Types of Nuclear Weapons

Different kinds of nuclear weapons are explained as well as the issues associated with them. Very intriguing to see what mankind has created.

Ever since their not-so-humble beginnings in the late 1930’s to early 1940’s, nuclear weapons have since become increasingly complex and diverse. This is also not to mention numerous. Regarding diversity, many new nuclear weapon designs have (or have yet to) come into play since the original fission bomb. Included with these new designs comes new issues, each both common in some areas and very different in others. In this paper the technology of the types of nuclear weapons and the issues associated with them will be examined.

The first kind of nuclear weapon developed was the fission bomb. Fission is where the nucleus of a heavy element splits into two nuclei of lighter elements, with the release of substantial amounts of energy. Enrico Fermi discovered this sort of reaction in 1934. The most famous examples of fission bombs are Little Boy and Fat Man, which were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in a successful attempt to end WWII.

The problem with fission bombs (and all other nuclear weapons) is the intense amount of radiation produced. The aftereffects of the bombings on Japan included the deaths of over 40,000 people from radiation alone. This is not to mention the 80,000 that died in the initial blast.

Another effect was that a huge amount of radiation was spread over a large area. This included large amounts of cesium-137 and free neutrons. Some of this matter soaked into the soil or surrounding structures; much of it went into the atmosphere. Thus it spread, resulting in a tiny worldwide dose of radiation.

Aside from the physical effects, the bombings had very large political implications. Other countries would soon acquire this technology, which was a large factor in the contentious Cold War. There are other issues in dealing with fission bombs, including their relative ease to make in the case of terrorist organizations, their horrible effects even during test blasts, proliferation, accidents, and sociological effects.

The increasing ease of acquiring the uranium or plutonium for a weapon has been partly attributed to the collapse of the Soviet Union, where uneven watch has been kept on its arsenal. Many tons of radioactive materials have been gone unaccounted for. Even testing for highly developed nuclear powers is a threat to the world; the atmospheric effects are too out of control. This is why treaties have been made to limit testing to less harmful underground testing.

To help retard proliferation, the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty was signed by the US, Russia, China, France, and the UK to include non-proliferation, disarmament, and peaceful use of nuclear energy.

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