Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Black Rain, Nuclear Warfare, and Game Theory

""The most important event of the second half of the 20th century is one that didn’t happen.” With those words, Thomas Schelling marked the “stunning achievement” of 50 years without a nuclear war. No one person can claim credit but Mr Schelling has as much claim as anyone to helping prevent Armageddon. He helped to prevent war because he understood it and explained it brilliantly to others, changing the intellectual climate, inspiring a generation of strategic thinkers and, almost incidentally, saving the young discipline of game theory from irrelevance.

On Monday, Mr Schelling shared the Nobel Prize in Economics with Robert Aumann, the mathematician. The prize is long overdue but also a curious reward for a man who did almost no research as such. “If you ask what he does for a living, I have to answer that he lives by his wits,” James Coleman, the sociologist, once remarked."

Tim Harford "How an economic theory beat the atomic bomb" Financial Times October 11, 2005.

Black Rain (1988) Directed by Shohei Imamura
Based on Novel by Masuji Ibuse
Screenplay by Toshiro Ishida and Shohei Imamura
Starring Yoshiko Tanaka, Kazuo Kitamura, and Etsuko Ichihara.

"On August 6, 1945, the world's first nuclear bomb was detonated over Hiroshima. The city was levelled, some of its people were killed instantly while many suffered painful, slow deaths. A young woman named Yasuko was on her way to her uncle's home when the bomb fell. Yasuko along with her uncle and aunt trdges through the ruined city seeking refuge under the radioactive black rain which fell on Hiroshima after the blast.

Five years later many are still suffering and dying from the radiation sickness caused by the bomb. Not only were the citizens of Hiroshima greatly affected so were those who came to Hiroshima shortly after the bomb was dropped. Yasuko is considered untouchable by young men looking for wives because of her exposure to the black rain. She is in love with a man whose war experiences have left him neurotic and bitter but this love is doomed.

As those around her begin to fall victim to radiation sickness, Yasuko realizes that she too is suffering from radiation sickness. Her uncle who is not showing signs of illness prays for Yasuko's release from her pain."

Text and Photo Credit: Embassy of Japan (Canada).


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