Albuquerque, New Mexico

Hank – We we’re hoping to visit the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and the Albuquerque Museum today. But the snow apparently iced up the roads in the morning so they were closed due to the weather. (Apparently, the weather news here made the news in Spokane on KHQ-6.)  Another museum we wanted to visit, the National Museum of Nuclear Science and History, was open.

We spent almost three hours taking in the museum. It’s small but it’s packed with plenty to learn about. I found it interesting that the reasons the Nazis were way behind in the development of atomic weapons was because their scientists were primarily theoretical physicists, meaning they used mathematical models to explain natural phenomena. The U.S. had more experimental physicists who basically put the theoretical to test via experiments. The other reason was that Hitler was not interested in long term development. He wanted quick gains.

Outside of that, there were replicas and training models of many of the various nuclear weapons our country has developed over the years. The “secret” driver’s license was funny. Since the work here during WWII was so secret, certain people’s names didn’t go on their New Mexico-issued driver’s license. The old radiation kits sold as children’s toys back in the day were something. I remember the first chemistry set I got as a child in the mid-60s had several dangerous chemicals that I could do some cool stuff with. Nowadays you could end up on the FBI watch list for stuff you could get back then. How times have changed. But just for grins I’d like to get one of those old Geiger counters. Maybe see how radioactive our ceramic dishes are.

Kathy – Well nothing in Albuquerque, New Mexico was closed yesterday when they had 40 mph winds. But today they get less than an inch of snow and things shut down. It was icy, but nothing unusual for us. The temps were cold in the mid 20’s and with the winds it felt colder. Apparently the winds are pretty strong here in a regular basis so it’s not s big deal to get 40 mph winds. Snow is another story for them.

We did some housekeeping stuff like laundry and picking up some food and snack items. Since we have a car to carry things we splurged a little and may have bought too much.

The National Museum of Nuclear Science and History was very educational with a wealth of information on nuclear science. The information related to how they developed the first atomic bomb, and where the Japanese and the Soviets were in comparison to us was very interesting.

It was also very sad but interesting to read, and see artifacts and photos from the two atomic bombs that the U.S. dropped on Japan in 1945 which ultimately ended World War II. The first atomic bomb “Little Boy” was dropped on the city of Hiroshima, Japan on August 6, 1945. Due to massive amounts of radiation exposure within four months it killed 90,000 – 146,000 people in the city. Half of these people died on the first day.

On August 9, 1945 the U.S. dropped the second atomic bomb “Fat Man” on Nagasaki, Japan. Again due to high levels of radiation exposure this bomb killed 39,000 – 80,000 people in this city within four months. And again, half of these deaths occurred on the day the bomb was dropped. Truly horrific events in our history.

A portion of the museum was dedicated to the development of the atomic bomb and its use in 1945. Another section of the museum focused on the development and progression of nuclear weapons since 1945. The remainder of the museum had a variety of displays and interactive activities (many for children) related to radiation in medicine and improving health, and the pros and cons of different types of energy sources including nuclear power plants. There was even a section dedicated to Hollywood shows and movies with atomic and/or nuclear energy themes. Overall a pretty interesting museum.

Our lodging at Kirkland Air Force Base was so good that we decided to stay a second night. Lucky us!

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