The Threat of Nuclear Weapons

Essay by Anonymous UserA+, April 1996

download word file, 3 pages 3.7

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...