Skip to main content
Chemistry LibreTexts

6.9: Nuclear in the Media

  • Page ID
  • \( \newcommand{\vecs}[1]{\overset { \scriptstyle \rightharpoonup} {\mathbf{#1}} } \) \( \newcommand{\vecd}[1]{\overset{-\!-\!\rightharpoonup}{\vphantom{a}\smash {#1}}} \)\(\newcommand{\id}{\mathrm{id}}\) \( \newcommand{\Span}{\mathrm{span}}\) \( \newcommand{\kernel}{\mathrm{null}\,}\) \( \newcommand{\range}{\mathrm{range}\,}\) \( \newcommand{\RealPart}{\mathrm{Re}}\) \( \newcommand{\ImaginaryPart}{\mathrm{Im}}\) \( \newcommand{\Argument}{\mathrm{Arg}}\) \( \newcommand{\norm}[1]{\| #1 \|}\) \( \newcommand{\inner}[2]{\langle #1, #2 \rangle}\) \( \newcommand{\Span}{\mathrm{span}}\) \(\newcommand{\id}{\mathrm{id}}\) \( \newcommand{\Span}{\mathrm{span}}\) \( \newcommand{\kernel}{\mathrm{null}\,}\) \( \newcommand{\range}{\mathrm{range}\,}\) \( \newcommand{\RealPart}{\mathrm{Re}}\) \( \newcommand{\ImaginaryPart}{\mathrm{Im}}\) \( \newcommand{\Argument}{\mathrm{Arg}}\) \( \newcommand{\norm}[1]{\| #1 \|}\) \( \newcommand{\inner}[2]{\langle #1, #2 \rangle}\) \( \newcommand{\Span}{\mathrm{span}}\)\(\newcommand{\AA}{\unicode[.8,0]{x212B}}\)


    Pulitzer Prize winner, Richard Rhodes, has written many nonfiction accounts of the development of nuclear weapons. Rhodes, an American journalist, and historian published The Making of the Atomic Bomb (1986) and Dark Sun (1996). The first of these books describes accounts of Manhattan Project employees, technical aspects of Little Boy and Fat Man, testing of the Trinity device, and the dropping of the weapons over Japan. He goes into great detail in regard to the construction of atomic weapons. In his second installment, Rhodes chronicles the development of Edward Teller's fusion bomb. He discusses the trial of J. Robert Oppenheimer, who opposed the construction of new nuclear weapons. With court testimony and images, Rhodes shows how Teller and Oppenheimer verbally opposed one another. Lastly, Dark Sun provides evidence as to the USSR espionage during the Manhattan Project. Stolen data and schematics provided information for a Soviet Union Pu-239 fission bomb (1949) and Hydrogen device (1953).

    alt American bomb.jpg
    Figure \(\PageIndex{1}\) (left) Richard Rhodes. (right) Technical based books describing the Manhattan or fusion Projects. Image is taken from and the author's private library.

    Other authors have recorded the atomic bomb history. Greg Herken's Brotherhood of the Bomb focuses on the men of the Manhattan Project. The personal and academic lives of these individuals are explored. Candid and serious pictures of Oppenheimer, Lawrence, Fermi, and even Teller are displayed in the pages of this book. In addition, Herken includes the blueprints of Little Boy and Fat Man.

    The Bomb by Degroot is a less technical read that starts with the Manhattan Project and extends throughout the Cold War. There are several interesting songs, poems, pictures, and accounts by scientists and people who lived during this era. Degroot goes on to include the Cold War and how nuclear weapons have affected a person's day to day living.

    George Weller's First into Nagasaki is one of the few accounts of individuals who witnessed what happened after Fat Man was dropped. Weller was an American novelist, playwright, and war correspondent who illegally entered Nagasaki after the bomb was dropped. While in Nagasaki, Weller was able to meet and interview several members of Japanese POW camps. He was able to record their experiences and stories of survival. Weller never published his work while he was alive. Upon his death, his son discovered these written chapters. Weller's son edited and add a third section to this book. First Into Nagasaki was finally published in 2006.

    eyewitness bomb.jpg
    Figure \(\PageIndex{2}\): Diaries accounting the dropping of Little Boy

    Two books that read more like diaries are shown above. Hershey's Pulitizer Prize-winning account follows the lives of six Hiroshima residents before and up to one year after the dropping of Little Boy. Unlike Weller, Hershey was allowed to publish his experiences as a World War II war correspondent. Michihiko Hachiya, a Japanese medical practitioner, recorded his observations of Hiroshima from August 6th through September 30, 1945. He explains the state of chaos involved in managing a nonfunctioning hospital. With humor and grace, Dr. Hachiya describes his circumstances of surviving f nuclear bomb detonation and fallout

    A brief overview of the German atomic bomb efforts is described in "Hitler's Scientists." Although the Germans first explained fission, they focused money and research effort on rockets. After the German surrender in May 1945, their scientists were contained and monitored in a farmhouse. Allied forces had hoped to learn the secrets of their atomic bomb efforts and capture their reactions to the American bombings of Japan. This investigation was part of the Aslos Project that led allied forces to determine the Germans had not gotten very far with their nuclear endeavors

    German bomb.jpg
    Figure \(\PageIndex{3}\): German Bomb Effort

    Several individuals aboard the Enola Gay and Bocks Car have written eyewitness accounts of the dropping of Little Boy or Fat Man. Both the pilot and the navigator of the Enola Gay have published books about these days. Charles Sweeney, pilot of the Bocks car, and Abe Spitzer, radioman on the Great Artiste, also have their recollections published as well.

    Figure \(\PageIndex{5}\): Enola Gay

    The planes that carried Little Boy and Fat Man have been preserved are on permanent display. Enola Gay is housed at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum in Chantilly, Virginia. The Bockscar is located at the National Museum of the Air Force in Dayton, Ohio. The other planes that flew on both missions were scrapped for their metal and are no longer in existence.


    Example \(\PageIndex{1}\): godzilla

    Watch the first three minutes of this video to get an idea of the origin of Godzilla.

    1. What year was the first Godzilla movie produced?
    2. What country is created the Godzilla character?
    3. What American character rivals Godzilla?
    4. What two types of animals/creatures compose Godzilla?
    5. What does Godzilla represent to the Japanese people? Describe some of his powers.

    By the late 1940s, the USSR had constructed a detonated its first nuclear device. In response to this event, the United States Civil Defense Ministry recorded the Duck and Cover. This 1951 film was to be shown in the American classroom in order to prepare school children on how to respond to a nuclear attack. It provided kids and adults with "tips" on how to avoid immediate radiation and lingering fallout after an attack.

    Over the years, the movie industry has included nuclear weapons in quite a few of their action films. For example, many of the James Bond or 007 movies incorporate the stealing of nuclear material or weapons. Movies made during the Cold War usually involved nuclear espionage or accidental detonations. Nuclear exposure has also been used to explain why zombies exist. Several horror movies focus on survivors of nuclear fallout that morph into altered beings due to radiation.

    Atomic Music

    Songs have been written to highlight atomic themes as well. Many of these became popular during the Cold War. Click on a few of these to determine the atomic component.

    Contributors and Attributions

    This page titled 6.9: Nuclear in the Media is shared under a CC BY-NC-SA 4.0 license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by Elizabeth Gordon.

    • Was this article helpful?