Phys 3550 - Physics for War, Physics for Peace
Assignment #4


This assignment asks you to compare the health effects (particularly long term health effects) of the population of Japan following the nuclear strikes of 1945 and the Fukushima nuclear disaster of 2011. The nuclear weapons question is related to the program “Making of the Bomb ”.You might also supplement that material with sources from the library or online, but if you do then do not forget to include citations. Two excellent sources of additional information are the Avalon Project (Yale Law School) and the Atomic Archive. No doubt you can find more. (Note: if you do use extra material be careful not to include sources about the hydrogen bomb (a so known as the H bomb or a thermonuclear bomb). This assignment is strictly about the atomic bomb (A bomb).

The Assignment

  1. What is the current radiation levels in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, as compared to those in the rest of Japan? (4 pts)
    1. Hiroshima and Nagasaki essentially the same as rest of Japan, and rest of the world, around 1 mSv per year. Immediate area around Fukushima significantly higher
  2. What short term problems did the survivors of the two bombs face? (the first few hours or days)
    1. 2 pts each for any three of the following
      1. Radiation sickness
      2. Lack of resources. Huge number of persons who were killed or injured so that their services in rehabilitation were not available, especially including medical services
      3. Destroyed city, firestorm, lack of communications. Difficult to find out fate of loved ones.
      4. A panic flight of the population took place from both cities
      5. About 6500 children survivors who were orphaned
  3. What were the long term health  effects on the people of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. You might want to distinguish between the years immediately  after the bomb was dropped, and the period decades later. The possible effects might include (but are not limited to) (2 pts each for any five of the following)
    1. Incidence of cancer
      1. There are estimated to be at least 280,000 survivors of the two explosions, as self-reported in a Japanese census in 1950. Of those approximately 7800 have died from cancer, slightly above the normal that would be expected from that population. It is estimated that about 420 can be attributed to radiation from the bombs, although the individuals cannot be identified. Incidents of some specific cancers (particularly leukemia) show a more marked increase.
      2. As of 2007, there has been no evidence of increased cancer incidence or increased mortality from cancer or other diseases in the children of survivors
    2. Incidence of birth defects
      1. Of approximately 76,000 infants born between 1948 and 1954, no significant rise in birth defects has been detected. However, statistical inference of an increase would only be possible if the natural rate of birth defects had been doubled. It is possible some birth defects were caused by the radiation, but not enough to detect.
    3. Incidence of other mutations
      1. There is evidence of an increase both in the numbers and severity of eye cataracts.
      2. There are have been significant to severe psychological effects which can also lead to biological effects.
    4. Also, not all effects are either physical or medical. You could also consider
      1. psychological consequences
        1. Civic Paralysis. No significant reconstruction or repair work was accomplished at first because of the slow return of the population due to fear.
        2. Sheer Terror. Persons who had become accustomed to mass air raids had grown to pay little heed to single planes or small groups of planes, but after the atomic bombings the appearance of a single plane caused more terror and disruption of normal life than the appearance of many hundreds of planes had ever been able to cause before. (This might well be considered to be a health effect, and included above.)
      2. social consequences
        1. Hibakusha (survivors) and their children are victims of severe discrimination