Liberal Arts Blog — Photography XII: “Trinity”, Hiroshima, Nagasaki
Liberal Arts Blog — Friday is the Joy of Art, Architecture, Film, Design, and All Things Visual Day
Today’s Topic: Photography XII: The Atomic Bomb — “Trinity,”(7/16/45), Hiroshima (8/6/45), Nagasaki (8/9/45)
There is no more iconic photograph than that of the mushroom cloud over Nagasaki. It has become the symbol of the nuclear age and the threat of nuclear annihilation. Today, a few notes on that photograph and two others. Experts — please chime in. Correct, elaborate, elucidate.
THE “TRINITY TEST” — July 16, 1945, 5:29 am, Jornada del Muerto, New Mexico
1. “The only well-exposed photograph of the original detonation” — taken by Jack Aeby, a technician working for the Manhattan Project. He took the photo on a whim.
2. “this terrible new energy came from a plutonium ball weighing 13.6 pounds.”
3. ‘The test was conducted in the Jornada del Muerto desert about 35 miles (56 km) southeast of Socorro, New Mexico on what was then the USAAF Alamogordo Bombing and Gunnery Range, now part of White Sands Missile Range.”
NB: The code name “Trinity” is attributed to J. Robert Oppenheimer who may have been inspired by the poetry of John Donne — specifically the line “Batter my heart three person’d God.”
HIROSHIMA — AUGUST 6, 1945 — area of total destruction had a radius of 1 mile
1. 70–80,000 killed by blast and firestorm (30% of the population). An equivalent number would die subsequently from radiation and other side effects.
2. 69% of buildings destroyed. 90% of doctors, 93% of nurses killed or injured.
3. The horror of it was not brought home to the American public until John Hersey’s article in the New Yorker published on August 31, 1946. The 31,000 word article took up the entire issue and was published as a 166 page book the same year. It tells the story of six survivors and has been called the “finest piece of American journalism of the 20th century.”
NB: Rationale: an invasion of Japan could have cost over a million lives.
THE NAGASAKI BOMB — August 9, 1945
1. Estimates of total deaths by the end of 1945 range from 40 to 80,000. Injured: 60,000.
2. “Like a graveyard without a tombstone standing.”
3. The US had hoped that the bombing of Hiroshima would have triggered a Japanese surrender. It didn’t. So the second bomb was dropped.
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