Heavy Package: Physicist Poses For Camera While Holding Plutonium Core Of Atomic Bomb, 1945
This black-and-white image from 1945 shows Los Alamos Laboratory physicist Harold Agnew on Tinian Island, smiling for a photograph while casually holding a foreign-looking metallic object in his left hand.
The object? A magnesium box containing the 6.2-kilogram (14lb) plutonium core of 'Fat Man', the atomic bomb detonated over Nagasaki on August 9, 1945.
When the subcritical pit of plutonium was utilized in its ultimate chain reaction, the 'Fat Man' nuclear weapon yielded a 21-kiloton explosion, killing approximately 70,000 Japanese citizens, 40,000 of them outright.
Agnew, who would later serve as director of Los Alamos, was just one of several scientists who took time to pose with the plutonium, their smiles a testament to the conviction that the terrible power being harnessed was for the greater good. For better or worse, atomic bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, resulting in the rapid and unconditional surrender by Japan on September 2, 1945.