Hiroshima: A Symbol of Destruction and Hope

Hiroshima is a complex city — at once a symbol of the terrifying and unlimited destructive power of mankind and a place of peace and hope. In less than a minute, the city was destroyed by the first atom bomb ever to be used for the purposes of warfare. Within sixty seconds, thousands of people were vaporized, leaving only shadows and rubble to mark the spots where they died. Thousands more died of injuries and radiation exposure in the following months.
The bomb that was dropped over Hiroshima exploded approximately 600 meters (1,968 ft) above the ground, an altitude chosen to minimize fallout. Yet even at this height, radiation was so intense that ground temperatures reached 3,000 degrees Celsius (5,432 degrees Fahrenheit). The radiation levels quickly dropped, however. Thermal updrafts propelled the smoke and radioactive detritus upwards, forming the infamous “mushroom” cloud. Rains also carried away some of the remaining radioactivity. After 60 days, radiation levels had dropped considerably and people were able to enter the city. Today, Hiroshima is no longer considered radioactive.

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