Archive for March 17th, 2014

First test of a Hydrogen Bomb: Ivy Mike

Here is a link to a brief article outlining the science behind the bomb: Make sure especially you remember who Edward Teller is.

The first test took place on Elugaleb Island in the Enewetak Atoll in the Marshall Islands on October 31, 1952. The bomb was referred to by the nickname “the sausage.”

Here is a short film with sound and narration of the first test explosion:

This one shows the shock wave traveling from the bomb:

And here the US entered the “thermonuclear age.” How big was the explosion?

According to, “The mushroom cloud climbed to 57,000 feet in only 90 seconds, entering the stratosphere. One minute later it reached 108,000 feet, eventually stabilizing at a ceiling of 120,000 feet. Half an hour after the test the mushroom stretched 60 miles across, with the base of the mushroom head joining the stem at 45,000 feet.” The fireball from the explosion reached a width of 3.5 miles. The crater was 6200 feet wide and 164 feet deep.

The "Mushroom Cloud from the Ivy Mike test

Here is a before and after photo of Eleugaleb Island:

And as impressive as this was, it was not the largest thermonuclear device ever exploded by the US. That honor went to the CASTLE Bravo Test in 1954, where we accidentally nuked a Japanese fishing boat. More on that coming soon…

The Iron Curtain speech

“Iron Curtain Speech”, March 5, 1946
Winston Churchill

Winston Churchill gave this speech at Westminster College, in Fulton, Missouri, after receiving an honorary degree. With typical oratorical skills, Church popularized the phrase “Iron Curtain” to describe the division between Western powers and the area controlled by the Soviet Union. As such the speech marks the onset of the Cold War. The speech was very long, and here excerpts are presented. The official name for this speech is “Sinews of Peace.” Before this speech, many people had never heard the phrase “Iron Curtain,” although it had been in use in previous writings by Churchill.

The United States stands at this time at the pinnacle of world power. It is a solemn moment for the American democracy. For with this primacy in power is also joined an awe-inspiring accountability to the future. As you look around you, you must feel not only the sense of duty done, but also you must feel anxiety lest you fall below the level of achievement. Opportunity is here now, clear and shining, for both our countries. To reject it or ignore it or fritter it away will bring upon us all the long reproaches of the aftertime.

It is necessary that constancy of mind, persistency of purpose, and the grand simplicity of decision shall rule and guide the conduct of the English-speaking peoples in peace as they did in war. We must, and I believe we shall, prove ourselves equal to this severe requirement.

I have a strong admiration and regard for the valiant Russian people and for my wartime comrade, Marshal Stalin. There is deep sympathy and goodwill in Britain — and I doubt not here also — toward the peoples of all the Russias and a resolve to persevere through many differences and rebuffs in establishing lasting friendships.

It is my duty, however, to place before you certain facts about the present position in Europe.
From Stettin in the Baltic to Trieste in the Adriatic an iron curtain has descended across the Continent. Behind that line lie all the capitals of the ancient states of Central and Eastern Europe. Warsaw, Berlin, Prague, Vienna, Budapest, Belgrade, Bucharest and Sofia; all these famous cities and the populations around them lie in what I must call the Soviet sphere, and all are subject, in one form or another, not only to Soviet influence but to a very high and in some cases increasing measure of control from Moscow.

The safety of the world, ladies and gentlemen, requires a unity in Europe, from which no nation should be permanently outcast. It is from the quarrels of the strong parent races in Europe that the world wars we have witnessed, or which occurred in former times, have sprung.

Twice the United States has had to send several millions of its young men across the Atlantic to fight the wars. But now we all can find any nation, wherever it may dwell, between dusk and dawn. Surely we should work with conscious purpose for a grand pacification of Europe within the structure of the United Nations and in accordance with our Charter.

In front of the iron curtain which lies across Europe are other causes for anxiety. In Italy the Communist party is seriously hampered by having to support the Communist trained Marshal Tito’s claims to former Italian territory at the head of the Adriatic. Nevertheless the future of Italy hangs in the balance. Again one cannot imagine a regenerated Europe without a strong France. All my public life I have worked for a strong France. I never lost faith in her destiny, even in the darkest hours. I will not lose faith now. However, in a great number of countries, far from the Russian frontiers and throughout the world, Communist fifth columns are established and work in complete unity and absolute obedience to the directions they receive from the Communist center. Except in the British Commonwealth and in this United States, where Communism is in its infancy, the Communist parties or fifth columns constitute a growing challenge and peril to Christian civilization. These are somber facts for any one to have to recite on the morrow of a victory gained by so much splendid comradeship in arms and in the cause of freedom and democracy, and we should be most unwise not to face them squarely while time remains.

The outlook is also anxious in the Far East and especially in Manchuria. The agreement which was made at Yalta, to which I was a party, was extremely favorable to Soviet Russia, but it was made at a time when no one could say that the German war might not extend all through the summer and autumn of 1945 and when the Japanese war was expected to last for a further eighteen months from the end of the German war. In this country you are all so well informed about the Far East, and such devoted friends of China, that I do not need to expatiate on the situation there.

I repulse the idea that a new war is inevitable — still more that it is imminent.

It is because I am sure that our fortunes are still in our own hands and that we hold the power to save the future, that I feel the duty to speak out now that I have the occasion and the opportunity to do so.

I do not believe that Soviet Russia desires war. What they desire is the fruits of war and the indefinite expansion of their power and doctrines.

But what we have to consider here today while time remains, is the permanent prevention of war and the establishment of conditions of freedom and democracy as rapidly as possible in all countries. Our difficulties and dangers will not be removed by closing our eyes to them. They will not be removed by mere waiting to see what happens; nor will they be removed by a policy of appeasement.

What is needed is a settlement, and the longer this is delayed, the more difficult it will be and the greater our dangers will become.

From what I have seen of our Russian friends and allies during the war, I am convinced that there is nothing they admire so much as strength, and there is nothing for which they have less respect than for weakness, especially military weakness.

For that reason the old doctrine of a balance of power is unsound. We cannot afford, if we can help it, to work on narrow margins, offering temptations to a trial of strength.

Last time I saw it all coming and I cried aloud to my own fellow countrymen and to the world, but no one paid any attention. Up till the year 1933 or even 1935, Germany might have been saved from the awful fate which has overtaken her and we might all have been spared the miseries Hitler let loose upon mankind.

There never was a war in history easier to prevent by timely action than the one which has just desolated such great areas of the globe. It could have been prevented, in my belief, without the firing of a single shot, and Germany might be powerful, prosperous and honored today; but no one would listen and one by one we were all sucked into the awful whirlpool.

We must not let it happen again. This can only be achieved by reaching now, in 1946, a good understanding on all points with Russia under the general authority of the United Nations Organization and by the maintenance of that good understanding through many peaceful years, by the whole strength of the English-speaking world and all its connections.

If the population of the English-speaking Commonwealth be added to that of the United States, with all that such cooperation implies in the air, on the sea, all over the globe, and in science and in industry, and in moral force, there will be no quivering, precarious balance of power to offer its temptation to ambition or adventure. On the contrary there will be an overwhelming assurance of security.

If we adhere faithfully to the Charter of the United Nations and walk forward in sedate and sober strength, seeking no one’s land or treasure, seeking to lay no arbitrary control upon the thoughts of men, if all British moral and material forces and convictions are joined with your own in fraternal association, the high roads of the future will be clear, not only for us but for all, not only for our time but for a century to come.

Government propaganda on how to spot a Communist

This is priceless, and will give you some perspective on the paranoia that gripped the nation.

37 questions

Due Monday, March 31.

1. Name four specific general trends that reflected how the workplace and labor changed during the 1950s. Make sure you include women.
2. What is mass media, and how did its development in the 50s impact religion and culture in general? What criticisms were leveled at the culture by people like Riesman and Whyte?
3. Who were the Republican nominees for president and vice president in 1952? What controversies were attached to these candidates, and what was their platform? How did television impact politics?
4. Describe the strange career of Senator Joseph McCarthy in detail. How did he impact American culture and politics? How did Eisenhower feel about him, and what actions did Eisenhower take in response to McCarthy?
5. What was the specific impetus for African American agitation for their rights? What happened to early proponents such as Paul Robeson when they criticized Jim Crow laws?
6. What legal arguments were made regarding segregation up to the 1950s? What sociological arguments were made regarding the treatment of blacks in America?
7. What was the reasoning behind ending legal segregation in 1954? How was the NAACP involved? What is SNCC, and what tactics did they use?
8. How and why did protests break out in Montgomery, Alabama, at approximately the same time? How was the NAACP involved?
9. How did President Eisenhower initially respond to desegregation, and why? What eventually made him change his mind to intervene, and why?
10. What, specifically, was “dynamic conservatism?”
11. What social spending and public works programs did he promote, and why? What New Deal type programs did he criticize, and why?
12. How did Eisenhower try to impact military spending? Describe his specific program and explain how it would work?
13. How, when, and why did the US get involved in Vietnam? Explain the main characters’ roles.
14. What happened at Geneva in 1955?
15.Why DIDN’T the US get involved in the Hungarian Revolution, and what happened due to this inaction?
16. Contrast the US response in Vietnam with the response in Hungary. What role did John Foster Dulles play in both of these crises?
17. What escalated tension in the Middle East between the US and USSR, especially in Iran and Egypt? What role did the CIA play?
18. What was the formal doctrine developed for US containment policy in this region—name it and describe its main features.
19. What technological crisis developed in October, 1957? How did this end up impacting educational policy in the US? What government agencies were developed after this crisis?
20. Why, specifically, did relations with Latin America degenerate? List all the reasons.
21. How did aerial espionage efforts embarrass the US in 1960?
22. What factors contributed to the election of John F. Kennedy in 1960?
23. In what ways was post-World War II literature in the 1950s comparable to the post World War I literature? Name the main writers and their main works.
24. How did post-war affluence impact art and literature, especially music? How was sexual expression a vital part of music and advertisement (Elvis and Marilyn in particular)?
25. What were the main beliefs of the new “cult of domesticity?” How did Betty Friedan and other women fell about these beliefs?
26. Were the 1950s truly a time of “conformity?” Explain.