Today is the anniversary of the first combat use of a nuclear weapon. Hiroshima, Japan was destroyed by “Little Boy”, a gun-method uranium weapon with an approximate yield of 12 kilotons of TNT (for comparison, the largest weapon ever detonated was a 50 megaton hydrogen fusion weapon, 4,000 times greater). As an event to remember, it’s definitely of mixed emotion. On the one hand, it helped to end World War II quicker, and with fewer casualties; on the other hand, it was a horrific incident that caused humongous suffering amongst the population. It can be (and has been) argued that although the use of two atomic weapons on Japan was devastating in their individual explosive yields and lasting after-effects, the suffering and devastation caused by all of the conventional bombing and fire-bombing during the war was much higher. I’m not going to choose a side on this one. I’d have to study it a lot more.
One of the things I regret not doing while I lived in Texas was to visit the Trinity Site, the location of the first test of an atomic weapon. It is located on the grounds of White Sands Missile Range, and is therefore not open to the public except for two days a year: the first Saturdays of October and April. Whatever your opinions regarding nuclear weapons, the location is significant historically, militarily, and from an engineering standpoint.
A while back, a person from League City, Texas, chronicled his radioactive vacation. It’s worth the read.