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Reflecting on the atomic bomb

Imagine laughing at death that's delivered from the air. In 1939, the renowned radio dramatist Arch Obler wrote a short and startling play for the NBC network. He centered the plot of "The Laughing Man" on a book that had been discovered in the ruins of a civilization some 20,000 years old. Those who studied the book found its narrative totally incredible. It described warfare between races and abetted by amazing flying machines that dropped "horrible tearing things" on the beings below. The play's narrator found the idea so absurd that all he could do was laugh uproariously. Yesterday was the 70th anniversary of an event that was far from laughable. On Aug. 6,...