Wednesday, 11 June 2008

Today is one of the possible bad days for China. Digits add up to 8. Hopefully it isn’t a massive earthquake in central Japan since I’m sitting on a bullet train going somewhere north of 150 mph. It is fast. Japan’s rail network is incredible. The train station was a walk in the park compared to Beijing. It was clean, not crowded, and extremely efficient. The train is mostly empty.. maybe at 20% capacity. Did I mention fast?

Bullet Train

Friday, 13 June 2008

Just left the site of the world’s most hard core payback ever, Hiroshima. I didn’t know what to expect; turns out there is a thriving city on top of ground zero. I think it took until 1966 for Hiroshima to rebuild to its pre-war industrial level.

There is a great museum and park located between two rivers in the center of town, near to the hypo-center, as they call ground zero here. The museum has a good discussion on why Hiroshima was selected as the first target. The decision was made months before the attack. The US started analyzing targets in 1944. Primary reasons: (a) We had not yet bombed it- better to observe damage results, (b) favorable topography- nice and flat, (c) no American POW camps, (d) it was a center of military industrial output, and (e) it was headquarters of Japans 5th Army and the country’s secondary command and control center in case of invasion of Tokyo by the Americans.

Invasion adversity would be the best reason for why we dropped the bomb at all. Japan’s Imperial Headquarters was publicizing plans for “100 million deaths with honor” as part of a ‘decisive battle for the mainland’. Two words- screw that. As harsh as dropping Little Boy was, it saved millions of lives that would have been lost in invading Japan. We killed more people carpet bombing other cities than we did in the two nuclear attacks. It would have been a slow, painful march across Japan. Every peasant, child, and factory worker would have taken up arms for the Emperor and they would have died, taking hundreds of thousands of Allied troops with them. Think ‘kamikaze’…….

I’ve been to Truman’s Presidential Library- to learn about the man that ultimately made the decision to drop the bomb. After seeing both sides of the world, I maintain it was the right decision. The Japanese have no hatred of America for what we did. They seem to have accepted their militaristic past and put it behind them, having been on the receiving end of a major ass kicking.

Other related thoughts:

The MAD policy (Mutual Assured Destruction) followed during the cold war and to an extent today works. Russia and the US could not attack each other because we each had enough bombs to really screw each other up.

Lets hope Pakistan and India subscribe to MAD. If not the fallout should be pretty benign by the time it drifts through the stratosphere to the US.

Which brings me to Iran. MAD does not apply to radical Islamic thinking. These guys believe it is honorable to die while attacking infidels- read women and children- you and I- anyone who does not subscribe to their beliefs. Iran’s radical leadership may be willing to sacrifice a few million followers in a return for wiping Israel off the map. In their mind, that would be a good, honorable trade.

Anyway, enough of the soapbox.

They kept the ruins of the famous domed building that was located about 170 meters NW of the hypocenter. Since the bomb was airburst at 600 meters (1800’), the force basically came straight down on this building, completely destroying the interior while leaving the concrete walls and some steel standing. Needless to say, everyone in this building died instantly. Probably the closed person to survive the initial blast was a guy in the basement of a concrete building about 400 meters from the hypocenter. The concrete walls of that building survived and are actually still standing –it is a tourist information center now. They reused as many of the concrete structures as they could.

Radiation you ask? Two words- half life. Within a week, radiation levels were down to 1/ 1 millionth of the levels immediately after the attack.

Heat. The fireball itself was around 230 meters (700’) in diameter. But it was hot- something like 1 million degrees at its center. This put ground temperatures near 4,000 degrees Celsius. Enough to melt stone.

Pressure: The shock wave was the equivalent of something like a 400 mph wind, if I recall correctly it delivered a few thousand pounds per square foot near ground zero. It basically leveled anything that was not concrete within about 1.25 miles.

Relatively speaking: The bomb dropped on Hiroshima was named Little Boy. By today’s standards, it was just that. The Soviets once tested a bomb over 3,300 times more powerful than Little Boy. That puts it as more powerful than the sum of every single bullet, bomb, and ordinance used in all of WWII. My memory is a little rusty, but I’d say a medium sized modern device would throw out a fireball around a mile in diameter in lieu of 700’. Its hard telling what that Soviet monster would have done…….

Nuclear Survival:
Below are some links on surviving the aftermath of a nuclear explosion. Old US army field manuals give good instructions also. Basically you need to know that fallout and radiation are bad and how to avoid exposure to these things. And I would recommend being armed, you may need to keep contaminated people out of your hizzle. Remember the 80’s TV movie “The Day After”…….

Next stop, destination unnamed…….





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