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Nuclear Weapons

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School Presentations

on 21 May 2010

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Transcript of Nuclear Weapons

Nuclear Weapons By: Jennifer Min HOW NUCLEAR WEAPONS WORK Nuclear weapons are any weapons that get its destructive power from the transformation of matter in atoms into energy. All nuclear weapons are explosive devices. Nuclear weapons can be fission weapons, thermonuclear weapons, or fusion weapons.

In fission weapons, matter is converted to energy when the nuclei of certain types of uranium and plutonium atoms are split.

In thermonuclear weapons, matter is converted to energy by combining certain kinds of hydrogen nuclei to form a single nucleus. Thermonuclear weapons are more powerful than fission weapons. Most of the nuclear weapons in the world are thermonuclear.

The first nuclear weapons were the bombs that the United States dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan. The two nuclear weapons killed about 110,000 to 140,000 people and destroyed much of the cities. These nuclear bombs are the ONLY nuclear weapons ever used in the world.

The United States and Russia currently hold the world’s largest supplies of nuclear weapons.
~I chose this question because there is much international controversy and quarrels on the existence of nuclear weapons. We, as the future leaders of our world, should know about and learn what nuclear weapons are, how they work, and how much they affect our environment. This unit question will help students and teachers to form their own conclusion on this topic. UNIT QUESTION: Should nuclear weapons be allowed in this world? ~I chose this Area of Interaction because nuclear weapons are powerful and with great power comes a great responsibility. Where there is good, there is always bad. Human Ingenuity helps to show that man can create the deadliest weapon and helps question if the devastating invention of man is necessary for the general welfare of the world and if we are prepared to fix its damages. This Area of Interaction explores the invention of nuclear weapons and the consequences of that invention. AOI: HUMAN INGENUITY ~I chose criterion 2 because I believe that nuclear weapons are only a destructive blemish on the face of the Earth. I want people to realize that the world is not quite ready to deal with a nuclear war and that by keeping nuclear weapons only increases the chance of the world being destroyed by other living organisms. I want to see if other students support my stand in this argument, and if they don’t agree with me, I want to know their reasons why because maybe I’m wrong and maybe nuclear weapons are good for this world. CRITERION: 2 ~fission: splitting.

~fusion: combining.

~nuclear fission: occurs when a neutron strikes the nucleus of a uranium or plutonium atom.

~self-sustaining chain reaction: the process in which many nuclei split rapidly and their combined energy produces a fission explosion.

~critical mass: the minimum amount of fissionable material a self-sustaining chain reaction needs.

~super-critical mass: a mass that has more than necessary to support a self-sustaining chain reaction.

~sub-critical mass: a mass too small to support a self-sustaining chain reaction.

~airburst: an explosion of a bomb or shell in the air.

VOCABULARY 1.Where do nuclear weapons get their
destructive power?
A. From the transformation of
matter in atoms into energy
B. From subatomic particles in
uranium and plutonium atoms
C. From fire in the nuclear
D. Not here
2.From where do fission weapons
generate their power?
A. From heat that combines two
nuclei into one nucleus
B. From solar energy
C. From the radiation after a
nuclear explosion
D. From the fission of atomic
3.Which land area will be most
affected by a firestorm?



D. No difference

4.What kind of critical mass-creating
method is this?

A. Implosion Method
B. Gun-Type Method
C. Supercritical Explosion Method
D. Self-exploding Method

5.What type of radiation is this?

A. Residual Radiation
B. Thermonuclear Radiation
C. Initial Radiation
D. Fission Radiation

ASSESSMENT Answer: C Answer: A Answer: B Answer: A Answer: D Gamma Rays Beta Particles neutrons ...ONE MINUTE AFTER DETONATION... Fission weapons get their power through the splitting of the nuclei of certain atoms. The only known atoms that allow nuclear fission to occur are the uranium isotopes U-235 and U-238 and the plutonium isotope, Pu-239.

Nuclear fission occurs when a nucleus of a uranium or plutonium atom is struck by a neutron. The splitting of the nucleus converts a small amount of matter into a huge amount of energy and two to three additional neutrons are released. Those additional neutrons can then split nuclei of other atoms. If this process continues due to the repeating release of atoms, it is called a self-sustaining chain reaction. As a result of a self-sustaining chain reaction, many nuclei split rapidly and their energy produces a fission explosion.

Self-sustaining chain reactions need at least a certain amount of mass to support it. This is called a critical mass. A mass that is less than the required amount is known as a sub-critical mass and a mass that is above and beyond the required amount is known as a super-critical mass.

Fission weapons can use two ways to create a critical mass. These ways are the Gun-type method and the Implosion method.

The Gun-type method is when two pieces of sub-critical mass are placed in a device that is similar to the barrel of a gun, though this device is sealed on both ends. One piece of the sub-critical mass is placed at one end of the barrel while the other rests a little further away. When the fuse for the device is triggered, an explosion forces the second sub-critical mass into the first at high speed, resulting in one piece of super-critical mass. This causes a rapid, self-sustaining chain reaction, also known as a nuclear explosion. The Gun-type method was used by the United States on Hiroshima, Japan.

The Implosion method is when a sub-critical mass is made super-critical by compressing it into a smaller volume. The piece of sub-critical mass is placed in the center of the weapon, surrounded by explosives. When the fuse for the weapon is triggered, it causes the explosives to go off at the same time. The simultaneous explosions compress the sub-critical mass into a super-critical mass which causes a self-sustaining chain reaction. The Implosion method was used by the United States on Nagasaki, Japan.
FISSION WEAPONS Thermonuclear weapons generate their power from the fusion of the atomic nuclei hydrogen isotopes, deuterium (H-2) and tritium (H-3), under intense heat. Fusion, or combining, needs temperatures greater than or equal to the temperatures found in the core of the sun which is approximately 27,000,000 degrees Fahrenheit. The most and only practical way to successfully fuse atomic nuclei is through fission explosion. These thermonuclear fission explosions are triggered by Implosion method fission devices. THERMONUCLEAR WEAPONS All nuclear weapons affect the environment. Nuclear explosive devices have different yields. Older bombs had yields of about 20 megatons which is about the yield of 1,540 Hiroshima bombs. One megaton is equal to one million tons of TNT (a flammable and toxic compound that is used as a high explosive and in chemical synthesis). Effects of nuclear explosives can be affected by the weather, terrain, the point of explosion in relation to the surface, and the weapon’s yield. The products of a large nuclear explosion would be a blast wave, thermal radiation, initial nuclear radiation, and residual radiation. EFFECTS OF NUCLEAR WEAPONS High pressures in a nuclear expansion generate a shock wave which is known as a blast wave. The pressure at the front of the shock wave is called the overpressure. It can be measured in Pascals or pounds per square inches. Dynamic pressure (wind with a high velocity) accompanies a shock wave and can cause overpressures that can destroy building and hurt people at least within eight miles. Also, even if the wind itself does not hurt the person, the huge amounts of masonry, glass, wood, metal, and other debris created by the initial shock wave will fly at velocities over 100 miles per hour which can hurt nearby people. BLAST WAVE Thermal radiation is light and heat that can cause skin burns, eye injuries, and can start fires at a considerable distance. Thermal radiation is approximately 35% of the emission from a nuclear explosion.

Firestorms are caused when individual fires caused by shock waves combine into one massive fire. This can create a convective column of hot gases that will suck in all the fresh air confining it. The nuclear weapons dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki had different effects mostly because Hiroshima had a level terrain while Nagasaki had a hilly terrain. The damaged area of Hiroshima was four times more than the damaged area of Nagasaki. THERMAL RADIATION Initial radiation is also known as prompt radiation and is a type of nuclear radiation emitted within one minute of detonation. Initial radiation contains gamma rays, neutrons, beta particles (free electrons), and sometimes alpha particles (protons that are identical to the nucleus of a helium-4 atom) depending on where the weapon was detonated. Gamma rays and neutrons can produce harmful effects on living things because they can penetrate through most structures. Initial radiation can cause a considerable amount of damage. INITIAL RADIATION Residual radiation is the nuclear radiation that is emitted more than one minute after detonation. If the explosion was an airburst, then the residual radiation will mostly come from weapon debris. RESIDUAL RADIATION Fall out is the rising cloud that sucks up material in the vicinity upwards when the explosion is on or near the surface, soil, or water. Fall out can settle to the ground and contaminate a large area. This may become an extremely dangerous biological hazard.
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