JF Ptak Science Books Post 1720
July 17, 1945 (Trinity +1 or Hiroshima -20), the day after the Trinity test of the first atomic weapon, was the first day in which very concerted, very real discussions ensued about what to do with the bomb and where to us it. Actually the discussions were mostly on the “where” than on the “whether”. (As it turns out part of a minor segment of the “whether” part was Leo Szilard’s petition to President Truman not to use the bomb and which was signed by 155 Manhattan Project scientists, and which had reached its final version on this day.)
The truth of the matter was that it was a very complex issue, an easily misunderstood tapestry of circumstance and consequence. The major issue of course was that the Japanese would not surrender, and that there would be “fanatical resistance” once the invasion of the Japanese islands had begun. The battle of Okinawa had just been fought—it was a horrible confrontation taking 12,5000 American lives and more than 1000,000 Japanese , demonstrating that even in impossible circumstances that the Japanese simply would not surrender (unconditionally). This is just one instance—there are many others, not the least of which was t he recent firebombing of Tokyo, taking 150,000 lives. Air strikes in general seemed to not make a difference in the will of Japan to fight—as was demonstrated again and again in the British and American bombing of Germany—as was further demonstrated in General Curtis LeMay’s and General Hap Arnold’s 60-city attack in the May-August span. The thought was that if there was an invasion that it could well cost the U.S. 1000,000+ casualties and would be completely devastating to Japan.