JF Ptak Science Books
The October 1945 issue of Popular Mechanics carried a story "Atomic Bomb for War / Atomic Bomb for Peace" as a reminder to its readers that the vast destructive power of the atomic bomb was just one example of what nuclear power might be--and that there could be incredible and wide-reaching benefits of the process for peaceful uses. This work came about eight weeks after the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and seems to be only the second post-use story on the weapon in this magazine. The article does mention a prescient piece ("The Miracle of U-235") published in January 1941 in Popular Mechanics by physicist R.M. Langer1 (CalTech) which extolled the future possibilities of the energy/power potential of nuclear energy, which is really what the present article is all about. Except of course for the 5,000 a-bomb total destruction of Japan analogy, which is an odd thing.
Half of the article's illustration is dedicated to military applications of atomic energy, and the other to the peaceful; and in the upper-middle of the military side we are told that if necessary that every city in Japan could be completely destroyed with "5,000 atomic bombs". The truth of the matter is that a great percentage of the major (and minor-major and major-minor) cities had already been pretty much decommissioned. (Just weeks before the bomb came the massive firebombing of Tokyo--334 of General Curtis LeMay B-29's were loaded to utmost capacity with the newly-conceived M-69s bomb, an incendiary so vicious that the fires it produced were all but inextinguishable. The B29's bombed Tokyo for hours, killing 100,000+ people and making over a million homeless.) And so I'm not sure what the message was, here, except to establish that the complete destruction of a city with weapons dropped from planes was now a possibility. It was probably right at about this point that this idea became a real possibility--and so to for its extension, that given enough of these weapons, that the entire world could be bombed out of existence.
1. Langer wrote an earlier piece in 1940 for Colliers which was a more sugary version of the Popular Mechanics Article. In this one he hypothesized that uranium would basically fuel life--it would be a fuel source so cheap to produce that it wouldn't make economic sense to charge for it (?). It was the seed of peace that would lead to Utopia and eliminate wars. This was Langer's popular side--he did in fact work and publish through the 1930's on the fission issue; his vision of the future though were a little overly-optimistic.