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Damburger
2007-Aug-06, 09:59 PM
62 years ago today, the atomic bomb was first used against civilians.

I think today is a good time to reflect on how science can harm as well as help.

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/2/24/Gisei32.jpg

Paracelsus
2007-Aug-06, 10:04 PM
It certainly can--when put into the hands of ignorant and/or ruthless politicians. I read a biography of J. Robert Oppenheimer when I was a kid. He was so horrified by the destruction and death caused by the A-bomb that he became a life-long opponent of nuclear weapons.

Teller drew the opposite conclusion--and became the father of the H-bomb.

So it goes.

farmerjumperdon
2007-Aug-06, 10:05 PM
Science doesn't harm people. The art of science is seeking information. People armed with information sometimes use it to harm people. If it weren't this particualr bit of information, it would be some other bit of information they'd use. People bent on going to war, or harming others will do it with or without the information gained by the pratice of the scientific method.

EDIT: Not trying to nitpick or put down your suggestion to reflect (I think that is very appropriate and honorable). I am just very sensitive due to conversations with some of my Christian friends who insist that science itself can be evil.

Damburger
2007-Aug-06, 10:08 PM
Science doesn't harm people. The art of science is seeking information. People armed with information sometimes use it to harm people. If it weren't this particualr bit of information, it would be some other bit of information they'd use. People bent on going to war, or harming others will do it with or without the information gained by the pratice of the scientific method.

Of course knowledge itself is not dangerous. Those who pursue knowledge aren't generally dangerous - most of the scientists who worked on the atomic bomb were horrified at its use. What is really dangerous is knowledge in the hands of those who are ignorant.

The Backroad Astronomer
2007-Aug-06, 10:14 PM
science does not kill people, people kill people.

Van Rijn
2007-Aug-06, 10:16 PM
Of course knowledge itself is not dangerous. Those who pursue knowledge aren't generally dangerous - most of the scientists who worked on the atomic bomb were horrified at its use. What is really dangerous is knowledge in the hands of those who are ignorant.

Most were? Sure, we can reflect on the issue of technology, but I wonder why you brought up this example? In this case, in total war, there were no easy choices, despite what we would like. As horrible as it was, it saved many more lives than it cost, and wasn't a big factor compared to the total number of lives lost in the war. Many more people died horrible deaths due to application of other technologies. But, ultimately, you can kill a person with a rock or a stick if you want.

Lurker
2007-Aug-06, 10:24 PM
Actually I think it's an indication of how science can help. Had the atomic bomb not been dropped there was thought to be an almost certain chance that the Japanese home islands would have to have been invaded. The casualties on both sides were estimated to reach into the millions. There were fears that the Japanese people would have ceased to exist as a viable race for some time to come.

Hindsight is 20/20... however, I think the decision to drop the bomb was a brave and moral one that saved the lives of untold millions and brought the war with Japan to a reasonable end.

Kullat Nunu
2007-Aug-06, 10:43 PM
As horrible as it was, it saved many more lives than it cost, and wasn't a big factor compared to the total number of lives lost in the war.

I think this one has been debunked. Japan was ready to surrenderer anyway.

About 90,000 (Hiroshima) + 74,000 (Nagasaki) = 164,000 died immediately, many more in the following months, the victims almost exclusively being civilians. Comparing to the total number of killed American soldiers (407,300) the number is anything but irrelevant. Of course, the number is tiny compared to total number of casualties in the Second World War (72 million!), but that is an incredibly poor excuse. To give some perspective, 164,000 deaths = almost 55 times the total number of deaths in the 9/11 attacks.

RalofTyr
2007-Aug-06, 10:45 PM
Also, the Soviet Union joined against Japan and quickly took Asia from Japan. They were faced with a war on two fronts.

Lurker
2007-Aug-06, 10:54 PM
I think this one has been debunked. Japan was ready to surrenderer anyway.


this is absolutely false... Japan was ready to fight to the bitter end. Even after their emperor had done the unthinkable and called on his countrymen to surrender, a call that was unthinkable to ignore, there were many who thought fighting on to the bitter end was still the best option.

There is no doubt that it was the threat of atomic destruction that moved the Japanese emperor to call for surrender. One can second guess all one wishes, but we will never know what the outcome would have been if the atomic bombs had not been dropped. However, when the decision was made time was short, thousands were dying with each passing day and an invasion of the home islands was as urgently being prepared so that the Japanese would not be giving enough breathing space to prepare.

It was a courageous decision and we will never know the what the other outcome might have been. However, it is worth noting that the Japanese had never before surrendered to an external enemy... it is doubtful that the end would have cost less than the one that occurred. I for one think it was one of the better military decisions of this century...

mike alexander
2007-Aug-06, 11:09 PM
The only truth is that there is no way to know what would have happened on the branch of history not taken. None. Better to look back on the road actually travelled and do what is possible to avoid their use again.

Calling science neutral also seems to me a bit of a cop out. Science doesn't exist outside of humans.

My own example of science used wrongly was Haber's development of poison gas for WWI. If I remember correctly he personally oversaw the initial deployment of chlorine at Ypres in 1915.

Van Rijn
2007-Aug-06, 11:10 PM
I think this one has been debunked. Japan was ready to surrenderer anyway.


Incorrect. Japan had hinted at various negotiated settlements that were quite favorable to them, but that was utterly unacceptable to the allied powers, not just the U.S. They didn't seriously consider surrender until the nuclear weapons were dropped.



About 90,000 (Hiroshima) + 74,000 (Nagasaki) = 164,000 died immediately, many more in the following months, the victims almost exclusively being civilians. Comparing to the total number of killed American soldiers (407,300) the number is anything but irrelevant.


Nobody says it is irrelevant, just that it is better than the many more Japanese and Allied people who would have died during an invasion. By the way, my uncle was one of the people, a civilian drafted into the war like so many others, who would have been part of that invasion. My father probably would have headed over there too, after his long stint (now ended) in Europe.

Van Rijn
2007-Aug-06, 11:14 PM
The only truth is that there is no way to know what would have happened on the branch of history not taken. None. Better to look back on the road actually travelled and do what is possible to avoid their use again.


I don't agree. We can't tell the details, but we do know that Japan was continuing despite already great damage, and that other options would have caused as much or greater death. The atomic weapons just barely shook them out of their then current mode of thinking.

01101001
2007-Aug-06, 11:20 PM
Politicians and historians might not have found the truth yet, but certainly BAUT Forum will.

Yeah, let's discuss this again, because we were so close to settling the issue the last time, and this time for sure we're gonna reach a consensus.

Hiroshima Remembers atomic bomb (http://www.bautforum.com/off-topic-babbling/20030-hiroshima-remembers-atomic-bomb.html)

Or... maybe next time. For sure.

Lurker
2007-Aug-06, 11:22 PM
The only truth is that there is no way to know what would have happened on the branch of history not taken. None. Better to look back on the road actually travelled and do what is possible to avoid their use again.

Calling science neutral also seems to me a bit of a cop out. Science doesn't exist outside of humans.

My own example of science used wrongly was Haber's development of poison gas for WWI. If I remember correctly he personally oversaw the initial deployment of chlorine at Ypres in 1915.
Science is neutral. Is is simply a tool used to separate that which is true from that which is not true. Science began when our ancestors became tool makers... learned the secret of fire... and the ability of spear or the bow and arrow to bring down animals that could feed the tribe.

Science is a tool, a discipline and will always be available to anyone who wishes to take on the discipline and the hard road to its mastery it. In this way it is no different from any other discipline whether it be music, art, or war. The discipline is neutral... it is the heart of the one who achieves the discipline. The the discipline does not refuse to work for the individual who wishes selfish gain from its application, it works for anyone willing to follow the path to mastery.

It is the human heart that is the heart of the problem, not the tool...

Van Rijn
2007-Aug-06, 11:27 PM
Politicians and historians might not have found the truth yet, but certainly BAUT Forum will.

Yeah, let's discuss this again, because we were so close to settling the issue the last time, and this time for sure we're gonna reach a consensus.


Which is why I find it interesting that this was brought up again in the first place . . . unless someone actually wasn't so interested in the issue about technology, but just wanted to make a statement that was sure to get a counterargument.

Tucson_Tim
2007-Aug-06, 11:43 PM
Which is why I find it interesting that this was brought up again in the first place . . . unless someone actually wasn't so interested in the issue about technology, but just wanted to make a statement that was sure to get a counterargument.

Yes. This is one of those topics that will surely degenerate from discussion to argument.

Lurker
2007-Aug-06, 11:46 PM
Yes. This is one of those topics that will surely degenerate from discussion to argument.
It does seem to be a favorite sport these days to second guess those who had hard decisions to make under extremely difficult decisions back then.

Damburger
2007-Aug-06, 11:56 PM
Which is why I find it interesting that this was brought up again in the first place . . . unless someone actually wasn't so interested in the issue about technology, but just wanted to make a statement that was sure to get a counterargument.

I bought it up because it was the aniversay of a significant historical event. Nothing more.


this is absolutely false... Japan was ready to fight to the bitter end. Even after their emperor had done the unthinkable and called on his countrymen to surrender, a call that was unthinkable to ignore, there were many who thought fighting on to the bitter end was still the best option.

The following men in the highest ranks of the US military, who were actively involved in fighting the Japanese, disagreed:

General Dwight D. Eisenhower
General Douglas MacArthur
Admiral William D. Leahy
General Carl Spaatz
Brigadier General Carter Clarke
Admiral Ernest King
Admiral Chester W. Nimitz

These men were military experts, and were far more familiar with the particular details of the situation.

Lurker
2007-Aug-07, 12:09 AM
The following men in the highest ranks of the US military, who were actively involved in fighting the Japanese, disagreed:

General Dwight D. Eisenhower
General Douglas MacArthur
Admiral William D. Leahy
General Carl Spaatz
Brigadier General Carter Clarke
Admiral Ernest King
Admiral Chester W. Nimitz

These men were military experts, and were far more familiar with the particular details of the situation.
An appeal to authority?? If you read the papers of the Japanese commanders and political figures of that time you get a much different picture. The Japanese were ready to sacrifice themselves as a race rather than suffer the humiliation of defeat.

It always amazes me how Americans think they know the minds of the members of a foreign culture better than those members know their own minds...

Damburger
2007-Aug-07, 12:14 AM
An appeal to authority?? If you read the papers of the Japanese commanders and political figures of that time you get a much different picture. The Japanese were ready to sacrifice themselves as a race rather than suffer the humiliation of defeat.

Since when has citing experts been an appeal to authority?

snarkophilus
2007-Aug-07, 12:26 AM
For perspective, the firebombings (Tokyo-Yokohama, for instance) killed more people than the nukes did, and those were recurring things... so it doesn't seem all that likely that nuclear attack was the sole reason for surrender. Maybe it spurred the surrender on, but a couple of similar scale attacks with conventional weapons would likely have caused the same outcome.

01101001
2007-Aug-07, 12:31 AM
I bought it up because it was the aniversay of a significant historical event. Nothing more.

Next year, skip it. Thanks.

And the year after that.

mike alexander
2007-Aug-07, 12:31 AM
Sigh.

Occam
2007-Aug-07, 12:33 AM
Whatever side of the fence you happen to sit on (and it is easy for this to degrade into a fight), it is fairly easy to see that the second bomb at Nagasaki was literally and figuratively overkill. The only logical reason for the dropping of two bombs is that they had two types and wanted to use them - not the first time, nor the last, that such a questionable decision has been made in the name of "the common good".

Damburger
2007-Aug-07, 12:35 AM
Next year, skip it. Thanks.

And the year after that.

Are you suggesting that 200,000 people should just be forgotten for the sake of not upsetting anybody?

Lurker
2007-Aug-07, 12:44 AM
For perspective, the firebombings (Tokyo-Yokohama, for instance) killed more people than the nukes did, and those were recurring things... so it doesn't seem all that likely that nuclear attack was the sole reason for surrender. Maybe it spurred the surrender on, but a couple of similar scale attacks with conventional weapons would likely have caused the same outcome.
Actually it was... the fire bombings were massive operations that required a staggering effort one the part of the allies. The atomic bomb was a single relatively small weapon that could destroy a whole city. In theory, one plane, one bomb, one city as opposed to the thousand plane raids required for the fire bombing. At that point in the war both sides were playing a serious high-stakes poker game. The leaflets had been dropped on several occasions warning of the use of the bomb. The Japanese had not taken these seriously.

The Americans then dropped the first atomic bomb and said that there were many more where that came from. This got the Japanese attention, but many political and military leaders there believed that the Americans couldn't have more than one such device available. The Americans then dropped the second and threatened to lay waste to the home islands of Japan. The Japanese then blinked. It is interesting to wonder what would have happened if they had not. At that point those two weapons were the entire nuclear arsenal of the United States. It is a matter of conjecture as to how quickly more such weapons could have been manufactured and deployed.

Van Rijn
2007-Aug-07, 12:46 AM
Whatever side of the fence you happen to sit on (and it is easy for this to degrade into a fight), it is fairly easy to see that the second bomb at Nagasaki was literally and figuratively overkill. The only logical reason for the dropping of two bombs is that they had two types and wanted to use them - not the first time, nor the last, that such a questionable decision has been made in the name of "the common good".

That is not obvious at all. The Japanese understood the science well enough that they had some concept of the difficulties building a bomb. It would be easy to make an argument that we could manage one, but that would be it. We had to give the impression that we would just keep destroying their infrastructure until they gave up. Keep in mind that, even after we did drop the second one, there was a near coup that would have resulted in a continuation of the war. This is also after the conventional firebombing of Tokyo. It took a lot to convince them to give up.

Lurker
2007-Aug-07, 12:47 AM
Whatever side of the fence you happen to sit on (and it is easy for this to degrade into a fight), it is fairly easy to see that the second bomb at Nagasaki was literally and figuratively overkill. The only logical reason for the dropping of two bombs is that they had two types and wanted to use them - not the first time, nor the last, that such a questionable decision has been made in the name of "the common good".

No... as I pointed out in my last post... the Japanese considered the first bomb to be the only weapon the Americans had. The second was used to show that "there were more where the first one came from". The Japanese were then faced with the question of what cards the Americans were holding. They chose not to risk the possibility that the Americans really did have dozens of such weapons or more.

Van Rijn
2007-Aug-07, 12:48 AM
Next year, skip it. Thanks.

And the year after that.

Agreed!

Lurker
2007-Aug-07, 12:51 AM
Since when has citing experts been an appeal to authority?
I prefer Japanese authority... they were the ones that were going to do the fighting and they were more than ready to fight to the end of their civilization.

Van Rijn
2007-Aug-07, 12:52 AM
I bought it up because it was the aniversay of a significant historical event. Nothing more.


Considering your comments on similar subjects, and the many other significant historical events you haven't commented on, excuse me if I find that hard to believe.

Van Rijn
2007-Aug-07, 01:00 AM
Are you suggesting that 200,000 people should just be forgotten for the sake of not upsetting anybody?

Funny, I thought the point of this thread was about the use of technology and science, not about a particular historical event. So, apparently, it wasn't about the technology issue after all.

If we're going to remember people who died, why don't we remember all the people who died in WWII? Why should we pick out this one group? Or would that be too even handed to start an argument?

Lurker
2007-Aug-07, 01:05 AM
Are you suggesting that 200,000 people should just be forgotten for the sake of not upsetting anybody?

I think it was much more a question of trading the lives of 200,000 people for the lives of anywhere from 2-3 million to as much as 20 million depending on how the battle had gone. Personally I am rather glad that we will never get to see how it would have gone.

publius
2007-Aug-07, 01:10 AM
First the feminist thread, now this. I read through both of them, blood started boiling, steam commenced coming out of the ears, and the veins on my forehead started bulging. But I didn't post anything, because it would've been nothing but a "hey, diddle diddle, straight up the middle" frontal assault. But, I counted to 100 and let it go.

And this is a shining example of the why the management has the no politics rule. :lol: And these two threads and my non response have convinced me that I'm never going to get in any similiar threads. I'm going to stick with what I generally talk about here, physics, mostly relativity lately. Period.

Not even going to read any similiar looking threads anymore. And I think that's good advice.

-Richard

Lurker
2007-Aug-07, 01:14 AM
First the feminist thread, now this. I read through both of them, blood started boiling, steam commenced coming out of the ears, and the veins on my forehead started bulging. But I didn't post anything, because it would've been nothing but a "hey, diddle diddle, straight up the middle" frontal assault. But, I counted to 100 and let it go.

And this is a shining example of the why the management has the no politics rule. :lol: And these two threads and my non response have convinced me that I'm never going to get in any similiar threads. I'm going to stick with what I generally talk about here, physics, mostly relativity lately. Period.

Not even going to read any similiar looking threads anymore. And I think that's good advice.

-Richard
I left the feminist thread way back when it was men explaining to men what feminism was and how women just liked to be "pampered"... It looked explosive at that point and I just ran for cover... :eek:

It looked like a thread in which only those who were waaaay far away would survive in the end...

Tucson_Tim
2007-Aug-07, 01:43 AM
Maybe the rules should state "No religion, no politics, and no wars!" because wars are basically politics gone awry.

Lord Jubjub
2007-Aug-07, 02:16 AM
It can not be overlooked that the Japanese knew that the Americans were going to be far kinder than the Soviets.

But I would agree that the nuclear bombings were a political matter and the discussion of use will always be a political matter. As such, I think any such discussions have a limited purpose on this board.

Damien Evans
2007-Aug-07, 02:38 AM
I bought it up because it was the aniversay of a significant historical event. Nothing more.



The following men in the highest ranks of the US military, who were actively involved in fighting the Japanese, disagreed:

General Dwight D. Eisenhower
General Douglas MacArthur
Admiral William D. Leahy
General Carl Spaatz
Brigadier General Carter Clarke
Admiral Ernest King
Admiral Chester W. Nimitz

These men were military experts, and were far more familiar with the particular details of the situation.

:hand:
As soon as you mentioned that fool MacArthur your argument lost all credibility. This is the same man who was certain that Japan would never invade New Guinea, and then when they did tried to pass the blame on to Australia for not throwing them back, all while not even attempting to give us the tools to do the job. How he ever got put in charge of S-W Pacific is beyond me.

Tucson_Tim
2007-Aug-07, 02:44 AM
All I'm going to say about the subject matter is that we, the World, should do everything possible to prevent this from ever happening again. Do I think we can succeed? Frankly, no.

Damien Evans
2007-Aug-07, 02:46 AM
All I'm going to say about the subject matter is that we, the World, should do everything possible to prevent this from ever happening again. Do I think we can succeed? Frankly, no.

Seconded, and I hope we can succeed

Tucson_Tim
2007-Aug-07, 03:05 AM
Seconded, and I hope we can succeed

Me too.

mfumbesi
2007-Aug-07, 08:10 AM
This is going to end badly. Some will get warnings and some will get detention.
This has been discussed so many times in so many forums. If its the first time you are involved in this argument, its intriguing and informative, with twists and drama, an occasional insult and finally its gone.

Serenitude
2007-Aug-07, 09:46 AM
This is going to end now.

Despite feelings pro or con, and there are good arguments for both, the OP was either not well thought out, or sillfully phrased to get a trollish rise out of a science forum. Either way, I would encourage more thoughtful posting in the future.

As for the way the question is framed, it is not simply a memorial of a tragic event, but an inevitable political flame-fest invite.

Thread closed. Please feel free to express sympathy for the lives lost, but please keep the politics out.