Winter Will Be Here Soon -- Study hard as finals approach...


 
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Analysis of the Atomic Bomb

 

 Ever since the dawn of time man has found new ways of killing 
each other. The most destructive way of killing people known to man 
would have to be the atomic bomb. The reason why the atomic bomb is so 
destructive is that when it is detonated, it has more than one effect. 
The effects of the atomic bomb are so great that Nikita Khrushchev 
said that the survivors would envy the dead (International Physicians 
for the Prevention of Nuclear War, 1982). These devastating physical 
effects come from the atomic bomb's blast, the atomic bomb's thermal 
radiation, and the atomic bomb's nuclear radiation.
 An atomic bomb is any weapon that gets its destructive power 
from an atom. This power comes when the matter inside of the atoms is 
transformed into energy. The process by which this is done is known 
as fission. The only two atoms suitable for fissioning are the 
uranium isotope U-235 and the plutonium isotope Pu-239 (Outlaw
Labs). Fission occurs when a neutron, a subatomic particle with no 
electrical charge, strikes the nucleus of one of these isotopes and 
causes it to split apart. When the nucleus is split, a large amount 
of energy is produced, and more free neutrons are also released. 
These neutrons then in turn strike other atoms, which causes more 
energy to be released. If this process is repeated, a self-sustaining 
chain reaction will occur, and it is this chain reaction that causes 
the atomic bomb to have its destructive power (World Book, 1990). 
This chain reaction can be attained in two different ways.
 The first type of atomic bomb ever used was a gun-type. In 
this type two subcritical pieces of U-235 are placed in a device 
similar to the barrel of an artillery shell. One piece is placed at 
one end of the barrel and will remain there at rest. The other 
subcritical mass is placed at the other end of the barrel. A 
conventional explosive is packed behind the second subcritical mass. 
When the fuse is triggered, a conventional explosion causes the second 
subcritical mass to be propelled at a high velocity into the first 
subcritical mass. The resulting combination causes the two 
subcritical masses to become a supercritical mass. When this 
supercritical mass is obtained, a rapid self-sustained chain reaction 
is caused (World Book, 1990). This type of atomic bomb was used on 
Hiroshima, and given the nickname "Little Boy" after Franklin D. 
Roosevelt (Outlaw Labs).
 The second type of atomic bomb is an implosion bomb. In this 
type a subcritical mass, which is in the shape of a ball, is placed in 
the center of the weapon. This subcritical mass is surrounded in a 
spherical arrangement of conventional explosives. When the fuse is 
triggered all of the conventional explosives explode at the same time. 
This causes the subcritical mass to be compressed into a smaller 
volume, thus creating a supercritical mass to be formed. After this 
supercritical mass is obtained, a self-sustained chain reaction takes 
place and causes the atomic explosion (World Book, 1990). This
type of stomic bomb was used on Nagasaki, and given the nickname "Fat 
Man" after Winston Churchill (Outlaw Labs).
 The blast from an atomic bomb's explosion will last for only 
one-half to one second, but in this amount of time a great deal of 
damage is done (Physicians and Scientists on Nuclear War, 1981). A 
fireball is created by the blast, which consists mainly of dust and 
gasses. The dust produced in this fireball has no substantial effect 
on humans or their environment. However, as the gasses expand a blast 
wave is produced. As this blast wave moves, it creates static 
overpressure. This static overpressure then in turn creates dynamic 
pressure. The static overpressure has the power to crush buildings. 
The dynamic pressure creates winds, which have the power to blow down 
trees (International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War, 
1982). The blast pressure and fireball together only last for 
approximately eleven seconds, but because it contaitns fifty percent 
of the atomic bomb's latent energy a great deal of destruction occures 
(The Committee for the Compilation of Materials on Damage Caused by 
the Atomic Bombs in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, 1981).
 In Hiroshima the blast from the atomic bomb was measured to be 
about four and a half to six and seven tenths tons of pressure per 
square mere, while in Nagasaki the blast was measured to be about six 
to eight tons of pressure per square meter (International Physicians 
for the Prevention of Nuclear War, 1982). Because of thsi
dramatic change in the pressure most of the cities were destroyed. 
The static overpressure in Hiroshima caused ninety-one and nine tenths 
percent of all the buildings to be destroyed, while in Nagasaki it 
casued thirty-six and one tenth of all of the buildings to be 
destroyed. The static overpressure created a dynamic pressure that 
had winds up to four hundred miles per hour (The Committee for the 
Compilation of Materials on Damage Caused by the Atomic Bombs in 
Hiroshima and Nagasaki, 1981). These winds caused minor scrathces, 
lacerations, or compound fractures, which came about when people and 
glass fragments were projected through the air. By combining the
results of the static overpressure and the dynamic pressure on can 
begin to see what damage was caused by the atomic bomb's blast. The 
total number affected in Hiroshima was approximately seventy-eight 
thousand people, while in Nagasaki the total number affected was 
approximately forty-five thousand people (International Physicians for 
the Prevention of Nuclear War, 1982).
 The thermal radiation produced by an atomic bomb explosion 
will account for thirty-five percent of the atomic bomb's damage. 
Thermal radiation can come in either one of three forms; ultraviolet 
radiation, visible radiation, or infrared radiation. The
ultraviolet radiation is absorbed so rapidly by air particles that it 
has no substantial effect on people (World Book, 1990). However, the 
visible and infrared radiation creates an enormous amount of heat to 
be produced, approximately ten million degrees Celsius at the 
hypocenter (Physicians and Scientists on Nuclear War, 1981). This 
heat has two main effects. The first is known as flash burns. These 
flash burns are produced by the flash of thermal radiation right after 
the explosion. Flash burns can be either first degree burns (bad sun 
burns), second degree burns ( blisters, infections, and scars), or 
third degree burns (destroyed skin tissue). The second type is known 
as flame burns. These are burns that come from one of two different 
types of fires, which are created when flammable materials are ignited 
by the thermal radiation. The first type is called firestorms. A 
firestorm is violent, has raging winds, and has extremely high
temperatures; but fortunately it does not spread very rapidly. The 
second type is called a conflagration. A conflagration is when the 
fire spreads in a front (International Physicians for the Prevention 
of Nuclear War, 1982). The thermal radiation produced by the atomic 
bomb's explosion will account for most of the deaths or injuries.
 In Hiroshima and Nagasaki the thermal radiation accounted for 
approximately twenty to thirty percent of the deaths or injuries from 
the atomic bomb's explosion. Those that were at a distance of four and 
two hundredths of a kilometer from the hypocenter received first 
degree burns. Those that were at a distance of three and one
half kilometers from the hypocenter received second degree burns. 
Those that were at a distance of ninety-seven hundredths of a 
kilometer from the hypocenter received third degree burns 
(International Physicains for the Prevention of Nuclear War, 1982). 
Ninety-five percent of the burns created from the thermal radiation 
were by flash burns, and only five percent of the burns were by flame 
burns. The reason for this low number of flame burns is that only two 
to ten percent of the buildings caught on fire (International 
Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War, 1982). By combining the
damage from both the flash and flame burns one can begin to see the 
effects that an atomic bomb's thermal radiation had. Approximately 
sixty thousand in Hiroshima, and approximately forty-one thousand 
people were either killed or injured from the thermal radiation (The 
Committee for the Compliation of Materials on Damage Caused by the
Atomic Bombs in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, 1981).
 The final effect that an atomic bomb caused is the nuclear 
radiation produced from the fission process. The cuclear radiation 
comes in the form of either Gamma rays or Beta particles. Gamma rays 
are electromagnetic radiation originating in the atomic nuclei, 
physically identical to x-rays. They can enter into living tissue 
extremely easily. Beta particles are negatively charged particles, 
identical to an electron moving at a high velocity (International 
Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War, 1982). These forms
of nuclear radiation are measured in rads (radiation-absorbed-dose), 
which is defined as teh absorption of five ten millionths joule per 
gram of abosorbing material (International Physicians for the 
Prevention of Nuclear War, 1982). During the initial nuclear 
radiation mostly Gamma rays are emitted from the fireball. This 
period of initial nuclear radiation lasts for approximately one 
minute. During the residual nuclear period (fallout) the Beta
particles and more of the Gamma rays are emitted. The residual 
radiation has two stages: early fallout and delayed fallout. In early 
fallout, the heavyand highly radioactive particles fall back to the 
earth, usually within the first twenty-four hours. In delayed
fallout, the tiny and often invisible particles fall back to the 
earth, and usually last from a couple od days to several years 
(Physicians and Scientists on Nuclear War, 1981 and World Book, 1990). 
 The nuclear radiation from the atomic bomb's explosion was not
the main cause of death, but it did still have serious results.
 In Hiroshima, the initial nuclear radiation was spread over a 
distance of approximately fifty-three hundredths of a kilometer. In 
Nagasaki, the initial nuclear radiation only spread one and six 
thousandths of a kilometer (The Committee for the Compilation of 
Materials on Damage Caused by the Atomic Bombs in Hiroshima nad
Nagasaki, 1981). The reason why the nuclear radiation was not the 
main caused of deaths or injuries was that the atomic bomb was 
detonated so high in the atmosphere; approximately five hundred and 
seventy meters in Hiroshima, and approximately five hundred and ten 
meters in Nagasaki (Outlaw Labs). Even without causing many deaths
the nuclear radiation probably caused the most serious effects. Those 
with definite proof were those of increased rates of cataracts, 
leukemia, cancer of the thyroid, cancer of the breast, cancer of the 
lungs, cancer of the stomach, and mental retardation on babies in
utero. Those that had substantial but not definite proof were those 
of tumors of the esophagus, tumors of the colon, tumors of the 
salivary glands, and tumors of the urinary tract organs. Those that 
had no definite nor substantial proof were those of increased
rates of birth mortality, birth defects, infertility, and 
susceptibility towards illnesses (Physicians and Scientists on Nuclear 
War, 1981). The total number of people effected by the nuclear 
radiation was estimated to be thiry-five thousand people in Hiroshima, 
and twenty-one thousand people in Nagasaki (The Committee on Damage 
Caused by the Atomic Bomb in Hiroshima and Nagasaki).
 Either the blast, the thermal radiation, or the nuclear 
radiation from an atomic bomb explosion will have severe effects on 
both humans and on the environment in which they live in. The only 
two cities that have ever experienced having an atomic bomb being 
exploded on them were the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki
during World War II. In Hirsohima, the total number killed was one 
hundred and eithteen thousand six hundred and sixty-one. The total 
number severely injured was thrity thousand five hundred and 
twenty-four. The number slightly injured was forty-eight thousadn six 
hundred and six. The total number missing was three thousand
and six hundred and seventy-seven. In Nagasaki, the total number 
killed was seventy-three thousand eitght hundred and eighty-four. The 
total number severely injured was seventy-four thousand nine hundred 
and nine. The total number slightly injured was one hundred and 
twenty thousand eight hundred and twenty (The Committee for the 
Compliation of Materials on Damage Caused by the Atomic Bombs in 
Hiroshima and Nagasaki, 1981). With statistics like these it is 
clearly seen that Pope John Paul II was right when he said,

 "Any nuclear war would inevitably cause death, disease, and 
suffering of pandemic proportions and without the possibility of 
effective medical intervention. The only hope for humanity is 
prevention of any form of Nuclear War."

The examples of Hiroshima and Nagasaki will hopefully be the first and 
the last time that the power of the atomic bomb will ever be used.

 




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