Creepy photos show a fake 1950s city filled with mannequins to test nuclear bombs

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operation doorstepPublic Domain

Upon entering the unprecedented atomic age with the successful testing of the most powerful weapon known to man, the world lived in paranoia.

In order to better understand the blast and thermal effects of a nuclear bomb, the US dropped a 16-kiloton bomb on a fake town in the middle of the Nevada desert.

The mission, dubbed "Operation Doorstep," was used to determine if wooden-frame homes, cars, and mannequins — in place of people — could survive a nuclear blast.

Below are the haunting images from the March 17, 1953, test from the US Department of Energy digital archive.

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'Operation Doorstep' nuclear bomb testing in 1953 (BI)
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Creepy photos show a fake 1950s city filled with mannequins to test nuclear bombs

Here is one of the cars positioned on the blast site.

(US Dept. of Energy/Public Domain)

Complete with passengers straight out of a 1950s department store.

(US Dept. of Energy/Public Domain)

To simulate a real attack, this group of mannequins is positioned on the ground floor by a window, like an unaware family would be.

(US Dept. of Energy/Public Domain)

Others family members were in more secure places, like this group in a wooden structure of a basement.

(US Dept. of Energy/Public Domain)

Here's another shot of the structure.

(US Dept. of Energy/Public Domain)

This group of mannequins is hiding under the stairs in a basement, likely to test if this was an effective strategy.

(US Dept. of Energy/Public Domain)

This is the aftermath of the blast. The mannequins inside have been knocked around, and would have been exposed to potentially deadly levels of radiation.

(US Dept. of Energy/Public Domain)

The blinds were knocked straight out of the windows.

(US Dept. of Energy/Public Domain)

Lampshades are displaced. A mannequin's torso is missing. These people would not have fared well.

(US Dept. of Energy/Public Domain)

(US Dept. of Energy/Public Domain)
(US Dept. of Energy/Public Domain)

In this photo, a technician with safety gear comes in to view the damage after the blast.

(US Dept. of Energy/Public Domain)

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Here we see a series of photos showing what happens when the blast hits a wooden house. Note that the wooden boards become utterly scorched by heat and radiation.

Source: US Dept. of Energy via The Atlantic

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