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Area 51,name for a U.S. military site, S Nev., c.80 mi (130 km) NNW of Las Vegas. Shrouded in secrecy since the mid-20th cent., it is located within the U.S. Air Force's enormous Nevada Test and Training Range and has long been used for research and development of secret experimental aircraft and weapons systems. A portion of Area 51 has been used for testing of nuclear weaponry since the Manhattan ProjectManhattan Project,
the wartime effort to design and build the first nuclear weapons (atomic bombs). With the discovery of fission in 1939, it became clear to scientists that certain radioactive materials could be used to make a bomb of unprecented power. U.S.
..... Click the link for more information. , and the base was of particular strategic importance during the cold warcold war,
term used to describe the shifting struggle for power and prestige between the Western powers and the Communist bloc from the end of World War II until 1989. Of worldwide proportions, the conflict was tacit in the ideological differences between communism and
..... Click the link for more information. . The secretive nature of the installation and its flights of odd-looking experimental aircraft have undoubtedly contributed to Area 51's association with UFO sightings and a variety of theories involving aliens and other extraterrestrial phenomena.
See A. Jacobsen, Area 51: An Uncensored History of America's Top Secret Military Base (2011).