From 1942 to 1945, an international team of scientists, funded by the US government, developed the world's first nuclear weapons. This top-secret program, called
The Manhattan Project
produced three atomic bombs. After a successful
on July 16th 1945, the remaining two nuclear weapons were flown to
to prepare for their use against the Japanese. On August 6th 1945 at 8:15 AM, the nuclear bomb code-named "Little Boy" was exploded over the city of Hiroshima. Three days later, at 11:02 AM on August 9th 1945, a second nuclear bomb, code named "Fat Man", was exploded over the city of Nagasaki. These new and incredibly powerful weapons had never been used in war fighting and several
Manhattan Project scientists
were opposed to their use on civilian populations. Since 1945, nuclear weapons have not been used in wartime.
Today there are approximately
26,000 nuclear weapons
, which remain a threat to all life on earth. Nuclear weapons are unique, and are not at all like conventional bombs. These "weapons" cause destruction through the splitting of the atom, which creates tremendous power, called nuclear fission.
The primary effects of a nuclear explosion include blast, heat, fire and radiation, producing destruction on an unimaginable scale. Immense light and thermal heat (comparable to the interior of the sun) initiate a phenomenon called a firestorm.
Firestorms deplete oxygen from the environment and create hurricane-like winds, which attract debris and feed the storm itself, causing super-infernos.
No living being can survive a firestorm. Another and often overlooked effect of nuclear weaponry is the long-lived radiation, which results from a nuclear explosion. Once released, radioactive elements can hang around for millennia upon millennia, putting future generations at risk of developing cancer and genetic mutations.
There are still people alive today, who survived the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. In Japanese, the atomic bomb survivors are called:
(hee-ba-coo-sha). Many Hibakusha have dedicated their lives to peace and although they are growing old, continue to work for nuclear disarmament. They tell their stories in order to help people understand the true reality of nuclear weapons. Everyone can learn about the effects of nuclear weapons by listening to the Hibakusha testimony.
> Read Background Information
on Hiroshima and Nagasaki
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