassified nuclear test films can be found here.