ATOMIC BOMB—A Terrible Weapon (1945) newsclip
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ATOMIC BOMB — A Terrible Weapon. Will End War or Destroy Civilisation. World-wide Anxiety and Fear for the Future.
The announcement of the use of the atomic bomb on the Japanese coastal cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, followed within a few hours by the declaration of war by Russia on Japan, were the outstanding events of last week. The terrible effect of the atomic bombs, "which literally seared to death all living things, human and animal," has shocked the whole civilised world and created a profound revulsion of feeling in all countries against its use, with much speculation as to the fate of humanity and our own civilisation if this new weapon of destruction were not adequately controlled.
"This is the end of the war" was the immediate reaction both in London and Washington, it being regarded as impossible for Japan to remain at war under the devastating effect of this terrible weapon.
It was revealed for the first time officially that the atomic bomb, which relied upon the release of atomic energy from a small quantity of uranium, had greater power than 20,000 tons of T.N.T. and more than 2000 times the blast of the largest bomb— the 12-ton "grand slam" used so destructively
The Tokyo Radio, which gave the first indication of the effect of the bomb which fell on Hiroshima, said that the city was "considerably damaged" and the destructive power of the bomb cannot be slighted." It was stated that it was dropped by parachute and exploded before reaching the ground and its explosive power staggered the imagination.
Powerful Psychological Effect.
News of the bomb was released without delay because of the possible psychological effect in forcing the Japanese to surrender, and in his statement to the world President Truman, of the United States, said the atomic bomb was the answer to the rejection by Japanese leaders of the Potsdam Ultimatum, which had been designed to spare the Japanese people from utter destruction.
The President emphassied that the discovery might open the way for an entirely new concept of force and power, adding: " The fact that we can release atomic energy ushers in a new era in man's understanding of the forces of nature. Atomic energy may supplement the power now coming from coal, oil and falling water."
He said, however, that intensive research was necessary before enough could be produced commercially on a competitive basis.
British Official Statement.
A statement prepared by Churchill on the atomic bomb before the elections was released by the new Prime Minister, Mr. Attlee:
"This revelation of secrets of nature long mercifully withheld from man should arouse the most solemn reflections in the minds and consciences of every human being capable of comprehension. We must, indeed, pray that these awful agencies will be made conducive to peace among the nations, and instead of wreaking measureless havoc upon the entire globe they may become the perennial fountain of world prosperity."
Place in Industry.
Mr. Stimson laid emphasis on the possibility that atomic energy would have a big place in peace time industry. Already, he said, much energy was being released unexplosively but in regulated amounts. This energy, however, was in the form of heat at a temperature too low to make practicable the operation of a conventional power plant. It would be a matter of much further research and development to design machines for the conversion of atomic energy into useful power.
Far More Difficult.
One enthusiastic expert associated with the Ministry of Aircraft Production expressed the view that if the atomic force upon which the bomb was based could be harnessed to industry it would be equivalent to driving the Queen Mary across the Atlantic on a cupful of fuel, but Professor A. M. Low, President of the British Institute of Engineering Technology, who invented the British radio robot and several rocket devices, said, "We are many years from the days when the Queen Mary will cross the Atlantic on a cupful of any mysterious uranium derivative."
But he said this bomb discovery may lead the way to fuels which will make our present means of power for travel, lighting and heating more suitable to Noah's Ark than the most modern aeroplane. True power would make it easy to heat the North Pole, cultivate the Sahara, and travel from England to Australia in a few hours.
Atomic power, he said, would also make visits to the moon a definite possibility, but none of these marvels — and they will come one day— are likely to prevent war by the mere increase of its horror. To change human greed is far more difficult than any atomic problem. But it is a warning that warfare cannot be stopped by forbidding the so-called strategic weapons to any nation.
'Shadow Over Humanity.’
The discovery of the atomic bomb caused an unfavorable impression in the Vatican because it was stated the use of atomic bombs might be the first link in a chain of unpredictable violence. A Vatican Press bulletin said:
"The atomic bomb revelations made a deep impression in Vatican City, not so much for the use already made of the new death instrument as for the sinister shadow that the discovery of this weapon casts over the future of humanity."
Three prominent ministers of the Methodist Church in New South Wales recently issued a statement in which they said: "If the United Nations persist in the use of the atomic bomb they inflict a devastating blow on their claim to the moral leadership of the world."
Other churchmen emphasised that the advance in weapons of destruction must be watched by forces of wisdom and judgment if humanity is to survive.
Later the Japanese Radio said that the atomic bomb that fell on Hiroshima "literally seared to death all living things, human and animal. Those outdoors were burned beyond recognition and those indoors were killed by indescribable pressure and heat."
The terrible effect of a bomb so small that it could have been carried in a fighter plane is described by scientist Sir John Anderson, who was in charge of British experiments, as "the progressive disintegration of individual atoms in an unbelievably small fraction of time, generating a temperature probably a good deal higher than that at the centre of the sun."
Scientists told the "Daily Express" that the bomb contained probably less than one ounce of uranium, which, like radium, is constantly casting off highspeed particles.
When the bomb struck the ground its mechanism would cause the uranium to disintegrate into millions of particles with enormous energy and moving at speeds like 186,000 miles a second. These bombarding particles, coupled with the sudden liberation of terrific heat, would cause a catastrophic explosion.
No battleship could stand even a near miss, no plane could stay in a sky bursting with atomic shells, and tank armor would never withstand the impact.
Man's Greatest Step Forward!
Sir John Alexander, speaking as a physicist, described the discovery of the atomic bomb as "the greatest step forward ever made by man in his efforts to conquer the universe."
As Lord President of the Council he was responsible for the organisation of the British research workers.
"The bomb has opened a new door to physics," he said, "and means that man at last has found a way to release the forces of the atom.
"Only the key to the release of atomic force has been found so far and until we discover the method of controlling atomic power it is useless to us where industry is concerned, but we might produce something that will revolutionise all industrial life.
A Ministry of Aircraft Production spokesman said It might be anything up to 20 years before atomic force was perfected to drive liners on a teacupful of fuel.
"When that stage is reached," he said, "It will be a mere bagatelle to give central heating to all the houses in England, because that would require hardly any fuel."
Scientists Who Helped.
The British Press Association stated that two of the team of scientists mentioned in Mr. Churchill's statement were Jews born in Berlin— Rudolf Peierls, Professor of Applied Mathematics, Birmingham, since 1937, and Dr. Franz Simon, Reader in Thermodynamics at Oxford since 1933. They left Germany at the beginning of the Nazi regime to continue their scientific work unmolested in Britain.
Another refugee scientist who helped to develop the atom bomb is Niels Bohr, winner of the Nobel Prize for atomic research, who, according to the Associated Press Stockholm correspondent, escaped from the Germans by fleeing from Denmark in a fishing boat.
One of the original research team to carry out experiments with the atom in Britain was Professor Peter Kupitza, who now lives in Russia. Ten years ago a new laboratory was built for him at Cambridge with a grant of £15,000 from the Royal Society. He went to attend a Scientific Conference in Russia in 1935 but he never returned; the Russians considered him too valuable.
A cable message from London stated that the secrets of the atomic bomb will not be shared by any Power other than those directly concerned in its production.
Experts so far have been unable to do anything more than grasp the sheer magnitude of the revolution facing them, but the "Big Three" Governments are expected to act speedily to regulate this unforeseen situation.
Russia's share for the development of the atomic bomb remains a mystery. Neither President Truman nor Churchill’s simultaneous announcements mention the Soviet, but it is clear Russia must have been told of the impending use of the bomb when the ultimatum to Japan was agreed to at Potsdam.
It was believed that the Japanese would surrender only if the damage prevented the continuation of their war Production and the military, hoping that the supply of atomic bombs was limited, preferred to wait to see the full effect of further bombardments