It was 6:45am local time on March 1, 1954, when a flash lit up the sky over the Pacific, like the sun itself. Then came the sound. An explosion outside the experience of all but the tiniest fraction among us, followed by the mushroom cloud, towering into the atmosphere. It was a test, the detonation of aTX-21 thermonuclear weapon with a predicted yield of 6 megatons with the unlikely codename, of “Shrimp”.
The 23 men of the fishing boat Daigo Fukuryū Maru (“Lucky Dragon No.5”) were working the grounds near the Marshall Islands that day, in the equatorial Pacific. For a full eight minutes, these twenty-three men watched the characteristic mushroom cloud rise above them. An hour and a half later came the fallout, the fine white dust, calcinated coral of the Bikini atoll, falling from the sky, like snow.
None among the twenty-three recognized the material as hazardous, and…
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