Ben Cosgrove of Life says:
As the prospect of nuclear weapons testing by nations like North Korea and Iran once again makes headlines, LIFE.com presents rare and (mostly) unpublished pictures from the Nevada desert by photographer Loomis Dean shortly after a 1955 atomic bomb test.
These are not "political" pictures. They are, instead, eerily beautiful, unsettling photographs made at the height of the Cold War, when the destructive power of any atomic blast was jaw-droppingly huge, but positively miniscule compared to today's truly terrifying thermonuclear weapons. In short, these pictures from more than half a century ago serve as a quiet reminder of just how insane the very notion of nuclear warfare really is.