Atomic Pulse

“At the Brink” Podcast Launches Second Season with Fallout from Oppenheimer’s Trinity Test

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With Oppenheimer breaking box-office records, the first episode of the second season of the powerful At the Brink podcast is now out, featuring an exploration of the impact of the first test of the atomic bomb developed by J. Robert Oppenheimer. The 1945 Trinity test in New Mexico, chillingly depicted in director Christopher Nolan’s film, ushered in the nuclear age and launched a decade-long campaign of atmospheric nuclear testing.

In season two, At the Brink will share a new episode every two weeks focused on what its producers call “the hidden history and the human fallout of the development of the atomic bomb, as told by those who lived through it.” Listen to the first episode, “Downwinders: The Ultimate Patriots,” on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, or Spotify.

“In the race to develop the atomic bomb, Oppenheimer’s Trinity test inadvertently exposed thousands of unsuspecting American citizens to toxic radioactive fallout,” according to the producers. “This test marked the beginning of a decade-long top-secret campaign of above-ground nuclear testing in the United States. Delve into the first-hand accounts of Downwinders, the earliest casualties of the atomic age.”

Listeners will hear directly from some of the people whose lives were affected by the tests at the time and in the decades that followed: “Barbara Kent tells the story of playing in the fallout ash from the Trinity test, believing it was snow. Tina Cordova explains how the people living downwind from Trinity didn’t know what hit them. Ilene Hacker talks about the people of St. George, Utah used to climb a local hill to watch the nuclear blasts, and how the schoolchildren had their thyroids tested, without an explanation why. Dr. Arjun Makhijani, a nuclear engineer, explains how the government knew about, and chose to ignore, the risks of atmospheric testing in Nevada.”

Episodes from the first season of At the Brink addressed a host of policy issues, risks, and news events associated with nuclear weapons. These included the deterioration of U.S.-Russia relations, Ukraine’s decision to give up nuclear weapons, the Iran nuclear deal, nuclear modernization plans, and the false warning of an incoming missile issued in Hawaii in 2018.

The At the Brink team also has produced a set of provocative educational videos such as “Tactical Nukes: One Little Nuclear Weapon Can Ruin Your Whole Day” and “Top Ten Reasons why Nuclear Weapons Are a Bigger Threat Now Than Ever.”

Hosted by Lisa Perry and supported by NTI, At the Brink is described on its website as “a podcast about humanity’s most terrible weapon and the stories of those who have shaped its history. Our work was inspired by former Secretary of Defense [and emeritus NTI Board member] William Perry, who spent his life working to protect the world from nuclear disaster, and who believes that the risk of nuclear disaster is greater today than ever before. His granddaughter, a millennial who grew up in a post-Cold War world, and who learned about nuclear weapons in history class, went to learn the real story by interviewing presidents, cabinet members, congressmen, scientists, historians, atomic bomb survivors, military officials, and activists.”

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