The Next Year: Countdown to The Cold War, Cancer, and Space Exploration

August 6, 1945: An atomic weapon named “Little Boy” was dropped on Hiroshima, Japan. An estimated 70,000 people—almost one-third of the city’s population—and more than 90% of the physicians and nurses were killed by the bombing that day. In the days, months, and years after that event and the bombing of Nagasaki three days later, others died as a result of radiation exposure and related cancers.

August 6, 2012: The Mars rover named Curiosity landed on the Red Planet after more than eight months of travel. The final phase of Curiosity’s journey to Mars had been dubbed the “Seven Minutes of Terror” because of the complexity of using a sky crane to lower the rover safely to the planet’s surface. The rover has completed its original two-year mission to study the climate and geology of Mars and to establish that Mars once had a climate that could support microbial life—and Curiosity is still perusing Mars.

Hiroshima after the bombing
Hiroshima after the bombing

We made the connection between these events two years ago in a post called “Plutonium at Its Worst and Best.” That connection has kept niggling at our minds, so we plan to refocus on three intermingled topics between now and August 6, 2015.

Next year marks the 70th anniversary of the Hiroshima bombing, the first use of a nuclear weapon against an enemy. In our research and writing over the last several years at Lofty Ambitions, we’ve come to recognize this event as the beginning of The Cold War. For it was not only a strike against our enemy at the time in World War II, but also a powerful demonstration to our newly emerging adversary. As much as we used an atomic weapon to end the War in the Pacific, we used it to set up our future role in the world and our relationship with Russia.

We have decided that we will focus over this next year, at least in part, on this concept of early nuclear weapons development as the Countdown to The Cold War. We begin by pointing you to a particular series and related posts we’ve already published here:

In the Footsteps

We cannot ignore the relationship among nuclear weapons, radioactivity, and cancer. In fact, some of Anna’s other nonfiction deals very directly with cancer. And we’ve both been affected, especially over the last two years, by the deaths of family members and friends from cancer. So, over this next year, we’ll also pay special attention to cancer as a blog topic. Again, we point you to a few posts that underlie our interests and thinking about radioactivity, cancer, and risk:

“Cancer, Risk, and the Language of Loss”


“Purple Stride 2012: Research on Pancreatic Cancer”


“Radioactivity and Other Risks (Part 2)”

Curiosity's View of Mars (NASA/JPL)
Curiosity’s View of Mars (NASA/JPL)

Our interest in space exploration, both its history and what’s next, will continue to drive the content of this blog. In fact, we are on the verge of a slew of 50th anniversaries of space exploration, including the 50th anniversary of the first-ever spacewalk this coming June. The future may also be upon us, too, as NASA plans to launch its Orion capsule for a test flight this December. We continue to hone our Generation Space project and hope that it finds a great publisher.

For now, we’ll point you to a couple of our posts about Curiosity:

“Is Mars the Future for NASA?


“Guest Blog by Ken Kramer”

We’ll end this post as we began it, with the seemingly odd and perplexing juxtaposition of August 6 dates. On the one hand, a devastating moment that has reverberated for decades. On the other hand, an amazing moment that suggests an ambitious future.

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