Nuclear Weapons.

Essay by bunkbedbuddyHigh School, 11th gradeA+, September 2003

download word file, 5 pages 3.4

Nuclear weapons are explosive devices, bombs, or warheads that release nuclear energy. Their destructive power comes from the core of the atom, the nucleus. One type of nuclear weapon, the atom bomb, and uses the energy released when nuclei of heavy elements like uranium or plutonium, split apart. A second even more powerful type of nuclear weapon, the hydrogen bomb, and uses the energy released when nuclei of light elements, types of hydrogen atoms, are forced together, or fused. Nuclear devices have been fashioned into weapons of many shapes with many purposes. Nuclear bombs can be dropped from airplanes; missiles launched from land, air, or sea can deliver warheads; artillery shells can be fired from cannon; mines can be placed in land and sea. Some nuclear weapons are small enough to destroy only a portion of a battlefield. Others are large enough to destroy entire cities and more. Nuclear weapons can be thousands or even millions of times more destructive than conventional chemical explosives.

Unlike chemical explosives, nuclear weapons have no peacetime uses. They are designed and built for use by the military of nations like the United States, France, Great Britain, China, India, Pakistan, Russia and several other former Soviet Republics. Israel is also believed to have them. Iran and Korea are interested in building them. Since nuclear weapons were invented and built during World War II, they have been used only twice, both times against the Japanese by the United States.

Nuclear weapons produce two important effects that are also produced by conventional chemical explosives. They release heat and generate shock waves. The heat released in a nuclear explosion creates a sphere of burning, glowing gas that can range from hundreds of feet to miles in diameter. This fireball emits a flash of heat that travels outward...