What is an atom bomb? • “A general name given to any weapon in which the explosion results from the energy released by a reaction involving atomic nuclei, either by fission—of uranium or plutonium; or, fusion—of a heavier nucleus with two lighter hydrogen ones. Thus, the A-for atomic bomb, and the H, for hydrogen bomb are both nuclear weapons. In the history of the modern world as we know it, the atomic bomb was only used once to kill human beings: it was dropped on the Japanese people in Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945.” • From http://www.aasc.ucla.edu/cab/200708230002.html
Rough Timeline of first atomic bomb • 1934 The first nuclear fission is achieved by Enrico Fermi of Italy. • January 29,1939 Robert Oppenheimer realizes the military possibilities of nuclear fission. • December 6, 1941 FDR authorizes the Manhattan Engineering District for the purpose of creating an atomic bomb. This would later be called the 'Manhattan Project'. • May 5, 1943 Japan becomes the primary target for any future atomic bomb according to the Military Policy Committee of the Manhattan Project.
Rough Timeline • May 8, 1945 War ends in Europe. • July 16, 1945 The world's first atomic detonation takes place in the 'Trinity Test' at Alamogordo, New Mexico. • August 6, 1945 Little Boy, a uranium bomb, is detonated over Hiroshima, Japan. It kills between 90,000 and 100,000 people immediately. • August 9, 1945 The second atomic bomb to hit Japan, Fat Man, was scheduled to be dropped at Kokura. However, because of poor weather the target was moved to Nagasaki. • Shortly thereafter, Japan announces its formal surrender. • From: http://americanhistory.about.com/library/timelines/bltimelinemanhat.htm
Proliferation • After the US bombed Japan countries, including the US and Russia decided nuclear weapons were a bad thing and agreed to not continue development. • However: • The Soviet Union launched a full-speed secret nuclear weapons program. Thanks in part to espionage, the Soviet scientists were built a version of the American fission bomb that was used against Nagasaki and to conduct a successful testing of it on August 29, 1949. • From http://www.nobelprize.org/educational/peace/nuclear_weapons/readmore.html
Race to Destruction • Because the Russians had a bomb, the US had to build a BETTER way to destroy things so they created the H-bomb which does more damage (still nuclear). • And then because the US and Russia had all the weapons, other countries felt the need to jump in, too.
Countries with bombs • “Today eight countries possess nuclear weapons. The five nuclear weapons states United States, Russia (former Soviet Union), United Kingdom, France and China, are the only countries allowed to have nuclear weapons according to the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) from 1970. All members of the United Nations except Israel, India and Pakistan have signed the NPT.” • From: http://www.nobelprize.org/educational/peace/nuclear_weapons/readmore.html
Currently • Rogue countries, such as Iran and North Korea have nuclear weapon programs in place. Other countries try to keep rogue countries from creating atomic weapons. • Terrorists also try to get their hands on nuclear materials to either create fusion bombs or dirty bombs (radiation release).
Why do so many countries have H-bombs? • Mutually assured destruction (M.A.D.) • Is a military theory that if one country has enough military nuclear might to destroy its neighbor, then that neighbor needs to have the exact same capability. • Therefore, each country could destroy each other – but they don’t because no one wants to totally destroy each other. • It’s used as a deterrent for nuclear war. • From http://www.princeton.edu/~achaney/tmve/wiki100k/docs/Mutual_assured_destruction.html