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Charlton Heston FROM MOUNT SINAI TO LOS ALAMOS Though Charlton Heston passed away several years ago, in 2008, the Academy Award–winning actor lives on through his epic and timeless films. He starred in The Ten Commandments, Ben-Hur, Planet of the Apes, and El Cid but also played a starring role for Los Alamos National Laboratory later in his career. Heston was born in Illinois in 1923. As a boy, he moved with his family to Michigan, where he developed interests in hunting, fishing, and acting. While attending Northwestern University on a drama scholarship in 1944, at the height of World War II, Heston joined the Army Air Forces and was deployed to the Pacific to fight against Imperial Japan. As the end of the war came into sight, Heston, who was a gunner aboard a B-25 bomber, prepared for the seemingly inevitable invasion of the Japanese home islands. The invasion, however, never happened. The atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945 helped bring World War II to an abrupt—and victorious—conclusion. After the war, Heston returned home to his wife and gradually started making a name for himself as an actor. In the years that followed, Heston would become a Hollywood legend, accumulating numerous awards and an international following. But he never forgot the role the atomic bombs may have played in saving his life. 32 Trinitite, a rock containing glassy parts created inside the fireball from the world’s first nuclear explosion. The glassy parts were made from melted sand and radioactive bits of the nuclear device. Almost all Trinitite is green, as shown here, but some is either black or red, black if it contains bits of the device’s supporting tower, and red if it contains copper from the device or from communications cables at the test site. (Photo: Open Source) Los Alamos National Laboratory