Isao Hashimoto’s animation shows the number of nuclear explosions since the end of World War II

By on August 6, 2015

On this 70th anniversary of the dropping of the uranium gun-type atomic bomb “Little Boy” on Hiroshima, we’re sharing this animation by Japanese artist Isao Hashimoto from 2003, which shows the number of nuclear explosions that have gone off between 1945 and 1998: a staggering 2,053!

Seventy years ago today, an American B-29 bomber dropped an atomic bomb over the Japanese city of Hiroshima. The massive blast, equivalent to about 13,000 tonnes of TNT, killed 80,000 people, or 30 percent of the population, immediately or within hours and laid waste to much of the city. Three days later, on August 9, 1945, the US unleashed another atomic weapon on the city of Nagasaki, killing another 40,000 people outright.

Many more people died subsequently of their injuries, including from radiation sickness. Estimates of the total number of men, women and children killed by the two bombs ranged from 200,000 to 350,000, just in the first four months. In the years that followed, more died from leukemia and other cancers as a result of exposure to intense radiation. For those who survived, the horrific scenes of the dead and dying left deep psychological scars.

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For this piece, “1945-1998″, Japanese researcher, historian and artist Isao Hashimoto mapped the world all nuclear explosions carried out by mankind. It looks like a war room map of the world, black landmasses surrounded by deep blue ocean. It starts out slow, in July of 1945, beginning with the Manhattan Project’s first nuclear device, “The Trinity Project,” detonated near Los Alamos, New Mexico. Just one month later come the explosions at Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Over the course of fourteen and a half minutes, each explosion corresponds to a metronomic beep and flash of color. Every second represents months passing, and a different tone indicates explosions from different countries. After a couple of minutes or so, however, once the USSR and Britain entered the nuclear club, the tests really start to build up, reaching a peak of nearly 140 in 1962, and remaining well over 40 each year until the mid-80s. The number of explosions starts slowly at first and then quickly speeds up right through to Pakistan’s own nuclear tests in 1998 (Hashimoto created the animation in 2003, which is why more recent nuclear tests such as those by North Korea in 2006, 2009 and 2013 are excluded).

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It’s amazing to us that the United States of America is responsible for 1032 detonations — more than the rest of the other countries put together. The sequence ends with the Pakistani nuclear tests of May 1998.

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Born in the Kumamoto prefecture, Japan, in 1959, Hashimoto worked in the financial industry for seventeen years before studying in Musashino Art University, Tokyo, in the department of Arts, Policy and Management, and then getting a job as a curator at the Lalique museum in Hakone, Japan.

In his own words, Hashimoto said this about “1945-1998″ in 2003: “This piece of work is a bird’s eye view of the history by scaling down a month length of time into one second. No letter is used for equal messaging to all viewers without language barrier. The blinking light, sound and the numbers on the world map show when, where and how many experiments each country have conducted. I created this work for the means of an interface to the people who are yet to know of the extremely grave, but present problem of the world.”

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