Masao Tomonaga is the honorary director of the Japanese Red Cross Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Hospital and a hibakusha, an atomic bomb survivor. He studied internal medicine and hematology at the Nagasaki University Medical School. Currently, he runs a retirement home for older hibakusha. In this interview, Dr. Tomonaga discusses his experience surviving the bombing of Nagasaki. He outlines the immediate physical impacts the bomb had on people’s bodies, the long-term physical impacts, such as cancer, and the psychological harm.
[Many thanks to Jonathan Sheline for donating this video to the Atomic Heritage Foundation.]
Raymond Sheline: This talk today gives me a certain amount of anxiety, because it’s different than any other chemistry talk I’ve ever given. First of all, it’s kind of autobiographical, and that’s always a little embarrassing. Secondly, it’s maybe more nearly the history of science than science itself. However, it is appropriate, because we’re just fifty years since the testing and dropping of the atom bomb in 1945.
Raymond Sheline was a chemist at Columbia University and a member of the Special Engineer Detachment at Oak Ridge and Los Alamos.
Sheline received his Ph.D. from the University of California at Berkeley in 1949 and was a professor at Florida State University for 48 years. Among other accomplishments, he helped establish a nuclear chemistry lab at the Niels Bohr Institute in Copenhagen and published more than 400 scientific papers. He died on February 10, 2016 in Fort Meyers, FL.
Cindy Kelly: I’m Cindy Kelly, Atomic Heritage Foundation. This is Wednesday, February 22, 2017. We’re in Encino, California, and I have with me Larry DeCuir. I first want you to tell me your full name and spell it, please.
Larry DeCuir: Laurence Edwin DeCuir. L-A-U-R-E-N-C-E, Edwin is E-D-W-I-N, and DeCuir is D-E-C-U-I-R. It translates to “of leather” in French. If you go to Montreal, you’ll see a lot of shops with my name on the window. I don’t own those shops. They handle leather.
Cindy Kelly: I’m Cindy Kelly. This is January 30th, 2017. We’re in Washington, D.C., and I’m with John Coster-Mullen. I want to start by asking him to say his name and spell it, please.
John Coster-Mullen: John Coster-Mullen, J-O-H-N C-O-S-T-E-R-M-U-L-L-E-N.
Kelly: Great. Some have called you “Atomic John.”
Charles Critchfield: Is that your book, by the way?
Richard Rhodes: Yes.
Critchfield: Making of the Atomic Bomb?
Critchfield: I’ve always heard it, Making of the Bomb. No, I didn’t know it was your book. Rubby Sherr sent me that, and he also sent me excerpts from two or three other books on the bomb. Rubby was my main man in my group for making the Initiator.
Charles Critchfield was a mathematical physicist assigned to work on the development of gun-type fission weapons, and eventually implosion-type weapons, at Los Alamos. He returned to Los Alamos in 1952 to work on the development of the hydrogen bomb.