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Essay on the Effects of Nuclear Bombs

The estimated casualties of the World War II Hiroshima bombing are one hundred thirty five thousand people dead or severely injured. The casualties of Nagasaki are an estimated sixty four thousand. That is one hundred eighty nine thousand people who may or may not have contributed in any way to the war. Those deaths were from two fairly small nuclear bombs, of which the effects were devastating. Those appalling effects are illustrated when examining the human effects, environmental effects and, dangerous elements of nuclear bombs.

One would most likely know that nuclear weapons are extremely dangerous, but how dangerous they are depends on three main elements. The first element is how much energy a bomb contains. A megaton is the amount of energy released by one million tons of TNT. While today most average nuclear bombs have yields of less than that, the Hiroshima bomb was zero point two megatons. However at present the majority of large nuclear bombs are eight to forty times that. The largest nuclear bomb operational at this time is a Russian hydrogen bomb, which consists of fifty megatons. That amount is equal to fifty millions tons of TNT and the effects of it could eradicate the human race. The second element is the weapon's speed. A blast wave is a wave of over pressured air that forms a fraction of a second after the bomb detonates. This wave can travel up to twelve miles in just fifty seconds from a one megaton bomb.  It could also severely injure anyone or thing in that mile radius. The third dangerous element is the surrounding climate. For example, the effects of the bomb would vary greatly if a wind was blowing at the time of explosion. Fires that are ignited would then create more smoke and produce a greater possibility for sun absorption by the clouds, which could cause massive effects on the environment.

The effects of nuclear bombs on humans are both vast and terrifying. From the blast wave alone the majority of people within a three mile radius would be killed and nearly all within a six mile radius would be severely injured. Thermal (heat) radiation given off by the fireball created after the bomb's detonation is strong enough to cause flash burns to the skin, and a permanent retina burn. First, second, and third degree burns could be given up to eleven miles from ground zero, the point of explosion. These burns may heal, but it is likely victims will be scarred for life if they are lucky enough not to die from the burns themselves. In one case at the Nagasaki bombing a woman's patterned shirt was seared to her body because she had been burned so badly. The pattern was printed on her skin for the rest of her life. Also in some cases pregnant women were known to give birth to children with birth defects. Some of those included missing limbs and cancerous growths.

The effects of nuclear weapons on the environment are staggering. One effect scientists have been researching is called a nuclear winter. This is defined as the earth's temperature being lowered by thermal (heat) radiation igniting flammable materials, and the smoke from those fires absorbing the suns rays. The lack of heat from the sun would significantly drop the surface temperature of the earth and could cause widespread crop failure and starvation. Also along with injuring thousands of people, a blast wave could destroy a large amount of buildings within a one mile radius. The structure of the building s would literally crumble from the force of the over pressure in the wave. Residual nuclear radiation also leaves its mark on the environment. It hits particles of soil, water, and rock in the mushroom shaped cloud created by dust and soil particles after the explosion, which then become radioactive. These particles are then deemed as fallout and can drop back to the ground anywhere from hours or years after the explosion. They can cause long term and terminal radiation damage to anything they hit.

Although it is evident that effects of a nuclear bomb are extremely destructive when examining human effects, environment effects and danger elements, these mentioned are only some of the many scientists have begun to study. One idea draws all of these points together though, and that is the fact that even a small nuclear bomb is powerful and could take the lives of thousands. Innocent people die because of these devastating effects and nothing any doctor can do will fix that. Once a nuclear bomb goes off, nothing can stop it, and thousands of men and women will die in just seconds before they even know anything had happened.


chloecat101's picture
Submitted by
Chloe Logan
while in
Grade 8
Lord Tweedsmuir

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