16 The Day That Time Stood Still 1945 IT TOOK A BLITZKRIEG to start World War II, but only two bombs to end it. The first, on August 6, 1945, leveled most of Hiroshima, annihilating some 80,000 people in a blinding flash. The second hit Nagasaki three days later, killing 40,000. After three years of top-secret work, the Manhattan Project had translated Einstein's theory of relativity into devastating reality: a weapon that harnessed the energy released by the splitting of the atom. The A-bombs' effects were as eerie as they were deadly. Those closest to the blasts were vaporized, leaving bright silhouettes on blackened ground. Others perished slowly, radiation flaying them and devouring their organs. Cancer added to the toll, which eventually approached 200,000 in Hiroshima. Whether or not the atomic attacks were militarily necessary (a question that still stirs debate), one thing was clear from the moment the Enola Gay released its payload: Human beings now had the means to exterminate humanity. The mushroom cloud would shadow politics and culture--and the nightmares of millions--forever after.