Physics Spotlight  
Members of the US Army attend a physics lecture at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1944. Photo courtesy of Technique/MIT Museum.Members of the US Army attend a physics lecture at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1944. Photo courtesy of Technique/MIT Museum.

History: From blackboards to bombs

Seventy years after the destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki by nuclear weapons, David Kaiser investigates the legacy of 'the physicists' war'.

David Kaiser | Nature
July 28, 2015

Seventy years ago, on 6 and 9 August 1945, mushroom clouds erupted skyward above the smouldering cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan. For the first time — and, so far, the only time — nuclear weapons had been used in combat. Hundreds of thousands of people perished. Many died from the immediate force and fire of the blasts; others succumbed later to acute radiation sickness. Days after the bombs were dropped, Japan surrendered and the Second World War lumbered to a close.