Photo of the AIR-2 Genie was a 1.5-kiloton nuclear missile.
Photo: Stephen Cass

A few minutes from the gaudy energy of the Las Vegas Strip is a quiet museum dedicated to an age when nuclear fireballs lit up the Nevada desert like second suns. Starting in 1951, more than 1000 atomic devices were detonated at what is now called the Nevada National Security Site, about 100 kilometers north of Las Vegas. Detonations went underground in 1963 and were suspended completely in 1992. The National Atomic Testing Museum (NATM) chronicles the history of this period, as well as some of the work at the site that continues to this day.

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The Unsung Inventor Who Chased the LED Rainbow

LEDs came only in shades of red—until George Craford expanded the palette

10 min read
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Man  with grey hair wearing dress shirt and tie standing in front of an LED stoplight and holding a panel with yellow and red LEDs glowing
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Walk through half a football field’s worth of low partitions, filing cabinets, and desks. Note the curved mirrors hanging from the ceiling, the better to view the maze of engineers, technicians, and support staff of the development laboratory. Shrug when you spot the plastic taped over a few of the mirrors to obstruct that view.

Go to the heart of this labyrinth and there find M. George Craford, R&D manager for the optoelectronics division of Hewlett-Packard Co., San Jose, Calif. Sitting in his shirtsleeves at an industrial beige metal desk piled with papers, amid dented bookcases, gym bag in the corner, he does not look like anybody’s definition of a star engineer.

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