Bikini is an atoll in the Pacific, a ring of about 20 islands that includes Bikini Island.
Bikini first came to public attention in 1946, for two entirely different reasons.
In July, 1946, the United States conducted tests of the recently invented atomic bomb at the Bikini atoll. A number of old ships were anchored nearby, cameras were set up in various places, and animals were brought to the islands so that scientists could learn what effects the A-bomb blast would have on them. Two atomic bombs were exploded at Bikini that month.
Before the tests, the residents of Bikini were moved to another island, out of range of the blast. After the atomic explosion, radiation levels were so high at Bikini that the islands were declared unfit to live in.
Fish caught in the waters near Bikini soon after the blast were so radioactive that when placed on a piece of photographic film, the fish took their own pictures!
Also in 1946, a French fashion designer was about to unveil anew kind of women’s bathing suit. Since the unveiling took place a few days after the A-bomb blasts, he decided to name the new bathing suit after the islands where they had occurred.
The bathing suit became known as the bikini.