It might be said that Department of Energy officials have a real blast giving names to the hundreds of nuclear tests conducted by the United States since the 1950s.
The test scheduled Wednesday at the Nevada Test Site was named Kearsarge after Kearsarge Peak in Inyo County, Calif.Starting with Trinity, the world's first atomic test conducted in southern New Mexico in 1945, names have been assigned to nuclear tests. Wartime secrecy made this necessary for military purposes, according to the DOE. As a result, scientists and test planners have assigned code words and nicknames to all tests.
Early tests used the military phonetic alphabet, like Able, Baker and Charlie. But the alphabet ran out long before the testing program even picked up steam, so tests since then have included the names of rivers, mountains, famous scientists, fish, birds - and whatever else struck the fancy of test directors whose job descriptions include giving names to bombs. Who knows but what a bomb or two has been named after a DOE official's mother-in-law.
Potential names are submitted to the DOE's Office of Military Application for screening and selection.
So what's in a name? Kearsarge is probably an unfamiliar name to most people. It's not likely the name will show up in the baby books, but it is much more interesting and personable (if a bomb can be personable) than something like Test No. 685.
Kearsarge, by the way, is the 685th announced U.S. nuclear test.
Most of the test names have accompanying logos. Stickers with the names and logos can be seen plastered on lockers, doors and other equipment at the test site.