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An Island in the Lab

William von Arx was among dozens of WHOI scientists who studied the impacts of U.S. military nuclear weapons testing in 1946 at Bikini Atoll in the Pacific Ocean. Two nulcear bombs were detonated, one in the atmosphere and another underwater. Von Arx made a model of neighboring Rongelap Atoll and used it to correctly predict where radioactive water from the bombs would concentrate in Rongelap Lagoon. In 2015, WHOI scientists Matt Charette and Ken Buesseler returned to Bikini and Enewetak Atolls to investigate the sources, flow, and extent of lingering radioactive contamination from the tests conducted between 1946 and 1958. (Photo courtesy of Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution Archives)


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