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Remembering Hiroshima, the city that was destroyed by the “Little Boy”

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By Nithin Sridhar

On the early morning of August 6th, 1945, Colonel Paul W. Tibbets Jr. of United States Air Force and his crew flew Enola Gay, the Boeing B29 Bomber, into the city of Hiroshima and dropped “Little Boy” precisely at 8:15 am.

“Little Boy” was none other than the very first atomic bomb that contained 64 kg of uranium-235.

Boeing_B-29A-45-BN_Superfortress_44-61784_6_BG_24_BS_-_Incendiary_Journey

After 44 seconds, the bomb exploded directly above Shima Surgical Clinic in Hiroshima. The Little Boy caused a blast that was equivalent to a blast by 16 kilotons of TNT. There was a total destruction within 1 km radius and a future destruction due to firestorm happened within 4-5 km radius.

The Hiroshima bombing by the Little Boy was followed by Nagasaki bombing by “Fat Man” on August 9th, 1945. On the one hand, the bombings forced the Japanese to surrender and ended the Second World War. On the other hand, it resulted in thousands of people in these two cities suffering for many generations.

Today is the 70th anniversary of this great tragedy that resulted in an end to a War which could have led to a greater tragedy if it had not been stopped.

Why America chose to use Atomic Bombs

There has been a lot of criticism in the aftermath of the Second World War regarding the decision of Harry S. Truman, the then President of US to drop atomic bombs on Japan. But, at the same time, it has been well established that during the war itself, the President received advice from various military and civil personnel including many scientists regarding the use of atomic bomb.

The US explored various options like continued naval blockade, air bombardment and eventual invasion of Japan in order to end the war as the Japanese were not ready for unconditional surrender.

1280px-Atomic_bombing_of_Japan

In his thesis “America’s Decision to Drop the Atomic Bomb on Japan”, Joseph H. Paulin says:

During the time President Truman authorized the use of the atomic bomb against Japan, the United States was preparing to invade the Japanese homeland. The brutality and the suicidal defenses of the Japanese military had shown American planners that there was plenty of fight left in a supposedly defeated enemy. Senior military and civilian leaders presented Truman with several options to force the surrender of Japan. The options included the tightening of the naval blockade and aerial bombardment of Japan, invasion, a negotiated peace settlement, and the atomic bomb became an option, once bomb became operational.

“Truman received recommendations, advice, and proposals from civilian and military leaders within the first two months of taking office after President Roosevelt died. Only after meeting with the senior leadership to discuss the various options did Truman authorize the planning and execution of the invasion of Japan.  However, the extremely large casualty estimates presentedby the Chiefs of Staff remained a concern for Truman, especially in the wake of the bloody battles on Iwo Jima and Okinawa.These estimates became the driving factor for Truman’s ultimate decision to use the new weapon against Japan and to end the war before any more Americans service members died unnecessarily.”

In 1945, Quincy Wright and William Shockley prepared a report assessing the probable causalities in the event of an American invasion of Japan. The report estimated that an American invasion of Japan would lead to deaths of 5-10 million Japanese and 1-4 million casualties on the American side including the deaths of 400,000 to 800,000 American soldiers.

Atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki - 65th Anniversary

Therefore, the driving force behind American decision to drop atomic bombs were to end the war as soon as possible and to prevent further loss of Americans who are fighting the war. Other factors that might have influenced the decision to use the bombs include using it as a justification for spending huge cost on Manhattan project (around $1,889,604,000, 1945 dollar rate) that produced the bomb, and as a response to the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.

The casualties of Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombing

Whatever may have been the reason, the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki forced the Japanese to surrender, but at a great cost to human lives.

In Hiroshima, around 70,000-80,000 people died immediately and another 70,000 people were injured due to the blast and the resultant firestorm. The total figures of those who died reached about 140,000 by December 1945. Around 92% of the 76000 buildings were destroyed or damaged beyond repairs by the blast. In Nagasaki, at least 39,000 people died and another 25,000 people were injured.

The radiation from the bomb explosion had long-term health effects on the Japanese survivors of the war including causing leukemia, blood disorder, solid cancer and keloids. A study by Radiation Effects Research Foundation shows that between 1950 and 2000, 46% of leukemia deaths and 11% of solid cancer deaths among the bomb survivors were due to their exposure to radiation from the bombs.

These heavy causalities and the long-term effects of the atomic bombs must serve as a lesson for the people in power to make sure that a situation wherein the use of these bombs become inevitable, like Second World War, never again arise.

 

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  • Vrushali Mahajan

    In the history of mankind, this was the biggest destruction ever caused! Not only the people, but their generations also suffered a lot

  • Being_Stupid

    They bombed Pearl Harbor first.

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Joint Mission To Mercury By Europe-Japan Satellite Launches

The mission is an expensive one. It's estimated the costs borne by the European Space Agency and the Japanese space agency amount to about 1.65 billion euros.

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TESS, rover, NASA, mercury
TESS, the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite, is shown in this conceptual illustration obtained by Reuters on March 28, 2018. NASA sent TESS into orbit from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. VOA

Two satellites developed in Europe and Japan are on their way to the Sun’s closest planet Mercury. It is likely to take them seven years to reach their destination.

The joint endeavour BepiColombo left Earth on an Ariane rocket that launched out of South America on Friday, the BBC said.

The probes lifted clear of the Kourou spaceport in Atlantic coast of French Guiana at 10.45 p.m. on Friday.

Mission controllers based in Darmstadt, Germany, would spend much of Saturday talking to the spacecraft, to confirm they were properly configured for the long cruise ahead.

Coming close on the heels of NASA’s Parker Solar Probe that was launched in August, Bepi is aimed at finding more about Mercury that “doesn’t really fit with our theories for how the Solar System formed”, said Bepi scientist Professor Dave Rothery from the UK’s Open University.

Parker Solar Probe, NASA, mercury
This illustration from NASA shows the Parker Solar Probe spacecraft approaching the sun. VOA

“We can’t understand our planet fully unless we’re able to explain Mercury that has an oversized iron core — 60 per cent of its mass,” Rothery said.

Science has not yet explained why the planet only has a thin veneer of rocks. Bepi’s high-resolution data should bring us nearer to an answer, the BBC reported.

It’s the first time the European and Japanese space agencies (Esa and Jaxa) have set out for Mercury. The Americans have already been there, briefly with the Mariner 10 probe in the 1970s, and with the Messenger orbiter earlier this decade.

Messenger discovered that water-ice is held inside some of Mercury’s shadowed craters, and that its crust contains a lot of graphite (pencil lead).

Bepi will build on those. The new mission carries twice as much instrumentation and will get closer for longer.

Mercury’s dense body does not reflect its initial form. It’s possible the planet began life much further and later migrated inwards, mission scientist Suzie Imber from Leicester University.

Mercury
We know so little about the planet Mercury… The BepiColombo mission will try to unravel some of its mysteries. Flickr

 

“It’s also got huge cliffs, many kilometres tall. And those cliffs formed as Mercury shrank. We call them wrinkle ridges,” Imber said.

It is possible to directly reach Mercury in a matter of months, but the speed picked up by a spacecraft falling into the Sun’s deep gravity would make it very hard to stop at the planet, the BBC report said.

Bepi will take a more circuitous route. It will fly past Earth, Venus and Mercury itself, using the tug of their gravity to bleed off speed, so that by 2025 the mission can gently slot into position.

The toughest prospect ahead is the heat. At just 58 million km from the Sun, working at Mercury is like being in a pizza oven, Imber said.

The sides of the probes in direct sunlight will have to cope with temperatures over 400 degrees Celsius. Even those surfaces facing away from the Sun have to be protected.

Coping strategies include covering the MMO in thick blankets of insulation material made from titanium and ceramics. “The environment is extremely hostile,” explains Esa mission controller Elsa Montagnon.

Mercury
Solar system. Pixabay

 

“On Mercury, we get 10 times the solar energy we get on Earth. But then from the illuminated side of Mercury, we get about four times what we get on the Earth. So, the spacecraft are continually in a heat sandwich,” Montagnon said.

The mission is an expensive one. It’s estimated the costs borne by the European Space Agency and the Japanese space agency amount to about 1.65 billion euros.

Additionally, national space agencies in Europe have paid for the instrumentation on the MMO, taking the overall budget above 3 billion euros.

Also Read: Another Space Telescope Shuts Down: NASA

This number covers the full lifecycle of the mission, from its approval (2007) to its termination (late 2020s).

Engineers have had a torrid time developing the technologies to keep Bepi safe so close to the Sun. Delays have kept on adding to the price. (IANS)