How can you define a Nuclear Weapon? What consequences can a nuclear weapon cause to the humanity? What can be done to prevent a nuclear War? How does nuclear weapon work?
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According to International campaign to abolish nuclear weapons, nine countries in the world possess a total of 15,000 nuclear weapons. The United States and Russia maintain roughly 1,800 of their nuclear weapons on high-alert status (ICAN). In recent years, a lot has been talked about the nuclear weapons issues, whether they should dismantle the weapons, or continue with the development of the weapons for the security of the countries. The nuclear weapons are a problem for the future of humanity because, according to reports, a simple nuclear war can cause the end of life in the earth as we know. A lot of negotiations has been happening around the world with the purpose of stopping this threat. Solving this issue is one of the main challenges humanity is currently facing.
In the following paper, nuclear weapons will be discussed in more depth with a focus on one particular nuclear weapon, which is an atomic bomb. Topics will include some history of the first atomic bombs, the mechanism of the first atomic bomb, and consequences they can cause to humanity.
One of the main components for a development of a bomb is an atom. Atom is the smallest bit of matter that can be conceived (Atom and Atomic Theory). An Atom is composed of protons, electrons and neutrons. Every Atom has a nucleus in is center. A large amount of energy can be produce by fracturing the nucleus, or by synchronizing two nucleus.
Every single nuclear weapon necessity this energy that is released by the nucleus to generate an explosion. An Atomic Bomb, also known as Atom Bomb, is a weapon of mass destruction which uses nuclear fission or fusion to produce vast amounts of energy(Atomic bomb).
The development of the first atomic bomb became possible when, in 1938, three nuclear physicists named as Otto Han, Lise Meitner and Fritz Strassman discovered nuclear fission. The first project of construction of an Atomic bomb started during the World War II in 1942. The project was denominated as Manhattan project. The project was started because there was rumors that Germans started working in 1930 on a weapon that would contain nuclear technology. Many scientists were reunited in order to work in this project. The first test executed with success was on July 16, 1945. Hiroshima, on August 6, 1945, was the first city to presence the power of an atomic bomb, when The United States dropped the first atomic bomb known as Little Boy. A second bomb known as Fat Man was dropped 3 days after in the city of Nagasaki. A lot of people died during those days due the explosions of the two bombs, and also, because of the radiation released by the bombs after the explosions. After the end of the World War II, The United States and other Countries continued researching about nuclear technologies and developing new weapons. Right now, many countries possess advanced nuclear weapons.
As you seen, atomic bombs can release a large amount of energy that is capable of catastrophic damages. Since the first detonation, a lot of progress has been made where the weapons are more powerful than before. The first device had approximately 20 kilotons. In a period of 20 years The United States and Russia tested Weapons larger than 10 megatons, or 10 million tons of TNT. These weapons were at least 500 times stronger than the first atomic bomb (Business Insider). The largest weapon ever was detonated on October 30, 1961 by the USSR.
Atomic bombs are made in order to cause destruction through an explosion, in other words, to produce an enormous volume of energy in a short period of time. The explosion is produced by a chemical reaction that happens with the nucleon of an atom. This happen because changes are produced with the atoms to produce new molecules. The changes can happen with two processes, that is Fission or Fusion. The amount of energy derivable from an atom is calculated with the Einstein’s formula E=MC^2, where E equals to Energy, M equals to the mass and C is the speed of light. The nucleus contains small components that are radioactive. When fission is happening, a tremendous amount of radiation will be emitted. The atomic bombs use fission to release the energy. The most important elements of an atomic bomb are Uranium 235 and Plutonium 239. The first atomic bomb used enriched Uranium 235. To get Uranium 235, an enrichment process of extraction must be done where Uranium 235 is extract from natural Uranium. This was one of the most difficult parts of developing an atomic bomb because Uranium contains nearly identical elements which are Uranium 235 and Uranium 238. The reason why Uranium 235 is used and Uranium 238 is not used is because Uranium 235 can easily sustain a chain reaction that will release a tremendous amount of energy, and U238 will not. The difference between these two is their atomic weights where U235 is lighter than U238.
This difference made the separation between these two possible. One of the possible ways to do the separation between U235 and U238 is putting the Uranium into a centrifuge. As is spindle rapidly the U235 will start to rise and the U238 will descend. The Uranium goes into more centrifuges to make the separation better. With this process, we can also enrich the U235, what is good for fission purposes. With all the enrich U235, we going to have a chain reaction. This will happen when U235 is hit by a neutron traveling in certain speed that will break the atom in two lighter elements with an enormous amount of energy. More neutrons will be released and they will split more elements. A successful chain reaction is called a super critical Mass. The super critical mass must be divided in two parts that is called sub critical parts. The atomic bomb requires an explosive charge and enriched Uranium 235. In the bomb, the Uranium 235 is going to be divided in two sub critical parts. When the explosion is needed, the charge will be set and the two parts are brought together quickly, and kept together for enough time to have a great number of fissions to occur. The critical mass will be placed inside a moderator that provides neutrons to help with the reactions. The collision between the two parts will cause a big chain reaction that will lead to a release of a tremendous amount of energy. The release of energy will cause a massive explosion.
One way to bring together the subcritical masses is by making a gun that will fire one mass of enriched U235 through a long tube into the other mass of U235, leading to fission. After the reaction, an enormous amount of energy will be released that will cause the explosion.
The damage that an atomic bomb can cause is enormous. People can die from the explosion or from the radiation that is released after the explosion. A single detonation of an atomic bomb in a large city could destroy everything and kill millions of people. A nuclear war could destroy the humanity due the amount of destruction these weapons could cause. An enormous amount of energy is released from the explosion in form of heat, blast and radiation. People can die from the explosion and from the radiation that is released by the bomb. The radiation will spread out even after the explosion is over. If something like this is due to happen, there would be no time for response for the humanity. In 1983, a group of scientists published the nuclear winter theory, which suggested that particles of smoke and dust produced by ejections and fires caused by many nuclear explosions would, for a time, blocks the Sun’s rays from reaching the surface of Earth (Nuclear Weapons). Conclusion The nuclear weapons threat is a serious problem for the humanity. The first two atomic bombs caused a lot of damage to the humanity that changed the World. A lot of countries started with the process of development of nuclear weapons after that incident that happened in the War. If the two first ones caused a lot of damage, imagine what could happen if a nuclear war started now.
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