, Research Paper
Atomic Power Keeps the World on the Brink
It was 1945 and World War II was in full swing. Bombs
were falling all over Europe, destruction was
everywhere, and Nazi death camps were running at full
speed attempting to exterminate the Jewish population
and others deemed undesirable. Japan s bombing of
Pearl Harbor, four years earlier, had forced the United
States to end its isolationist practices and join the
battle. In the secret labs of Los Alamos there lurked a
new weapon. At this lab scientists were working
feverishly to complete what would become the most
destructive and potent weapon the Earth had ever seen,
the atomic bomb. Not only would this bomb end the final
stage of World War II but it also set the world on a
dangerous path to see who could create and amass the
most powerful arsenal of weapons. The effects of this
would be far reaching and would create an uneasy aura of
anxiety that permeated through the conscience of
It was a race against time. Whoever was first to unlock
the mysteries of the atom would inevitably win the war.
Fortunately for the preservation of humanity, God and
luck was on the side of the Allied powers, and the
United States was able to complete the puzzle first.
Ironically a German scientist who defected during the
war helped fill in some of the missing links to the
This magnificent device was able to unleash the power of
the atom creating an explosion equal to roughly 15
kilotons of TNT. After Japan s rejection of multiple
warnings to surrender and give up the war they set their
own fate in the history books to be the first to
experience the horror of this new weaponry. On August
5th, 1945, an American B-29 Superfortress dropped the
first atomic bomb on the Japanese city of Hiroshima. As
the plane, which was later named Enola Gaye, departed
the drop site and began its return home, a large
mushroom shaped cloud of smoke rose up from the city.
This city of nearly 300,000 people experienced enormous
devastation. Somewhere between 40,000 and 72,000 human
lives vanished in minutes from this incredible force of
atomic power. Buildings, trees, and other animals, also
vanished in the intense wave of nuclear heat the shot
outward from the drop point. An estimated 70,000 out of
76,000 buildings in the city were destroyed.
The United States again asked for Japan s surrender, and
again Japan s leadership refused. Despite the
unimaginable destruction and loss of life that had
occurred at Hiroshima the Japanese chose to insanely
fight onward. On August 9th, 1945, another atomic bomb
was dropped, this time on the city of Nagasaki. As with
the first blast, this city was also completely
devastated. The death toll here stood between 30,000 and
40,000, with 44 percent of the city destroyed. Finally,
now believing that there country really would face utter
annihilation, the Japanese announced their unconditional
surrender and the final stage of World War II had come
to an abrupt end.
This feeling of relief would not last long. With the war
over and before the new era of peace could comfortably
set in, the race to develop even more powerful weaponry
was on. The two main competitors were the United States
and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (U.S.S.R.).
These two former allies, who had radically different
governmental and political ideologies, emerged from the
war as the two lone superpowers of the world. They were
neck and neck in a major arms race that would put the
world on the edge of it s seat and send it into a period
of great anxiety and worry.
As these two superpowers continued their arms race,
increasingly powerful bombs were developed. The creation
of nuclear bombs that had the power of 500 atomic bombs,
the size of the ones dropped on Nagasaki and Hiroshima,
worried the international community of the fate these
weapons could inevitably bring. Weapons of this power
could wipe out an entire nation in minutes and could
lead to the complete destruction of the world.
Since the 1980 s, with the demise of the Soviet Union
and treaties designed at reducing the massive nuclear
weapons arsenals, the period that became known as the
Cold War gradually simmered and dissipated. However,
there are new dangers that lurk on the horizon for the
countries of the world. Third world countries, terrorist
groups, and other rogue states, with unstable and
sometimes quite irrational leadership are continuing
their quest to obtain nuclear secrets. The intentions of
many these groups are to inflict pain and suffering on
the peaceful countries of the world. The odds are that
sometime soon they will acquire this knowledge, ushering
in another period of great uncertainty and unyielding
Kreis, Steven, Hitler and Word War
II, http://www.pagesz.net/ stevek/europe/lecture11.html,2000.
Matthews, Roy and Platt, F. Dewitt, The Western
Humanities, Volume II: The Renaissance to the Present.
Mountain View, CA: Mayfield Publishing Company, 2001.
The History Place, World War II in the Pacific,
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