When the first atomic bomb was dropped in 1945 it changed the world for ever. Many people wish it had never been invented at all.
Splitting the Atom. The idea for a weapon made from atomic energy had been around since Albert Einstein came up with his equation E = MC2 (which means there’s an awful lot of energy in absolutely everything, inside atoms). During the Second World War, when many countries were carrying out bombing campaigns on one another, the race was on to find a bomb that used the power of atoms.
Getting at the energy inside atoms isn’t easy: for that you have to split them (this is called nuclear fission). Atoms are the tiny units of matter everything is made of and they are a million times smaller than the width of one of the hairs on your head. So you can imagine how tricky it is to split one.
The top secret Manhattan Project in America gathered together some of the brainiest scientists in the world to try and manage it. Eventually, they succeeded. In 1945 two fission (or atomic) bombs were dropped on the Japanese cities of Nagasaki and Hiroshima, killing more than 200,000 people. Some people argue that the bombs saved lives because they ended the Second World War.
Nuclear fusion was developed soon after. This new way of releasing atomic power produces weapons hundreds of times more powerful than atomic bombs. They’ve never been used in warfare. Let’s hope they never will be.
Which year saw the first ever use of a nuclear weapon in military action?
How many people are estimated to have died from the nuclear bomb dropped on Hiroshima and its after-effects?
How does a nuclear fusion explosion work?
How many nuclear weapons have been used in military action?
How does a nuclear fission explosion work?
What does A-bomb stand for?
What type of climate is predicted if there were to be a nuclear war?
Apart from in nuclear weapons, where else can you find radiation?