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TBS in the Southwest: For Your Eyes Only

By bkelsey on March 16, 2016

There’s something inherently interesting about a secret. If someone goes to the trouble of hiding something, chances are that something is worth knowing. The Southwest is, of course, a place of many secrets, from the famous Area 51 to less secretive but lesser known testing sites for nuclear weapons. We managed to organize a visit to one such site, the Nuclear National Security Site, formerly known as the Nuclear Test Site.

Without giving away any sensitive details (for I fear they might otherwise have to make me disappear), the site is pretty much what you would expect and what’s displayed in the museum dedicated to it in Las Vegas. The area occupied by the site is littered with craters from underground nuclear tests, shells of damaged buildings and simulated infrastructure, and buildings housing various organizations and facilities for testing. Today no more nuclear weapons are tested there, but they still carry out tests on the cleanup of hazardous materials and serve as a location for testing by other organizations.

The site has an historic purpose, of course, and played a significant role in the development of nuclear weapons and our current knowledge of them, but it is equally interesting for its secretive nature. While I won’t get into discussions of how much right the government may or may not have to withhold information from its population, it cannot be denied that there’s a certain allure to that which we cannot know. Examples such as Area 51 are obvious, but there are subtler ones, as well. Scientific pursuits are, in a way, attempts to delve into what we humans do not understand and what piques our interest. Literature, both in the writing and in the reading, often seeks to communicate or reveal truths about humanity, inform the world on issues that are not at the surface of public discourse, or simply tell a story that intrigues and mystifies.

In a way, I suppose, this trip is intended to educate in an effort to reveal knowledge. In addition to the historically significant sites, even the landscape of the Southwest speaks to truths that lie just below the surface of the desert. We may not end up enlightened, but I think we will all walk away with a little more depth under our belts than we began with. All we have to do is look beyond the veils of time and sand.

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