The stories and events that unfold in John Hersey’s, Hiroshima, have certainly been eye-openers for me. As a child in middle school and high school I, we have all heard of the atomic bomb and of course of Hiroshima, but never in as much detail or on such a personal level as these stories. Not even in chemistry or physics class, where I learned some of the specifics as to how the bomb works, had I known of the destructive force of the bomb or it’s gruesome effects on human beings. As I mentioned before, this book was quite an eye-opener for me because it has taught me just how deadly nuclear weapons can be not only on material properties, but on human beings, and why nuclear weapons must never again be used is such a way.
The effects that the bomb had on buildings and other material things really surprised me. Not so much because of the destructive force of the bomb itself, but because of how far that destructive force spread throughout the city. The first story of the book we hear is that of the Reverend Tanimoto. He is dropping off some goods at a friend’s house for safekeeping some 3,500 yards, or two miles, away from the center of the explosion and that house crumbles to the ground from the force of the blast. That seems so amazing to me because in such a huge city, most of the time, you cannot even see two miles away. It may be difficult for most people to appreciate the force of a bomb that can destroy something two miles away, but most airplane bombs only destroy things within about 100 yards. That would be everything within a football field completely wiped out, now imagine something that could level everything within 35 football fields!
The book also accounts just how much pressure the bomb exerted and how hot the bomb blast was according to scientists of the time. These were two other awesome statistics. The pressure of the blast was estimated to be somewhere between 5.3 to 8 tons per square yard. A yard is slightly larger than a person’s arm and most people cannot lift more than a hundred pounds on one arm. Imagine having over 10,000 pounds, or five tons, of pressure being exerted on your arms? It’s almost unbelievable. The heat given off by the blast is just as astonishing a number as the pressure. There was evidence that clay tiles, whose melting point is thirteen times hotter than that of the boiling point of water, had dissolved at about one-third of a mile away from the center of the bomb. It is estimated that at the center of the explosion, the temperature skyrocketed to about 6,000 C. That is sixty times hotter than the temperature it takes to boil water. I cannot even begin to imagine an example of anything to how hot that is.