Christopher Nolan’s new movie Oppenheimer, eponymously named after the creator of the atomic bomb, has renewed public interest in America’s dark history with nuclear weapons. Nolan’s movie focuses primarily on the “Trinity” test—the first test of an nuclear bomb to occur in the U.S. But for years after Trinity, the U.S. continued to spend a ludicrous amount of time and money detonating nuclear bombs all over the southwestern United States and in various parts of the Pacific Ocean. No, the government was not trying to give us all cancer; it was just preparing for what it presumed was an inevitable nuclear conflict with the Soviet Union. The dozens and dozens of tests that took place after 1945 were conducted secretly, under various conditions, with an ever-evolving, ever more destructive roster of bombs.
Fascinatingly, the government also secretly filmed footage of these explosions and then squirreled the footage away in government vaults. Decades later, the videos have been declassified and is now all over the internet. Watching the footage is awe-inspiring and horrifying—a window into the awesome powers that modern governments possess, and which we all hope will never have to be used. Scroll through to see some of the largest and most terrifying explosions ever recorded.