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Atomic bombs (1945)

Atomic bombs (1945)

The atomic bomb is one of the most destructive weapons in human history.

History

Keywords

atomic bomb, Oppenheimer, mass destruction, Hiroshima, Nagasaki, Los Alamos, Manhattan Project, Leo Szilard, Enola Gay, Alamogordo, Paul Tibbets, nuclear fission, nuclear, weapon, bomber, Little Boy, Fat Man, uranium bomb, chain reaction, world war, John von Neumann, Edward Teller, history

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Questions

  • What was the codename of the project for the development of the atomic bomb?
  • Where was the centre of the American Nuclear programme?
  • Who was the leader of the Manhattan Project?
  • Who persuaded\nFranklin D. Roosevelt\nto support the development\nof the atomic bomb?
  • When was the first test bomb detonated?
  • Which was the first Japanese city to be destroyed by an atomic bomb?
  • What was the codename of the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima?
  • Which was the last city destroyed by an atomic bomb?
  • When was the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima?
  • Is it true that altogether 320,000 Japanese people were killed in the two nuclear attacks?
  • What was the name of the plane that dropped the bomb on Hiroshima?
  • Is it true that the mass deployment of atomic bombs can lead to the extinction of life on Earth?
  • Is it true that after the two atomic bombs were dropped on Japan, Leo Szilard started a campaign against nuclear warfare?
  • Is it true that Albert Einstein was against the idea of atomic bombs?
  • Who was the President of the United States when the atomic bombs were deployed?
  • Is it true that atomic bombs were not deployed during the Cold War because of fear of their destructive power?
  • What was the fissile material used in the bomb that was dropped on Hiroshima?
  • What was the fissile material used in the bomb that was dropped on Nagasaki?
  • Is it true that nuclear weapons protect a country by deterring aggressors from attacking?
  • Is it true that a uranium bomb contains several pieces of fissile material, each of which is larger than the critical mass?
  • A uranium bomb is detonated by pushing the pieces of uranium together, so that their weight exceeds the critical mass.
  • Is it true that the critical mass is the smallest amount of fissile material needed for a sustained nuclear chain reaction?
  • Which is not one of the effects of a nuclear explosion?
  • Is it true that the effects of a nuclear explosion only affect two consecutive generations of people?
  • Radioactive radiation can result in genetic damage across generations.
  • Is it true that the bomb in Hiroshima killed nearly 90% of the people in a 1 km diameter circle around the explosion?
  • Modern nuclear weapons can be 10,000 times more powerful than the bomb dropped on Hiroshima.
  • Is it true that the bomb dropped on Hiroshima was more powerful than the one dropped on Nagasaki?

Scenes

Enola Gay

  • B-29 bomber
  • Little Boy (uranium bomb)
  • Fat Man (plutonium bomb)

Horrible end to a horrible war

The first nuclear bomb was developed by an American research team in Los Alamos, New Mexico.
The codename of the programme was ‘Manhattan Project.’ It was launched in 1939, initiated by the Hungarian-born Leo Szilard (and by the fear of the Nazi nuclear programme). The team of American, English, and Italian scientists, including John von Neumann and Edward Teller, was led by Robert Oppenheimer. The first nuclear bomb (a plutonium bomb) was detonated on 16 July 1945 on the test site near Alamogordo.

The European events of World War II ended in May 1945. In the Far East, however, Japan refused to surrender, therefore the USA decided to deploy weapons of mass destruction. Nuclear bombs were dropped on Hiroshima on 6 August 1945 (‘Little Boy’: a uranium bomb) and on Nagasaki on 9 August (‘Fat Man’, a plutonium bomb). The first bomb was dropped by the 393d Bombardment Squadron B-29 Superfortress bomber, Enola Gay, commanded by Paul Tibbets.

B-29 bomber

  • machine gun tower
  • cockpit
  • rear cabin
  • aft pressurised compartment
  • bomb bay door
  • radial engine
  • undercarriage

Atomic bombs

  • Little Boy (uranium bomb)
  • Fat Man (plutonium bomb)

An atomic bomb is a kind of nuclear weapon. There are two basic types of nuclear weapons: those which derive their energy from nuclear fission (atomic bombs), and those which use fusion (hydrogen bombs).

In atomic bombs (fission bombs), heavy nuclei (plutonium, uranium) split into lighter elements when exposed to radiation by neutrons, starting a chain reaction. Due to the release of the binding energy of nuclei, atomic bombs have enormous destructive power. This manifests as air pressure, electromagnetic impulse (such as heat radiation, light) and radioactive radiation.

Little Boy

  • stabilising tail fins
  • uranium
  • radar aerial
  • detonator
  • gun tube

‘Little Boy’

An atomic bomb is a kind of nuclear weapon. There are two basic types of nuclear weapons: those which derive their energy from nuclear fission (atomic bombs), and those which use fusion (hydrogen bombs).

In atomic bombs (fission bombs), heavy nuclei (plutonium, uranium) split into lighter elements when exposed to radiation by neutrons, starting a chain reaction. Due to the release of the binding energy of nuclei, atomic bombs have enormous destructive power. This manifests as air pressure, electromagnetic impulse (such as heat radiation, light) and radioactive radiation.

Little Boy’ was the codename of the Mk-I atomic bomb, the first nuclear weapon ever used in war. It was about 3 m long and 71 cm wide. Inside the nearly 4 tonne construction, 64 kg uranium-235 was placed (only 0.6 g of it converted into energy).
The ‘Little Boy’ was dropped on Hiroshima on 6 August 1945; its explosion had a yield of 13-18 kilotons, it destroyed the city and killed 140 thousand people.

Fat Man

  • stabilising tail fins
  • radar aerial
  • detonator layer
  • tamper lens
  • plutonium core

‘Fat Man’

An atomic bomb is a kind of nuclear weapon. There are two basic types of nuclear weapons: those which derive their energy from nuclear fission (atomic bombs), and those which use fusion (hydrogen bombs).

In atomic bombs (fission bombs), heavy nuclei (plutonium, uranium) split into lighter elements when exposed to radiation by neutrons, starting a chain reaction. Due to the release of the binding energy of nuclei, atomic bombs have enormous destructive power. This manifests as air pressure, electromagnetic impulse (such as heat radiation, light) and radioactive radiation.

The fission bomb dropped on Nagasaki on 9 August 1945 was possibly named after a character in the film 'The Maltese Falcon'. The bomb was 325 cm long and 152 cm wide, it measured 4,600 kg and it contained plutonium-239. The plane that dropped the bomb, Bockscar (piloted by Charles Sweeney) was assigned to the 393d Bomb Squadron, just as the one that bombed Hiroshima. The explosion that had a yield of 21 kilotons killed 39 thousand and injured 25 thousand people in the Japanese city.

Animation

  • stabilising tail fins
  • uranium
  • radar aerial
  • detonator
  • gun tube
  • stabilising tail fins
  • radar aerial
  • detonator layer
  • tamper lens
  • plutonium core
  • uranium
  • spontaneous fission
  • induced fission
  • uncontrolled chain reaction
  • Hiroshima
  • Nagasaki

Operation

  • uranium
  • gun tube

Chain reaction

Narration

The destructive power of nuclear bombs comes from nuclear fission - nuclei split while emitting neutrons and thereby release energy. Though it is rare, nuclear fission can occur spontaneously, or it can be generated by neutron bombardment.

It was Leo Szilard who suggested that if an atom absorbs one neutron, it will split and release several neutrons, starting a chain reaction. The uranium isotope with an atomic mass of 235 and the plutonium isotope with an atomic mass of 239 are the most suitable for this, as 2 or 3 neutrons are released with each fission event.

The precondition for a chain reaction is that the fissile material should enter a super-critical state, that is, its mass and density should be greater than a minimum value. Neutrons released by spontaneous fission collide with nuclei and cause them to split. Thereby further neutrons are released and a chain reaction is started.

In uranium bombs, the fissile material is placed in several separate smaller pieces. When these pieces are pushed together by explosives, their combined mass exceeds the critical mass and a detonation occurs.

In plutonium bombs, the fissile material is compressed by explosives to start the chain reaction.

The Manhattan Project was an American research programme for the development of an atomic bomb. The team of physicists was led by Robert Oppenheimer. Nazi Germany also attempted to develop an atomic bomb, but fortunately failed. Oppenheimer and his team achieved their goal in 1945, they built a uranium bomb named Little Boy, and a plutonium bomb named Fat Man.

On 26 July 1945, the Allies sent an ultimatum to Japan, calling for its immediate surrender to end World War II. When Japan rejected the ultimatum, the two bombs were deployed: a bomber called the Enola Gay dropped 'Little Boy' on Hiroshima on 6 August, and a B-29 bomber called Bockscar dropped 'Fat Man' on Nagasaki on 9 August. The two attacks caused terrible destruction, altogether more than 300 thousand civilians died. Even several generations later, children were born with severe congenital disorders due to radiation-induced mutations.

The deployment of the nuclear bombs forced Japan to its knees. The Instrument of Surrender, marking the end of World War II, was signed aboard the battleship USS Missouri on 2 September 1945.

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