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The Militant, 15 June 1946

Atomic Bomb Demonstration in the Pacific
Is Calculated Step Toward World War III

Physicist Tells Horror of Bomb at Nagasaki

From The Militant, Vol. X No. 24, 15 June 2021, p. 8.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for ETOL.


What is the effect of atomic explosives upon cities? What will the people face in World War III?

A partial answer to these im portant questions was given by Philip Morrison, a physicist who headed the group of scientist investigating the effects of the atom bomb on Nagasaki. Here is what he told a Senate hearing on April 15:

“The atomic bomb is a weapon of saturation, it destroys so quickly and so completely such a large area that defense is hopeless. Leadership and organization are gone ... With the fire stations wrecked and firemen burned, how to control a thousand fires? With the doctors dead and the hospitals smashed, how to treat a quarter million injured?

Ball of Fire

“When the bomb is detonated in the middle of a city, it is as though a small piece of the sun has been instantly created. There is formed what we have called the ball of fire, which is a hot, glowing mass something about one-third of a mile across, with a temperature of about 4,000,000 degrees Fahrenheit in the center. There is a sudden expansion which .pushes away with terrible violence the air that once occupied this region. Behind the wave of pressure, which travels rapidly through the air, there come great winds, 500 to 1,000 miles per hour, winds which damage and destroy all structures.

“Houses and buildings for a mile in all directions are totally destroyed ... Brick buildings, and evens steel-frame buildings with brick walls, are extremely vulnerable.

Internal Hemorrhages

“Of these people within a thousand yards of the blast, about one in every house or two escaped death from the blast or from burns. But they died anyway from the effects of rays emitted at the instant of the explosion. This radiation affects the blood forming tissues in the bone marrow. The blood does not coagulate but oozes in many spots through the unbroken skin, and internally seeps into the cavities of the body. The white corpuscles which fight infection disappear. Infection prospers and the patient dies, usually 2 or 3 weeks after the exposure.

“It is probable that an atomic-bombed American city would be as badly damaged as a Japanese city, though it would look less wrecked from the air.

“In Japan the wreckage burned clean; in a western city, the rubble would stand in piles in the streets, but the city would be just as ruined and the people of the city as dead.”

The “active material” in the Nagasaki bomb weighed no more than 25 pounds. Since then new bombs have been developed which are reported to be many times more destructive.

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