Saturday, August 6, 2005

Oppenheimer's deadly toy

60 years ago today, we learned we can kill people with more efficiency and in greater numbers than we ever could before. Pray we never feel compelled to use them again.

There was a pika, a blinding flash of pink, blue, red, or yellow light -- none of the survivors ever agreed on the color -- brighter than 1,000 suns but coming from a fireball only 110 yards in diameter. In that split second the hypocenter or point of impact reached a heat of 300,000 C. Within a 1,000-yard radius granite buildings melted, steel and stone bridges burned and so did the river below them, roof tiles boiled, and people evaporated, leaving their shadows "photographed" like X-ray negatives on walls and pavements.

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