Nuclear weapon is the most destructive technology developed by man. When matter in atoms gets transferred into energy the destructive power of the nuclear weapon is created. Ever since it was developed, man's main concern has centered around ways to control it.
Spread Gradually Over Countries
Nuclear weapons have spread gradually over countries. As the number of states owning nuclear weapons increases, the chance of a nuclear exchange or even an accident becomes greater. According to experts, chances of accidental or unauthorized nuclear exchange between the United States and Russia, whose nuclear weapons are on “hair-trigger” alert, are always high. The continuing dangers of nuclear war is a cause for constant tension among human beings as with continued nuclear arms race the future of mankind hangs in the balance. Visit the website of a non-profit organization in the US, to get daily news on nuclear, biological and chemical weapons.
False Sense of Security
Nuclear arms race is being carried on as it is supposed to give a sense of security by providing a deterrent against attack. On the other hand it has generated fear – fear of mass destruction. Today there are 30,000 nuclear weapons in the world, with about a thousand ready for launch within a moment’s notice. If you too have such fear or phobia you can test out how serious it is in ASSESS NUCLEOMITUPHOBIA
In fact, the threat of a nuclear war today is much more than during the cold war. This is because a number of countries have lined up with nuclear weapons. A Hiroshima-type effect can be created today with a lunch box-sized bomb. See
Types of Nuclear Weapons
There are two types of nuclear weapons:
Fission weapons, in which an atomic nucleus is split by nuclear reaction into two fragments of comparable mass, creating an evolution of approximately 100 million to several hundred million volts of energy. This energy is expelled violently in an atomic bomb to create the blast and the bomb’s destructive power.
Fusion weapons, also known as hydrogen weapons, create their energy in the fusing of hydrogen atoms to make a helium nuclei.
Nuclear Weapons Today
Nuclear weaponry has advanced considerably since its introduction in 1945, and is now far smaller, lighter and more powerful and carried by modern ballistic missiles. The design of the nuclear device for a specific nuclear weapon is determined by the weight the delivery vehicle can carry plus the size of the space available in which to carry the weapon (e.g., the diameter and length of a nosecone or the length and width of a bomb bay). Vulnerability of the target determines the required yield of the device. The possible yield is set by the state of nuclear weapon technology and by the availability of special materials.
Uranium 235 or Plutonium 239 are generally two types of metals used in an atomic bomb. Chain reactions are behind the success of atomic bombs. Uranium 235 contains bulky atoms which disintegrate into lead over a period of time. But it is accelerated by the atomic bomb process. Neutrons forcing their way into the nucleus forcibly split the atoms. The force of one neutron is enough to split a U-235 atom and bring about a chain reaction. On splitting the U-235 atom generates heat and the most deadly form of radiation called gamma radiation.
A supercritical mass, which for Uranium is 110 pounds, is essential to the making of the bomb.
Types of Nuclear Explosions
Air Bursts - An air burst is an explosion in which a weapon is detonated in air at an altitude below 30 km but at such a sufficient height that the fireball does not contact the surface of the earth.
Surface Burst - A surface burst is an explosion in which a weapon is detonated on or slightly above the surface of the earth so that the fireball actually touches the land or water surface.
Subsurface Burst - A subsurface burst is an explosion in which the point of the detonation is beneath the surface of land or water.
High Altitude Burst - A high altitude burst is one in which the weapon is exploded at such an altitude (above 30 km) that initial soft x-rays generated by the detonation dissipate energy as heat in a much larger volume of air molecules.
A nuclear detonation creates a severe environment effect, including blast, thermal pulse, neutrons, x- and gamma-rays, radiation, electromagnetic pulse (EMP), and ionization of the upper atmosphere. Blast effects are manifested as ground shock, water shock, “blueout,” cratering and large amounts of dust and radioactive fallout. All pose problems for the survival of friendly systems and can lead to the destruction or neutralization of hostile assets.
The energy of a nuclear explosion is transferred to the surrounding medium in three distinct forms: blast; thermal radiation; and nuclear radiation. The distribution of energy among these three forms will depend on the yield of the weapon, the location of the burst, and the characteristics of the environment. For a low altitude atmospheric detonation of a moderate sized weapon in the kiloton range, the energy is distributed roughly as follows:
- 50% as blast
- 35% as thermal radiation; made up of a wide range of the electromagnetic spectrum, including infrared, visible, and ultraviolet light and some soft x-ray emitted at the time of the explosion, and
- 15% as nuclear radiation; including 5% as initial ionizing radiation consisting chiefly of neutrons and gamma rays emitted within the first minute after detonation, and 10% as residual nuclear radiation. Residual nuclear radiation is the hazard in fallout.
Considerable variation from this distribution will occur with changes in yield or location of the detonation.
Consequences and Health Risks
Nuclear weapons create immediate and delayed destructive effects. Radiation and radioactive fallout affect hair, intestine, bone marrow and reproductive organs. Some of the resulting health conditions include:
These conditions often increase the risk of:
- Birth defects
Nuclear weapons have incredible, long-term destructive power that travels far beyond the original target. This is why the world's governments are trying to control the spread of nuclear-bomb-making technology and materials and reduce the arsenal of nuclear weapons deployed during the Cold War.
- The Nuclear Threat Initiative
- Survivors Tell Japan's Tale Of Devastation
- See some excellent videos on Nuclear Explosion and Testing
- Visit The Effects of Nuclear Weapons for details about the various types of effects of nuclear explosion.