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The Atomic Bombing Of Hiroshima And Nagasaki History Essay

The dropping of the Atomic bomb onto the major cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki caused, and is still causing, major controversy, and it is still unknown whether the decision to drop the bomb was necessary or not. But the thing that is known is that these two bombs caused the biggest change in how people all over the world saw warfare. The world now knew that nuclear bombs and weapons were now possible, and that other countries could figure out this technology as well. In the end however, nuclear testing and usage was eventually banned by the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Act.

On 2nd August, 1939, three Jewish scientists who had fled to the United States from Europe in fear of being forced by Nazis to do research, Albert Einstein, Leo Szilard and Eugene Wigner, wrote a letter to President Franklin D. Roosevelt about the developments that had been taking place in nuclear physics in Germany. They warned Roosevelt that scientists in Germany were working on the possibility of using uranium to produce nuclear weapons against the Unites States(Spartacus Educational).

The creation of the atomic bomb did not happen overnight. It all started with Albert Einstein's letter to President Roosevelt in 1939 , which Einstein wrote "This new phenomenon[splitting an atom] would also lead to the construction of bombs, and it is conceivable - though much less certain - that extremely powerful bombs of a new type may thus be constructed. A single bomb of this type, carried by boat and exploded in a port, might very well destroy the whole port together with some of the surrounding territory. However, such bombs might very well prove to be too heavy for transportation by air." But the creation of the B-29 bomber several years later proved to be an adequate source of transportation of the massive payload. While U.S. and British attempts to investigate the possibility of nuclear weapons began as early as 1939, practical development began in earnest in 1942 when these efforts were transferred to the authority of the U.S. Army and became the Manhattan Project. The Manhattan Project's goal was to create a feasible nuclear weapon against the Unites States' enemies, which at the time was Japan. The project was located at the Los Alamos Laboratory in New Mexico and focused both on the development of the fissile material[Uranium 235 and Plutonium 239] to power the nuclear chain reactions which took place inside the weapons, and on the design of the weapons themselves. At 5:29:45 a.m., on July, 16, 1945, the first ever atomic bomb was detonated one hundred feet over a portion of desert known as Jornada del Muerto, which translated means "the Journey of the Dead Man." The main scientists, J. Robert Oppenheimer said something from the Bhagavad-Gita, "I am become death the destroyer of worlds." The Trinity Test Director had a much less pleasant response, "Now we are all sons of bitches." Once the test was over it was proven that an explosive of this magnitude of this size was possible using uranium and plutonium.(Hans Beth, 1999)

The power of this bomb was absolutely enormous, both in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The area of total vaporization from the atomic bomb blast in Hiroshima measured one half mile in diameter; total destruction one mile in diameter; severe blast damage as much as two miles in diameter. Within a diameter of two and a half miles, everything flammable burned. The remaining area of the blast zone was riddled with serious blazes that stretched out to the final edge at a little over three miles in diameter. However, Nagasaki was not much different. This time, a larger Plutonium bomb nicknamed "Fat Man" was dropped on the city. Though "Fat Man" missed its target by over a mile and a half, it still leveled nearly half the city. In a split second, Nagasaki's population dropped from 422,000 to 383,000. Over 25,000 people were injured. The physicists that studied these two explosions say that the bomb only reached one-tenth of one percent in its explosive capabilities. This massive bomb was dropped onto the Japanese city of Hiroshima, which at the time, had a total population of about 300,000 people, including the 43,000 soldiers stationed there. At approximately 8:15 a.m., Pilot Colonel Paul Tibbets, and his crew, codename "Enola Gay," flew to about 31,000 feet, and dropped the 9,700 pound uranium bomb, named "little boy." Colonel Paul Tibbets immediately drove away to avoid the anticipated shock wave). Forty three seconds later, a huge atomic explosion detonated 1,900 feet above the city, directly above a parade field where soldiers were doing calisthenics. Although already eleven and a half miles away, the Enola Gay was rocked by the shockwave. The power of the explosion was estimated to have a strength of 15 kilotons, or the equivalent of 15,000 tons of TNT (US dep. of energy).

There were many reasons for the dropping of these two massive bombs. The official reason is that it would immediately end the war, generally saving the lives of hundreds of thousands of American troops. Deaths from the bomb are estimated to be about 100,000 people at about the time of impact. The numbers suggest that invading Japan would have given about the same results, but these cannot be proven However, the choice to drop the bombs on Japan is very controversial and there are many people that feel the dropping of them was not needed, and that Japan would have surrendered anyway. Although these arguments will never have a definite answer, Japan did surrender 6 days after the dropping of the Fat Man on Nagasaki, and the war came to an end.

After the bomb, the Atomic bomb fallout creates many hazards. The rain that follows any atomic detonation is laden with radioactive particles, and many survivors of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki blasts succumbed to radiation poisoning. The atomic bomb detonation also has the hidden lethal surprise of affecting the future generations of those who live through it. Leukemia is among the greatest of afflictions that are passed on to the offspring of survivors. Even after the flames had subsided, relief from the outside was slow in coming.  For hours after the attack the Japanese government did not even know for sure what had happened.  Radio and telegraph communications with Hiroshima had suddenly ended at 8:16 a.m., and vague reports of some sort of large explosion had begun to filter in, but the Japanese high command knew that no large-scale air raid had taken place over the city and that there were no large stores of explosives there (F.G Gosling, 1999).

Japanese staff officers were dispatched by plane to survey the city from overhead, and while he was still nearly 100 miles away from the city they began to report on a huge cloud of smoke that hung over it.  The first confirmation of exactly what had happened came only sixteen hours later with the announcement of the bombing by the United States.  Relief workers from outside the city eventually began to arrive and the situation stabilized somewhat.  Power in undamaged areas of the city was even restored on August 7th, with limited rail service resuming the following day.  Several days after the blast, however, medical staff began to recognize the first symptoms of radiation sickness among the survivors.  Soon the death rate actually began to climb again as patients who had appeared to be recovering began suffering from this strange new illness.  Deaths from radiation sickness did not peak until three to four weeks after the attacks and did not taper off until seven to eight weeks after the attack.  Long-range health dangers associated with radiation exposure, such as an increased danger of cancer, would linger for the rest of the victims' lives, as would the psychological effects of the attack(F.G Gosling, 1999).]

After the bomb was dropped in Nagasaki, President Truman made a radio announcement. President Truman said "My fellow Americans, the British, Chinese and United States governments have given the Japanese people adequate warning of what is in store for them. The world will note that the first atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, a military base. If Japan does not surrender, bombs will have to be dropped on her war industries and unfortunately thousands of civilian lives will be lost. I urge Japanese civilians to leave industrial cities immediately and save themselves.” President Truman radio speech was broadcasted to the nation from the White House at 10 p.m. Washington time on August 9, 1945. He called Hiroshima ‘a military base’. By that time, the second atomic bomb already had destroyed the city of Nagasaki(Washington D. C.: United States Government Printing Office, 1961).

At the end of World War two, after Germany and Japan had surrendered, many arguments still appear asking if the dropping of these bombs were necessary. Although a definitive answer will never be achieved, we now know that humans have the capability to destroy an entire city in a matter of minutes. This technology cannot be used widely, or several consequences would surely follow. But one idea is for that is defiantly correct is that the United States won World War II against the Nazis and the Japanese.

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