The 65th anniversary of the first use of an atomic bomb as a weapon

by JGordon on Aug. 06th, 2010

The mushroom cloud over Hiroshima after the detonation of Little Boy
The mushroom cloud over Hiroshima after the detonation of Little BoyCourtesy Public Domain
On August 6th, 1945, the United States dropped the atomic bomb "Little Boy" on the Japanese city of Hiroshima. The bomb worked though nuclear fission, forcing a mass of uranium-235 to absorb extra neutrons to become uranium-236. The uranium 236 then immediately broke apart into lighter elements, releasing a vast amount of energy. Nearly 70,000 people were killed in the blast from Little Boy, and more than 100,000 others would die from the bomb's long-term radioactive effects in the following years.

After just one test explosion, Little Boy was only the second nuclear weapon ever to be detonated, and the first to be used against humans. Three days later, a larger, plutonium-based bomb, "Fat Man," would be dropped on the city of Nagasaki. On August 15, the Emperor of Japan announced the country's surrender, ending World War II, a conflict that had already claimed over 60 million lives.

August 6th marks an important and frightening day for science and humanity. Although only two bombs were used in conflict, since then thousands of nuclear weapons have been tested, in the process of building more powerful or more precise bombs, and for one country to show others just what it could do.

Here's an interesting visualization of all the nuclear bombs detonated between 1945 and 1998, showing who tested them, and where:

Your Comments, Thoughts, Questions, Ideas

Jawsome's picture
Jawsome says:

I thought both bombs were uranium

posted on Sat, 08/07/2010 - 11:09am
Gene's picture
Gene says:

Hmm... no mention of the million or so lives saved by bringing the war to an early end. Nor of all the wars prevented these last 65 years since nobody wanted to see them escalate. Oh well, I suppose you don't have room for everything...

posted on Wed, 12/15/2010 - 4:42pm

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