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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.

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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.

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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.

 

  • 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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Architecture of US Homes Tell Story of America

From colonials to Victorians to ranch-style houses and McMansions, the story of American residential architecture is that it tends to be eclectic

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america, architecture, US homes
A home built in the colonial style in New Castle, New Hampshire. (Photo by Carol Highsmith) VOA

The architecture of American homes is a lot like America itself, a hodgepodge of different styles from different countries often melded together into one whole.

From colonials to Victorians to ranch-style houses and McMansions, the story of American residential architecture is that it tends to be eclectic.

“The history of American residential architecture has always been kind of like an all-you-can-eat buffet,” says architect Susan Piedmont-Palladino, director of Virginia Tech’s Washington Alexandria Architecture Center. “We can borrow anybody’s style of architecture and I’m not sure that’s the attitude in other countries around the world. I also think we’re dominated by the single family house in a way that other places aren’t.”

US homes, america, architecture
Castle Rock, completed in 1950 in Quasqueton, Iowa, is one of famed architect Frank Lloyd Wright’s most complete “Usonian” homes. (Photo by Carol Highsmith) Photo: Library of Congress. VOA

What that single family home looks like can vary.

“Most houses built today do not reflect any one style, but integrate ideas from many cultures,” Jackie Craven, a journalist who specializes in architecture and fine arts, told VOA via email. “A single house can have a French-inspired mansard roof, Grecian columns, and English Tudor-inspired timbering. Our homes, like our people, draw from many sources.”

architecture, america, US Homes
Built in 1930, this neoclassical Georgian home in Dallas, Texas, is a near-replica of George Washington’s Mount Vernon home in Virginia. (Photo by Carol Highsmith). VOA

After the American Revolution, the architecture of public buildings often borrowed from Greece and Rome to express democratic ideals of order and symmetry. This neoclassic style also extended to private homes, notably Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello and George Washington’s Mount Vernon.

The long reign of Britain’s Queen Victoria, from 1837 until 1901, occurred during a time of American prosperity. Mass-production of building parts allowed for the construction of elaborate, affordable Victorian-style houses throughout the country.

US homes, architecture, america
The Pollock-Capps House is a Victorian mansion built in 1898 in Fort Worth, Texas. (Photo by Carol Highsmith). VOA

The style of American homes has often reflected what the country itself is experiencing.

“During the Industrial Revolution, steel transformed the American landscape. The strength of this new metal made skyscrapers possible, rebuilding Chicago after the Great Fire of 1871,” says Craven. “The lavish Gilded Age mansions of the late 1800s and modern-day McMansions both reflect the conspicuous consumption of a powerful wealthy class. Minimalist post-Victorian architecture rebelled against excess, and the 20th century brought new solutions for affordable housing. Catalogue companies like Sears sold mail order house kits, making home ownership achievable even during the Depression.”

US home, architecture, america
The Rosenbaum House, built in Florence, Alabama, in 1939, is the only structure designed by Frank Lloyd Wright in the state. (Photo by Carol Highsmith). VOA

The architect who most defined American residential architecture might well be Frank Lloyd Wright, who eschewed the idea of borrowing architecture from Europe or anywhere else.

In the first half of the 20th century, up until the 1950s, Wright’s designs and philosophy brought a new American modernity to the single family home. He pioneered housing features — such as low horizontal lines and open floor plans — that can still be found in suburban America today.
us home , america, architecture
A Cape Cod-style home, a simple, rectangular structure, in Cape Cod, Massachusetts. (Photo by Carol Highsmith) VOA

“He was very interested in a relationship with the land…this idea of relating terraces and the gardens and the landscape into the house…the roof would extend out, blurring the boundaries between inside and out,” Piedmont-Palladino says. “Wright really pioneered the unique architecture, and little bits of it do still show up. There’s a little Frank Lloyd Wright DNA in split-level houses and ranch houses still.”

The simple Cape Cod, a derivative of American colonial houses, and the ranch house, more reflective of America’s modernism, both dominate all of the other residential architectural styles in the United States, according to Craven.

US home, architecture, america
A ranch-house-style home in Sun City, a historic suburb of Phoenix, Arizona. (Photo by Carol Highsmith) VOA

Wright would probably be horrified by today’s oversized neo-colonials. Derisively dubbed ‘McMansions,’ these homes borrow loosely from classic architectural styles of the past.

What will the next dominant style of American house be? Piedmont-Palladino is concerned that the home-building industry doesn’t appear prepared to take on the challenge of building better-performing houses.

america, us homes, architecture
Today’s eclectic oversized houses, built in traditional styles, seen here in St. Louis, Missouri, have been referred to as “McMansions.” (Photo by Flickr user Paul Sableman via Creative Commons.) VOA

“I would like to be optimistic and think that, in a generation, the dominant language of American house construction is sustainable and that we would start to look at building environmentally responsibly, so that houses perform better. This is one of the big issues that is confronting us,” she says. “Houses are getting bigger and bigger and less efficient, even as our families are getting smaller.”

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In addition to eco-friendly designs, Craven also envisions more avant-garde architecture with unusual shapes. New digital software can easily manipulate classic shapes, giving them a curvy or lopsided twist that could hit home in a modern way. (VOA)