"Atomic explosion stopped at millionths of a second": media microtemporalities and time synchronisation

  • From 1945 to the early 1960s, the US government undertook numerous atomic and hydrogen bomb tests. These full-scale explosions were recorded on film from various angles, and at different speeds. Indeed, it soon became required to obtain images of the very first milli-seconds of the expanding phase of the atomic fireball. Ultrahigh-speed cameras able to produce such images were specifically developed for that purpose. This article explores the different “media-temporalities” that intersect in those images. I focus on the “micro-processes happening on a technical level that are very fast,” and more specifically the ones that go into the “Rapatronic camera” designed by Harold Edgerton (head of the US national defense contractor company EG&G) to record the atomic fireball early formation. The scientific slow-motion films and high-speed photographic images operate at the junction of the micro-scale temporality of the atomic explosions’ early phases, and the macro-scale temporality of the political and ecological implications of these explosions. I argue that these films are the objects and inscriptions of micro-temporalities, macro-history and geological times.

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Author:Antoine Prévost-Balga
Parent Title (German):Cinergie
Publisher:Università di Bologna - Dipartimento di Scienze per la Qualità della vita
Place of publication:Bologna
Document Type:Article
Date of Publication (online):2020/07/30
Date of first Publication:2020/07/30
Publishing Institution:Universitätsbibliothek Johann Christian Senckenberg
Release Date:2020/08/28
Tag:High-Speed photography; Media Temporality; Micro-Processes; Synchronization
Page Number:10
First Page:173
Last Page:182
This work is licensed under the Creative Commons BY License.
Institutes:Sprach- und Kulturwissenschaften
Dewey Decimal Classification:7 Künste und Unterhaltung / 79 Sport, Spiele, Unterhaltung / 791 Öffentliche Darbietungen, Film, Rundfunk
Licence (German):License LogoCreative Commons - Namensnennung 4.0