Second Sun: The Atomic Bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki

In observance of today’s historical significance, here is something a bit different from my usual work.

Seventy years ago, the sun rose early above the barren New Mexico desert, bathing the pre-dawn landscape in brilliant blinding light before burning it to ashes.

In an instant, any sign that life had once existed in this place was immolated by searing hellfire. Devastation swept outward, as ripples caused by a stone dropped into a pond do, from a single point—a gaping crater where, seconds earlier, a steel tower had loomed menacingly before the cacti and sagebrush.

At its apex, this tower had housed the product of one of the most ambitious scientific endeavors in human history—years of toil by the world’s brightest minds made manifest, shut up inside a flimsy tin shack suspended a hundred feet from the desert floor.

It was here, over a rural and desolate region of the American Southwest, where the course of history was irreparably altered, forever damning the notion of total industrial warfare to the pages of history—or rather, consummating the marriage of post-Second World War global conflict to the certain annihilation of modern society.

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