Ever since the first nuclear weapon was built in 1945, nuclear war
has been a threat. The two major nuclear powers in the world today are
the Soviet Union and the United States. If a war ever broke out between
the two, which involved the use of nuclear weapons, the whole world would
suffer from the effects. In this report I am going to prove that nuclear
weapons are a threat to all of us.
A nuclear weapon is any device that causes an explosion by the
release of the energy in an atom. They are much more powerful than any
conventional or "non nuclear" weapons. Nuclear weapons are divided into
two groups: fission weapons, which are often called atom bombs, and
thermonuclear or fusion weapons, which are often called hydrogen bombs
because that is what they are made of.
Fission weapons cause an explosion by the splitting of atomic
nuclei. This happens when a neutron collides with the nucleus of an atom.
The protons in the nucleus are transformed into a great amount of energy
and two or three more neutrons are sent out, which go on to split other
nuclei. If this continues a process called a chain reaction will occur.
When this happens a fission explosion is the result. To form a chain
reaction, a certain amount of material is needed. This amount is known as
the critical mass. If the amount is too small it is known as a
subcritical mass. The critical mass of a material depends on its purity.
The materials used in making fission weapons are uranium and plutonium.
They are the only elements able to be used in making a fission weapon.
There are two different ways to make a fission weapon: the gun-type
method and the implosion method. In the gun-type method, two pieces of
material, each having a subcritical mass, are placed at opposite ends of a
metal cylinder. One of the pieces has a powerful, nonnuclear explosive
behind it that explodes on impact and drives the piece into the one at the
other end. The atoms in the material the collide and start a chain
reaction. In the implosion method a ball of either uranium or plutonium is
surrounded by a large amount of nonnuclear explosive. When triggered it
compresses the nuclear material, which also causes a chain reaction.<...
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