16 July

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The day the Atom Bomb made its debut

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On this day in 1945, scientists watched a blinding fireball and mushroom cloud rise from the desert of New Mexico: the world's first atom bomb had exploded.

The top-secret Manhattan Project, conducted under the code name Trinity, caused these scientists some anxiety. Not least because they were not sure what the impact of this new and powerful weapon would be. Options ranged from failure to explode through to destruction of New Mexico or, at worst, ignition of the atmosphere and incineration of the entire planet. (And, yes, they did it anyway...)

In the end, the bomb simply exploded, carving a crater more than 1,000 feet across and fusing grains of sand into a radioactive, green glass, called Trinitite - and exposing nearby civilians to 10,000 times today's recommended safe dose of radiation. We are not sure that the Trinity test has made the world a better place. But we do enjoy a Trinity cocktail, a tweaked Manhattan from David Embury.

Today was also the day MI5 became a little less secret

On this day in 1993, a senior government employee named Stella Rimington posed for a photocall outside London's MI5 headquarters, launching a new era of, well, not exactly Wikileaks-style openness, but honesty.

For Rimington was, of course, the Director-General of MI5, the British internal security service that was previously so secret its existence couldn't be acknowledged. And, if you've ever wondered why M became a woman in the Bond film reboots, Rimington is why - for she was the first female DG.

Since retirement, Rimington has kept herself occupied with activities from well-paid directorships to writing spy novels, to observing that, for example, the US response to 9/11 was "a huge overreaction". We are toasting her, and Judi Dench's M, with an eminently drinkable blend of ginger liqueur, Campari and tonic, The Opening Act, created by Andrew Pollard.

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