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Nuclear Weapons

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Nuclear Weapons

Postby TalkingPoint » Wed Nov 01, 2006 4:44 pm

Nuclear Weapons

What exactly is a nuclear weapon?
There are different types of nuclear weapon – the atom bomb, the hydrogen bomb and the neutron bomb. All of them are designed to cause destruction by releasing huge amounts of energy at a specific time and place. The strength of these weapons is measured by comparing the force of the explosion to the weight of TNT which would be needed to create the same effect: for example, "25,000 tonnes".

What exactly happens when a nuclear weapon explodes?
Generally speaking, a nuclear explosion will release about 50% of its energy in the form of a blast. 30% of the force of the explosion will be in the form of heat and the remainder will be released as radiation. The blast will damage and destroy property, creating the problem of flying debris, for example, bricks and broken glass.

What happens after a nuclear explosion?
This depends on the amount of dust and smoke released into the atmosphere. Obviously, a nuclear explosion can cause immediate casualties – the blast, heat and radiation are deadly. In the longer term, radiation can continue to be dangerous when it falls back to us in the form of nuclear fallout. It is alleged that after a nuclear war, there would be so much dust in the atmosphere that the sun would be blocked out and a nuclear winter would ensue, causing phenomenal damage to the planet's ecosystem and jeopardizing the survival of all life forms, including humans.

Who invented nuclear weapons?
In the USA during World War Two, nuclear weapons were designed and developed using the code name "the Manhattan Project". The first ever atomic bomb was tried out in July 1945 in New Mexico. The results of the test were considered encouraging and so just one month later two atomic bombs (one uranium bomb and one plutonium bomb) were dropped by the USA in Japan, in an effort to end the conflict between the two countries. The two flattened cities (Hiroshima and Nagasaki) lost more than 100,000 citizens.

In what ways are modern nuclear bombs different from past ones?
In layman's terms there are three types of nuclear weapon: "strategic" weapons which have a range of nearly 3,500 miles, "intermediate" weapons which can hit targets between 600 and 3,500 miles away, and "short-range" weapons which would be used for targets up to 620 miles away.

The neutron bomb, developed less than 30 years ago in the USA, is a special type of fission-fusion bomb and has been specifically enhanced to injure or kill people with radiation while leaving buildings largely intact.

Quick Quiz: Read the clues below and write the solutions on a piece of paper. Then take the first letter of each answer and rearrange them to find the hidden word connected with this Talking Point.

1. There are different types of nuclear weapon – the __________ bomb, the hydrogen bomb and the neutron bomb.

2. The blast will damage and destroy property, creating the problem of __________ debris.

3. There would be so much dust in the atmosphere that the sun would be blocked __________.

4. A nuclear winter would ensue, causing phenomenal damage to the planet's ecosystem and jeopardizing the survival of all __________ forms.

5. In the USA during World War Two, nuclear weapons were designed and developed __________ the code name "the Manhattan Project".

6. "Short-range" weapons would be used for __________ up to 620 miles away.

7. The neutron bomb has been specifically enhanced to injure or kill people with radiation while __________ buildings largely intact.
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