The Trinity site, where the US set off the first man-made atomic explosion, is only open to the public twice a year. One of those times was last Saturday. I went with a couple of friends, expecting to find a couple dozen science geeks and amateur historians. I did not expect hundreds of camera-toting gawkers from all over the country who behaved as though they'd pulled over at the World's Largest Ball Of Yarn!, rather than a great scar upon the earth inflicted by mankind and symbolic of his hubris and folly.

And yet...

Say cheese!

Look! This partially vaporized column must be important—it's fenced off!

A replica of

, and...God Bless America.

The whole thing reminded me of those parades they have in Pakistan, where the military drags its nuclear-tipped missiles through the streets, met by cheering crowds.

Hooray! We're a nuclear power!

More from my field trip after the cut.

People brought their dogs and children along. The kids seemed to spend most of their time hunting for Trinitite, the glassy green sand created by the blast. As the signs warn, stealing it is a crime...

But it's either not a very serious crime, or whoever put up this sign by the highway is running a scam:

Here is Trinitite:

Anyway, I learned a lot. Here's the picture everyone is supposed to take:

And here is everyone taking it:

I am become digital point-and-shoot, destroyer of taste.