The Doomsday Clock is an internationally recognized design that conveys how close we are to destroying our civilization with dangerous technologies of our own making. First and foremost among these are nuclear weapons, but the dangers include climate-changing technologies, emerging... Read More
A typhoon was coming, the fuel pump failed, they had to switch planes, things were wired incorrectly, they missed their rendezvous, they couldn’t see the primary target, they ran out of gas on the way home, and they had to crash-land. But the worst part was when the Fat Man atomic bomb started to arm itself mid-flight.
The ongoing nuclear power plant disaster in Japan has once again pushed the topic of radiation safety into the public consciousness, while also reminding us that the public continues to doubt government and nuclear industry information on safety and the effects of radiation. Part of this wariness stems from the fact that people cannot detect radiation using their own senses, which creates a dread of the unknown. People are also very aware that the effects of radiation are cumulative and may not appear for many years, so the outcome of a disaster like Fukushima is not easy to predict.
Sixty-four years ago this week the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were destroyed by atomic bombs. Whether we endorse or condemn the bombings, how do we grasp the enormity of the destruction that befell those two unfortunate Japanese cities? The last survivors of the bombings are passing into history, taking with them the power of their living witness. But for me, the full force of the bombings has always come from pictures more than words.
After the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, my father, who had struggled through the Great Depression to become a surgeon, volunteered with the U.S. Army. He was stationed in the United States for some time, but eventually sought an overseas assignment. In March 1944 he shipped out of San Francisco to join the 35th General Hospital in New Guinea and then, one year later, transferred to the 1st Portable Surgical Hospital at Leyte Island in the Philippines where he operated on wounded soldiers in an active combat zone.