Hiroshima We have spent 2 billion dollars on the greatest scientific gamble in history – and won. – President Harry Truman Up until August 6th, occasional bombs, which did no great damage had fallen on Hiroshima. Many cities roundabout, one after another were destroyed, but Hiroshima itself remained protected. There were daily observations of planes over the city, but none of them dropped a bomb. The citizens wondered why they alone, had remained undisturbed for such long a time.
There were fantastic rumors that the enemy had something special in mind for this city, but no one had dreamed that the end would come in such a fashion as on the morning of August 6th. Undoubtedly, the atomic bombing of World War II was the most significant military event that ever took place in history. Not only was it the beginning of what we know as the Manhattan Project and nuclear power, it was the most devastating attack in military history, which led to post-war controversy. This is the story of World War II, and the catastrophic events that followed.. On the 2nd of August, 1939 some scientists wrote to President Roosevelt of efforts in Nazi Germany to purify Uranium-235, a highly unstable element, which might in turn be used to build an atomic bomb.
It was shortly thereafter that the United States Government began the serious undertaking known only then as the Manhattan Project. The Manhattan Project was designed to research and production that would produce a usable atomic bomb. Robert Oppenheimer was appointed to lead the day to day running of the project. The team of scientists who worked on the atom bomb worked 6 days a week and often 18 hours a day, and by 1945, the project had nearly 40 laboratories and factories which employed 200,00 people. The total cost of the Manhattan project was $2-billion which is about the equivalent of $26 billion today.
During the time of the development of the bomb, the many scientists who contributed to the project were extremely passionate of their work. The project itself, became very successful due to the extensive research. For example, one of its biggest benefits was that it lead to the discovery of how to harness nuclear power. Nuclear power plants became much more efficient than conventional power plants, and today have become a large supplier of power for the United States and the rest of the world. Also, technology discovered in the creation of the A-bomb was being used for medical purposes.
Over the years, doctors have gained the use of CAT scans and radiation to treat patients. As one can imagine, the few years during the project must have been considerably exciting. However, when the project was completed, this attitude changed as many scientists were against the usage of the bomb. You may ask yourself, why did they work themselves so hard on the bomb, but were against using it? In actuality, the scientists had been pursuing the atomic bomb in pure scientific interest. They had no intention of using it for military purposes. Dr.
Leo Szilard, a Hungarian-born physicist quoted, I opposed it with all my power, but I’m afraid not as effectively as I should have wished. August 6, 1945- It was a Monday morning; a Monday morning which no one would ever forget. 8:15 a.m. – the first atomic bomb, also known as Little Boy, was dropped on Hiroshima. It was dropped from the Enola Gay, one the U.S.s B-29 bombers that flew over on that day. It took about a whole minute for Little Boy to reach the point of explosion, but when it did, it caused devastating human injuries.
The people who saw and survived Little Boy said, We saw another sun in the sky when it exploded. The heat and the light generated by the Little Boy were far stronger than bombs which they had seen before. When the heat wave reached ground level it burnt everything around it. The strong winds generated by the bomb destroyed most of the houses and buildings within a 1.5 mile radius. When the wind reached the mountains, it was reflected and again hit the people in the city center. However, this was not the only problem.
The radiation generated by the bomb caused long-term problems to those affected. Many people died within the first few months and many more in later years because of radiation exposure. Some people acquired genetic problems which resulted in having malformed babies or being unable to have children. More than 140,000 people died by the end of the year including students, soldiers and Koreans who worked in factories within the city. The total number of people who died because of the bomb is estimated to be 200,000.
Just three days after the bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, a second atomic bomb called Fat Man was dropped on Nagasaki. Though the amount of energy generated by Fat Man was significantly larger than that of the Little Boy, the damage given to the city was much less than that given to Hiroshima due to the geographic structure of the city. It is estimated that approximately 70,000 people died by the end of the year because of the bombing. It has been long discussed among ourselves the ethics of using the atomic bomb. Many considered it in the same category as poison gas and were against its use on a civil population. Others were of the view that in total war, as carried out in Japan, there was no difference between civilians and soldiers; the bomb itself was the only way to end the bloodshed, warning Japan to surrender and to avoid total destruction.
However, the question is whether or not this kind of total war is justifiable, even if it serves a just purpose. When Truman heard of the bombing he said This is the greatest thing in history. But even today people are still dying because of the effects of the Atomic Bomb. So now we ask ourselves the question: Why did they drop the bomb when the war was nearly over? Heres a list of possible reasons why the Americans dropped the bomb: 1) The Americans believed Japan would never surrender; if the bomb had not been dropped, thousands of American lives could have been lost in an invasion of Japan. 2) The Bomb had cost 2000 million dollars and the Americans wanted to use it; it would have been difficult to justify not using it after such as vast financial investment. 3) The Japanese had been very cruel to prisoners of war; some Americans thought they deserved to be taught a lesson.
And lastly, 4) it was used to show the USA’s military superiority to the USSR. Understandably, there has been much debate over whether it was truly necessary for the United States to unleash the atom bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Some claim both bombings were necessary to force the fanatical Japanese army to surrender. Others, such as Dwight D. Eisenhower, a famous general in World War IIand later President of the United States, was personally opposed to the use of the atomic bomb. As he confessed in a post-war interview: I was against (use of the atomic bomb) on two counts. First, the Japanese were ready to surrender and it wasn’t necessary to hit them with that awful thing.
Second, I hated to see our country be the first to use such a weapon. So the question remains: should the United States have used the bomb to finally end the war with Japan, and what other American options were there in 1945? The first option was to invade Japan. This would allow the Americans to take a foothold in Japan. However, President Truman believed this would cost half a million American lives. The second option was to negotiate with Japan, instead of demanding unconditional surrender.
And of course, the scientists who developed the bomb, debated what to do with it. Some found it wrong to drop the bomb without warning and supported a demonstration explosion to convince Japan to surrender. In Oppenheimer’s view, this course of action was too uncertain and risky; only the shock of using the bomb on a Japanese city would force Japan to surrender. Let there be no mistake about it, said Truman, later agreeing with Oppenheimer, I regarded the bomb as a military weapon and never had any doubt that it should be used. The scientific development surrounding the A-Bomb has been a pivotal point in the world’s history, launching us into the Atomic Age.
We have turned nuclear power into a reliable source of energy, and it has provided us with many technological advances. For example, in the future we can look forward to using this technology discovered during the Manhattan Project to create even better sources of energy. In my opinion, I feel that even though the atomic bombing of World War II was a disaster for Japan and its citizens, we wouldnt be where we are today if it wasnt for the attack. Over the years of research, we have learned a great deal about technology, science, and especially human character and morals. There have been many benefits that came from this war, but also many losses. The struggle for atomic power has left the world scarred, and in the 50 years since history’s first atomic explosion, the promises and perils of nuclear science have touched nearly every aspect of our culture and politics.
It is a fact, that we are only at the beginning of the Atomic Age, and that there are endless possibilities for the future. History.