70 Years After Hiroshima, Disarmament Is Still Vital

Co-authored by Ken Olum, research professor in the Physics and Astronomy Department, Tufts University.

A little over 70 years ago, our father, Paul Olum, stood with his colleagues in the desert near Alamogordo, New Mexico. They had spent the last two and a half years designing a new weapon, the first atomic bomb, and now they waited to see whether it would work. Then the explosion seemed to fill the sky, until it resolved into a huge mushroom-shaped cloud. The project had succeeded. They had designed and built the most powerful weapon ever seen on Earth.

Three weeks later, on August 6, 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on Hiroshima, and, three days after that, another bomb on Nagasaki. The two bombs together killed over 100,000 people instantly, and a similar number died later from radiation exposure. Paul had mixed feelings about the bombing of Hiroshima. It seemed clear it would end the war swiftly, but there had been a very high cost in civilian lives. However, he felt the bombing of Nagasaki was unconscionable, because three days had not been long enough for the surrender.

Six days after the bombing of Nagasaki, Japan did announce its surrender. World War II was over, but the nuclear arms race had begun, and Paul Olum became a lifelong advocate of nuclear arms control and disarmament.

By the 1980s, the United States and the Soviet Union together had amassed about 27,000 “active” strategic nuclear bombs each hugely more powerful than those that destroyed Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The arsenals of either nation were sufficient to destroy humanity many times over.

Paul had been only 24 years old when he and our mother Vivian went to Los Alamos in 1943. After the war was over, he went on to a distinguished career as —> Read More

NASA’s Latest Image Of The International Space Station Is Breathtaking

I spy with my little eye…

Continuing an epic summer of celestial photography, NASA released a stunning image of the International Space Station on Sunday. The shot, captured by agency photographer Bill Ingalls, shows the ISS flying across the face of the moon at a breakneck five miles per second.

There are currently six crew members on board the ISS, which orbits some 300 miles above Earth. The moon, meanwhile, is 238,900 miles away.

Ingalls has served as the senior contract photographer for the U.S. space agency for 27 years. You can see more of his stunning work on his personal website.

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IOC Increasing Water Tests In Rio After Alarming Levels Of Sewage Reported

RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) โ€” The International Olympic Committee said Sunday it will order testing for disease-causing viruses in the sewage-polluted waters where athletes will compete in next year’s Rio de Janeiro Games.

Before, the IOC and local Olympic organizers in Rio said they would only test for bacteria in the water, as Brazil and virtually all nations only mandate such testing to determine the safety of recreational waters.

But after an Associated Press investigation published last week revealed high counts of viruses directly linked to human sewage in the Olympic waters, the IOC reversed course after being advised by the World Health Organization (WHO) that it should expand its testing.

“The WHO is saying they are recommending viral testing,” IOC medical director Dr. Richard Budgett told the AP. “We’ve always said we will follow the expert advice, so we will now be asking the appropriate authorities in Rio to follow the expert advice which is for viral testing. We have to follow the best expert advice.”

On Saturday, the International Sailing Federation became the first to break with the IOC’s insistence on bacteria-only testing, saying it would do its own independent tests for viruses.

“We’re going to find someone who can do the testing for us that can safely cover what we need to know from a virus perspective as well as the bacteria perspective,” said Peter Sowrey, chief executive of the ISAF. “That’s my plan.”

That came after the WHO told the AP on Saturday that it had advised the IOC to test for viruses.

A five-month AP analysis of water at each of the venues where about 1,400 Olympic athletes will have contact with water showed dangerously high levels of viruses from sewage.

The AP commissioned four rounds of testing in each of those three Olympic water venues, and also in the surf —> Read More

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