WGBH Openvault

War and Peace in the Nuclear Age; Weapon of Choice, The; Los Alamos Water Boiler Reactor

Part of War and Peace in the Nuclear Age.


Footage of the Los Alamos water boiler reactor from the AEC Collection.

License Clip
War and Peace in the Nuclear Age
Weapon of Choice, The
Program Number



Los Alamos Water Boiler Reactor

Series Description

The first atomic explosion in the New Mexico desert on July 16, 1945, changed the world forever. This series chronicles these changes and the history of a new era. It traces the development of nuclear weapons, the evolution of nuclear strategy, and the politics of a world with the power to destroy itself.

In thirteen one-hour programs that combine historic footage and recent interviews with key American, Soviet, and European participants, the nuclear age unfolds: the origin and evolution of nuclear weapons; the people of the past who have shaped the events of the present; the ideas and issues that political leaders, scientists, and the public at large must confront, and the prospects for the future. Nuclear Age highlights the profound changes in contemporary thinking imposed by the advent of nuclear weapons. Series release date: 1/1989

Program Description

The United States and the Soviet Union, former allies, become adversaries in a “Cold War,” and nuclear weapons become the weapon of choice for both sides.

From 1947 to 1953 the threat to use nuclear weapons became the principal currency of conflict. During the Korean War, Texas Congressman J. Frank Wilson said, “We are dealing with mad dogs ... we must treat them accordingly. I urge the atomic bomb be used if it can be used efficiently.” Against this background, President Harry Truman made crucial decisions that affected the history of the Nuclear Age. The United states deployed the B-36, a huge intercontinental bomber. It started mass production of atomic bombs. In 1952, the US exploded the first hydrogen bomb, a quantum leap in destructive force. Less than a year later, the Soviet Union exploded its own hydrogen bomb.



Asset Type

Stock footage

Media Type


Nuclear energy
Nuclear fission
Los Alamos Scientific Laboratory
Los Alamos National Laboratory, NM
War and Conflict
Global Affairs
Rights Summary

In perpetuity ; Public Domain Rights Holder: NARA

Chicago: “War and Peace in the Nuclear Age; Weapon of Choice, The; Los Alamos Water Boiler Reactor,” 01/01/1960, WGBH Media Library & Archives, accessed February 27, 2020, http://openvault.wgbh.org/catalog/V_04504A22143A41F0ACE25CF596292CFF.
MLA: “War and Peace in the Nuclear Age; Weapon of Choice, The; Los Alamos Water Boiler Reactor.” 01/01/1960. WGBH Media Library & Archives. Web. February 27, 2020. <http://openvault.wgbh.org/catalog/V_04504A22143A41F0ACE25CF596292CFF>.
APA: War and Peace in the Nuclear Age; Weapon of Choice, The; Los Alamos Water Boiler Reactor. Boston, MA: WGBH Media Library & Archives. Retrieved from http://openvault.wgbh.org/catalog/V_04504A22143A41F0ACE25CF596292CFF
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