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Nuclear Power

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Nuclear Power
Nuclear power was discovered in early 20th century. In 1938, the first fission proved the great power of nuclear reactions. Only a few years after that, as the first nuclear bomb went off, nuclear power was successfully used by human. But ironically, that way is one of the most dangerous ways against human race. Nuclear power is one of the most powerful and dangerous energy sources in the human history.
As the science and technology become better and better, nuclear power could also serve humans in good ways like giving energies such as electricity. But concerns about nuclear power never go away: nuclear power’s ultimate power could easily bring disasters to human kind. Many people wish that human could just never touch that power again. And that kind of concerns does make sense: there are examples of all kinds of troubles nuclear power bought to human kind. Nuclear power is like a double sided sword, it can cause goods and troubles. The purpose of this article is to introduce the history of nuclear power and give some positives and negatives of nuclear power.
Although nuclear power was discovered less than 2 centuries ago, it always exists. In fact, all the stars in the universe include the Sun use nuclear power to give off energies. The way the Sun does it, is by the fusion of hydrogen nucleus. In 20th century, guesses about reactions of nuclear can release a huge amount of energy started to coming up. Finally in 1938, physicists Otto Hahn and Fritz Strassman succeeded on the first nuclear fission. Later, Frisch and Lise Meitner calculated 200 million electron volts from the fission, which means fission could produce more than 20 million times the energy of TNT.
Everyone was shocked by the result of the fission. Many people immediately thought of the possibilities of using that power as a weapon. Nazi Germany was in the need of a more powerful weapon, so they hired Werner Heisenberg as the director of Germany’s atomic bomb research project. Many scientists were worrying about that Nazi Germany would develop the nuclear weapon first, and that could be the beginning of the big disaster. So scientist Leo Szilard asked Albert Einstein to write to President Roosevelt. Roosevelt agreed that the developing of the atomic bomb in Nazi Germany was dangerous and appointed the Uranium research program in US in October, 1939. And the research had become a top priority with US entered the war. In 1942, Pres. Roosevelt authorized the formation of the Manhattan Project. A race between US and Nazi Germany had begun.
More than 100,000 Americans were involved in the development of the atomic bomb. Finally, after three years of hard working, the bombs were ready to go. The bomb was chosen to be tested in New Mexico. On July 15, 1945, the first atomic bomb worth 18600 tons of TNT successfully went off. Not long after that, this powerful weapon was used in the war. On August 6, 1945, the bomb named “Little Boy” was dropped on Hiroshima, Japan, left more than 200,000 dead and injured. August 9, bomb “Fat Man” was dropped on Nagasaki, Japan left about 100,000 dead. The whole world was in the great shock of the power of this ultimate weapon. Fortunately, those are the only atomic bombs used against human race in history. The American government said the purpose of the bombing was to make Japan surrender, and it did work. On August 15, 1945, Japan agreed to surrender and that basically marked the end of the Second World War.
After the WWII, the world entered the Cold War Era, both US and Russia were building tons of strategic warheads with nuclear weapons. According to the book Do Nuclear Weapons Pose a Serious Threat by Helen Cothran, US had 13600 warheads and Soviet Russia had 8600. Both sides were trying to terrify each other but nobody really wants to use the nuclear weapons, because both sides were clear: the nuclear war could be the end of the history!
Finally after the fall of the Soviet Union, in 1995, the Treaty on Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons of NPT which opened for signature in 1968 was extended infinitely, and till today, 190 counties had joined it, include the five that have nuclear weapons. (Treaty On the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapon, United Nations.) In 1998, US had decreased the number of its strategic warheads to 7500, and Russia to 6450. While people were using nuclear power as weapons, they were also thinking about how to make it serve human in good ways. On June 26, 1954, the USSR 's Obninsk Nuclear Power Plant became the world 's first nuclear power plant, provides electricity. (Nuclear Power Plants, World-wide, European Nuclear Society.)
The greatest thing nuclear power can provide the humans today is energy. People build nuclear power plans to provide electricity and submarines could also use the power from the nuclear reactors. Nuclear energy is listed as a clean energy by US Environmental Protection Agency. Different form the regular way to produce electricity, coal burning, which has a big problem of polluting greenhouse gases that can cause globe warming, the nuclear power plants have very less air pollution. According to the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission, there are 104 licensed nuclear power plants in US, provide about 20% of electrical use for the nation. The nuclear power is a clean way to provide energy and can help to prevent globe warming. (Power Reactors, U.S Nuclear Regulatory Commission.) Although nuclear weapons are deadly, in some ways they protect the people. Nuclear weapons can lower the risk of having a war. If a country has nuclear weapons, than the chance of that country being invaded by another country will be low. In the Cold War, U.S and Soviet Union didn’t have a real war. Nuclear weapons from some point caused that: both counties were afraid that if the war starts, they will start to use the nuclear weapons. Nuclear weapons could maybe also protect the Earth from hitting by a deadly comet or asteroid. When a comet is coming toward the Earth, human can launch a missile that has a nuclear warhead on it to blow the comet up or change its way. Although that kind event haven’t happened yet, but there is a possibility.
Everything has both sides, especially nuclear power this ultimate energy source. The biggest concerns are still the nuclear weapons. Because they are so powerful, that any incorrect moves with them can bring huge disasters. Nuclear war, one of the ways to end the history of human kind, has already post a treat during the Cold War. According to Strategic officers, all missiles on land will be ready for launch in 2 minutes, and within 15 minutes, the submarines in Atlantic and Pacific oceans can will be ready. Those missiles could basically launch the nuclear warheads to any corner in the world. And US could kill 67 million Russians only using one third of the forces left from 1998. For Russian, 40% of their forces could kill 75 million Americans. The second biggest treat could cause by the terrorists. If any of the terrorist group has the control of any nuclear weapons, the result will be terrible to think of. But fortunately, the risk of the terrorists having nuclear weapons is lower than people thought. Countries that have the weapons are unlikely to sell them to the terrorists, and the terrorists are unlikely to have the technic, money, material and space to make a nuclear bomb by their own. (Do Nuclear Weapons Pose A Serious Threat? Helen Cothran. Page 7, 8, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25.)
Another negative about nuclear power is the nuclear wastes and accidents. Almost all the reactors use Uranium, a high radioactive, nonrenewable resource as the material. Every 18 to 24 months, the power plants need to renew the uranium fuel, but there is no way to completely get rid of the waste yet, so they are sealed in the special containers placed in certain places. The wastes can still harm people if they are not placed correctly. (Nuclear Energy, U.S Environmental Protection Agency.) The harmful accidents of nuclear power plants are the biggest arguments about the power plants. The accidents are usually melt downs, which are caused by the problem of the cooling system in the power plants. Lives expose to the nuclear fuel can have illness and even death. The biggest accident ever happened is the Chernobyl Disaster, on April 26, 1986 in Chernobyl Power Plant in Ukrainian. The accident affected more than 130,000 people on their health status. The level of radiation from the accident was about 100 times the atomic bomb explosion in Hiroshima. Until today, still no one can enter the Chernobyl area without protections. The accidents of power plants could be deadly. (Chernobyl, American Nuclear Society.)
In brief, the nuclear power has lots of positive ways that can help the human race to create a better world, such as provide energy and protections. In the same time it could also destroy the world, such as nuclear wars and accidents. All of those are depend on how people control it. Hopefully, as the technology gets better, as people find out more about the nuclear power, it could serve the human kind as the best way it can, and help the people to build a peaceful, clean world.

Work Cited
Cothran, Helen. Do Nuclear Weapons Pose A Serious Threat? Detroit: Greenhaven P,
2005. Print.
Chernobyl. Ans.org. American Nuclear Society. www.new.ans.org/pi/resources/sptopics/chernoyl. December 15, 2011. Web. April 4,
2012.
Nrc.gov. United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Web. March 21, 2012
Nuclear Energy. epa.gov. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Feb 29th, 2012. Web.
March 28th, 2012.
Nuclear Power Plants, World-wide. European Nuclear Society. www.euronuclear.org/info/encyclopedia/n/nuclear-power-plant-world-wide.htm. Web.
April 21, 2012
Sullivan, Edward T. The Ultimate Weapon: The Race to Develop the Atomic Bomb. New York:
Holiday House. 2007. Print.
Torr, James D. Weapons of mass destruction: Opposing viewpoints. San Diego: Greenhaven P,
2005. Print.
Treaty On the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT). United Nations. www.un.org/disarmanment/WMD/Nuclear/NPT.shtml. Web. April 21, 2012.

Cited: Cothran, Helen. Do Nuclear Weapons Pose A Serious Threat? Detroit: Greenhaven P, 2005 www.new.ans.org/pi/resources/sptopics/chernoyl. December 15, 2011. Web. April 4, 2012 Nrc.gov. United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Web. March 21, 2012 Nuclear Energy March 28th, 2012. April 21, 2012 Sullivan, Edward T Holiday House. 2007. Print. Torr, James D. Weapons of mass destruction: Opposing viewpoints. San Diego: Greenhaven P, 2005 www.un.org/disarmanment/WMD/Nuclear/NPT.shtml. Web. April 21, 2012.

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