Within recent news, the election of Donald Trump and the tensions within the middle east have seen the rise in threat of a nuclear war. The news and social media platforms have been constantly warning the general public about the threat of nuclear warheads. This article shall explain what is a nuclear bomb and its threat to humanity.
The definition of a nuclear bomb is an explosive device that derives its destructive force from nuclear reactions, such as fusion and fission (these have been explained in a previous article)
Both of these reactions releases a vast amount of energy. The first test of a fission bomb( also known as an atomic bomb) released the same amount of energy as approximately 20,000 tons of TNT or 84TJ. The first thermonuclear bomb (also known as a hydrogen bomb) released the same amount of energy as approximately 10 million tons of TNT or 42PJ. A thermonuclear weapon weighing as low as 1100 kg can produce e and explosive force of more than 1.2 million tons of TNT. Warheads the size of tradition bombs, can devastate entire cities by the blast fire and the radiation. Therefore nuclear weapons are known as Weapons of mass destruction of WMD’S, and their control has been a major focus of international relations.
Nuclear bombs have been used two times in Nuclear warfare, both time by the United States against Japan near the end of World War 11. These two bombs, that were dropped over Hiroshima and Nagasaki caused the deaths of around 200,000 civilians and military personnel
All current existing Nuclear bombs have some form of their explosive energy come from nuclear fission reactions. Weapons that have their energy come exclusively from fission reactions are known as atomic bombs. In fission weapons, a mass of fissile material ( a material capable of nuclear chain reactions ) such as enriched uranium or plutonium is assembled into a supercritical mass, which will be needed in order to start an exponentially growing nuclear chain reaction.
There are two methods of starting a fission reactions ; one is done by shooting one piece of sub-critical material into another, this is known as the gun method
Another method is by using explosive lenses , to compress the material so that it is many times its original density, this is known as the implosion device.
All fission reaction generate fission products, these are the radioactive remains of the atomic nuclei split by the fission reactions. These bombs are therefore a serious form of radioactive contamination, if not fully contained. Fission products are the principal radioactive component of nuclear fallout.
In the next segment of this mini-series we will look at fusion bombs and neutrons bombs