Posted by Harold Ericsson on August 14, 2002 at 16:50:16:
In 1957 it was realized that future nuclear testing would have to go underground; in preparation for large underground tests some relatively small explosions were made at the Nevada Test Site to test the effects of atomic bombs exploding hundreds of feet below the surface of the earth. August of 1957, in a test named Pascal-B, a 300-kiloton explosion occurred at the bottom of four-foot wide shaft 500 feet deep. Immediately above the nuclear device was a cement plug weighing 3000 kilograms. At the top of the shaft, on the surface, was a four-inch thick steel plate about four feet across and weighing almost one ton. A high-speed camera was positioned to film the steel lid as it reacted to the energy released far below the surface. Apparently, the cement plug was vaporized by the atomic explosion sending a large volume of gas up the five hundred foot shaft much like exploding gunpowder in a rifle. When the fast-moving gas impacted the steal plate the plate was sent flying at such a high rate of speed that the plate appeared on only one frame of the film exposed by the high-speed camera.
The one frame showed the plate to be intact as it headed skyward. Some calculations indicated that the steel plate might have reached orbital speed thus becoming the first man-made object to orbit the earth. The first Sputnik was not to go into orbit until October of 1957. Sound aerodynamic calculations indicated that this was not likely, in any case the steel lid was never found.
So, in your desert treks if you come across a four-inch thick steel plate that is four-feet in diameter and---in all probability---slightly concaved you will have solved the mystery of what has come to be called Operation Thunderwell.