The Possession and use of Nuclear Weapons (Part 2)

Donald Trump recently wrote the following tweet :

Image result for donald trump nuclear weapons tweet

I am not interested in a discussion about the correct interpretation of his tweet. In the next few posts we will seek to understand the nature and ethical questions concerning nuclear weapons.

So, what is a nuclear blast like?

Environmental Impact

When a nuclear explosion occurs a fireball begins to form in less than a millionth of a second. A radioactive mushroom cloud containing dirt and debris from the earth’s surface is created. A blast and a shock wave from the cloud is emitted and it can stretch to about 3 miles.

A wall of pressure is created by the explosion. The pressure wall is responsible for a significant portion of the damage from the blast.

Image result for images of hiroshima and nagasaki

Human Toll

Some people may experience temporary blindness and burning of the retina simply by looking at the blast!
Death comes in multiple forms after a nuclear explosion. A firestorm developed when the bomb was dropped on Hiroshima. Many people died as a result of heat and suffocation.

The shock wave from the blast can rupture eardrums and lungs. People can be thrown to their deaths from being launched at a high rate of speed. The thermal radiation can burn skin and create fires over large areas. A nuclear bomb can create a firestorm that would certainly increase the number of casualties.

Here is a visual image of the effects of a nuclear bomb.

Nagasaki3.jpg

Radiation is released within a minute of the initial blast. Fetuses can suffer from mental retardation as a result of the radiation. The radiation can also lead to the formation of cataracts. Here is a video that shows the impact of a nuclear bomb.

Quick facts about the Bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki

Nagasaki

  • The bomb – named ‘Fat Man’ for its round, tubby shape, apparently after Winston Churchill – was dropped at 11.02am on 9 August 1945 by the B-29 bomber, Bockscar.
  • It was 3.2 metres long and weighed 4.5 tons
  • Element: plutonium 239
  • It exploded about 470 metres above the ground.
  • Destructive energy: equal to 21,000 tons of TNT.
  • About 74,000 people died by the end of 1945.
  • Eighty per cent of homes within two kilometres of the hypocentre were wrecked.

Hiroshima

  • The bomb named ‘Little Boy’ was dropped by the Enola Gay, a Boeing B-29, at 8.15am on 6 August 1945.
  • It was 3 metres long and weighed four tons.
  • Element: uranium 235.
  • The bomb exploded 580 metres above the city.
  • The air temperature on detonation exceeded 1 million degrees Celsius.
  • The energy released by the bomb was equal to about 15,000 tons of TNT.
  • About 140,000 of Hiroshima’s 350,000 people were estimated to have died by the end of 1945.
  • The city was almost completely destroyed.
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