A computer science club at Fukuyama Technical High School in Japan created a virtual reality experience depicting the events of the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima.
The 73rd anniversary of that event, in which the United States dropped the first atomic bomb ever used against another country, occurs this Monday. The U.S. remains the only nation to ever use a nuclear bomb in a war.
The high school students said they hope that never changes, and that this VR experience will encourage future generations of world leaders to avoid use of such devices. The VR shows how the city looked before, during, and after the atomic bomb was detonated.
“Even without language, once you see the images, you understand. That is definitely one of the merits of this VR experience,” Mei Okada, one of the students working on the project, said.
It took the students more than two years to complete their project. The five-minute experience, which allows users to enter into buildings and walk around the city, required the students to find old photographs and postcards in order to recreate the city.
Their work paid off: former residents of the city who remember life before the explosion happened say that it is very authentic.
“Those who knew the city very well tell us it’s done very well. They say it’s very nostalgic,” said Katsushi Hasegawa, the teacher who advised the students working on the project. “Sometimes they start to reminisce about their memories from that time, and it really makes me glad that we created this.”
The atomic bomb that was dropped on Hiroshima was followed by a second blast on Nagasaki, Japan, three days later. Six days following the second atomic bomb, Japan offered its surrender to the U.S., ending World War II.
Although the bomb brought about a faster end to the war, the consequences of using it were tremendous. Beyond the deaths caused by the initial blast, tens of thousands died from the after-effects of radiation poisoning and other issues. In all, between 90,000 and 120,000 residents of Hiroshima perished by the end of December 1945.
The fear of such a bomb existing, of being used elsewhere, also remains a consequence of that day.
The goal of working toward never seeing another nuclear blast like this again by an aggressor country is indeed a noble one, and the students deserve commendations for their efforts. While some leaders have demonstrated a remarkable disregard for the power (and terror) such weapons yield, these students show a truer understanding of what it would mean for the world to see another bomb being dropped, giving us all a first-person view of how devastating that would be.
Banner/thumbnail image credit: Thin Lei Win/Reuters