When the United States of America made the decision to drop an atomic bomb on the Japanese in the Second World War, the world change. We watched first-hand the world adjust to a whole new kind of weaponry and firepower: a world that now knew planet-devastating horror.
Today, we have weapons of mass destruction that make the weapons dropped on Hiroshima seem like a cuddly toy. Depressingly, we as a species show no signs of slowing down in our desire to create warped weapons of infernal warfare that would, if used, bring about the end times.
Even the weapon dropped on Hiroshima, so weak compared to modern equivalents, is having an impact on the environment so many years later. Indeed, beaches which are situated close to the city of Hiroshima are loaded with tiny glass beads. These beads have formed over time after the nuclear bomb was dropped and are tiny pieces of debris which were melted by the ferocity of the fire blast.
This odd revelation was found by study scientists at UC Berkeley and Berkeley Lab. They have done some research on the facility and found a host of beads that were never noticed until now. They seemingly formed in the atomic cloud from concrete, marble, stainless steel, and rubber. All of this was caught up in the explosion and could have created thousands of tons of these particles.
As Mario Wannier, a retired geologist at Berkeley Lab and study lead said: “This was the worst man-made event ever, by far,
“In the surprise of finding these particles, the big question for me was, you have a city, and a minute later you have no city … Where is the city? Where is the material? It is a trove to have discovered these particles. It is an incredible story.”
The story if a horrifying example of the unique and demonic power of the nuclear bomb. The bomb itself was dropped on Hiroshima on August 6th, 1945, and wiped out over 70,000 people in an instant.
Many more died – an equal number, many suggest – from the sickening after-effects of such an attack. Indeed, it destroyed the part of 90% of the structures in the city. The Japanese city of Nagasaki suffered the same fate only three days later.
These small beads have been around for some time, then, but only now are being noticed as part of the fabric of the beach. Collected by a colleague, Marc de Urreiztieta, on the Motoujina Peninsula, around four miles from the city.
Wannier, an expert in studying local marine environments and the study of sand, was notified immediately. Alongside UC Berkeley mineralogist, Rudy Wenk, the analyzed these beads further. What they found was that it was made up of a wide range of chemicals, made from numerous structures which were eviscerated in the strike.
If you wish to find out more about this engaging study, you can read more about it in the Anthropocene journal. We now have more proof, though, about the long-term and lasting damage that could be caused by the use of atomic firepower. Hopefully, we never have to witness its consequences again.