Brighter Than Sun: Atomic Bomb Essay


Mysterious device, which is able to emit gigajoules of energy for indescribably small period of time, hides a lot of secrets. The works on atomic weapon were extremely secretive all over the world, and there are a lot of legends and myths about the bomb itself. In this essay on atomic bomb we will try to figure out what is the essence of the bomb, namely what atomic power and radiation is and what consequences they lead to.

Nuclear energy: pros and cons

Modern civilization is impossible without electrical power. The production and use of electricity increase annually. Mankind starts to face the ghost of electrical hunger because of the depletion of fossil fuels deposits and increasing ecological losses when electricity is produced.

Energy released in nuclear reactions is million times higher than the energy that unusual chemical reactions give (for example, combustion reaction). So the heating value of the nuclear fuel is incredibly higher than of the usual fuel. It is extremely tempting idea to use nuclear fuel for producing electrical energy.

The advantages of nuclear power plants comparing with thermal power plants and hydro power plants are obvious: there are no waste products, gas emissions, no need to create huge buildings, build dams and bury the fertile land at the bottom of reservoirs. It seems that only power plants that use solar or wind energy are more ecological than nuclear power plants.

But wind turbines, and photovoltaic power stations (or solar parks) are not very powerful yet and they can not provide people with cheap electric energy, while this need increases constantly.

But still practicability of nuclear power plant construction and operation is often casted doubt because of harmful influence of radioactive substances on the environment and human.

An invisible enemy

For the natural radiation on the Earth three radioactive elements are responsible, they are uranium, thorium and actinium. These chemical elements are unstable. Decaying, they release energy or become sources of ionizing radiation. As a rule during the decay a heavy invisible gas that has no taste or smell called radon is formed. Radon is constantly formed in the depths of the Earth, it is accumulated in the rocks, and then gradually through the cracks it comes to the Earth surface.

Exposure to radon a human gets being at home or at work in closed and unventilated room where the concentration of the gas, the source of the radiation, is increased. Usually people are unaware of the danger.

Radon penetrates in the house from the soil through the cracks in the basement or through the floor. It is accumulated in the lower floors of the buildings. But if in construction such materials as granite, pumice, alumina, phosphogypsum, red brick, calcium silicate slag are used, then the walls of a building become the source of the radiation.

Natural gas used in gas stoves (especially liquefied propane cylinders) is also potential source of radon. And if water for domestic use is pumped from deep-lying water beds rich with radon, in this case the radon concentration in the air increases greatly even during the clothes washing.

By the way it was found that the average concentration of radon in the bathroom is usually 40 times higher than in the bedrooms and several times higher than in the kitchen.

Radiation and human

Radioactivity and Earth radioactive background is natural phenomenon that existed long before humans. Mankind during its evolution was always influenced by the radiation. That is why all human organs contain some radioactive isotopes. While their amount does not exceed the safe limit, there are no reasons to worry. But if the radiation level increases, the live beings are in danger.

For the first time the effect of high doses of radiation was experienced by the famous scientists and natural radioactivity researchers Becquerel, Pierre Curie, Marie Sklodowska-Curie.

Great scientists Marie Sklodowska-Curie, Marguerite Perret and many others suffered radiation sickness, which became professional disease of all the radiochemists. However systematic studying of radiation biological effect was started much later, only after the atomic bombs explosions in Hiroshima and Nagasaki and numerous nuclear weapons tests.

Radiation: delayed-action mine

Radioactive elements (radionuclides) can get in the body through the lungs during breathing, with the food, or to influence the skin, so the radiation can be external as well as internal. Radioactive strontium and calcium are accumulated in the bones, iodine – in thyroid gland, cesium and potassium – in almost every organ and tissue. Surprisingly, but the effectiveness of radionuclides that get inside the body is several times less than the general external radiation efficiency, especially in that case when they emit gamma radiation.

The radiation consequences are various and very dangerous. The most severe radiation damage causes radiation sickness that may lead to death. This disease manifests itself very quickly – from minutes to twenty-four hours Changes occur in the blood under the influence of radiation: reduction in the leukocytes and platelets number. The bigger radiation dose is, the more blood changes and the chance of the death is higher. In severe cases of radiation exposure, death occurs at 1-3 days. In this case a serious surgery required – bone marrow transplantation.

If the radiation dose is relatively low, later in life cancer, or accelerated aging may develop. There are various deformities and children mental retardation as a result of radiation damage to the fetus in the womb. In the second, the third and subsequent generations may appear different genetic diseases. Radiation may damage reproductive functions of men and women, thyroid gland and other organs and systems of the body. The effects of radiation damage can appear many years later after the irradiation. Radiation causes chromosome damage.

Today everyone knows about doubtless harm of radiation, especially at high doses. So the maximum of attention is paid to the safety and ecological issues while projecting, construction and exploitation of the nuclear power plants. If the situation on nuclear power plant is under control, then its harmful effect is less than the effect of natural sources of radiation (such as cosmic rays, some minerals and rocks used in the construction). By the way, the largest radiation dose a person gets in the clinic, with the X-ray diagnostics.

There are various special measures aimed at the radioactivity control. Nevertheless because of the planners’ faults and sometimes because of the fatal mistakes of personnel of nuclear plants accidents occur. The most horrible accident happened in 1986, the 26th of April on Chernobyl nuclear Power Plant, which is located near the border of Ukraine and Belarus.

Many countries have signed the Treaty Banning Nuclear Weapon Tests in the Atmosphere, in Outer Space and Under Water. There are also nuclear weapons power limitations imposed by the treaty. Ten countries signed the treaty. Not only the weapons but nature itself can be dangerous. For example there is a list of the most dangerous animals on the world. Detailed essay on this issue can be found on the website