In January of 1942, as the U.S was entering World War II, a Pennsylvania dentist (and friend of Eleanor Roosevelt) named Lytle Adams submitted the design of a new weapon to the White House, suggesting that it could be effective against the Japanese. Adams’ creation was a bomb that would drop over 800 hibernating bats – to each of which was attached a small incendiary device… as the bomb descended from a high-altitude drop, the bats would awaken, disperse, and nest in structures – which in Japan at the time were largely made of bamboo, paper, and other highly-flammable material. Later in the day the incendiaries would go off, starting fires across a wide area. Adams estimated that 100 bombs might start as many a 1,000,000 fires.
The U.S. military developed the “Bat Bomb”; and while the yields were never quite what Adams predicted, they were impressive enough to drive investment of an estimated $2 million. The project was abandoned only when it became clear that the Manhattan Project would finish before the Bat Bomb was ready.
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weapons testing by nations like North Korea and Iran once again makes headlines, LIFE.com presents rare and (mostly) unpublished pictures from the Nevada desert by photographer Loomis Dean shortly after a 1955 atomic bomb test.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.