We remember the Trinity test as the changing point for the future of weapons development and the course of the Second World War. The basic details are frequently talked about; it was the first major test of the implosion design, it was successful, it occurred on July 16th 1945, etc, but the steps taken in preparation for this test are not often discussed.
A test explosion was conducted in May of 1945 at Trinity site to do a dry run with the measurement and photographic equipment. 100 tons of TNT were detonated 20 feet off the group atop of a wooden structure. The test was a success, although the explosion was about a 20th in size in comparison to the well known explosion that would take place 2 months later.
New York Times journalist William Laurence. Courtesy image
By SHARON SNYDER
Los Alamos Historical Society
Journalist William Laurence already had a keen interest in science when he attended the Harvard Tercentenary Conference of Arts and Sciences in 1936. Four years later he attended a lecture at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to hear a young scientist named Robert Oppenheimer. At that time, Laurence could never have imagined where his interests in science would take him.
Laurence was born in Lithuania but eventually made his way to the United States where he left his birth name behind and became William Leonard Laurence, a naturalized U.S. citizen. He studied at Harvard until joining the U.S. Army Signal Corps in World War I.
After returning from the war, Laurence earned a law degree at Boston University School of Law but chose to pursue a job as a newspaper reporter. In 1930, he began writing on scientific topics for The New York Times. Seven years later he won the first of two Pulitzer Prizes for reporting. He was advancing through an amazing career, but it was about to speed up.
These articles are written by the Los Alamos Historical Society Staff. Many of these articles were originally published by the