The Atomic Bomb: Theory of Nuclear Fission and Its Effects
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The Atomic Bomb: Theory of Nuclear Fission and Its Effects

The Atomic bomb was first used on Japan and resulted in unconditional surrender. The A-Bomb is based on Einstein’s energy mass equation. It involves bombarding the heavy nuclei of an element like Uranium or Plutonium with neutrons. This sets off a chain reaction called fission resulting in a massive release of energy. It also releases gamma rays and neutron radiation called fallout.

The Atomic Bomb is the most powerful weapon ever invented by man. The Atomic bomb led to the Hydrogen bomb which is 1000 times mores destructive than an Atomic Bomb. The Atomic Bomb changed the concept of warfare as the USA needed only 2 A-Bombs to bring about complete and unconditional surrender of Japan.

The Bomb project was supported by no less a man than Albert Einstein himself in a letter to President Roosevelt. A secret project to manufacture a bomb known as the Manhattan project was soon underway in the USA.

The question on everybody’s mind is how the Atomic bomb functions and how does it have such destructive power. The basic equation that is the foundation of the A- Bomb is the energy mass equation of Einstein. The equation is E= MC 2.  The equation is very popular in the field of physics and a lay man can see that it denotes the amount of energy that will be released in case a reaction takes place. In this equation M is the mass and C the speed of light at 1, 86,000 miles per second.

The principle of the bomb involves the release of this energy through a nuclear reaction. This is a chain reaction also called nuclear fission. Once the reaction is complete massive amounts of energy is released which is thousands of times more than the energy released in a conventional bomb.

The culmination of the A Bomb research was the A-bomb test at Alamogordo Test Range in New Mexico, on 16 July 1945.  This explosion which was studied by scientists convinced them that a bomb dropped from the air could wreak tremendous damage to human life and buildings in a specified area of perhaps 2sq kilometers. The scientists also concluded that for maximum effect the A- bomb must be detonated about 200 ft above the ground.

The principle of a bomb is the nuclear reaction. The theory is fairly simple. Neutrons are fired at closely packed atoms which have heavy nuclei. For this purpose elements like Plutonium and Uranium are used as these have heavy nuclei. Once the nuclei are bombarded by the neutrons they break up. This leads to a chain reaction resulting in release of energy. This process of bombardment is what is termed as fission. This was the process in the earliest bombs and the bombs dropped on Japan used  this method.

The crucial point here is the start of a chain reaction. In the Hiroshima type of bombs the process of nuclear fission was carried out by firing two half spheres of uranium isotope at each other in a controlled bombardment in a chamber. This was used to set a chain reaction in motion which released energy many times the size of a conventional bomb.

Once the chain reaction sets in and the explosion takes place, it also generates explosive shock waves. These in turn produce gamma rays and neutron radiation.  This radiation can kill or maim any living tissue or life in a circle extending for many kilometers from the epicenter of the explosion. The effects last for years. This is called fallout and cannot be controlled.  The diagram below illustrates a Hiroshima type A- Bomb.

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Comments (1)

The Atomic bomb whilst damaging to Japan, it took that country a long time to recover from the radiation waves I believe it was fifty years after that instance.