JF Ptak Science Books Post 2104
One thing is for certain--it could be used not only to make big holes out of little ones, but also make big mounds of dirt where there were none. This stands to reason, of course, because if you are producing massive holes in the Earth then the dirt and other hole-filling stuff must go somewhere (as Beakman says in his often-repeated admonition and perhaps the most important thing that is said on this kid-based science show, "everything goes somewhere"). Unfortunately the mountain of hole-dirt doesn't get made quite like the way it was envisioned in this article in the Illustrated London News for 17 November 1945, but they were trying, and it was still a very young and tender period in the history of public discussion on the atomic bomb/bombing.
Still, "The Force Which Can Move Mountains: Harnessing the Atom to Vast Projects for the Benefit of Mankind" imagined an atomic-bomb-fueled set of public works projects that were of Pyramidally-historic proportions, and was among the first fissionally-inspired public portrayals of the peaceful uses of atomic bombs. (The "Peaceful Uses of Atomic Energy" UN-based conferences and etc. would come later.) Engineering with atomic bombs does have some considerable issues, like radioactivity, but some of those issues were worked out somewhat--but that came later on.
Back in 1945 the bomb was being discussed as a hole-maker for reservoirs and for making mountains in the deserts of the world to cut down on the sandstorms and related problems (the "dust bogey" from the fantastic quote in the heading of this post). More thought would be given to this issue on the peaceful applications of nuclear weapons in such platforms as Operation Plowshare1, an American undertaking begun in 1961, which entertained half-fantastical thoughts of widening the Panama Canal and creating--through a series of five hydrogen bomb detonations--a new harbor at Cape Thompson, Alaska. Some of the dirtiest of all nuclear detonations were associated with Plowshare--like the Sedan shot of 1962 which displaced 12 million tons of dirt and made a really big hole but which also contributed something on the order of 7% of all fallout contamination of the total amount of radiation which fell on the U.S. population during all of the nuclear tests at Nuclear Test Site. It is still the largest man-made hole in the U.S. and for what it is worth it is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Over the years such testing for Plowshare (alone) cost the U.S. about 700 million dollars, which seems like a wildly undervalued estimate of costs.
In any event, I liked this story form the ILN and for the hope that it represented, coming at the earliest public history of the use of atomic weapons.
1. Perhaps people felt a little kinder towards monster ideas like this if the name of the proceedings found its origins in the Old Testament, like this one: Isaiah 2:3–5, "And he shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people: and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more".