During the 1950s, at the height of the Cold War era, the United States conducted nuclear testing in various areas of the country. In fact, you may have seen the footage filmed in the Nevada desert, which featured various designs of American constructed housing. Inside these homes and buildings, researchers had placed mannequins of men, women, and children manipulated into various positions to simulate the American family. What we didn’t know, nor were we ever told, was that within these walls, these same researchers had placed an assortment of various food commodities and drinks, including beer.
Let me diverge here for a minute and go back to my January 3, 2012, article in which I wrote about How Beer Saved the World and Contributed to Technology. In this article, I alluded to the fact that there was a time when beer and other liquor was a staple of life due to the pollution or scarcity of local water supplies. Surprisingly, even in those early days, it had already been determined that since beer was allowed to ferment and kill off germs such as diphtheria, that it was safer to drink than the water from rivers or wells. In fact, in some cultures, beer was also revered for its medicinal benefits, which were allegedly believed to ward off evil spirits, prevent sickness, and, yes, give the user a buzz. However, as I stated in the article, one needs to expand their imagination in order to accept beer as a lifesaving elixir.
Now, back to the atomic research. When I first read about beer being exposed to an atomic blast, I could immediately relate as to why beer was included as an unknown in the experiment. The idea makes sense for those of us who have served in the US military, because in the service, military personnel have accepted beer as a staple of life. In the current day military, however, beer is considered an inexpensive way to enjoy oneself, as well as the company of others rather than a way to avoid drinking from a polluted water supply. This doesn’t mean that the military is unaware of the history of beer. Even today, it is general knowledge that the waters of most foreign countries can strike a GI with stomach issues, such as diarrhea, which can easily cause any fighting man to pause the fight long enough to answer Mother Nature’s call.
Ba-da-bing, ba-da-kaboom! So how did the beer survive the radiation attack? According to unconfirmed sources, the beer actually suffered minimal effects. This, of course, would make anyone wonder: “What are minimal effects?” Would we be able to drink one beer without any harm, or would drinking a six-pack of beer cause our brains to explode?
It seems like the results of this study would have been released earlier, but there are a few reasons, I think, that might have slowed down the release of this information. First, one might conclude that if beer could survive an atomic bomb, maybe man could, as well. Second, building on that conclusion, some genius might then also conclude that setting off a nuclear missile would not be as detrimental as first thought. Then, last, with our corporate “let’s make a buck at anyone else’s cost” mentality, maybe the military or the CEO of a beverage company may have hoped they could develop a new soft drink they could call Nuka-Cola?
So there you have it. The military researchers have proven that beer could actually survive an atomic blast, yet remain drinkable. Of course, this was the same military establishment that also had US Army troops lie on the ground and watch an atomic blast while reassuring their men that there would be no ill effects.
Source: Popular Science
Image: Wikimedia Commons