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Nuclear Weapons. How Do They Work? FYP Presentation By: Wesley Satterfield. Outline. Understanding the Nucleus How a nucleus can change Critical discoveries that made the nuclear bomb possible 4 Conditions that must be met in order to build a bomb Fission Bombs- “Little Boy” & “Fat Man”

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nuclear weapons

Nuclear Weapons

How Do They Work?

FYP Presentation

By: Wesley Satterfield

  • Understanding the Nucleus
  • How a nucleus can change
  • Critical discoveries that made the nuclear bomb possible
  • 4 Conditions that must be met in order to build a bomb
  • Fission Bombs- “Little Boy” & “Fat Man”
  • Hydrogen Bombs
  • Usage of these bombs in the military
the nucleus
The Nucleus
  • Made up of protons and neutrons which are collectively referred to as nucleons
  • Electrostatic Repulsion- protons trying to push away from one another
  • Nuclear Force- attractive force and holds nucleus together
radioactive decay
Radioactive Decay
  • Radioactive Decay is when a nucleon will suddenly free itself from one another and electrostatic repulsion will allow them to push apart
  • Doesn’t obtain the energy needed to surmount the energy barrier
  • Nuclei with few protons, attractive nuclear force wins over repulsive electrostatic and nucleons stick together
  • Nuclei with many protons, electrostatic repulsion wins over nuclear force and nuclei decay rapidly
  • Nuclei in between these two extremes of number of protons, nuclear force and repulsion are in balance
changes of nuclei
Changes of Nuclei
  • For a small nucleus to grow, needs more neutrons
  • For large nucleus to shrink, needs to separate nucleons
  • Enormous amount of energy released during Fusion and Fission
critical discoveries in advancement of nuclear bomb
Critical Discoveries in Advancement of Nuclear Bomb
  • 1896 Antoine Becquerel accidentally discovered natural radioactive decay
  • 1911 Ernest Rutherford discovered that atoms have nuclei
  • 1932 James Chadwick discovered neutron
  • 1934 Enrico Fermi added neutrons to uranium nuclei
  • 1938 Pair of Austrian and pair of German physicists showed Fermi actually fragmented uranium into lighter nuclei
4 conditions to satisfy for making of fission bomb
4 Conditions to Satisfy for Making of Fission Bomb
  • Source of neutrons had to exist in bomb in order to trigger the explosion
  • Nuclei making up the bomb had to be fissionable
  • Each induced fission must produce more neutrons than it consumed
  • Released neutrons had to be used efficiently so that each fission caused an average of more than one additional fission
little boy
“Little Boy”
  • Uranium 235 was optimal choice- Fissionable and released more neutrons than it consumed
  • 60 kg of Uranium 235 was needed and shaped into a sphere
  • “Little Boy was exploded over Hiroshima on Aug 6, 1945
  • Energy released was equal to 15,000 tons of TNT
fat man
“Fat Man”
  • Used Plutonium instead of Uranium 235
  • More available than Uranium 235
  • Meets conditions yet is too radioactive
  • More complicated assembly
  • “Fat Man” dropped over Nagasaki on Aug 9, 1945 and released an energy equal to 22,000 tons of TNT
  • “Fat Man” becomes standard
hydrogen bomb
Hydrogen Bomb
  • Hydrogen doesn’t normally undergo fusion
  • Fusion bomb fuses hydrogen to produce even more energy
  • Deuterium- hydrogen atom with 1 neutron and 1 proton and Tritium- hydrogen atom with 2 neutrons and 1 proton fuse to form helium nucleus and a free neutron
today s military use
Today’s Military Use
  • Uses “Fat Man” design
  • Also use hydrogen bombs
  • Bombs now placed on missiles

Bloomfield, Louis A. “Nuclear Weapons”. How Things Work: The Physics of Everyday Life. Ed. Stuart Johnson. John Wiley & Son, Inc., 2001, pp. 441-450.