Cold War Technology and Atomic Hysteria

Topics: Cold War, World War II, Nuclear weapon Pages: 5 (1872 words) Published: August 28, 2013
Cold War Technology and Atomic Hysteria
The Cold War was a balancing act between creating defensive safeguards to protect us from the doomsday-type weapons that were being developed to wipe nations out. This era of rapidly advancing technology greatly progressed mankind whilst also aiming to destroy it. The two main forces in the Cold War were the United States and the Soviet Union. Many secretive programs were in effect at this time developing weapons capable of killing massive amounts of humans at once, all the while technology was being made that advanced mankind, such as rockets and nuclear energy. There were also many conspiracies thrown around due to the secretive nature of the governments at that time. Many people believe that the Cold War was a terrible time, whereas it was a time of technological and scientific advancement.

Many great technological advancements were made during the Cold War. Rockets and nuclear energy are just a few of the radical inventions that were thought of at that time. There are some downfalls to nuclear energy though. The reactors are not fail-proof, with, “One possible type of reactor disaster is known as a meltdown. In such an accident, the fission reaction goes out of control, leading to a nuclear explosion and the emission of great amounts of radiation” (Qtd in Nuclear Energy). There have been two major catastrophes with reactor meltdowns: Three Mile Island and Chernobyl. The Three Mile Island incident happened on a small island in Pennsylvania where radiation leaked, though the problem was solved just minutes before a meltdown occurred. Chernobyl was a town in Russia where a large amount of radiation escaped from a rector. Hundreds of thousands of people were exposed to the leakage and dozens died within a few days. Despite these major disasters, many people are still in favor of nuclear energy. It is much more clean and efficient than its counterparts. One ton of uranium produces more energy than is produced by several million tons of coal or several million barrels of oil. A well-maintained reactor does not produce as much pollutants as a coal burning power plant.

The secretive nature of the governments in that era has caused many people to be wary and cautious of many governmental institutions. Many experiments were being done in secret and still are today. The Manhattan Project is one of the more popular ones that people reference today. Harold Agnew, one of the head scientists who worked on the atomic bomb, was asked about the public opinion of nuclear weapons. He said in the interview, “I don't see why the public reaction was quite so strong, although the media has a tremendous effect on public reaction, depending on how it's couched. It was new and as a result there was a tremendous adverse effect, I think, on the whole program” (Qtd in Agnew). He goes on to argue that more people die in normal, everyday accidents than in that atomic bomb detonation that killed some innocent people on the sea. He states that the public doesn't fully understand atomic energy, so they are scared to use it on anyone while it is okay to use hatchets or guns to kill someone. The Korean War is a time in which he was all in favor of using the atomic bomb. He states, “They were not used and then I felt they never would be used because I think one of the golden rules of nuclear weapons is you never use one against somebody that's got one” (Agnew). He also goes on to state that public opinion is one of the main factors why the United States did not use atomic weapons in the Korean War.

The atomic bomb was a revolutionary weapon to be unleashed on anyone at the time. It was capable of killing everyone in an entire region. The public was afraid of this power and because of that, they did not condone this action. The mindset of everyone at that time was negative towards atomic power. They thought that the exposure to the radiation was too inhumane to have anyone subjected to, although some people...

Cited: Agnew, Harold. "Interview with Harold Agnew." Episode 8: Sputnik. . . Web. 23 Nov 2012.
Broderick, Mick. "Nuclear Frission: Cold War Cinema And Human Radiation Experiments." Literature Film Quarterly 27.3 (1999): 196.Academic Search Complete. Web. 22 Nov. 2012.
Cantwell Jr., Alan. "THE HUMAN RADIATION EXPERIMENTS How scientists secretly used US citizens as guinea pigs during the Cold War." . N.p.. Web. 26 Nov 2012. .
Home Front: The Impact of the Cold War on United States, 1945-63. N.p.. Web. 26 Nov 2012. .
"The Army 's secret Cold War experiments on St. Louisans." KSDK, 25 2012. Television. .
McCarthy, Michael. "Cold War Human Radiation Experiments In The USA." Lancet 344.8935 (1994): 1498. Academic Search Complete. Web. 22 Nov. 2012.
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Talbot, Strobe. "Reagan and Gorbachev: Shutting the Cold War Down." Brookings. n. page. .
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