What did individuals go through?
The two nuclear explosions in Hiroshima and Nagasaki were monumental in the annals of humankind. Those events changed the world forever. However, before going to the larger picture, let us read through the state of mind of a few significant individuals.
Dr Richard Feynman
Parties were thrown to celebrate the success of the Manhattan Project, which led to the destruction of the two cities Hiroshima and Nagasaki. However, it had a deep impact on certain individuals, one of them being Dr Richard Feynman who recorded the below lines in his autobiography:
And I would go along and I would see people building a bridge, or they’d be making a new road, and I thought, they’re crazy, they just don’t understand, they don’t understand. Why are they making new things? It’s so useless. But, fortunately, it’s been useless for almost forty years now, hasn’t it? So I’ve been wrong about it being useless making bridges and I’m glad those other people had the sense to go ahead.
Dr Richard Feynman was amongst the scientists who developed the nuclear bombs. If this was the state of mind of one scientist, imagine the state of mind of the man who was the lead Scientist/Director. It was Dr J. Robert Oppenheimer.
Dr J. Robert Oppenheimer
As Oppenheimer witnessed the destruction caused by their test bomb from Los Alamos, he uttered the verse, “Now I become Death, the destroyer of worlds,” from Bhagvad Gita as per a confession later on. Furthermore, he said, “We knew the world would not be the same”. However, this statement from Oppenheimer is profound: “A few people laughed, a few people cried, most people were silent”.
So deep was the impact of the explosion on his mind that after two years of the nuclear explosions, he said, “In some sort of crude sense which no vulgarity, no humour, no overstatements can quite extinguish, the physicists have known sin; and this is a knowledge which they cannot lose.”
It is interesting to know that Einstein wrote a letter urging the then American President Franklin Roosevelt to develop a nuclear weapon. However, he realised his mistake soon. Later, he confessed to American chemist Linus Pauling: “Had I known that the Germans would not succeed in developing an atomic bomb, I would have done nothing for the bomb.”
How did the world change after Hiroshima Day?
Oppenheimer was right. The world was never the same. Firstly, the explosions marked the end of WWII. This led to the end of colonialism. Countries like India, Pakistan, Singapore, Israel etc. became independent.
World politics changed forever. Two groups emerged viz. US bloc and Soviet bloc. However, these groups were made based on economic models i.e. Capitalism and communism. Note the big change! Focus shifted from Race/Nationality to economics.
The race to economic supremacy led to the tremendous pace of scientific and technological progress. This includes the invention of transistors, integrated circuits, computers, Apollo missions, the green revolution, etc. In fact, the quarter from 1945 to 1971 is considered a golden quarter.
Finally, where are we today? What is the major lesson on this Hiroshima Day? This explosion has brought in an atmosphere of relative peace and, as the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi recently remarked, the era of expansionism is gone.
P.S. Featured image credit: Hindu Human Rights