August the 6th, despite its unassuming sounding stop on the calendar at the height of the lazy days of summer, belies great turning points in killing, scientifically.
Humanity transformed the world when it aspired to move from humble inhabitants to masters of their universe through the discovery of its physical laws.
People were sent to the moon and unmanned space probes were sent beyond the limits of our solar system. Man, however, did not change.
3,800 years ago, Hammurabi’s Code (preserved for us on clay tablets) prescribed the death penalty for a list of 25 crimes. Antiquity’s dispatchers executed the condemned by a variety of gruesome means.
The trend continued in the middle ages and during the colonial era. In 18th century Britain, 222 offenses were punishable by death. The habit crossed the ocean and it thrived.
With the evolution of a steam-powered society and more temperate and rational laws capital punishment became less frequent.
Scientifically progressive minds sought to make it more ‘humane’.
On August 6, 1890, Albert Southwick, a dentist, had his idea put to such a test. We owe Albert S. for his invention of the first electric chair. The chair itself was designed by Harold Brown while in the employ of Thomas Edison.
On this date, in New York, convicted murderer William Kemmler was literally fried with electricity. It took 8 minutes.
Civilized man upgraded from crucifixion, beheading, hanging, impalings, drowning, guillotine and other various means of dispensing perceived justice by stepping it up with a new technology for killing.
We did it again at Hiroshima, Japan, on August 6, 1945 when the United States used a massive, atomic weapon. The equivalent of 20,000 tons of TNT, the bomb flattened the city, killing tens of thousands of civilians. Three days later, Nagasaki was similarly struck.
Today, perhaps it is time for humanity to sit down and consider meditation on what is on the human horizon.
Hiroshima and all the details leading up to it, the military manoeuvres, the political decisions and the horrific details as well as the aftermath are documented and we respectfully recommend further and in-depth reading on its global impact beyond its brief but meaningful mention in this Military Success Network history note.
The mushroom cloud depicted is from a wondrous series of clouds at National Geographic and was chosen to impart a hopeful light to the future as we learn from history.