top-rated free essay

The Nuclear Deterrent

By mmbi May 13, 2014 2230 Words

 
Gr7
 Science:
 Applications
 of
 the
 Atom
 

 
Can
 The
 Demonstrated
 Vast
 Destructive
 Power
 of
 Nuclear
 Bombs
 Continue
 To
 Act
 
As
 A
 Deterrent
 To
 World
 War
 III?
 

 

 

In
 early
 August
 1945
 an
 American
 B-­‐29
 bomber,
 along
 with
 two
 other
 planes,
 
dropped
 Little
 Boy
 onto
 the
 Japanese
 City
 of
 Hiroshima.
 Then,
 three
 days
 later,
 
another
 B-­‐29
 dropped
 Fat
 Man
 onto
 Nagasaki.
 These
 were
 the
 first
 and
 last
 times
 to
 
date
 that
 nuclear
 bombs
 have
 been
 used
 in
 wartime.
 The
 reason
 for
 the
 atomic
 
bombardment
 was
 that
 America
 wanted
 to
 finish
 WW2
 without
 having
 to
 invading
 
Japan,
 resulting
 in
 perhaps
 less
 loss
 of
 allied
 lives.
 
 They
 were
 effective
 in
 stopping
 
the
 war,
 but
 the
 long-­‐term
 consequences
 were
 terrible
 and
 had
 been
 
underestimated
 by
 many
 involved.
 
 The
 devastation
 caused
 by
 the
 bombs
 had
 
severe
 political,
 economic,
 ethical
 and
 environmental
 impacts
 that
 are
 still
 
reverberating
 today.
 

 
The
 science
 behind
 the
 bomb
 originated
 well
 before
 the
 dropping
 of
 Little
 
Boy
 and
 Fat
 Man.
 In
 1905,
 Einstein
 published
 his
 Special
 Theory
 of
 Relativity.
 
During
 his
 paper,
 he
 stated
 that
 a
 large
 amount
 of
 energy
 could
 in
 fact
 be
 released
 
by
 a
 small
 amount
 of
 matter
 which
 is
 signified
 in
 his
 equation,
 e=mc2.
 These
 were
 
the
 first
 steps
 in
 the
 creation
 of
 the
 atomic
 bomb.
 In
 Rome
 in
 1934,
 Enrico
 Fermi,
 an
 
Italian
 scientist,
 started
 recording
 the
 results
 of
 bombarding
 uranium
 with
 
neutrons.
 
 He
 concluded
 that
 bombarding
 of
 uranium
 with
 neutrons
 created
 new
 
elements.
 However,
 in
 1938,
 scientists
 Otto
 Hahn
 and
 Fritz
 Strassmann
 discovered
 
nuclear
 fission
 by
 shooting
 neutrons
 at
 uranium
 atoms,
 resulting
 in
 the
 splitting
 of
 
uranium
 into
 an
 isotope
 of
 barium.
 
 From
 then
 on
 the
 sky
 was
 the
 limit.
 Scientists
 
were
 doing
 many
 experiments
 to
 prove
 and
 improve,
 or
 disprove,
 nuclear
 fission.
 
 
After
 this
 discovery,
 a
 team
 of
 scientists
 in
 America
 began
 the
 Manhattan
 project,
 
which
 was
 a
 code
 name
 for
 the
 US
 development
 of
 the
 atomic
 bomb.
 
 
 

 
So,
 exactly
 what
 is
 the
 science
 behind
 a
 nuclear
 bomb?
 
 An
 atom
 consists
 of
 
three
 basic
 elements,
 protons,
 positively
 charged
 particles;
 electrons,
 negatively
 
charged
 particles;
 and
 neutrons,
 particles
 with
 no
 charge.
 
 An
 atom
 is
 held
 together
 
by
 strong
 and
 weak
 forces,
 depending
 on
 the
 stability
 of
 that
 type
 of
 atom.
 Some
 
elements
 have
 different
 isotopes.
 
 The
 isotope
 atoms
 differ
 from
 each
 other
 only
 in
 
the
 number
 of
 neutrons
 they
 have.
 
 Some
 isotopes
 are
 stable,
 but
 some
 are
 not
 
stable
 and
 are
 radioactive
 emitting
 either
 alpha
 particles
 (two
 protons
 and
 two
 
neutrons
 together);
 or
 beta
 particles,
 (formed
 when
 a
 neutron
 spontaneously
 
becomes
 a
 proton,
 an
 electron
 and
 an
 antineutrino);
 or
 spontaneous
 fission
 where
 a
 
nucleus
 splits
 in
 two
 and
 ejects
 neutrons,
 which
 then
 can
 bombard
 other
 atoms,
 
splitting
 them,
 and
 thus
 set
 up
 a
 fission
 chain
 reaction.
 
 Spontaneous
 fission
 also
 
releases
 electromagnetic
 radiation
 as
 gamma
 rays.
 
 Nuclear
 fusion,
 where
 two
 
smaller
 atoms
 combine
 to
 form
 a
 larger,
 heavier
 atom,
 is
 also
 used
 to
 make
 nuclear
 
bombs.
 
 Both
 nuclear
 fission
 and
 nuclear
 fusion
 result
 in
 the
 release
 of
 enormous
 

amounts
 of
 destructive
 energy
 as
 the
 bonds
 within
 an
 atom
 need
 to
 be
 broken
 and
 
reformed
 as
 new
 elements
 or
 isotopes
 are
 formed.
 
 Different
 nuclear
 bombs
 use
 
fission
 or
 fusion
 or
 a
 combination
 of
 the
 two
 processes
 to
 release
 destructive
 
energy.
 

 
The
 isotope
 used
 for
 nuclear
 fission
 bombs
 is
 Uranium-­‐235,
 which
 can
 be
 
induced
 into
 fission
 by
 being
 bombarded
 by
 neutrons
 that
 are
 captured
 by
 the
 U-­‐
235
 atom
 resulting
 in
 an
 unstable
 atom.
 This
 unstable
 isotope
 then
 undergoes
 
fission
 into
 two
 lighter
 atoms
 as
 well
 as
 releasing
 three
 new
 neutrons
 and
 gamma
 
radiation.
 
 The
 released
 neutrons
 then
 set
 up
 a
 fission
 chain
 reaction.
 
 However,
 this
 
is
 only
 effective
 if
 the
 U-­‐235
 is
 pure
 or
 ‘enriched’
 as
 a
 bomb
 requires
 90%
 enriched
 
U-­‐235
 to
 sustain
 the
 fission
 reaction.
 
 Plutonium
 is
 another
 potential
 fuel
 for
 nuclear
 
bombs.
 
 
 

 
There
 are
 many
 other
 issues
 that
 need
 to
 be
 considered
 and
 solutions
 
devised
 in
 order
 to
 create
 a
 fission
 bomb
 that
 will
 travel
 to
 the
 right
 destination
 and
 
detonate
 at
 the
 required
 time:
 not
 too
 early
 and
 not
 too
 late.
 
 Firstly,
 the
 fuel
 needs
 
to
 be
 kept
 in
 different
 compartments,
 in
 subcritical
 quantities,
 to
 prevent
 fission
 
occurring
 too
 early.
 
 Secondly,
 the
 subcritical
 masses
 will
 need
 to
 be
 combined
 at
 the
 
right
 time
 to
 create
 a
 supercritical
 mass
 to
 induce
 fission;
 next
 neutrons
 need
 to
 be
 
added
 into
 this
 mixture
 using
 a
 neutron
 generator.
 
 The
 generator
 consists
 of
 
polonium
 and
 beryllium,
 separated
 by
 a
 foil.
 
 Once
 these
 two
 elements
 are
 
combined,
 the
 polonium
 emits
 alpha
 particles
 that
 then
 collide
 with
 beryllium
 to
 
produce
 an
 isotope
 of
 beryllium
 and
 free
 neutrons,
 which
 then
 set
 of
 a
 chain
 
reaction.
 
 The
 foil
 dissolves
 when
 a
 bullet
 is
 fired
 within
 the
 bomb,
 setting
 off
 an
 
intricate
 mechanism
 to
 start
 a
 fire
 resulting
 in
 the
 bomb
 exploding.
 
 
 
 Little
 Boy
 used
 
this
 mechanism
 and
 was
 only
 1.5%
 efficient.
 
 
 

 

 

 

Along
 with
 fission
 bombs,
 scientists
 have
 also
 devised
 fusion
 bombs,
 where
 
two
 smaller
 atoms
 combine
 to
 form
 a
 larger,
 heavier
 atom.
 
 Deuterium
 and
 Tritium,
 
both
 isotopes
 of
 hydrogen,
 can
 fuse
 readily,
 releasing
 enormous
 amounts
 of
 energy
 
in
 the
 process.
 
 These
 bombs
 are
 known
 as
 hydrogen
 or
 thermonuclear
 bombs.
 
 
They
 use
 a
 two-­‐step
 process
 to
 detonation,
 a
 primary,
 boosted
 fission
 component
 

followed
 by
 a
 fusion
 component.
 
 Fat
 Man
 was
 an
 implosion-­‐triggered
 bomb
 where
 
the
 supercritical
 mass
 was
 induced
 by
 compression.
 
 This
 yielded
 an
 efficiency
 of
 
17%.
 
 Later
 ‘boosting’
 which
 enabled
 these
 bombs
 to
 be
 made
 more
 efficient.
 
 
 

 
However,
 H-­‐bombs
 had
 key
 problems
 that
 needed
 to
 be
 solved
 before
 a
 
fusion
 bomb
 could
 be
 a
 practical
 alternative.
 
 Because
 both
 Deuterium
 and
 Tritium
 
are
 gases,
 they
 are
 hard
 to
 store,
 and
 hence
 scientists
 decided
 to
 use
 solid
 lithium-­‐
deuterate,
 which
 does
 not
 decay
 at
 room
 temperatures.
 
 To
 deal
 with
 the
 gaseous,
 
tritium,
 the
 bombs
 used
 an
 initial
 fission
 reaction
 to
 produce
 tritium
 from
 lithium.
 
 
This
 fission
 reaction
 resulted
 in
 enormous
 amounts
 of
 x-­‐rays
 being
 produced,
 the
 
heat
 from
 which
 started
 the
 chain
 fusion
 reaction
 with
 the
 combining
 of
 the
 two
 
isotopes
 of
 hydrogen.
 
 
 

 

 

 

The
 two
 bomb
 designs,
 fission
 and
 fusion,
 still
 need
 a
 delivery
 mechanism
 to
 
be
 effective.
 
 The
 bombs
 over
 Japan
 used
 gravity,
 with
 planes
 flying
 overhead
 and
 
releasing
 the
 bombs
 over
 the
 target.
 
 As
 technology
 has
 advanced
 and
 warheads
 
have
 become
 smaller,
 countries
 have
 now
 stockpiled
 ballistic
 and
 cruise
 missiles
 
with
 nuclear
 devices.
 
 Ballistic
 missiles
 have
 a
 very
 long
 range,
 but
 are
 easily
 
detectable;
 cruise
 missiles
 have
 shorter
 ranges
 and
 smaller
 warheads
 than
 ballistic
 
missiles
 but
 are
 harder
 to
 detect
 and
 intercept.
 
 Smaller
 weapons,
 like
 the
 Davy
 
Crockett
 rifle,
 enable
 much
 smaller
 teams
 of
 soldiers
 to
 initiate
 a
 nuclear
 strike.
 
 
 

 
Little
 boy
 had
 the
 power
 of
 16
 kilotons
 of
 TNT,
 and
 it
 completely
 demolished
 
Hiroshima
 in
 a
 matter
 of
 seconds.
 
 The
 detonation
 resulted
 in
 a
 massive
 heat
 wave
 

that
 caused
 instant
 vaporization
 of
 buildings
 and
 people
 at
 the
 hypocenter
 of
 the
 
explosion.
 
 This
 was
 immediately
 followed
 by
 an
 enormous
 amount
 of
 pressure
 
from
 the
 shock
 wave
 caused
 by
 the
 explosion.
 The
 heat
 started
 fires
 and
 resulted
 in
 
enormous
 burn
 damage
 to
 humans
 and
 animals,
 as
 well
 as
 resulting
 in
 the
 
destruction
 of
 buildings.
 
 Based
 on
 the
 evidence
 of
 a
 survivor,
 the
 explosion
 
travelled
 at
 700
 meters
 per
 second,
 twice
 the
 speed
 of
 sound.
 At
 Hiroshima,
 the
 
death
 toll
 was
 90,000
 to166,000
 people
 in
 two
 to
 four
 months
 from
 the
 explosion,
 
with
 half
 these
 deaths
 occurring
 on
 the
 first
 day.
 
 At
 Nagasaki,
 the
 death
 toll
 was
 
lower,
 but
 still
 incredibly
 high
 at
 60,000
 to
 80,000
 people,
 again,
 with
 approximately
 
half
 the
 deaths
 on
 the
 first
 day.
 
 Longer-­‐term
 effects
 were
 burns,
 radiation
 sickness
 
and
 other
 injuries.
 The
 continuous
 radiation
 in
 the
 radioactive
 fallout
 resulted
 in
 
contaminated
 water
 and
 food.
 In
 humans,
 the
 body
 organs
 with
 the
 greatest
 
negative
 effects
 were
 ones
 that
 undergo
 the
 most
 cellular
 division,
 like
 hair,
 
intestine,
 bone
 marrow
 and
 the
 reproductive
 organs.
 
 Consequential
 side
 effects
 
were
 cancer,
 infertility
 and
 birth
 defects.
 
 Scientists
 are
 still
 studying
 the
 ongoing
 
effects
 of
 the
 bombs
 on
 Japanese
 health.
 
 

 
Nuclear
 weapons
 have
 the
 advantage
 of
 being
 able
 to
 destroy
 a
 large
 amount
 
of
 land
 and
 people
 very
 quickly.
 
 Some
 can
 be
 sent
 to
 their
 targets
 from
 a
 very
 long
 
way
 off.
 
 However,
 their
 significant
 disadvantage
 is
 that
 their
 negative
 effects
 outlast
 
the
 attack
 a
 long
 time
 into
 the
 future.
 An
 ideal
 weapon
 would
 be
 able
 to
 destroy,
 but
 
not
 leave
 radiation
 lingering
 in
 the
 atmosphere,
 land
 and
 water,
 not
 to
 mention
 the
 
effects
 it
 has
 on
 long-­‐term
 health
 of
 living
 things.
 
 The
 weapons
 also
 need
 a
 very
 
intricate
 design
 to
 work,
 are
 expensive
 to
 manufacture
 and
 need
 to
 be
 stored
 with
 
great
 care.
 
 Any
 peace
 time
 accidents
 at
 the
 nuclear
 weapons
 manufacturing
 
facilities
 can
 result
 in
 long-­‐term
 environmental
 pollution.
 
 However,
 perhaps
 it
 is
 the
 
very
 negative,
 long-­‐term
 consequences
 of
 nuclear
 bombs
 that
 make
 them
 a
 great
 
deterrent?
 

 
Were
 the
 Americans
 ethically
 justified
 in
 using
 the
 atomic
 bombs?
 Was
 it
 
economically
 more
 pragmatic
 than
 a
 conventional
 invasion
 would
 have
 been?
 
 Did
 
the
 short-­‐term
 effects
 of
 stopping
 the
 Pacific
 war
 justify
 the
 long-­‐term
 health
 and
 
social
 consequences
 for
 the
 Japanese
 people?
 Did
 the
 experience
 result
 in
 an
 
effective
 deterrent
 to
 prevent
 World
 War
 3?
 
 Has
 the
 world
 become
 even
 more
 
unequal
 politically
 with
 the
 countries
 having
 nuclear
 weapons
 leveraging
 their
 
power
 over
 those
 who
 don’t?
 

 
As
 Japan
 deployed
 all
 reserves
 along
 its
 coast
 lines,
 despite
 dire
 economic
 
straits,
 allied
 casualties
 from
 a
 planned
 conventional
 invasion
 of
 Japan
 were
 
estimated
 at
 1.7
 to
 4
 million,
 of
 whom
 between
 400,000
 and
 800,000
 would
 be
 dead.
 
Projected
 Japanese
 casualties
 from
 a
 conventional
 invasion
 were
 estimated
 at
 five
 to
 
ten
 million
 people.
 A
 heavy,
 conventional
 bombing
 of
 Japan
 had
 not
 persuaded
 the
 
Japanese
 to
 surrender,
 but
 rather
 enabled
 their
 leaders
 to
 whip
 up
 anti-­‐allied
 
sentiment
 such
 that
 the
 Japanese
 were
 prepared
 to
 fight
 to
 the
 last
 remaining
 
person.
 
 With
 those
 odds,
 on
 the
 surface
 it
 seems
 as
 though
 the
 allies
 were
 ethically
 
justified
 in
 using
 the
 weapon
 as
 it
 arguably
 drastically
 reduced
 the
 number
 of
 

casualties.
 
 However,
 the
 long-­‐term
 contamination
 of
 the
 land
 and
 water
 systems
 
around
 the
 region
 and
 the
 horrific
 high
 rates
 of
 cancer,
 infertility
 and
 birth
 defects
 
were
 also
 extremely
 high
 costs
 borne
 by
 the
 Japanese
 people
 in
 and
 around
 
Hiroshima
 and
 Nagasaki.
 
 The
 Japanese
 were
 starving
 any
 way
 because
 of
 the
 allied
 
naval
 blockade
 around
 the
 country.
 
 Perhaps
 the
 allies
 could
 have
 just
 waited
 a
 few
 
more
 days
 for
 the
 Japanese
 surrender
 and
 threatened
 them,
 rather
 than
 
immediately
 dropping
 the
 bomb
 on
 Hiroshima
 and
 only
 afterwards
 dropping
 the
 
information
 leaflets
 telling
 the
 Japanese
 people
 about
 the
 effects
 of
 the
 bomb?
 

 
The
 economic
 cost
 of
 development
 of
 the
 bombs
 through
 the
 Manhattan
 
Project
 was
 approximately
 two
 billion
 US
 dollars,
 which
 each
 bomb
 costing
 
US$25million
 and
 US$35million.
 
 It
 is
 very
 difficult
 to
 find
 an
 estimate
 for
 the
 cost
 of
 
a
 conventional
 assault,
 but
 it
 would
 have
 been
 extremely
 high
 as
 many
 naval
 ships,
 
air
 assault
 planes
 and
 troops
 would
 need
 to
 have
 been
 shipped
 to
 the
 region
 to
 have
 
any
 chance
 of
 defeating
 the
 Japanese.
 
 So,
 again,
 perhaps
 the
 allies
 were
 justified
 in
 
using
 the
 bomb
 from
 an
 economic
 perspective.
 
 
 

 
 

 
Has
 the
 terrible
 destructive
 energy
 released
 in
 Japan
 during
 the
 bombing
 of
 
Little
 Man
 and
 Fat
 Boy
 resulted
 in
 a
 more
 politically
 stable
 world
 and
 pushed
 the
 
specter
 of
 WWIII
 far
 into
 the
 future?
 In
 the
 immediate
 aftermath
 of
 the
 horrors
 of
 
WWII,
 rather
 than
 make
 an
 effort
 to
 destroy
 all
 nuclear
 weapons
 and
 reduce
 
conventional
 arms,
 the
 Russians
 and
 Americans
 entered
 into
 an
 ideological
 
(communism
 versus
 capitalism)
 and
 nuclear
 arms
 race
 during
 the
 Cold
 War,
 in
 
preparation
 for
 a
 nuclear
 WWIII!
 
 This
 is
 considered
 to
 have
 lasted
 from
 1947
 to
 
1991
 culminating
 in
 the
 fall
 of
 the
 Berlin
 wall.
 There
 were
 many
 incidents
 of
 raised
 
military
 tensions,
 but
 thankfully,
 neither
 side
 used
 nuclear
 bombs.
 
 Finally,
 in
 1970,
 
the
 Nuclear
 Non-­‐Proliferation
 treaty
 came
 into
 action
 and
 the
 mass
 production
 of
 
nuclear
 weapons
 stopped.
 
 The
 super
 powers
 have
 slowly
 started
 to
 decrease
 their
 
arsenal
 of
 the
 nuclear
 weapons,
 but
 both
 are
 still
 continuing
 weapons
 research
 to
 
find
 another
 ‘efficient’
 weapon.
 

 

 
So
 did
 the
 horror
 of
 Hiroshima
 and
 Nagasaki
 create
 a
 good
 deterrent?
 Yes,
 it
 
did.
 Ever
 since
 India
 and
 Pakistan’s
 independence,
 they
 have
 been
 fighting
 wars.
 
They
 have
 fought
 three
 wars
 so
 far,
 the
 last
 one
 in
 1971.
 However,
 after
 they
 got
 
nuclear
 weapons,
 in
 the
 last
 40
 or
 so
 years,
 they
 haven’t
 fought
 a
 single
 war.
 This
 
shows
 that
 the
 nuclear
 deterrent
 works
 as
 surely,
 over
 incidents
 such
 as
 the
 
Mumbai
 terrorist
 attacks,
 a
 full-­‐blown
 war
 could
 have
 happened.
 If
 one
 had
 started
 
a
 war,
 the
 other
 would
 destroy
 them
 with
 nuclear
 weapons.
 However,
 the
 deterrent
 
itself
 has
 also
 created
 political
 inequality.
 Countries
 that
 have
 nuclear
 weapons
 
won’t
 be
 invaded
 and
 countries
 that
 don’t
 have
 nuclear
 weapons
 will
 be
 with
 
conventional
 weapons.
 
 Perhaps
 the
 Americans
 would
 not
 have
 invaded
 Iraq
 should
 
it
 have
 had
 nuclear
 weapons.
 So,
 to
 conclude,
 the
 Nuclear
 Deterrent
 works
 to
 
perhaps
 delay
 WWIII,
 but
 it
 does
 not
 prevent
 conventional
 wars
 from
 taking
 place
 
between
 the
 haves
 (those
 with
 nuclear
 weapons)
 and
 the
 have-­‐nots
 (those
 without
 
nuclear
 weapons).
 
 The
 nuclear
 deterrent
 works,
 with
 limitations.
 


 
 
Biblography
"Atomic Bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 16 Jan. 2014. Web. 15 Jan. 2014.
"Davy Crockett (nuclear Device)." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 01 Nov. 2014. Web. 15 Jan. 2014.
"How Nuclear Bombs Work." HowStuffWorks. N.p., n.d. Web. 15 Jan. 2014. "Nuclear Weapon." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 13 Jan. 2014. Web. 14 Jan. 2014.

 

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