Aftermath of Hiroshima. Photos from Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum, stitched together as a panorama.
We sat down today to talk with Michelle Young, the founder of Untapped Cities and her connection to Hiroshima through her grandfather, who survived the atomic bomb 68 years ago.
Untapped: Last year, on the 67th anniversary of the Hiroshima atomic bomb, you wrote, “It is hard to imagine my world without him, someone who has given and taught me so much.” We’re sorry to hear about your loss this year, how are you honoring him this year?
NukeMap is a website by nuclear historian Alex Wellerstein that allows you to simulate the impact of nuclear bombs on cities all over the world. The above image is what it would look like if a Hiroshima-size bomb was dropped on Manhattan. Changing the wind speeds, wind direction and fission fraction significantly alter the fallout map, however. Historic bombs are available like the Nagasaki “Fat Man” or the Hiroshima “Little Boy,” along with various bombs currently available in the arsenals of the US and China. The aim of NukeMap is to help “people visualize nuclear weapons on terms they can make sense of…We live in a world where nuclear weapons issues are on the front pages of our newspapers on a regular basis, yet most people still have a very bad sense of what an exploding nuclear weapon can actually do.”
August 6th has always held much emotional significance for my family and I because through fate, coincidence or faith, my grandfather survived the atomic bomb in Hiroshima. Over the years, I have only had two opportunities to ask my grandfather about what happened. He doesn’t like to talk about it much. Only in 2007, as I watched the HBO Documentary, White Light, Black Rain, was I able to attach words with images, to connect family lore with the greater suffering of others. School textbooks only showed the rubble that remained, but not what happened to the people. Captain Robert Lewis of the Enola Gay allegedly recalls thinking or saying as he looked down, “My God, what have we done.” While 9/11 certainly shook American complacency to its very core, Hiroshima and Nagasaki may have been the first instances of mass destruction to make war a visceral entity to the world through mass media.