Photography and introduction by Robert Del Tredici. Captions by Robert Del Tredici and Gordon Edwards. | October 7, 2021

Source: Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists.

DelTredici 9 Ball of Pu

This glass sphere, 3.2 inches across, is the exact size of the plutonium ball in the Nagasaki bomb. (Robert Del Tredici)

“From the moment the atomic bomb was invented, humanity has struggled to make sense of it. It is a weapon of war, an enforcer of peace, a talisman of sovereignty, a fountainhead of undying radioactivity, and a fateful burden for humans into the far future. Yet the bomb’s physical presence—its deep grit and material magnitude of its mass production—has remained culturally invisible.

I wanted to take on this invisibility. I found out that the American bomb’s home ground had 12 factories, each making different materials and parts. I learned that each factory had a public relations officer. And I found out that the airspace above each plant was unrestricted.

But before engaging with the US nuclear weapons complex, I went to Hiroshima. I needed to find the human meaning of the bomb. One Hiroshima survivor told me, “If you weren’t there when it happened, you can have no idea what it was like.” Another told me, “Nuclear weapons and human beings cannot coexist.” I told them I wanted to photograph all of the American bomb-factories. An elderly survivor came over to me, put her hand on my arm and said, “Yes, you must do this.” Five years later, I completed my book of photographs and field notes, At Work in the Fields of the Bomb.”

-Robert Del Tredici