Ground Zero

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Ground Zero

Post by trolley » Sat Feb 10, 2018 7:46 pm

The term "ground zero" was born in the nuclear age and was used to describe the point on the Earth's surface directly below the detonation of a nuclear bomb. I remember hearing the term when we were in school, referring to Hiroshima and Nagasaki. I don't recall hearing it again until the 2001 attacks in New York when it began to be used as a name for the spot where the World Trade Center once stood. I would imagine that is what most people, today, would think of when they hear it. I have heard it used a few times lately to mean a starting point, very much like "square one".

"Luckily, we won't have to rebuild the team from ground zero."
"Management seems to have lost sight of the big picture. We need to get back to ground zero."

Actually, this useage seems to make good sense when you consider the "big bang".

Re: Ground Zero

Post by tony h » Sat Feb 10, 2018 9:38 pm

An interesting new usage which I haven't heard before.

trolley wrote:
Sat Feb 10, 2018 7:46 pm
the point on the Earth's surface directly below the detonation of a nuclear bomb.
I had always allowed my mind to think, with no particular reason to challenge it that Ground Zero is a sort of description of altitude. Rather like "ground floor in a lift (English expression". I suspect that I am wrong and it is literally a point from which you measure outwards in describing devastation.
Signature: tony

I'm puzzled therefore I think.

Re: Ground Zero

Post by Erik_Kowal » Sun Feb 11, 2018 2:37 am

Wikipedia's article on Ground Zero says the following:

"In terms of nuclear explosions and other large bombs, the term "ground zero" (also known as "surface zero"[1]) describes the point on the Earth's surface closest to a detonation.[2] In the case of an explosion above the ground, ground zero refers to the point on the ground directly below the nuclear detonation and is sometimes called the hypocenter (from Greek ὑπο- "under-" and center).

Generally, the term "ground zero" is also used in relation to earthquakes, epidemics, and other disasters to mark the point of the most severe damage or destruction. The term is distinguished from the term zero point in that the latter can also be located in the air, underground, or underwater.[3]

In mapping the effects of an atomic bomb, such as on the city of Hiroshima here, concentric circles are drawn centered on the point below the detonation and numbered at radial distances of 1,000 feet (305 meters). This point below the detonation is called "Ground Zero".

The origins of the term "ground zero" began with the Trinity test in Jornada del Muerto desert near Socorro, New Mexico, and the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Japan. The Strategic Bombing Survey of the atomic attacks, released in June 1946, used the term liberally, defining it as: "For convenience, the term 'ground zero' will be used to designate the point on the ground directly beneath the point of detonation, or 'air zero.'"[4] William Laurence, an embedded reporter with the Manhattan Project, reported that "Zero" was "the code name given to the spot chosen for the [Trinity] test" in 1945.[5]

The Oxford English Dictionary, citing the use of the term in a 1946 New York Times report on the destroyed city of Hiroshima, defines ground zero as "that part of the ground situated immediately under an exploding bomb, especially an atomic one." The term was military slang, used at the Trinity site where the weapon tower for the first nuclear weapon was at "point zero", and moved into general use very shortly after the end of World War II. At Hiroshima, the hypocenter of the attack was Shima Hospital, approximately 800 ft (240 m) away from the intended aiming point at Aioi Bridge."

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