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The Day The World Stood Still

by suskind Fri Aug 5th, 2005 at 12:40:19 PM EST

"The problems that exist in the world today cannot be solved by the level of thinking that created them." Albert Einstein

This day in history:  Little Boy dropped on Hiroshima; Fat Man dropped on Nagasaki three days later

TOM Ferebee opened the hatches that protected Little Boy. At 8:14 a.m., the Enola Gay gained in altitude and began the 158° turn. At 8:15 a.m, Ferebee activated the hatches. He dropped the "atomic baby." The rotation put space between the apparatus and the blast. The 20,000-kiloton, 4-ton, 3-meter long bomb blew up at 600 meters in the air, leveling 75 square kilometers of downtown Hiroshima with its heat and the shock waves. The flash gave way to a gigantic mushroom cloud of smoke and fire that rose many kilometers in height. Some 200,000 Japanese people died, melted, in less than 5 minutes. It was the morning of August 6, 1945.

"My God! What have we done?" was the exclamation by the Enola Gay's copilot, when he saw the blinding flash that lit up the plane, one of the three that flew over Japanese territory in the early morning of that day, around the southern part of the archipelago.

However, Paul Tibbets, the pilot who carried out the order to drop the bomb and who was interviewed by U.S. historian and journalist Studs Terkel in 2002, has reasons as blood-curdling as the response he gave when asked what he thought about worldwide comments regarding the "extermination of a people" in Hiroshima. His response is worth considering: "Oh, I wouldn't hesitate if I had the choice. I'd wipe 'em out. You're gonna kill innocent people at the same time, but we've never fought a damn war anywhere in the world where they didn't kill innocent people....That's their tough luck for being there... I had no problem with it...I did what I was told."

"The Russell * Einstein Manifesto
Issued in London, 9 July 1955

IN the tragic situation which confronts humanity, we feel that scientists should assemble in conference to appraise the perils that have arisen as a result of the development of weapons of mass destruction, and to discuss a resolution in the spirit of the appended draft.

We are speaking on this occasion, not as members of this or that nation, continent, or creed, but as human beings, members of the species Man, whose continued existence is in doubt. The world is full of conflicts; and, overshadowing all minor conflicts, the titanic struggle between Communism and anti-Communism.

Almost everybody who is politically conscious has strong feelings about one or more of these issues; but we want you, if you can, to set aside such feelings and consider yourselves only as members of a biological species which has had a remarkable history, and whose disappearance none of us can desire.

We shall try to say no single word which should appeal to one group rather than to another. All, equally, are in peril, and, if the peril is understood, there is hope that they may collectively avert it.

We have to learn to think in a new way. We have to learn to ask ourselves, not what steps can be taken to give military victory to whatever group we prefer, for there no longer are such steps; the question we have to ask ourselves is: what steps can be taken to prevent a military contest of which the issue must be disastrous to all parties?

The general public, and even many men in positions of authority, have not realized what would be involved in a war with nuclear bombs. The general public still thinks in terms of the obliteration of cities. It is understood that the new bombs are more powerful than the old, and that, while one A-bomb could obliterate Hiroshima, one H-bomb could obliterate the largest cities, such as London, New York, and Moscow.

No doubt in an H-bomb war great cities would be obliterated. But this is one of the minor disasters that would have to be faced. If everybody in London, New York, and Moscow were exterminated, the world might, in the course of a few centuries, recover from the blow. But we now know, especially since the Bikini test, that nuclear bombs can gradually spread destruction over a very much wider area than had been supposed.

It is stated on very good authority that a bomb can now be manufactured which will be 2,500 times as powerful as that which destroyed Hiroshima. Such a bomb, if exploded near the ground or under water, sends radio-active particles into the upper air. They sink gradually and reach the surface of the earth in the form of a deadly dust or rain. It was this dust which infected the Japanese fishermen and their catch of fish. No one knows how widely such lethal radio-active particles might be diffused, but the best authorities are unanimous in saying that a war with H-bombs might possibly put an end to the human race. It is feared that if many H-bombs are used there will be universal death, sudden only for a minority, but for the majority a slow torture of disease and disintegration.

Many warnings have been uttered by eminent men of science and by authorities in military strategy. None of them will say that the worst results are certain. What they do say is that these results are possible, and no one can be sure that they will not be realized. We have not yet found that the views of experts on this question depend in any degree upon their politics or prejudices. They depend only, so far as our researches have revealed, upon the extent of the particular expert's knowledge. We have found that the men who know most are the most gloomy.

Here, then, is the problem which we present to you, stark and dreadful and inescapable: Shall we put an end to the human race; or shall mankind renounce war? People will not face this alternative because it is so difficult to abolish war.

The abolition of war will demand distasteful limitations of national sovereignty. But what perhaps impedes understanding of the situation more than anything else is that the term "mankind" feels vague and abstract. People scarcely realize in imagination that the danger is to themselves and their children and their grandchildren, and not only to a dimly apprehended humanity. They can scarcely bring themselves to grasp that they, individually, and those whom they love are in imminent danger of perishing agonizingly. And so they hope that perhaps war may be allowed to continue provided modern weapons are prohibited.

This hope is illusory. Whatever agreements not to use H-bombs had been reached in time of peace, they would no longer be considered binding in time of war, and both sides would set to work to manufacture H-bombs as soon as war broke out, for, if one side manufactured the bombs and the other did not, the side that manufactured them would inevitably be victorious.

Although an agreement to renounce nuclear weapons as part of a general reduction of armaments would not afford an ultimate solution, it would serve certain important purposes. First, any agreement between East and West is to the good in so far as it tends to diminish tension. Second, the abolition of thermo-nuclear weapons, if each side believed that the other had carried it out sincerely, would lessen the fear of a sudden attack in the style of Pearl Harbour, which at present keeps both sides in a state of nervous apprehension. We should, therefore, welcome such an agreement though only as a first step.

Most of us are not neutral in feeling, but, as human beings, we have to remember that, if the issues between East and West are to be decided in any manner that can give any possible satisfaction to anybody, whether Communist or anti-Communist, whether Asian or European or American, whether White or Black, then these issues must not be decided by war. We should wish this to be understood, both in the East and in the West.

There lies before us, if we choose, continual progress in happiness, knowledge, and wisdom. Shall we, instead, choose death, because we cannot forget our quarrels? We appeal as human beings to human beings: Remember your humanity, and forget the rest. If you can do so, the way lies open to a new Paradise; if you cannot, there lies before you the risk of universal death.


WE invite this Congress, and through it the scientists of the world and the general public, to subscribe to the following resolution:

"In view of the fact that in any future world war nuclear weapons will certainly be employed, and that such weapons threaten the continued existence of mankind, we urge the governments of the world to realize, and to acknowledge publicly, that their purpose cannot be furthered by a world war, and we urge them, consequently, to find peaceful means for the settlement of all matters of dispute between them."

Max Born

Percy W. Bridgman

Albert Einstein

Leopold Infeld

Frederic Joliot-Curie

Herman J. Muller

Linus Pauling

Cecil F. Powell

Joseph Rotblat

Bertrand Russell

Hideki Yukawa

This day in history:  Cindy Sherman of Gold Star Families for Peace travels to Crawford Texas, where she will camp out with a  group of supporters until George Bush answers her questions, or she is arrested, whichever comes first.  WE ARE GOING TO CRAWFORD TO STOP THE KILLING

This day in history:  Tony Blair has introduced legislation that will outlaw speech which glorifies or condones terrorism (unless it is state-sanctioned terrorism speech in support of the war on Iraq)  It is now being suggested that George Galloway's anti-war remarks on Syrian television be censored.

This day in history:  Tourism in London down 35%, commuter use of the public transport down 33%, Police presence on streets of London: 6,000 armed police.

This day in history:  All-night-drinking extension applications due in the UK.  "They're going to destroy the neighborhoods; they're going to destroy our way of life."  (This legislation affects my life not one jot)

What I plan to do this weekend:  Last night I had a dream that I wrote five articles.  They were well written and referenced, and were born, like Athena, right out of Zeus' head.  But when I woke up, the articles were gone, so too were my bearings, and too were my skills, and so too was my context.

I plan to sit down with a pile of paper and write everything that has caused me to live in fear for the last 50 plus years, including those daemons that are mine and mine alone.  I plan to listen to ITV and BBC until I go mad, then write until I go sane.  I plan to convert to Buddhism, and study the works of Albert Einstein, Albert Schweitzer, and Bertrand Russell exclusively.  I plan to try to make sense of the past, the present and the future, using Einstein as my guide:

"The only reason for time is so that everything doesn't happen at once" Albert Einstein

Have a nice weekend, everyone.  I hope your efforts to make sense of things are more successful than mine, or that you are so sensible as not to try make sense of anything at all.

Nice diary! I'm afraid I'm not sensible, because I'm still trying to make sense of things, to no avail. But I like that last Einstein quote.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Fri Aug 5th, 2005 at 04:30:18 PM EST

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