Albuquerque, NM Part IV: More Museums
As we said in our last post, there are a lot of museums in Albuquerque, so we still have a couple more to tell you about. Undoubtedly, our favorite museum in Albuquerque was the National Museum of Nuclear Science & History. Having lived through the Cold War, we found the information to be very fascinating.
The museum was established in 1969 and is chartered by Congress. The museum used to be located in Albuquerque on Kirtland Air Force Base, but it was closed on Sept. 11, 2001 because of security concerns on the air base. The museum took up temporary residence at a rented facility in Old Town Albuquerque in 2002. In March of this year, the museum reopened in a brand new building located on a strip of land just off Kirtland Air Force Base. The recently reopened museum is shown in the photo below.
The Manhattan Project was the program in the United States to develop an atomic bomb during World War II. Germany had a similar program, and in 1941, they were ahead of the United States. However, their project was doomed to failure due to lack of resources later in the war and due to Hitler's tendency to focus on quick victories instead of long-term gains.
Atomic Age began with the first successful detonation of an atomic bomb
on July 16, 1945, at a test site about 150 miles south of Albuquerque.
On Aug. 6, 1945, the first atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, Japan. The bomb was dropped by a B-29 Superfortress named the Enola Gay.
days later, another B-29 by the name of Bockscar dropped a second
atomic bomb on Nagasaki. We saw the plane Bockscar in 2008 when we
visited the Air Force Museum in Dayton, OH.
Paul is standing by the nose wheel of a B-29 similar to the Enola Gay and Bockscar on display outside the Nuclear Museum.
There was a section of the museum that talked about the post-war, nuclear arms build-up and the Cold War. There were some scale models of some of the missiles that were designed to deliver nuclear warheads, a simulated fallout shelter, and there were some good examples of Cold War propaganda.
The museum also explained some of the peaceful uses of nuclear energy and radiation. One of the first uses of radiation was X-rays, which were known in the late 1800s. Scientists discovered a form of radiation could be produced by bombarding a metal target with electrons. It was soon discovered that, even though this radiation was invisible, it could be used to see through things like human flesh. Bones, which are denser, become visible. (Did you ever use an the machine at the shoe store when you were a child so that your mom and the salesman could see your feet?) The photo below shows examples of an early electron generator (right) and an X-ray/fluoroscope machine.
resonance imaging (MRI) is a later medical tool derived from radiation.
Strong magnetic fields cause hydrogen atoms (present in the water
contained in every cell of the body) to vibrate and give off electronic
signals, which are detected and converted to images by computers.
peaceful use for nuclear energy is power generation. Arco, ID was the
first town in the U. S. to be lit by nuclear power generated at the
nearby Idaho National Laboratory.
Another use for nuclear power is for ship propulsion. Quite a few submarines and aircraft carriers of the U. S. Navy have safely been using nuclear reactors to generate steam to drive the ships for decades. The next photo shows a scale model of the N. S. Savannah, which is the first nuclear powered passenger/cargo ship. Her maiden voyage was in 1962. She was taken out of service in 1970 and her nuclear fuel was permanently removed two years later.
We found the the last museum we're going to tell you about by accident. It should be no surprise the story about the museum begins with food.
One afternoon, we stopped for a late lunch at Golden Crown Panaderia. This bakery was featured on the Food Network program "Food Finds" back in 2004. Golden Crown features biscochitos (crispy Mexican cookies), green chili bread, and pizza.
When we walked in, they gave us each a complimentary cappuccino-flavored biscochito
to munch on while we decided what we wanted. We ordered a small Golden
Crown combination pizza with sausage, pepperoni, green peppers, black
olives, and onions. Even though it was supposed to be small, there was
plenty there for both of us. It was one of the best pizzas we've had.
After we finished our pizza, we went back inside and picked up a loaf of green chili bread and a couple of empinadas (fruit-filled fry pies) to take home with us.
When we left Golden Crown to head back to the motor home, we happened to pass a life-size sculpture representing early Spanish settlers. The sculpture was so large and impressive, we parked on a side street and went over to check it out.
The sculpture was titled La Journada (the journey) and depicts Juan de Onate leading settlers as they passed through the area on their way from Chihuahua, Mexico, to settle in what now the Santa Fe area.
The sculpture is on the grounds of the Albuquerque Museum of Art and History.
Although it was late in the day and we decided not to go into the
museum, we enjoyed walking around their outdoor sculpture display. There were
many sculptures there, and we'll show you a few of our favorites.
There was a group of sculptures that depicted a park-like setting. That's Margery reading over the gentleman's shoulder.
We both really liked the next sculpture titled Les Bears.
And finally, there was this rugged cowboy and his horse.
After the sculpture garden, we went back to the motor home. Later on, we enjoyed our empanadas for dessert and some of the green chili bread for a snack.
There's still more to do in and around Albuquerque, so look for our next post.