Comments aren’t required this week but if you have something to say about the readings, it will count towards class participation.
Before this weeks readings I had actually seen “1945- 1998” before in several different classes. However, despite having viewed it before, “1945- 1998” still had a big effect on reminding just how many nuclear bombs have been detonated over time. Pairing up the countries that set them off and going chronologically made the message more powerful. Since periods of high nuclear activity had matching dates the actual events each bomb represented could be pulled out, and moments like the bombing of Nagasaki and Hiroshima that we are so familiar with studying can be used as reference points. In Smith’s article about advertising the atom it did not surprise me that there was such an effort to hide the true negative aspects of nuclear technology. It was very interesting how there was a sort of constant balancing act that proponents of nuclear energy faced, of trying to support the positive uses in the home and separate that from the fear of the weapon side. There was an act of trying to convince people that atomic energy was safe and a testament to American superiority and innovation at home, but at the same time advertising atomic weapons as deadly and efficient abroad. The two very different natures of nuclear energy were in direct contradiction of one another, however groups such as the AEC and AIF relentlessly tried to separate the two in the public mind. The campaigns they produced to do this serve as interesting studies into American acceptance of atomic energy.
Smith’s article on the atomic bomb was interesting to me and the points he made about trying to keep the negative sides of the bomb hidden, and only advertise to the public what they wanted to hear. This sounds like any typical advertisement you would still see today. People only want to the hear positive side and what good can come out of it, nothing negative. The public did not want to view the atomic bomb as a weapon and the thought they would be in danger.
Still today people are reacting the same way over weapons and the danger they may be placed in. By selling the public to the positive sides they are more likely to feel safe and be supportive of the atomic energy. It is important to understand who the advertisement is directed to and
The atomic bomb was already so controversial with people in the US saying did we really need two and to drop them both and other issues were being extremely talked about. The fact the reading discusses the idea that negative effects of the bomb were hidden- didn’t surprise me. For one, that’s a given the government is going to do something and does not want a huge public back-last. For another, if negative things were talked about maybe the president would have been hesitant to say drop them, therefore the more thought that goes into an act like that, the worse, because it almost needs to be a decision and then something happen, the more thought the more people are going to speculate. People only seeing the postive sides helps them sleep at night thinking that the US government is always doing the right thing, and the presidents approval rating doesn’t sky-rocket- a tactic presidents in this day and age try to avoid as well.
It was very interesting to read about the advertising of nuclear power and all the ways that advertisers and the government tried to market nuclear power positively and completely ignore its use in weaponry. Harnessing nuclear power would show how great and technologically advanced American was! Nuclear power would be efficient and great for powering the nation! I think my favorite was someone saying that nuclear power would allow us to rapidly become a futuristic society and lead us to colonizing the moon. The two-facedness of advertising is something worth looking at: powering your homes would prove how great America is but we can also prove how great America by using nuclear weapons. You can’t say atom bombs show America’s strength without expecting people to be worried about mishaps on home soil.
I feel like the video really captures how scared America was of a nuclear attack after World War II. They caused a little bit over half of the nuclear explosions during the time period of 1945-1998. That is a lot of tests, but it is understandable that America wanted to strike fear into the other superpowers while being able to protect themselves. I know this maybe a bit off topic, but in one of my courses this week we played a 1980 Atari game called Missile Command that gave you the objective to protect Californian cites from an endless attack of nuclear missileslaunched by Russia. The way you protect the cities is with your own nuclear missiles that eventually run out if you do no use them sparingly. I find it interesting how this game tries to convince the player that America had fewer missiles than Russia even though the video shows the opposite. To add one more thought, the video somewhat simulated a technological race with the America starting and leading in this nuclear tech race with Russia close behind.
In the “Selling” Nuclear Energy reading, I thought it was pretty clever to convince people that the atom was the way of the future. However, that ended up backfiring since various plant meltdowns occurred and the public eventually learned the true power/dangers of nuclear technology.
I thought the video was really interesting. I didn’t know to much about the Atomic era so it was cool to see which countries actually had the technology to create atomic bombs. One thing I did notice though, is that America created a lot more bombs than any other country that was shown in the video. By the time the video ended it was some where up in the 1000 mark? It was way more the the Soviet Union and they had way more than the other countries combined.
I really like the reading too. I found this topic to be fascinating, although I don’t think what ultimately started the Atomic era was not how it should have started. I liked Smith’s discussion on the Atomic Advertising, and why it was so important to give the atomic bomb a positive image. The shift towards environmentalism was an interesting read too. The bomb was created when there was no concern for the environment so they didn’t know what would happen to the environment after the bomb went off. They knew the destruction it caused but they didn’t the lasting effects of the bomb after the destruction.
I really enjoyed the video. I didn’t read what it was at first, so I understood that the flashes were nuclear bombs exploding, but I just thought the beeping and long pauses between flashes was annoyingly artistic and unnecessary. Then I read what the beeps and time represented, and I was totally blown away. Seeing the world’s nuclear history condensed to an 8 minute video was fascinating.
The art of an era always serves as an interesting primary source. In “1945-1998,” contemporary artist Isao Hashimoto uses video artwork to chronicle the use of atomic explosions across the globe over 53 years. (This piece is an excellent example of technology not only because of the technological subject matter, but because he chose to use technology as a medium.) Admittedly, I had never really thought about atomic explosions before watching this piece. I knew about specific explosions, like Hiroshima, but I had never thought about all of the testing sites and locations in the middle of the ocean that Hashimoto pinpoints in his piece. It certainly makes viewers think about the effect that this kind of technology has on the planet.
I wasn’t surprised to read that the positive public relations spin on nuclear energy was considered more important to the government than providing all of the pros and cons and then letting the public decide for themselves how they feel about it. After all, full disclosure means having to acknowledge that something as grand as the benefits that nuclear power provides risks having to give up that power for the negative consequences associated with nuclear power. So the government gave the American people an out from having to think about the negative side to nuclear power by letting them embrace the “ignorance is bliss” approach. I was surprised to read that Disney helped with the positive approach to nuclear power with their creation of the movie “Our Friend The Atom” in 1956. I would have liked it if that portion of the reading would have expanded on that a little more by including Disney’s reasoning/motivation behind that was (ie: did the government pay them to help people get on the nuclear power bandwagon or was this something the company truly believed in). There always seems to be a flip side to the coin of new technology and I believe that people want to see the good instead of focusing on the bad so this reading didn’t carch me off guard. However, the video did catch me off guard in that actually expected to see more nuclear detonations over that period of time than actually occurred. As a kid whose fourth grade class re-enacted the Soviet Summit between Reagan and Gorbachev in the late 1980s, locations of then blasts did not surprise me but I did expect to see more in the area of Iran and North Korea though. Maybe that expectation is a result of the fear created by the government and the media of those areas though. Who knows…
The video by Isao Hashimoto was very powerful to me. When I first started watching it, I didn’t read the description so I was a bit confused, but then i began to realize what was going on. When I realized that the video was showing nuclear explosions around the world I honestly felt a little sick. It wasn’t shocking to me at all that the United States had the most. I felt like the end when it showed all of the countries bombings individually and then displayed on the heat map how many occurred in what area was sort of scary. Scary because the U.S. held so many explosions in the United States but I don’t remember ever hearing about this. 1998 was not that many years ago. What about the people that lived close? Where did these even specifically occur??
I found it interesting in the reading that the U.S thought that they could hold a monopoly on Nuclear technology. In addition I felt like it was odd that the biggest worry about nuclear power was the environmental effects it would have on United States citizens. I wonder how in the hard and for how long citizen were about the effects the bomb had on people and how hurt people got from the use of it. It makes me uncomfortable to think that there was such positive advertisement for the bomb at one point. I wonder how Solders who dropped the bomb felt about its effects.
Initial Reaction: At leas we know they work?
The general trend through the 50’s appears that America tried to explode twice as many as Russia who tried to explode ten times as many as Great Britain. When any nation entered the scene, others would go on a building spree; except for France in 1959. When France came to the scene, it took five trials before Russia tested more. The first three years of the 1960s proved to be popular for testing.
France had a slow start but quickly overtook G.B on trials. When China appears in 1964, Russia is not as active. G.B. slows to almost stopping their testing and Russia can only keep ten percent above France now. China continues to be half to a third of France by 1969 and America continues to double Russia by 1970.
The 80s started off comparatively slow, at least proportional to the number that could produce. France has nearly five times as many trials as G.B. and 1/3 Russia. America appears to try trial twice as much as Russia but the numbers are getting rather large for both. By the start fo the 90s, U.S. only has 1/3 more than Russia.
More Test sites exist in Eurasia however, more bombs have been tested in the South West region of America.