IT'S been stated that the main difference between the Third and Second World Wars is that we will watch the latter as it is happening live on television or on the internet.

As the world looks on in mounting horror at the possibility of nuclear exchanges between North Korea and the USA – war which will inevitably spread to include China, Russia and the rest of us – the prospect of a televised holocaust suddenly does not seem so remote.

We will all be able to view nuclear Armageddon until such times as the electromagnetic pulses created by atomic explosions wipe out the world’s electronics, presuming that any of us have survived the detonations which will turn the globe into an incendiary charnel house.

Let’s face it, who would want to see a nuclear bomb going off on their telly? Back in the 1950s, tens of millions of Americans did.

Today is the 65th anniversary of a remarkable event which is credited with bringing home to the people of the USA just what an all-out thermonuclear war might do to them.

On April 22, 1952, at Yucca Flat test site in the Nevada desert, television cameras carried out the first live broadcast of a nuclear bomb test.

America was incredibly open about its nuclear test programme, with the nearest major city, Las Vegas, becoming a centre for "bomb watch" holidays. People would drive hundreds of miles to watch the tests, and it must have seemed a logical extension of the need to satisfy public curiosity that the broadcasters sought, and were granted, permission to cover a test live.

The Las Vegas Sun reported that day: “Hell burst from the skies over Yucca Flat this morning as America’s latest model atom bomb exploded with enough force to devastate much of New York, Chicago, Los Angeles or any other big city… the spectacular detonation [was] televised to a nationwide audience for the first time in history.”

The bomb was dropped from a Boeing B-50 Superfortress, successor to the aircraft which dropped the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

From 33,000ft, the bomb was supposed to take 36 seconds to fall and then explode, but the television commentator doing the countdown only got to 20 before the detonation occurred – and he went on to describe the blast and its aftermath as “beautiful”.

Incredibly, the US military had troops positioned just four miles from the blast point and, just under an hour after the explosion, they moved to within 150 yards of "ground zero" where they were joined by 120 paratroopers who had descended through the fallout zone.

The blast and fireball that mushroomed above it were seen 430 miles away in southern Idaho but, as the Las Vegas Sun reported: “Cocky GIs and grinning generals popped out of their foxholes within the shadow of the fearsome bomb less than 10 seconds after it exploded.”

The concept of radiation poisoning had not been fully comprehended at that point but, as more tests took place, the American military, the public, and the rest of the world came to realise just how deadly these bombs and their fallout could be.

Yucca Flat went on to be the test site for 827 detonations, most of them underground, ending in 1991. Because it is impossible to clean up completely, the test site has officially been named a “national sacrifice zone”. You couldn’t make it up.

It has also been said many times that the Third World War will be fought with nuclear weapons – but any war after that will be fought with bows and arrows.

To see why, go and check out YouTube’s many videos of nuclear tests, including the Yucca Flat one of 65 years ago, to see why.