World War 2: Richard Feynman’s heartbreaking A-bomb confession revealed

The dropping of the atomic bomb, which marked the end of World War 2, has long been a point of contention. While some claim it prevented countless more deaths, others hold it in contempt as unleashing a deadly force that killed thousands of innocent people, as well as opening a new avenue of nuclear warfare.

The atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki happened within days of each other.

Hiroshima was bombed on August 6 1945; Nagasaki, August 9.

The death toll amounted to an estimated 146,000 and 100,000 respectively.

Of those numbers, in Hiroshima 126,000 civilians are thought to have been killed, in Nagasaki, 80,000.

Many of those who did not die as a direct result of the bombings went on to suffer radiation sickness and other biological complications caused by nuclear energy.

Japan, then an axis power, surrendered six days after the bombing of Nagasaki and the Soviet Union’s declaration of war.

The team that conceptualised and produced the two bombs were recruited to the Manhattan Project.

Made up of leading scientists from around the world, it took just 3 years to theorise and create what would normally have taken decades.

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Among those involved was Richard Feynman – a theoretical physicist and Nobel Prize winner who is considered to have changed the face of both science and physics in the latter half of the 20th century.

In archive footage broadcast during the BBC’s 2013 ‘The Fantastic Mr Feynman’ documentary, the scientist revealed how US officials celebrated the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

He said: “There was a very considerable elation.

“Quite a lot of parties and people got drunk.


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“It would make a tremendously interesting contrast of what was going on is Los Alamos (Project Manhattan’s base) at the same time of what was going on in Hiroshima.”

Feynman far from celebrated however, falling into a great depression.

He said: “Maybe from just the bomb itself and maybe for some other psychological reasons I had just lost my wife, I was really in a depressive condition.”

In the months after this, coupled with the tragic loss of his first wife, Arline Greenbaum, Feynman fell into a great depression.

His friend and fellow physicist Freeman Dyson noted: “He had had this great triumph on the technical level at Los Alamos.

“But then of course, a terrible let-down afterwards.

“Having run this tremendous race and then at the end of it concluded that it wasn’t all that worthwhile.”

In the autumn of 1945, Feynman was invited to become a professor in the physics department of Cornell University.

Still shocked by his participation in creating the atomic bomb, Feynman decided to have fun with physics and science rather than take it too seriously.

His casual and fun approach to science opened the field up to countless people.

In the Sixties he gave a series of televised public lectures, and, by 1965 had produced work that led to the theory of quantum electrodynamics; in the same year jointly winning the Nobel Prize in Physics.

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