Eight years after the atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima at exactly 8.15am on August 6, 1945, Australia's first contribution to the nuclear arms race, the Rum Jungle mine south of Darwin, started producing uranium.
The mineral was for British bombs but by 1958 some English, fed-up with the threat of self-destruction, staged a march against nuclear weapons between Trafalgar Square and the atomic research establishment in Aldermaston.
The march was on the Movietone News and my father, the Rum Jungle personnel manager responsible for keeping the mine and its purpose-built town Batchelor secure from external threat, was exercised by the spectre of Darwin wharfies taking direct action.
Of course, nothing happened. But in the years ahead, Aldermaston marches became set pieces and nuclear weapons and nuclear protests proliferated across the world.
On the 70th anniversary of Hiroshima's devastation, it is somehow unsettling to recall how the nuclear issue transmogrified from being perceived as a weapon that saved American lives into a malignant force of assured mutual destruction before coming to rest this year as the acceptable resolution of problems with Iran.
For many growing up in Hiroshima's shadow, the word nuclear was shorthand for an unspoken fear.
Images and stories both harrowing and horrific, somehow came to outweigh the bomb as the harbinger of victory: The blistered bodies of survivors haunted; so too did the illnesses of Australian POWs at Nagasaki; the pride in the Australian journalist Wilfred Burchett's unapproved visit to Hiroshima on the day they signed the surrender on the USS Missouri to break his world scoop "The Atomic Plague" somehow brought it closer to home; so too did On The Beach, Hollywood's apocalypse film written by Nevil Shute and set in Melbourne starring Gregory Peck and Fred Astaire; there were the unintentionally funny "duck and cover" films made by the US and Britain to help citizens under nuclear attack and, finally, the Cuban missile crisis of 1962.
By then Australians had started marching too as uranium exports became intertwined with nuclear weapons and nuclear power.
They took to the streets on Palm Sundays (a nod to same day Aldermaston protests) or on Hiroshima days. Marches in the 1960s and 1970s attracted similar-sized crowds of angry spectators but when the French blew up the Rainbow Warrior in New Zealand as part of their Pacific nuclear program response to opposition hundreds of thousands demonstrated around Australia in 1986.
Yet participation in marches in recent times has increasingly shrivelled although nuclear problems loom as large as ever for many.
Curiously some 1000 leading researchers in artificial intelligence in Buenos Aires last week signed a letter calling for a ban on offensive autonomous weapons, also known colloquially as "killer robots" warning they would play a dangerous role in driving the next revolution in warfare.
Among the scientific jeremiahs were physicist Stephen Hawking, SpaceX and Tesla chief executive Elon Musk, Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak, and Skype co-founder Jaan Tallinn and the linguist and philosopher Noam Chomsky.
It was not the first time eminent scientists coalesced to warn government about arms and the man.
Perhaps the most famous precedent was the Einstein-Szilárd letter.
Written to US President Franklin D. Roosevelt on the eve of the Second World War, the scientists that time around were advocating a global arms race.
The German-born physicist Albert Einstein and the Hungarian physicist, Leó Szilárd, both of whom had fled Europe for the US, sent their letter in 1939 alerting the American leader of the possibility of Germany developing atomic bombs. Before any one could say brighter than 1000 suns, Roosevelt gave the nod for what became the Manhattan Project and Hiroshima's eventual destruction.
Damien Murphy is a Herald journalist