In the spring of 1955, as the Cold War intensified and the arms race between the United States and the Soviet Union escalated at a shocking pace, America — as it had many times before — detonated an atomic weapon in the Nevada desert.
A day after the 44th nuclear test explosion in the U.S. rent the still Nevada air, observers cautiously inspected department store mannequins which were poised disheveled but still haughty on the sand sand in the homes of Yucca Flat. The figures were residents of an entire million-dollar village built to test the effects of an atomic blast on everything from houses to clothes to canned soup.
The condition of the figures — one charred, another only scorched, another almost untouched — showed that the blast, equivalent to 35,00 tons of TNT, was discriminating in its effects. As one phase of the atomic test, the village and figures help guide civil defense planning — and make clear that even amid atomic holocaust careful planning could save lives.