The first nuclear bomb anniversary

May 21, 2018 10:01 am 0 comments Views: 21

Today, May 21st, is the anniversary of the first nuclear bomb, dropped over the island of Bikini Atoll. It is interesting to notice that in many of the news items about the anniversary, it was described as a test of the “hydrogen” bomb, instead of using the word “nuclear”. I would imagine that at this time in history, the powers-that-be do not want people making the connections between “nuclear weapons” and “nuclear power” that will reveal deep, philosophical problems with nuclear energy.

Nuclear explosion

This posturing seems similar to the way that some nuclear power plants like to name themselves as merely “energy centers”. If you are wise enough to understand the risks of nuclear energy, you should try to apply the actual word “nuclear” wherever possible, as a way to keep the dialogue authentic.

I have been ruminating on how ironic it is that Japan, who knew the devastation that nuclear technology could cause due to Nagasaki and Hiroshima, would have so many nuclear facilities in place. It is ironic and heartbreaking, that the country with cities known as symbols for nuclear weapons devastation, would have invited in nuclear plants: Now the same country will have a city known as a symbol for nuclear energy devastation, as well. Hiroshima. Nagasaki. Fukushima. It is a sad litany.

Some scientists are suggesting that the evacuees will never be allowed to return to Fukushima. And, there have been other hardships, including the threat of the radiation cloud moving around the world.

At various times over the last few weeks, I have been mulling over the devastation and loss to people in Japan; reflecting on the (much smaller) loss to myself from the lost stream of food and products from Japan; and worrying that some of the clouds could arrive on my doorstep in New York. With these dark reflections in mind, I came across a movie which I hoped would provide a historical perspective. I took out the 1959 movie “On The Beach” from my library.

“On The Beach” tells the imagined story of what happens when (in the then-future date of 1964) there is a nuclear war, and the only people left on earth are the people living in Australia, and one, military submarine from the United States. The movie stars Gregory Peck, Ava Gardner, Fred Astaire (in a rare, dramatic role), and Anthony Perkins. It is very depressing, but rather profound. The movie is about the effects of nuclear war. Yet, it is also an interesting way to reflect on what a nuclear accident, under any circumstances, might mean. It dramatizes the effects of radiation sickness, and also, how it would feel to know that a radioactive cloud is coming your way.

The movie also reflects on how a whole country would respond to knowing the end was coming near, and how individuals would respond to the onset of radiation sickness. It presents ethical dilemmas even more profound than those found on the TV Show “What Would You Do”. “On The Beach” is not light viewing, but well worth the time to watch.

For more practical ruminations on the current nuclear situation, and what it might mean for the people of Japan, and the other people on earth, you might want to go over to the Nuclear Information and Resource Center. They have constant updates about what is happening in Japan. Donating to them is a way to help real science, and considered activists affect the current, nuclear dialogue.

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