An atomic bomb is a powerful weapon that exploits the energy made by splitting atoms to cause an explosion and thus cause destruction. The weapon's force is a byproduct of reactions that arise from nuclear fission or fusion. Even a nuclear device with a small yield is far more destructive than the most dangerous forms of explosives, and the smallest of atomic bombs is capable of destroying an entire city.
Throughout the years and all the numerous wars atomic weapons have only been deployed twice before, in 1945 when the USA dropped atom bombs on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The deployment of these weapons led to the immediate death of close to 120,000 people with many more to follow over the years due to the continued radiation.
After 1945 there have been 2000 other known nuclear detonations carried out by nations for testing and demonstrative purposes. Currently the USA, Russia, UK, France, China, India, Pakistan and North Korea are said to possess nuclear weapons. Nations such as Israel and South Africa are said to possess secret nuclear arsenals.
Types of Nuclear Weapons
There are two basic types of nuclear devices, one that produces their destructive force through nuclear fission i.e. the basic atomic bombs. The second type of weapon produces its explosive energy through the process of nuclear fusion. Such devices are known as hydrogen or thermonuclear bombs. Fusion bombs can be a thousand times more destructive than fission bombs.
Development of the Atomic Bomb
The first nuclear bomb was successfully produced by the secret Manhattan Project, in America. The project consisted of an international team which consisted of scientists from the USA, UK, Canada and other European Scientists who were displaced by the Nazi Regime. The primary aim of this team was to produce a nuclear weapon before the Nazis could produce their own, but eventually the first weapons were used against the Japanese to bring about their ultimate surrender in World War II. The Soviet Union successfully tested their first atomic bomb in 1949. Their bomb was to some extent based on American plans that Soviet spies had managed to acquire from American scientists. Both superpowers would go on to develop Hydrogen Bombs through the cold war. By the 1960s with the invention of inter continental rockets atomic bombs could now be deployed almost anywhere in the world.
Atomic bombs soon went on to become symbols of political power and military might. Soon enough nuclear tests and demonstration were interpreted as political messages to other countries to maintain a truce between the power blocs of the world. Very soon a ‘nuclear club’ of nations was formed consisting of USA, USSR, UK, France and China, ironically the five permanent members of the Security Council as well. The nuclear club tried to restrict nuclear proliferation within the five nations but five other countries have gone on to develop nuclear weapons since then.
- Environment Words - A Dictionary in Plain English, published by Images Asia
- History of the Atomic Bomb & The Manhattan Project