On July 16th, 1945, sixty-five years ago, the first nuclear explosion in history took place at a test site on the Alamogordo Bombing Range (now the White Sands Missile Range) in New Mexico. The experimental blast was code-named 'Trinity'.
The implosion-type bomb wasn't dropped from a plane for the test, but hoisted up a 100-foot steel tower and secured in a small cabin at the top, where the explosives were armed.
After the blast, all that remained of the tower were short stubs of its legs, showing above the sand. The rest was obliterated as if it had never existed.
The sand itself was fused by the heat of the blast into a previously unknown amalgam of materials, subsequently christened 'Trinitite'.
Here's the view from three different cameras of that first-ever nuclear explosion.
Today, the site of the test is marked by a stone obelisk. Twice a year, the White Sands Missile Range is opened for one day so that visitors may view the site. It's still mildly radioactive.
One of the finest (and funniest) memoirs of working at the Los Alamos nuclear laboratories, and of this first nuclear test, was written by physicist Richard Feynman. It's available online, if you're interested (link is to an Adobe Acrobat file in .PDF format). Very highly recommended reading - and good for several laughs, too!
For all its perils and problems, at least we can say this about the nuclear age: since 1945, no nation has had to use a nuclear weapon in anger. For that, thanks be to God.