This Week in History

This Week in History

USA Tests Its Biggest Nuclear Weapon

1 March 1954

The USA explodes a huge hydrogen bomb at Bikini Atoll in the Pacific Ocean.

In 1954, the USA tested a massive hydrogen bomb nicknamed "Bravo" at Bikini Atoll, part of the Marshall Islands in the Pacific Ocean. The bomb was nearly 1,000 times more powerful than the atomic bombs the USA dropped on two Japanese cities during World War 2. Three weeks after the test, it was revealed that a Japanese fishing boat was within 80 miles (129 km) of the test-zone during the explosion and that its 23 crew members were seriously affected by radiation sickness. They were among 264 people accidentally exposed to the bomb's radioactive fallout.

nuclear weapon (noun): bomb that uses atomic energy to cause massive destruction
hydrogen bomb (noun): a type of nuclear weapon
nickname (verb): call by a name that is different to one's real name
expose (verb): leave open to harm
radioactive fallout (adjective): dangerous particles in the air after a nuclear explosion

Transcript: "This photograph was taken from an airplane at 50 miles. The width of the fireball at this time, about 3 seconds after detonation, was 4 miles. The frame size of the picture is 6 by 8 miles. The top of the fireball at this time, 40 seconds after detonation, was 5 miles above sea level. Proof that we can have a high-yield weapon weighing less than ten tons."

Test your understanding:

The hydrogen bomb nicknamed "Bravo" was tested

  1. before World War 2
  2. during World War 2
  3. after World War 2

The test is known to have caused radiation sickness in

  1. 2 Japanese cities
  2. 23 Japanese people
  3. 264 exposed people

How often can people be safely exposed to radioactive fallout from a nuclear explosion?

  1. once a month
  2. once a year
  3. never

Teacher's Notes - how to use This Week in History in your classes

Contributor: Matt Errey creator of Word Up