Remembering the atomic bombing of Japan after 71 years

Memorials stand to remind us of our mind’s atrocious power, while ready-for-launch nuclear silos exist as a reminder of lessons unlearned.

Today — August 6, 2016 — marks the 71st anniversary of the humankind’s usage of its deadliest invention. On this day in 1945, the United States bombed the port city of Hiroshima, Japan, unleashing a tremendous amount of devastation and despair with it.

Human ingenuity had tapped “the power of the universe, and loosed it on ourselves. From the glow of Pitchblende ores to the echoes of the Hibakusha, the roars from 71 years ago still resonate in modern social and political dialogue. Memorials stand to remind us of our mind’s atrocious power, while ready-for-launch nuclear silos exist as a reminder of lessons unlearned.

Hiroshima Atomic Bomb Cloud

On August 6, 1945, despite the petition against usage of atomic weapons from scientists who worked on the Manhattan Project, President Harry Truman approved the atomic bomb drop on Hiroshima.

The gun-type fission bomb, nicknamed Little Boy, disseminated 15 kilotons TNT of energy. About 70,000 to 80,000 (twice the number of students enrolled at some of the Big 10 schools) casualties were reported, and equal number of people injured, attesting to the true and unparalleled power of the atomic bombs. By December 1945, the estimated death toll had risen to 120,000 due to radiation sickness, lack of basic needs, and other injuries.

Smoke billowed 20,000 feet above the city of Hiroshima, which is about as tall as Mt. Denali, the tallest mountain in North America, or 12 Willis Towers (formerly Sears Tower in Chicago) stacked on top of each other.

The explosion produced was equivalent to detonating 21,000 tons of TNT and released enough energy to power a modern American home for over 2000 years.
Atomic Cloud Over Nagasaki

On August 9, 1945, just 3 days after Hiroshima, the United States dropped an atomic bomb, nicknamed Fat Man on Nagasaki.

The explosion produced was equivalent to detonating 21,000 tons of TNT and released enough energy to power a modern American home for over 2000 years. Casualties were estimated around 35,000 and possibly equal number of people were injured. By December of that year, estimated 80,000 people had died.

The aftermath of the Atomic Bombings in Hiroshima and Nagasaki hauntingly portray the horror of war and especially nuclear weapons. Once bustling cities with sizable population and industry were reduced to rubble. True magnitude of the destruction was captured by multiple commissioned reports from the US and Japan, as well as multiple news sources and personal stories.

“Many burned people went into rivers. Their skin was hanging off them.”

Firestorms created during the explosion were reported to reach the wind speed of around “30 to 40 miles per hour, affecting up to 4.4 square miles in Hiroshima”. Destruction of facilities such as hospitals, police stations and fire stations “contributed to the seriousness of casualties.” Capacity of intense, radiant heat “traveling at speed of light” became apparent as steel structures were “bent and twisted like jelly”.

Casualties caused by radiation poisoning, direct exposure, and blast effects were most significant. Survivors faced multiple injuries, ranging from flash burns to ruptured eardrums and other prolonged effects of radiation.

Nagasaki Before and After
Warped Steel Structure in Hiroshima

The most vivid experience of the bombings were captured by the survivors, the Hibakusha. Using mediums from art to educational curriculum, the survivors liberate their harrowing memories by sharing their stories and experience with the new generations. One survivor describes the scenario after the bombing in Hiroshima: Many burned people went into rivers. Their skin was hanging off them.” Living through the horror has compelled the survivors to call for global nuclear disarmament.

Masahiko Nakata — Bloated Bodies in the River Over Yokogawa Bridge, 1973–4, BBC

Try this online simulation on nuclear bomb impact. Choose your place of liking and see the radius of destruction that can be caused by different types of historical and modern nuclear weapons:

http://nuclearsecrecy.com/nukemap/