This website provides the who, what, and why of UCLA's involvement with the development of the atomic bomb and nuclear issue for over six decades.
The consequences of the nuclear age — and nuclear weapons — on human beings and their environment is perhaps the greatest single threat to all of us today.
The nuclear threat affects all nations — among them, the U.S. and Russia, the two nations who possess the most weapons of mass destruction — as well as those nations who do not.
The University of California at Los Angeles — its scientists, engineers, physicians, and laboratories — has had a long-standing and unique involvement with the development of the nuclear bomb and of the Nuclear Age.
Who at UCLA?
Stafford Warren became first Dean of the UCLA School of Medicine, following his work as Chief of the Medical Section of the Manhattan Engineering District (MED) that developed the first atomic bomb. He witnessed the immediate aftermath of the first atomic attack on the citizenry and on the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and soon became a member of the Committee of Atomic Casualties of the National Academy of Sciences/National Research Council to recommend longterm studies in Japan. Within a year he was principal medical officer for the underwater detonation of an atomic bomb "Cross Roads" that revealed the lethality of massive radioactive fallout that erupted.
At UCLA, the Atomic Energy Commission Laboratory to study the environmental effect of nuclear weapons was established to monitor the detonation of hundreds of atomic weapons at Nevada test sites. This investigation continued at the newly established UCLA Laboratory of Nuclear Medicine and Radiation Biology (the laboratory was closed several years ago.)
Here, investigators from the Departments of Radiology, Nuclear Medicine, Pediatrics and the UCLA Brain Research Institute, studied the radiation effect on the developing brain. These brain studies had been prompted by our observation in Nagasaki of brain -injured children born to mothers exposed to the atomic bomb.
On the day that the news of the atomic bombing appeared, Norman Cousins, the editor of Saturday Review, immediately wrote his response: that an answer to war — other than through force — had to be found and that nuclear warfare threatened the entire human family. The bomb was not just a new superior weapon but represented a new age in human history. Through the efforts of Chancellor Franklin D. Murphy, a physician, Norman Cousins was brought to the UCLA campus as Professor of Medical Humanities where faculty and students found the door to his office for dialogues about the implications of the bomb. Subsequently, Dr. James Yamazaki was introduced to Cousin's adopted daughter from Hiroshima who required about thirty plastic surgery operations for the extensive scarring from the burns she incurred.
The former Chancellor at UCLA, Albert Carnesale (1997-2006), was a nuclear engineer and a former Provost at Harvard University long concerned with informing the public about nuclear issues. He participated in diplomatic talks on limiting the proliferation of nuclear weapons.
UCLA's Asian American Studies Center
For many decades the UCLA Asian American Studies Center has done research on, taught, and conveyed the perspective of the peoples of Asian, Pacific, and Middle Eastern descent in relation to current international events, including war, peace, and human rights issues, and publishes articles and journals that reflected these global views (Asian Americans on War and Peace) following 9/11. See: http://www.aasc.ucla.edu/aascpress/morepress.htm
With the proliferation of nuclear weapons and the development of weapons far exceeding the first atomic bomb, the horrific destructive potential of our future is now clear. Richard Turco, Director of of the Department of Atmospheric Sciences and Director of the Institute of the Environment, has warned that the in the past twenty to thirty years, the magnitude of the danger has become much greater. He calls attention to the impact of a massive nuclear explosion blanketing the earth with clouds resulting in climatic changes including cooling of the atmosphere and impact on all living creatures, including humans.
Dr. James Yamazaki, UCLA Pediatrician
The clarity and breadth of Dr. James Yamazaki’s overview of the effects of the atomic bomb is heightened by the unique eye witness account by the children of Nagasaki of what took place beneath the mushroom cloud. While his parents were held in U.S. Internment camps, he served in the US Army and as a combat surgeon was captured by the Germans at the Battle of the Bulge. He also experienced prison camps as well as bombardments by U.S. aircrafts. The Atomic Bomb Casualty Commission sent Yamazaki to Japan to study the devastation on an even more horrific scale the impact of atomic bomb radiation to children. Returning to the United States he has followed for over five decades the fate not only of the A Bomb survivors but also the Marshall Island victims of atmospheric nuclear test. The findings of the investigators in Japan have revealed the vulnerability of children among the survivors with the increased incidence of cancer, in particular leukemia; and that the marked radiation injury to the developing fetal brain cells have resulted in malformed brains and mental retardation. Yamazaki calls attention to the careful collection of drawings by the survivors depicting the terror and horror that are etched in their memory revealing that a new era in warfare has occurred that threaten the existence of mankind in any future nuclear war.
At the age of ninety-one, Dr. Yamazaki remains an active international speaker, writer, and activist against the proliferation of world's nuclear arsenal.
While his parents were held in captivity in U.S. Internment camps he served in the US Army and as a combat surgeon was captured by the Germans at the Battle of the Bulge. He also experienced prison camps as well as bombardments by U.S. aircraft. The Atomic Bomb Casualty Commission sent Dr. Yamazaki to Japan to study the devastation on an even more horrific scale the impact of atomic bomb radiation on children.
After returning to the United States, Dr. Yamazaki for over six decades has followed the fate not only of the A-Bomb survivors but also the Marshall Island victims of atmospheric nuclear tests.
We, the Children of the Atomic Bomb
The findings of investigators in Japan have revealed the vulnerability of children among the survivors. These consequences include the increased incidence of cancer, especially leukemia; and marked radiation injury to developing fetal brain cells that result in malformed brains and mental retardation.
Dr. Yamazaki calls attention to the collection of drawings by the survivors depicting the terror and horror that are forever etched in their memories. These authentic depictions reveal that a new era in warfare threatens the existence of all mankind in any potential nuclear war.
As a pediatrician at one of the world's leading research and teaching universities, Dr. Yamazaki is particularly concerned about the special vulnerability of children — the children of the atomic bomb age.