Nuclear Weapons And The Atomic Bomb

1432 WordsMay 10, 20166 Pages
“If the Third World War is fought with nuclear weapons, the fourth will be fought with bows and arrows” Lord Mountbatten. This quotes, by a famous British Naval Officer, summarizes the threats nuclear weapons present to the entire world. With the development of the atomic bomb during the Second World War, a new war was started: the Cold War. The ideology behind this war continues on to this day and has led to many treaties and other attempts to stop the production and potential use of nuclear weapons. Nuclear weapons are a scientifically impressive feat; however, they present a difficult situation in terms of the global political system. The first ever nuclear test occurred on July 16, 1945 in Trinity, New Mexico (ICAN, n.d.). This…show more content…
Critical mass is the smallest mass required for chain reaction fission to take place. The implosion type design requires a specialized, sophisticated arrangement of explosives to fire simultaneously from all direction to the pit, or center of the weapon, in this case plutonium (CTBTO, n.d.). However, these designs are not used by modern countries, who instead use thermonuclear weapons of 1,000X the strength in tons. A typical fission weapon has a blast of about 20 kilotons (20,000 tons of TNT), whereas thermonuclear weapons can have a yield up to 50 megatons (Nuclear Weapon Archive, 2007). The first thermonuclear weapons date back to the 1950s. The reason thermonuclear weapons have such a larger yield is due to their 2 part design. The primary part is based off of fission. Plutonium-239 is used in an implosion type fission weapon to start the fusion reaction at the center of the plutonium (which is filled with hydrogen gas). The fission part of the weapon then serves to start the fusion part of the bomb. By igniting the spark plug of either plutonium or uranium, surrounding the lithium deuteride (a Lithium Hydride with a deuterium hydrogen), the metal undergoes fission, creating enough heat for fusion to occur in the deuterium (Nelson and Gronlund, 2009). There are numerous different types of thermonuclear weapons, such as the two
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