The Atomic Bomb
By Zack


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The blast from an atomic bomb is created by a chain reaction caused by the splitting of a single atom. The radius of the blast can be miles wide and the intensity of the light and heat emitted are equal to that of the sun. Anything within one half mile of the detonation point is instantly vaporized. Then, anything within one mile is completely destroyed; severe blast damage to anything within two miles; and everything else within three miles is burnt to a crisp. Survivors from an atomic bombs' blast almost always become diagnosed with cancer or some other form of radiation poisoning later in life. The shape of atomic explosions have given them the nickname "Mushroom Cloud" because of the way the explosion goes straight up and curves back down.

The idea of an atomic bomb came from Albert Einstein's famous equation E=MC², or energy equals mass times the speed of light in a vacuum. Einstein used this equation to help the United States form their own atomic bombs. On August 2, 1939, Einstein found that in Nazi Germany, Nazis were purifying Uranium-235 to develop atomic bombs. When Franklin Roosevelt heard about this in 1942, he ordered that the U.S. begin the production of atomic bombs, which turned into what became known as the Manhattan Project. The official agency assigned to the production of the bombs was the Corps of Engineers' Manhattan Engineer District, lead by Major Lieutenant General Leslie R. Groves. After the bombs were developed, they were tested at Los Alamos, New Mexico; Oak Ridge, Tennessee; and Hanford, Washington. The first Atomic Bomb was successfully exploded on July 16, 1945 near Alamogordo, New Mexico.

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The main element used in atomic bombs is an element called Uranium-235. The atomic blast is caused by a sudden release of energy from the nucleus of a single Uranium-235 atom after it has been split open. After the first atom splits, it causes a chain reaction leading to a massive explosion. The initial blast goes straight outward, but then a vacuum is created in the center, and the explosion is forced back into the middle. Then with nowhere to go, the blast goes straight up and curves back down, making the mushroom shape.

Shortly after the end of the Second World War, the United States and the Soviet Union turned from allies to enemies. The two countries were spying on each other and trying to sabotage one other instead of using physical combat during their unfriendly period which became known as the Cold War. During the Cold War, they were simply trying to outdo each other. Two examples would be the space race and the arms race, which was pretty much who could make the most weapons, which is part of the reason that production of atomic bombs was a high priority. The U.S. seemed to be beating the U.S.S.R. the arms race.

However, the United States' lead in the arms race only lasted four years. The U.S. was monitoring the air fields in Alaska for nuclear activity, a precaution many Americans thought unnecessary, because they didn't think the Soviets had the technology to build atomic bombs. But this turned out to be a more than necessary action for the Soviets had not only made atomic bombs, but on September 3, 1949, they had successfully exploded one.

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The importance of the atomic bomb in the world's history is that it was the most powerful weapon on the face of the earth in the 40's and 50's, until the Hydrogen Bomb was developed. On August 6, 1945, the Enola Gay dropped an atomic bomb on Hiroshima and killed 66,000 people instantly; the 69,000 people that survived were permanently injured and suffered from radiation poisoning, all from the 10-kiloton explosion caused by the single bomb. Three days later the U.S. dropped its second atomic bomb on Nagasaki, ending World War II. These were the only two times in all of history that an atomic bomb was used in warfare. Had we not have had those atomic bombs, the war would have gone on for much longer. The use of atomic bombs also was the main threat made in the Cold War between the U.S. and Russia, being the sole purpose of the arms race.



Sources:
Bellis, Mary. "The History of the Atomic Bomb." About: Inventors. 2007. The New York Times Company. 11 Feb. 2007 <http://inventors.about.com/library/weeklyaa050300a.htm>.

Garmon, Lucille B. "Manhattan Project." World Book Online Reference Center. 2007. [Highland Learning Center. 2/5/07.] <http://www.worldbookonline.com.ezproxy.cooklib.org:2048/wb/Article?id=ar341940>.

TimeFrame AD 1950-1990: the Nuclear Age. Alexandria, Virginia: Time-Life Books, 1990. 9-168