Trinity and Gadget the first atomic bomb

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It is often assumed that “Little Boy” the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima was the first atomic device to be detonated, however truth is “the Gadget” was the 1st atomic bomb.

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Trinity was the code name of the first detonation of a nuclear weapon. It was conducted by the United States Army at 5:29 am on July 16, 1945, as part of the Manhattan Project. The test was conducted in the Jornada del Muerto desert about 35 miles (56 km) southeast of Socorro, New Mexico, on what was then the USAAF Alamogordo Bombing and Gunnery Range (now part of White Sands Missile Range). The only structures originally in the vicinity were the McDonald Ranch House and its ancillary buildings, which scientists used as a laboratory for testing bomb components. A base camp was constructed, and there were 425 people present on the weekend of the test.

The code name “Trinity” was assigned by J. Robert Oppenheimer, the director of the Los Alamos Laboratory, inspired by the poetry of John Donne.

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The test was of an implosion-design plutonium device, informally nicknamed “The Gadget”, of the same design as the Fat Man bomb later detonated over Nagasaki, Japan, on August 9, 1945. The complexity of the design required a major effort from the Los Alamos Laboratory, and concerns about whether it would work led to a decision to conduct the first nuclear test. The test was planned and directed by Kenneth Bainbridge.

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The term “Gadget” was a laboratory euphemism for the bomb, from which the laboratory’s weapon physics division, “G Division”, took its name in August 1944. At that time it did not refer specifically to the Trinity Test device as it had yet to be developed, but once it was, it became the laboratory code name. The Trinity Gadget was officially a Y-1561 device, as was the Fat Man used a few weeks later in the bombing of Nagasaki. The two were very similar, with only minor differences, the most obvious being the absence of fuzing and the external ballistic casing. The bombs were still under development, and small changes continued to be made to the Fat Man design.

The Gadget was an implosion device, which means the plutonium core is surrounded by many small explosives, these compress the plutonium and bring it closer to the point of causing it to go super critical. All those wires are attached to different explosives which burn at different frequencies. The trick of the 20 explosions is that they push the pieces of uranium (or plutonium) together to a ball with an over-critical mass, which explodes. They have to time this extremely accurately, however. Microseconds differences will make the ball lopsided and less effective. Part of the solution is to make each and every cable the same length which is why the Gadget looks like a ball of wires.

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Assembly of the nuclear capsule began on 13 July 1945 at the McDonald Ranch House, where the master bedroom had been turned into a clean room. The polonium-beryllium “Urchin” initiator was assembled, and Louis Slotin placed it inside the two hemispheres of the plutonium core. Cyril Smith then placed the core in the uranium tamper plug, or “slug”. Air gaps were filled with 0.5-mil (0.013 mm) gold foil, and the two halves of the plug were held together with uranium washers and screws which fit smoothly into the domed ends of the plug. The completed capsule was then driven to the base of the tower.

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For the test, the gadget was lifted to the top of a 100-foot (30 m) bomb tower. It was feared by some that the Trinity test might “ignite” the earth’s atmosphere, eliminating all life on the planet, although calculations had determined this was unlikely even for devices “which greatly exceed the bombs now under consideration”. Less wild estimates thought that New Mexico would be incinerated. Calculations showed that the yield of the device would be between zero (if it did not work) or 20 kilotons of TNT. In the aftermath of the test, it appeared to have been a blast equivalent to 18 kilotons of TNT..

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Ground zero after the test

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The Great Yokohama Air Raid

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An estimated seven or eight thousand people were killed in a single morning on May 29, 1945 in what is now known as the Great Yokohama Air Raid, when B-29s firebombed the city and in just one hour and nine minutes reduced 42% of it to rubble.

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High-altitude, daylight attack on Yokohama urban area. 517 B-29s were escorted by 101 P-51Ds. 2,570 tons of bombs were dispensed, 6.9 square miles burned out

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79,017 houses were destroyed, and 42 percent of the city area was burnt to ashes. The cities of Japan were vital to the ongoing war effort. Japan dispersed manufacturing to prevent precision attacks from interfering with productions. Small factories were extremely vulnerable to incendiary attack.

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Yokohama did escape a fate worse afterwards. It was actually one of the intended targets for the atom bomb.Ironically Nagasaki wasn’t even on the list

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Atom Bombed Madonna- A WWII Miracle

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When the atom bomb “Fat Boy” devastated on the 9th of August 1945, one of the buildings reduced to rubble was the city’s Urakami cathedral — then among the largest churches in Asia.

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The blinding nuclear flash that would claim more than 70,000 lives in the city also, in an instant, blew out the stained glass windows of the church, toppled its walls, burnt its altar and melted its iron bell.

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But, in what local Christian followers have likened to a miracle, the head of a wooden Virgin Mary statue survived amid the collapsed columns and scorched debris of the Romanesque church flattened on August 9, 1945.

The appearance of the war-ravaged religious icon is haunting. The Madonna’s eyes have become scorched, black hollows, the right cheek is charred, and a crack runs like a streaking tear down her face.

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The remains of the statue of the Virgin Mary have found a new home inside a rebuilt church, also called St Mary’s, built on the same site, only 500 metres from the bomb’s ground zero.

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Hiroshima

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8.15 AM 6 August 1945 is the date that changed the lives for everyone in Hiroshima. This is the time when the first ever atom bomb’Little Boy’, was dropped.

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The explosion wiped out 90 percent of the city and immediately killed 80,000 people; tens of thousands more would later die of radiation exposure.

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Hiroshima, a manufacturing center of some 350,000 people located about 500 miles from Tokyo, was selected as the first target. After arriving at the U.S. base on the Pacific island of Tinian, the more than 9,000-pound uranium-235 bomb was loaded aboard a modified B-29 bomber christened Enola Gay (after the mother of its pilot, Colonel Paul Tibbets). The plane dropped the bomb–known as “Little Boy”–by parachute at 8:15 in the morning, and it exploded 2,000 feet above Hiroshima in a blast equal to 12-15,000 tons of TNT, destroying five square miles of the city.American President Harry S. Truman called for Japan’s surrender 16 hours later, warning them to “expect a rain of ruin from the air, the like of which has never been seen on this earth”.

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By the time of the Trinity test(was the code name of the first detonation of a nuclear weapon) the Allied powers had already defeated Germany in Europe. Japan, however, vowed to fight to the bitter end in the Pacific, despite clear indications (as early as 1944) that they had little chance of winning. In fact, between mid-April 1945 -when President Harry Truman took office

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-and mid-July, Japanese forces inflicted Allied casualties totaling nearly half those suffered in three full years of war in the Pacific, proving that Japan had become even more deadly when faced with defeat. In late July, Japan’s militarist government rejected the Allied demand for surrender put forth in the Potsdam Declaration, which threatened the Japanese with “prompt and utter destruction” if they refused.

Hiroshima’s devastation failed to elicit immediate Japanese surrender, however, and on August 9 Major Charles Sweeney flew another B-29 bomber, Bockscar, from Tinian.

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Thick clouds over the primary target, the city of Kokura, drove Sweeney to a secondary target, Nagasaki, where the plutonium bomb “Fat Man” was dropped at 11:02 that morning. More powerful than the one used at Hiroshima, the bomb weighed nearly 10,000 pounds and was built to produce a 22-kiloton blast. The topography of Nagasaki, which was nestled in narrow valleys between mountains, reduced the bomb’s effect, limiting the destruction to 2.6 square miles.

The survivors of the bombings are called hibakusha , a Japanese word that literally translates to “explosion-affected people”. As of March 31, 2015, 183,519 hibakusha were recognized by the Japanese government, most living in Japan.The government of Japan recognizes about 1% of these as having illnesses caused by radiation. The memorials in Hiroshima and Nagasaki contain lists of the names of the hibakusha who are known to have died since the bombings. Updated annually on the anniversaries of the bombings, as of August 2015 the memorials record the names of more than 460,000 hibakusha; 297,684 in Hiroshima.

Hibakusha and their children were (and still are) victims of severe discrimination in Japan due to public ignorance about the consequences of radiation sickness, with much of the public believing it to be hereditary or even contagious.

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This is despite the fact that no statistically demonstrable increase of birth defects or congenital malformations was found among the later conceived children born to survivors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. A study of the long-term psychological effects of the bombings on the survivors found that even 17–20 years after the bombings had occurred survivors showed a higher prevalence of anxiety and somatization symptoms.

The medical effects of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima upon humans can be put into the four categories below, with the effects of larger thermonuclear weapons producing blast and thermal effects so large that there would be a negligible number of survivors close enough to the center of the blast who would experience prompt/acute radiation effects, which were observed after the 16 kiloton yield Hiroshima bomb, due to its relatively low yield:

  • Initial stage—the first 1–9 weeks, in which are the greatest number of deaths, with 90% due to thermal injury and/or blast effects and 10% due to super-lethal radiation exposure.
  • Intermediate stage—from 10–12 weeks. The deaths in this period are from ionizing radiation in the median lethal range – LD50
  • Late period—lasting from 13–20 weeks. This period has some improvement in survivors’ condition.
  • Delayed period—from 20+ weeks. Characterized by numerous complications, mostly related to healing of thermal and mechanical injuries, and if the individual was exposed to a few hundred to a thousand Millisieverts of radiation, it is coupled with infertility, sub-fertility and blood disorders. Furthermore, ionizing radiation above a dose of around 50-100 Millisievert exposure has been shown to statistically begin increasing ones chance of dying of cancer sometime in their lifetime over the normal unexposed rate of ~25%, in the long term, a heightened rate of cancer, proportional to the dose received, would begin to be observed after ~5+ years, with lesser problems such as eye cataracts and other more minor effects in other organs and tissue also being observed over the long term.

The burns on this survivor took on her kimono pattern; the lighter areas of the cloth reflected the intense light from the bomb, causing little to no burns. The tighter fitting parts of clothing, such as the shoulders, are the most severe. Loose fitting sections show no burning.

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During the war, Japan brought many Korean conscripts to both Hiroshima and Nagasaki to work as slaves. According to recent estimates, about 20,000 Koreans were killed in Hiroshima and about 2,000 died in Nagasaki. It is estimated that one in seven of the Hiroshima victims was of Korean ancestry.For many years, Koreans had a difficult time fighting for recognition as atomic bomb victims and were denied health benefits. However, most issues have been addressed in recent years through lawsuits.

It was a common practice before the war for American Issei, or first-generation immigrants, to send their children on extended trips to Japan to study or visit relatives. More Japanese immigrated to the U.S. from Hiroshima than from any other prefecture, and Nagasaki also sent a high number of immigrants to Hawai’i and the mainland. There was, therefore, a sizable population of American-born Nisei and Kibei living in their parents’ hometown of Hiroshima  at the time of the atomic bombings. The actual number of Japanese Americans affected by the bombings is unknown — although estimates put approximately 11,000 in Hiroshima city alone — but some 3,000 of them are known to have survived and returned to the U.S. after the war.

As of 2014, there are about 1,000 recorded Japanese American hibakusha living in the United States. They receive monetary support from the Japanese government and biannual medical checkups with Hiroshima and Nagasaki doctors familiar with the particular concerns of atomic bomb survivors. The U.S. government provides no support to Japanese American hibakusha.