Claim: A blind girl “saw” the flash of the first atomic bomb test.
Status: Not quite.
Example: [Calloway, 1999]
[The first atomic bomb was tested] at Trinity Site in the New Mexico desert at
Georgia Green, 18, of Socorro was in a car
Origins: The atomic bomb was born in
secrecy and in many ways remains shrouded in mystery over fifty years after its development. It was
built during wartime as part of the Manhattan Project, a program whose existence and huge
expenditures was kept under wraps so well that even
Because of all the secrecy, many Americans only learned about the bomb’s effects second- and third-hand (at least until John Hersey’s magnificent “Hiroshima” article was published in The New Yorker in August 1946), so it’s no wonder many strange and chilling rumors (most of them apocryphal) about the bomb began to circulate. People heard accounts of Japanese who were instantly “vaporized” by the bomb, with nothing left behind but their shadows. For years afterwards, popular culture was full of images of humans who developed extraordinary powers and creatures (usually insects) who grew to enormous size after being exposed to the radioactivity produced by a nuclear explosion.
One of more common bomb-related legends grew out of that first test (code-named “Trinity“) in the New Mexico desert on
So brilliant was the flash from the explosion that [Socorro Chieftain, 1945] An explosives magazine at the Alamogordo air base blew up Monday morning, and the flash, sound and shock were seen, heard and felt in Socorro, more than
[Albuquerque Journal, 1945]
So brilliant was the flash from the explosion that
[Socorro Chieftain, 1945]
An explosives magazine at the Alamogordo air base blew up Monday morning, and the flash, sound and shock were seen, heard and felt in Socorro, more than
The world learned about the atom bomb after one was dropped on the Japanese city of Hiroshima in August 1945, and the anecdote about Georgia Green was widely reprinted as newspapers rushed to print
everything they knew (which was usually little) about this powerful new weapon. In true urban legend-like
fashion, the details of the story changed as they were told and
(rather than Socorro); she was reportedly being driven to a music lesson (at 5:30 AM?
What, if anything, did Georgia Green “see” that day?
Lansing Lamont (author of the book Day of Trinity) also interviewed the participants and produced this account:
Georgia Green felt the flash and a sudden loss of breath. “What’s that?” she gasped and clutched the arm of her brother-in-law. The car shook and swerved off onto the shoulder of the road.
Note that nothing here says that Georgia “saw” the blast; only that she “felt” and reacted to something. Maybe she did “see” the explosion in a limited sort of way, but she might also have been reacting to something else she “felt”
Whatever the true explanation, it’s undoubtedly more prosaic than the legend of a blind girl who suddenly “saw” a nuclear explosion. The atom bomb may still have some mysteries to it, but producing a kind of light even the blind can see isn’t one of them.
Last updated: 21 July 2007
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