Cold War: A Brief History

The MIKE Test

On November 1, 1952, the United States detonated a 10.4-megaton hydrogen device in the Pacific on the Enewetak Atoll in the Marshall Islands. The test, code-named "Mike," was the first successful implementation of Edward Teller and Stanislaw Ulam's concept for a "Super."

MIKE mushroom cloud

The MIKE Test

Since scientists had limited information on how well lithium deuteride would work, they chose instead to use liquid deuterium, which needed to be kept below -417° F (-250° C). A six-story cab was built to house "Mike" with its complex cooling system. Weighing 65 tons, the apparatus was an experimental device, not a weapon. A two-mile-long tunnel that extended from the device to another island was filled with helium that would provide data on the fusion reaction.

Even those who had witnessed atomic tests were stunned by the blast. The cloud, when it had reached its furthest extent, was about 100 miles wide and 25 miles high. The explosion vaporized Elugelab, leaving behind a crater more than a mile wide, and destroyed life on the surrounding islands.

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