Saturday, July 27, 2013

BOMB Epilogue

The Hydrogen Bomb

The Super would be a bomb that got its energy from fusion, the joining of atoms, rather than fission. The power of such a bomb would have almost no limit. 

Robert Oppenheimer tried to argue that the Super should never be produced. Another Los Alamos leader, Hans Bethe, added, "I believe the most important question is the moral one. Can we, who have always insisted on the morality of human decency between nations as well as inside our own country, introduce this weapon of total annihilation into the world?"

And yet, on November 1, 1952, the U.S. tested the world's first hydrogen bomb. It exploded with incredible force: 500 times the power of the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima. And, less than a year later, the Soviet Union tested their first hydrogen bomb.

The arms race was off and running.

Then, in 1954, the United States tested a massive 15-megaton hydrogen bomb on the tiny Pacific island of Bikini Atoll. To this day, the radioactive soil of Bikini Atoll makes the island uninhabitable. Still, this was followed by a 50-megaton bomb explosion by the Soviets.

Internationally, of course, other countries wanted a bomb. Great Britain got theirs in 1952. France followed in 1960, then China in 1964 and India in 1974. Finally, Pakistan in 1998 and North Korea in 2006.

If you only ever watch one video regarding nuclear explosions, make sure it's this one: Nuclear Detonation Timeline 1945 - 1998. The 2053 nuclear tests and explosions that took place between 1945 and 1998 - visually and audibly plotted on a world map.

The big question is: Will any of these bombs ever be used? By who and against whom? What do you think? 

Now that we know this story, this bit of history, what's our responsibility?

I loved how the book ends:
In the end, this is a difficult story to sum up. The making of the atomic bomb is one of history's most amazing examples of teamwork and genius and poise under pressure. But it's also the story of how humans created a weapon capable of wiping our species off the planet, It's a story with no end in sight.
And, like it or not, you're in it.

Remember how we started this story... as "story detectives"? By looking at this event from multiple, international perspectives what did you learn? What do you still want to know?

And, like it or not, where do we go from here?

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