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Sunday, 16 October 2016

Nuclear weapon


The Atomic Age begun on July 16, 1945, when the USA successfully detonated a plutonium-based nuclear bomb. The test was conducted in the Jornada del Muerto desert near Alamogordo, New Mexico, on what was then the USAAF Alamogordo Bombing and Gunnery Range (now part of White Sands Missile Range).

At 05:29:21 MWT the bomb exploded with an energy equivalent to around 20 kilotons of TNT (84 TJ). The desert sand, largely made of silica, melted and became a mildly radioactive light green glass.

 Trinity Site explosion, 0.016 second after explosion, July 16, 1945

The explosion left a crater in the desert 5 feet (1.5 m) deep and 30 feet (9.1 m) wide.

Kodak accidentally discovered the US were secretly testing nuclear bombs in 1945 because the fallout made their films look fogged.

The United States dropped an atomic bomb on Hiroshima, Japan near the end of World War Two, killing an estimated 140,000 people. It was the first use of a nuclear weapon in warfare.

Physicist Bernard Waldman witnessed the bombing of Hiroshima, as a camera operator on the observation aircraft. He was equipped with a special high-speed movie camera with six seconds of film to record the blast. Unfortunately, Waldman forgot to open the camera shutter, and no film was exposed.

At its center, the Hiroshima nuclear explosion was estimated to be 300,000°C—over 300 times hotter than what it takes to cremate a body.

165 survivors of Hiroshima moved to Nagasaki and also survived the destruction there on August 9, 1945.

The mushroom cloud of the atomic bombing of the Japanese city of Nagasaki

The city of Kyoto was originally the primary target of the atomic bombs in 1945, but was removed by the insistence of Secretary of War Henry Stimson, who went there on a honeymoon and admired the city deeply.

American physicist Lawrence Harding "Larry" Johnston (February 11, 1918 – December 4, 2011) was the only man to witness all three atomic explosions in 1945: the Trinity nuclear test and the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Johnston with the Fat Man plutonium core on Tinian in 1945

Nagasaki and Hiroshima are no longer radioactive, aside from trace amounts, due to the fact that the bombs exploded at a height of 500+ meters.

The first prototype of the Convair B-36 Peacemaker, the first nuclear weapon delivery vehicle to be mass-produced, flew for the first time on August 8, 1946.

B-36J Peacemaker

The United States conducted their first and only nuclear artillery test at the Nevada Test Site in 1953.

The largest nuclear bomb ever tested by the United States, Castle Bravo, was detonated on March 1, 1954 at Bikini Atoll, Marshall Islands. It was the first in a series of high-yield thermonuclear weapon design tests conducted by the Americans. However, due to a miscalculation, the bomb was three times stronger than expected. This resulted in most of the test equipment being destroyed or vaporized rendering the experiment a failure.

On May 15, 1957 Flight Lieutenant Alan Washbrook, the navigator in a four-engined Valiant jet, pressed a button eight miles above the Pacific and turned Britain into an H-bomb power. Prime Minister Harold Macmillan had sped up the tests so Britain could make sure the weapons work before talks with Russia and America about banning nuclear weapons.

India conducted its first nuclear test explosion at Pokhran on May 18, 1974, the first confirmed nuclear test by a nation outside the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council.

Until the mid-1990s, Britain’s nuclear weapons were armed by turning a bicycle lock key — with no other security on the bomb itself.

In the 1990s, the South African government dismantled all of its nuclear weapons, the first nation in the world which voluntarily gave up all nuclear arms it had developed itself.

The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons,  the first legally binding international agreement to comprehensively prohibit nuclear weapons was passed on July 7, 2017. 122 out of 193 member states voted in favor of the proposed agreement.


In 2002 the heads of the USA's weapons labs were asked by a classified session of Congress to prove that it was possible to build a nuclear bomb using commercially available materials (minus the uranium). They did so, and brought it into the Senate hearing room.

There are nine members of the "nuclear club" of nations known or believed to have nuclear weapons. Russia, US, UK, France, China, Israel, India, Pakistan and North Korea.

Astronomer Carl Sagan worked with the US Air Force on detonating a nuclear device on the Moon.

The US spends around $25billion (nearly £20bn) a year on nuclear weapons.

Harvard professor Roger Fisher proposed implanting nuclear launch codes in a volunteer so that the President would have to kill an innocent person before firing. The Pentagon rejected the idea fearing the President would not go through with it even if it was necessary.

Nearly a third of deployed US nuclear weapons are based near downtown Seattle.

Some of America's nuclear arsenal still runs on 8 inch floppy disks.

For twenty years, the U.S. nuclear launch code was '00000000.'

Launching a nuclear weapon within the City of Chicago is punishable by up to 30 days' imprisonment and a $1,000 fine.

An average nuclear weapon detonated over a city would instantly destroy everything within a 50-mile radius.

Source Daily Express

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