We explain what the atomic bomb is, its types, invention and how it works. In addition, atomic bombings of hiroshima and nagasaki.
What is the atomic bomb?
The atomic bomb, also called nuclear weaponry, is a type of explosive device that operates on the basis of nuclear chain reactions . He is employed, like all weapons of this size, for strictly warlike purposes.
These types of bombs are the most destructive and lethal artifacts ever invented by mankind. They are cataloged within weapons of mass destruction, the use of which is subject today to strict international conventions and protocols.
An atomic bomb can vary both in destructive capacity and in the materials of which it is made, which are subjected to a very violent exothermic reaction inside , but when detonated it usually generates a gigantic mushroom-shaped cloud of smoke, very recognizable .
Only two atomic bombs have been dropped on civilian targets in history . Its result was catastrophic in terms of death, destruction and residual effects.
The latter are due to the fact that these types of bombs not only produce an immediate impact, but also spread unstable atomic elements (that is, radioactive material) everywhere. Thus, they permanently alter the biochemistry of living things around , due to radioactive poisoning.
According to their components and the way they operate, atomic bombs can be of the following types:
- Uranium bomb . The first type of atomic bomb invented, during World War II , is made up of fissile isotopes (that is, breakable by specific physical procedures) of a chemical element called uranium (U), such as U 235 . Of this type were the bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, equivalent to hundreds of tons of TNT exploding in unison.
- Plutonium bomb . Equipped with a more complex design than uranium, this version of the pump uses a quantity of plutonium (Pu) the size of a tennis ball, surrounded by powerful plastic explosives that, when detonated, compress the metal to the size of a marble , thus producing an uncontrolled nuclear fission reaction that destroys everything in the round and releases huge amounts of ionizing radiation.
- Hydrogen pump . Also called pump H, fusion pump or thermonuclear pump, it differs from the others in that it uses the opposite physical principle: instead of fissioning heavy elements, it fuses light elements such as hydrogen (H). For this it is necessary to have specific isotopes of this element, such as deuterium ( 2 H) or tritium ( 3 H), which are subjected to the initial energy of a smaller atomic bomb of fission, thus producing the chain reaction which fuses hydrogen nuclei, releasing large portions of energy and heat . With such pumps, temperatures as high as the core of the Sun can be achieved (15 million degrees Celsius).
- Pump neutrons . Neutron pumps, known as N pumps or increased direct radiation pumps, are derived from the same H or hydrogen pump, leading to a lower initial fission reaction (the primary reaction) and a greater melting of the elements (the secondary reaction ). This results in a pump that produces low physical destruction, but up to seven times more radioactivity in a short period of time , than the most powerful hydrogen bomb. This means that it is much more lethal to living beings.
How an atomic bomb works?
Atomic bombs are governed by the principles of atomic reaction, that is, by the laws of physics in regard to the behavior of atomic nuclei.
Its general sense is to trigger a chain reaction that affects all atoms of the combustible material , thus releasing in a few seconds a huge amount of energy, product of the transformation of one atom into another.
This can happen in two ways, which we already looked at the beginning:
- Fission nuclear . It is, simply said, to break the nucleus of the atom, especially those of heavy materials, which have bulky and energy-filled nuclei. This is achieved by bombarding them with free neutrons, to destabilize the nuclear composition and promote the rupture of the nucleus, generating unstable atoms that begin a long process of decay, until they become stable elements such as lead.
- Nuclear fusion . In this case we talk about the process contrary to fission, which therefore consists of the union of two atomic nuclei to form a new one, larger and heavier, from two light elements. This process releases much more energy than fission, and is the same that occurs inside the stars , which are, thus seen, huge nuclear explosions in space. It should be noted, however, that it has not been possible to handle nuclear fusion with the same capacity as fission, neither in bombs nor in atomic reactors, so that fusion bombs are actually fission / fusion bombs, They require an initial explosion as a trigger for the merger.
However, atomic bombs depend on a chain reaction, in which an atom reacts and releases energy and loose neutrons that can react to the neighboring atom, which repeats the operation and so on, faster and faster. mass.
Who invented the atomic bomb?
Like many other great (and terrible) inventions of mankind, the atomic bomb does not have a single author, but is the result of a diverse series of efforts and investigations . Many of them occurred within the framework of World War II (1939-1945).
However, two theoretical physicists, one German and one American: Albert Einstein (1879-1955) and Robert Oppenheimer (1904-1967) are often named as their intellectual authors.
Famous author of relativistic physics, Einstein laid the theoretical foundations of what then led to the atomic bomb , with his Theory of Special Relativity , published in 1905, and especially with his well-known formula of E = mc 2 , that is, that the energy is equal to mass times the speed of light squared.
This formula allowed the feat of converting mass into energy and energy into mass, which is basically what happens in the nuclear reactions of the bomb: an atom “breaks” and a part of itself becomes free energy.
Later in the same twentieth century, in Nazi Germany different physicists cultivated their knowledge of atomic nuclei. Among them were physicist Niels Bohr, who theoretically devised nuclear fission , and also Otto Hans and Lise Meitner, who developed the bombardment of atomic nuclei with neutrons, seeking to discover elements heavier than uranium.
Many of these scientists had to flee their country, being Jews of descent. Thus this knowledge reached the United States, where other scientists such as Enrico Fermi, Richard Feynman and John von Neumann, could also contribute to the so-called Manhattan Project: the American attempt to develop an atomic bomb before the Nazis .
The Mahattan Project was led, precisely, by one of the most privileged scientific minds in the United States: Robert Oppenheimer. It was located in the Los Alamos Desert, in New Mexico, where on July 16, 1945 the first atomic bomb in the history of mankind was detonated , under the code name of gadget (“artifact”).
It is said that Oppenheimer himself, when verifying what they had achieved, recalled the verses of the sacred book of Hinduism, the Bhagavad-guita : “Now I become death , the destroyer of worlds.”
Atomic Bombings Of Hiroshima And Nagasaki
The only atomic bombs dropped on civilian populations were those that the United States government dropped on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki on August 6 and 9, 1945 , respectively.
Nicknamed “Little Boy” and “Fat Man,” these bombs instantly liquidated 140,000 and 80,000 people in each city , of which 15% to 20% were due to radioactive poisoning, which also left hereditary genetic sequelae in the population.
The bombing was intended to force the Japanese government to surrender unconditionally, after the defeat of its German and Italian allies.
The US government decided to attack civilian populations, to save the cost in their own human lives that would mean fighting Japan on the Pacific front, in what had already been a cruel and costly war for the whole world. Justified or not, the US is to date the only country that has dropped a nuclear weapon on enemy populations.