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Why did shadows of people remain on the pavement after the nuclear explosion in Hiroshima and Nagasaki

Why did shadows of people remain on the pavement after the nuclear explosion in Hiroshima and Nagasaki 1

The Oppenheimer “biopic” shows the work of nuclear physicist Robert Oppenheimer in creating a nuclear bomb, as well as his troubled conscience and fear of nuclear war, but the picture does not depict the direct consequences of the use of nuclear weapons in the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. 

Despite the fact that the bombs that were used to bomb these cities can be classified as tactical nuclear weapons (TNW) by today’s standards, the consequences of their use were truly horrifying. 

Particularly creepy against the backdrop of large-scale destruction looked dark shadows of dead people on the pavement and the walls of buildings. Some silhouettes were imprinted along with objects – bicycles, bags in hands, canes, etc. A similar pattern was subsequently observed in Nagasaki. This phenomenon was later called the “shadows of Hiroshima”.

   The last seconds of people's lives after the explosion of the atomic bomb were captured on the walls of buildings and asphalt in Hiroshima
The last seconds of people’s lives after the explosion of the atomic bomb were captured on the walls of buildings and asphalt in Hiroshima.

Bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki with atomic bombs

Many people mistakenly believe that the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki took place on the same day. But in fact, the first use of nuclear weapons in the history of mankind occurred with a break of several days. For the first time, the destructive power of nuclear weapons was clearly demonstrated to mankind on August 6, 1945.

On this day, a B-29 “Enola Gay” bomber took off with the atomic bomb “Kid” on board. Its power was about 13-18 kilotons of TNT. As we said earlier, in terms of power and method of application, it belongs to tactical nuclear weapons.

   Atomic bomb "Kid" dropped on Hiroshima
“Kid” atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima.

The flying B-29 “Enola Gay” aircraft was spotted by Japanese radar at 7 am local time. An air raid alert was immediately declared in the city. However, later it turned out that no more than three aircraft were flying. The flight was regarded as a reconnaissance one, since raids always took a much larger number of aircraft. Therefore, the air alert in the city was canceled. 

At about 8 am local time, an atomic bomb was dropped from an aircraft, and 43 seconds later, an explosion occurred at a distance of about 1600 feet above the ground.

The epicenter of the explosion was located just 2000 feet from the hospital, where seriously ill children were treated. The consequences are well known to all. Almost a quarter of the city’s population perished immediately. About 5 square miles of the city were actually incinerated.

   The B-29 "Enola Gay" that dropped the nuclear bomb on Hiroshima
The B-29 “Enola Gay” that dropped the nuclear bomb on Hiroshima.

The next use of nuclear weapons took place 3 days later – on August 9, 1945. The Fat Man atomic bomb was dropped on the city of Nagasaki. Its power was even more than 19-21 kilotons of TNT. The explosion of two bombs led to the instant death of about 80 thousand people. Subsequently, the number of deaths from radiation sickness and cancer diseases went to hundreds of thousands of people.

It must be said that the decision to use nuclear weapons in Japan was made much earlier by US President Franklin Roosevelt and British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, back in September 1944. Moreover, the idea of ​​bombing exclusively US military facilities was immediately abandoned. 

It was easy to miss a small military target but, most importantly, nuclear weapons were supposed to have a psychological effect, not only on Japan, but on the rest of the world, which, in fact, happened in the end.

   Hiroshima after the atomic bomb
Hiroshima after the atomic bomb.

The targets for the bombardment were chosen in the spring of 1945. In addition to Hiroshima and Nagasaki, they included many other Japanese cities. They managed to avoid destruction thanks to the signing of the act of surrender by Japan. 

By the way, targets for the use of nuclear weapons are always chosen in advance. The United States and the Russian Federation still have such goals. 

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What are the shadows of Hiroshima

The shadows of people after the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki captured the last seconds of people’s lives. The explanation for this is quite simple – powerful light and heat radiation, which spread from the epicenter of the explosion, whitened the walls and asphalt. 

Some people were in the path of this radiation, that is, they obscured the asphalt, as a result of which it remained untouched.

   The shadow of a man on the stairs after the nuclear explosion in Hiroshima
The shadow of a man on the stairs after the nuclear explosion in Hiroshima.

It must be said that during a nuclear explosion, the radiation intensity is so high that the surfaces not only change their color, but also their texture. For example, polished granite becomes rough. 

What happened to the people who left shadows on the pavement

You may have heard that people who left shadows on the pavement were reduced to ashes or evaporated. Actually this is a myth. A nuclear explosion is still not capable of this, although the bodies of some people were really charred, since the temperature reached several thousand degrees. However, all the bodies survived, but were thrown away by a powerful shock wave.

Some people even survived, but subsequently died anyway due to burns, injuries or radiation sickness, many also burned out in the fires that broke out. Looking at the photographs of the consequences of the bombing, it is hard to believe that all these horrific consequences were caused by bombs that were rather weak in terms of power. Therefore, if a nuclear war happens now, no one will hide. 


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