Atomic bomb on Hiroshima 'biggest single turning point in modern history'
The single biggest turning point in modern history was the dropping of the first atomic bomb on Japan at the end of the Second World War, researchers say.
According to a survey of more than 1,000 British adults, the use of nuclear weapons to bomb Hiroshima and Nagasaki was more pivotal than a series of other milestones, including the events that sparked World War One and the fall of Communism in Eastern Europe.
The research found that more than one in four people rated the end of the Second World War and the dropping of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945 as the most significant.
Next most significant was 9/11 with 16 percent of those polled rating the terrorist attacks in the U.S. as the most monumental.
The bombings in Japan represent the only use of nuclear weapons in war to date. An estimated 150,000 to 220,000 people were killed in the two Japanese cities.
The research, commissioned by adult learning website Love to Learn, marks the release of a new online course exploring Turning Points in Modern History.
The six-part course looks at the causes and effects of the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand that went on to trigger World War One, along with five other historical turning points that bring people up to the present day.
The research uncovers how the 50-plus generation perceives key events, spanning from the beginning of the First World War to the destruction of the World Trade Centre in 2001.
While historians might long debate which events since 1900 have had the greatest impact, the people polled identified the 9/11 attacks on the United States as more significant that Hitler's rise to power in the 1930s.
"History is not just about isolated events. It's also about understanding their causes and evaluating their effects," the Daily Mail quoted history author John Child, who led The Turning Points in Modern History online course, as saying.
"Some famous events accelerate the pace of change but other, more momentous turning points in history create a world which is very different than it was before.
"The fascinating thing about this course is that it creates a debate about how significant each of these famous events really was. People really enjoy arguing the case for their own view," Child said.
Opinions varied according to age with younger respondents in their early fifties putting more significance on more recent events such as 9/11.
Adults in their seventies were more likely to cite the start of the Second World War and Hitler's rise to power.