Today in History: August 9

The United States Of America became the first nation to drop a second nuclear weapon on an enemy nation in wartime on this date in 1945. The city of Nagasaki, Japan, had a population of about 263,000 people at the time. About 50,000 were killed instantly after the bomb, nicknamed “Fat Man,” detonated. About 30% of the city was obliterated in seconds.

Nagasaki was the second-level target for the bombing run; the city of Kokura had been the primary, intended, target, but smoke from the previous day’s firebombing of the nearby city of Yamata denied the team visual sighting. Upon arriving at Nagasaki, the flight team discovered it was under a cloud cover, but the plane was running low on fuel, so radar contact was established. At the last second, clouds over Nagasaki parted, and visual sighting led to the bomb being dropped between Mitsubishi’s two major factories.

The north side of the city was obliterated, and up to 50,000 people were killed instantly. The bomb was more powerful than the one that had been dropped on Hiroshima two days before, but Nagasaki’s location in a valley contained the damage somewhat. Wind-driven fire sped through the valley at speeds approaching the speed of sound—600 mph.

As of 2014, almost 200,000 Japanese hibakusha (“explosion survivors”) were still alive. These were people who had survived either atomic blast. Researchers have learned that there were at least 165 people who had the remarkable bad luck of being “double hibakusha”—people who were in Hiroshima for the first explosion and then went to Nagasaki because family resided there or for any reason, only to be there in time for the second bombing.

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President Richard Nixon resigned and left the White House 42 years ago today.

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The animated character “Betty Boop” made her debut in Dizzy Dishes, which was released on this date in 1930. The movie:

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Dmitri Shostakovich died in 1975 on this date. Jerry Garcia died on this date in 1995.

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Film director Robert Aldrich was born on this date in 1918. Philip Larkin was born on this date in 1922. Robert Shaw was born in 1927 on this date. Chris Haney, who co-invented the game Trivial Pursuit, was born on this date in 1950. Whitney Houston would be 53 today.

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Bob Cousy is 88 today. Rod Laver is 78. David Steinberg is 74. Sam Elliott is 72. Jonathan Kellerman is 67. Melanie Griffith is 59. Gillian Anderson is 48. Rhona Mitra is 40 today.

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