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NUCLEAR ENERGY - FACTS AND CONSIDERATIONS

HISTORY OF THE ATOMIC BOMB

Japanese intervention in World War II

The entry of Japan into the war in the Second World War, was a very significant event for its conclusion, because the Japanese attack on the U.S. naval fleet in the port of Pearl Harbor, caused the United States reaction. The U.S. would then played a decisive role in the resolution of the war, with the dropping of two atomic bombs on the cities of Nagasaki and Hiroshima. The Second World War, fought in Europe from September 1, 1939 to May 8, 1945, was the most devastating with regard to the human and material losses, the conflict involved sixty-one nations and caused the death of sixty-five million people. The main contenders were: Britain, France and the USA on one hand and Germany, Italy and Japan on the other. The war began in 1939, with the invasion of Poland by Germany, and his conclusion was the beginning of a new world order based on two superpowers: the U.S. and the Soviet Union. In August 1941, Winston Churchill, British Prime Minister and U.S. President Roosevelt signed a treaty of Atlantic solidarity, this however, would not entail United States entry into the war. However it was very close, in fact, Japan, Germany's ally, has long pursued the project to expand its dominance in Asia and the Pacific, putting inevitably against the United States. In July 1941 the Japanese occupied French Indochina, at the end of the year, the head of government, went to the General Tojo, who hid their intention to proceed to a further expansion in the Pacific. The conflict between the two states broke out on December 7, 1941, when a team of Japanese bombers, bombed the American fleet in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. The damage was substantial: 85 ships were destroyed, 7 battleships and 250 aircraft, the dead were nearly 5,000 people. This attack devastated the population, because it was the first time that the U.S. territory was violated by a foreign army. On December 11, Germany and Italy also declared war to the United States. The following months the attack on Pearl Harbor, saw an extraordinary success of the Japanese forces in their efforts to expand in Asia and the Pacific. In the early months of 1942, the United States, launched a massive counter-offensive, which allowed the recapture of an important military base in Oceania, after almost two years of fighting. On May 7, after the Allied landing in Normandy, Germany surrendered unconditionally, the war in Europe was over, but the fighting was still continuing in Japan, which opposed a tenacious resistance to the counter-offensive of the U.S. air and naval forces. Meanwhile, April 12, 1945, U.S. President Roosevelt died and was succeeded by Vice President Harry Truman, who decided to finally defeat Japan, using a powerful new weapon: the atomic bomb. On August 6, the most powerful and deadly weapon that man had ever invented, was dropped on the Japanese city of Hiroshima, instantly killing about 100 000 people, many more died in the following years as a result of radiation. To drop the atomic bomb, was Thomas Wilson Farebee. The bomb, he wrote in his diary led to an explosion, whose roar was heard up to forty, fifty miles away, the blast of the explosion spread to 1300 miles per hour, with a warmth that ranged from three hundred to nine hundred thousand degrees. He was born November 9, 1918 in Mocksville North Carolina. He was the second of twelve children in a family of farmers. When he was sent to bomb Japan was 26 years old, he had the rank of major and 63 missions over enemy territory assets. He was one of one hundred reckless that for the first time attacked the Nazi troops in France in the daylight. Tibbets, the commander of the mission was the only one to know that atomic bomb would be launched on Hiroshima. Farebee Thomas died in 1999 aged 81, without remorse and without boasting, in a small house with a garden in Florida where he lived in retirement. They called him the good bomber. Three days later a second atomic bomb was dropped on Nagasaki and other six days later, on August 15, Japan surrendered. The atomic bomb that hit Hiroshima was called “Little Boy.” But this, in addition to causing the death of thousands of people, left a permanent mark, causing serious illness due to radiation, also many living beings, plants or people born after the bomb, they came to the world with birth defects or with serious diseases that have often led to death. American scientists, in the secret base in Los Alamos, had worked feverishly and precarious living conditions to precede the Nazis in the construction of the bomb. However, only in November 1944, thanks to documents found in Strasbourg, the Allies discovered that the Germans were far from the creation of the atomic bomb. The two main reasons that led President Truman to use the atomic bomb were: to quell the Japanese resistance man by man and conquer the soil could require the loss of a million American lives and half a million British lives, and especially, in this way U.S. would not have needed the Russians. It was set up a committee, which was accompanied by a Consultative Subcommittee, composed of scientific leaders of the Project. On 1 June, the Committee approved a few suggestions of the President, recommending to drop the atomic bomb on Japan as soon as possible, hitting a target surrounded by military civilian structures of particular interest, such as housing, schools and hospitals. When news leaked out even within the subcommittee, many researchers repented of having taken part in the development of the war and even Einstein, who had initially urged the president to an acceleration of the research, said that if he had known that the Germans would not be able to build the atomic bomb, he never lifted a finger. A document was drafted, the Frank Report, which showed the social and political consequences of atomic energy, which ended with an explicit invitation to use the atomic bomb for demonstration purposes only, releasing it into a desert place, simply to intimidate the Japan. The report, however, was rejected by the Committee in the belief that the bomb would have caused the Japanese to surrender unconditionally, thereby preventing its invasion that would certainly cost tens of thousands of deaths. On August 6, the first uranium-235 bomb was dropped. Hiroshima was a city of about 350,000 inhabitants, one of the major Japanese war production. The bomb destroyed everything within a radius of two kilometres, approximately 98% of the buildings of the city was destroyed or severely damaged more than 70,000 people were killed and many more died later as a result of radiation. Faced with the hesitation of the Government of Japan to accept unconditional surrender on August 9 dropped on Nagasaki was a plutonium bomb. The city was destroyed by 47% and the dead were 75000. Japan hastened to accept the surrender. With the surrender of Japan ended World War II, a great tragedy, which lasted six years. If many scientists were opposed to the use of the first bomb, the one on Nagasaki became the father of dismay and anger. Japan who had already experienced the devastating effects of that weapon, was a bent enemy, the Nagasaki bomb seemed totally unnecessary. President Truman, convinced of his choices, insisted that the second bomb was needed for the immediate end of the conflict and for the salvation of millions of lives. When it was pointed out that the Japanese had already surrendered, he replied that he was not convinced and he believed in a ready solution to the conflict. He added that this was probably the greatest event in history. (Sure it was! A bad one!)

LITERATURE

The tragedy of what happened in Hiroshima in 1945 with the launch of the atomic bomb on the city, is told in the book “The great sun of Hiroshima,” by Karl Bruckner. The book tells the life of a Japanese family and some Anglo-American soldiers before, during and after the launch of the bomb. The main characters, around which develops the whole story are two children, brother and sister Shigheo 10 years old and Sadako 4 years old, their mother (working in the defence industry of the city), their father (a soldier). During the story, new characters enter, an old boat builder, an elderly lady, a group of kids that deal to destroy the popular districts of the city, because they are considered hazardous and other secondary characters. The days of the two brothers during the war, were spent walking around the city, watching the soldiers in the barracks and the kids busy destroying the shacks. At the same time, in the days before the release of the bomb, the soldiers of the U.S. base at Tinian, were witnessing strange events: arrival of unknown people, requiring them to stay in their cabins and not to go out without permission. These obligations were imposed on the day the atomic bomb arrived at the base. One of the soldiers, unable to restrain himself, looked out of the cabin, closely followed his companions and saw a huge black sarcophagus. The military formulated several hypotheses, failing to find a reliable one. So while the Japanese population suffers, the Anglo-Americans were finalising preparations for the mission of which no one knew anything, except the one who prepared it. To guide the plane to dropped the bomb, were three selected officers aviators: Colonel Tibbets, pilot, Major Farebee, gunsmith, and Captain Parsons, according to the pilot. The first pilot choose the name of the B-29, he named it after his mother, Enola Gay. On August 6, 1945, at 8:15 am, the bomber Enola Gay dropped the bomb exactly above the centre of the city of Hiroshima. “A new sun lit up the sky, a ball of fire radiated the city, 86,000 people died in a second, 72000 suffered serious wounds in a second, 6820 homes were destroyed in a second, and 3750 building collapsed and caught fire in a second, death rays bombarded the city in a second. In this second, man accomplished, the first attempt to annihilate themselves. ” This is a phrase from the book, and it is also the one that is most striking, because in simple words, the author explains what happened in Hiroshima also, with these simple expressions, he wants people to understand what men is capable in order to win a war. These are words that vividly illustrate the consequences of certain actions of men, and that should always be remembered, to avoid further bloodshed. After the release of the bomb, the three soldiers on board the B-29, did not want to believe to have contributed to such a massacre and kept repeating: “We did not know anything, it is not our fault, we just followed orders.” Meanwhile, the people of Hiroshima began to realise what happened. After a few years, life in the city was picking up, but after the destruction of the bomb, there was nothing to buy and no money to do so, and for this, the children while their parents worked or rebuilding homes, went in search of any object useful in reconstructing homes or exchange on the black market, being the only place where they could find what they needed. People, however, continue to die or become ill as a result of radiation. More years passed, the family of two boys, has found the serenity and the father has a job again. This serenity is, however, obscured by the death of the girl, Sadako, who gets sick because of radiation. Regarding the disaster of Hiroshima, the Chilean poet Nobel Prize for literature in 1971 Pablo Neruda wrote a poem entitled “Ode to the atom.” This tells the story of the atom from its discovery until the outbreak of the atomic bomb on the Japanese city. The poet, at the beginning of the poem, he speaks of the atom as a small thing, insignificant, because man, as soon as he discovered nuclear energy, did not know what it would come. Then, towards the end of the poem, speaks of the atom making it look like a monster because, after many experiments, man realised what could cause that microscopic piece of matter. This description makes us understand, in a simple and elementary way, how we have come to the massacre of Hiroshima. All this is written in a style and in a way that conveys calm and tranquility.

NUCLEAR ENERGY

Benefits and dangers

The problems of pollution and depletion of fossil fuels, have driven consumer countries to look for new sources and forms of energy. An effective alternative in the seventies, it seemed to be nuclear energy; currently there are 424 nuclear power plants working in 32 countries and many more are still under construction. The special feature of these plants is that, the energy released by a nuclear reaction drives the turbines. This reaction takes place in the reactor and it becomes radioactive materials. There are two processes to produce this kind of energy: nuclear fission and nuclear fusion. The first breaks up the nuclei of radioactive elements such as uranium, thorium and plutonium, through their bombardment with neutrons. The most used is uranium 235 nucleus which, when struck by a neutron, it is halved into two slightly smaller and lighter nuclei, releasing energy and producing another neutron, and the two neutrons hit other nuclei of uranium 235, and so away, causing a chain reaction that produces energy. Nuclear fusion is not used because it is more complex and a very high temperature is needed, in addition, it is still under test. Fusion uses lighter nuclei of non-radioactive atoms, deuterium nuclei, which collide at high speed, merging and forming a nucleus heavier than helium, releasing, during melting, a lot of energy. Compared to nuclear fission, fusion is clean and safe, because it uses little dangerous raw materials, which are widespread and, especially, non-radioactive, also it produces a lot more energy. Fission, in fact, causes the emission of small quantities of radioactive material, very dangerous for the organism; radiation, can cause serious alterations in living matter and destruction of substances necessary for normal functioning of cells. They are also responsible for DNA mutations and consequent congenital malformations in newborns. The effects of radiation on the organism depend on the intensity and duration of exposure. For example, many of the people exposed to radiation from the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, died 10 days after the explosion of the atomic bombs, as a result of internal bleeding and infections resulting from the destruction of the body's defence systems. It should also be noted that small doses of radiation fractionated over time, although at the time not harm the body, summed over time, manifest their effects. In addition to all these problems, there is also the disposal of radioactive waste. It has not yet found a way to destroy them and they are therefore stored in sealed containers buried under the earth, it can happen that these containers are opened, letting out the waste polluting the environment. The problems did not end here, in fact, the reactors must be destroyed and rebuilt every 30 years, because otherwise they are no longer safe. The radioactivity is a phenomenon of the chemical elements which transformed into other elements, they emit energy in the form of radiation. The spokes are made of electrons and they are penetrating rays. They can cross a thin metal sheets. The rays are similar to X-rays and the rays emanating from the sun, they are so pervasive as to be able to cross even a lead sheet of considerable thickness. A radioactive element widely used is uranium. A uranium atom (Z = 92), when emitting rays, loses two protons and two neutrons, turning into another radioactive element, thorium (Z = 90), this element, in turn, emits rays, losing two protons and becoming radio (Z = 88). The radio still emits rays, becoming radon (Z = 86) which still emits rays and becomes polonium (Z = 84). The latter is transformed into lead (Z = 82) which is not radioactive. These transformations are called radioactive decay and occur in short or long time, depending on the element. The rate of decay is measured with the half life time, namely the time required for half of the atoms of a radioactive element turn into another element. Uranium, for example, has a half-life of 4.5 billion years, the thorium of only 24 days. Since the end of the century onwards, the radiation increased significantly because the discovery of artificial radioactive elements and their use in nuclear power plants, in scientific laboratories, in industry, in hospitals and in the construction of nuclear weapons.

Chernobyl

On April 26, 1986 in Chernobyl, Ukraine, occurred a great disastrous nuclear accident. The Ukrainian Central had four reactors, it was decided to perform a dangerous experiment with Unit 4 reactor, the most recent, it is necessary to execute with the consent of the central competent organs, but it does not respond to the request, so April 26, 1986, the management decides to carry out the experiment. The biggest mistake that was made was to turn off the emergency cooling system, the reactor raised to a unstable level; suddenly the temperature of the reactor rises. The engineers faced a choice: either bring the reactor to a stable state, or reduce the margin of safety in order to continue with the experiment. Unfortunately, also pushed by the wrong directions of the controls, the second possibility is chosen: the intervention does not get the desired effect and the temperature increases, causing the evaporation of the water in the main cooling. When the temperature of the reactor reaches 800 degrees Celsius, the water vapour reacts with the zirconium fuel rods releasing a bubble of hydrogen coming in contact with oxygen, it causes a series of devastating explosions; finally the graphite charge of radioactive substances, at 1100 degrees centigrade, it starts to burn and its fumes spread rapidly in the atmosphere, carried by the winds. Only through the sacrifice and courage of firefighters and workers of the plant, the fire was extinguished before it could reach the other reactors. This tragedy has directly caused 31 deaths, 299 people seriously contaminated, about 1,000 miscarriage, 135,000 people forced to controls throughout their lives and 500,000 people evacuated from the area around Chernobyl. The environmental consequences caused by the radioactive cloud which then invested the European peoples, will never be estimated, the Hiroshima bomb released 4.5 tons of radioactive substances into the atmosphere, while the explosion of the Chernobyl reactor about 50 tons.

Fukushima

On March 11, 2011, an earthquake stroke the Tōhoku region, in the northern part of Japan. The earthquake had is epicentre in the sea (24,4 km depth), located about 130 km east of Sendai in Miyagi prefecture 373 km from the capital Tokyo, the quake is the strongest ever recorded in Japan, as well as the 4° more powerful than ever. The earth shook for nearly five minutes, reaching a magnitude of 8.9 on the basis of time as specified by the United States Geological Survey (USGS). The quake has also caused a tsunami with waves that reached 10 m. height and the incredible speed of 750 km / h, causing disastrous consequences for people (thousands dead and missing) and infrastructure. In the prefecture of Fukushima, the earthquake and tsunami severely damaged four of the six reactors at the nuclear power plant. When the tsunami waves more than 10 meters high invested the coast, nuclear reactors of the plant were submerged. The safety systems proved insufficient. The pumps stopped working, blocking the cooling of the reactors. Following the blocking of cooling systems, there were a series of explosions with leaks of radioactivity. Particularly dangerous ones coming from the reactor 3, the MOX fuelled, fuel containing plutonium. The uranium fuel rods or Mox, when removed from reactors need to be replaced by new ones, they are still radioactive and emit heat, they should be stored in tanks where circulating water chill them. Without cooling, or worse, no water, nuclear fission can resume. Workers and firefighters put their lives at risk, exposing themselves to dangerous levels of radioactivity in an attempt to cool the reactors with sea water. Some of them, working in the reactor 3 were contaminated with radioactivity 10,000 times higher than normal. Despite their heroic efforts, the situation at the end of March was dramatic. According to a study commissioned by Greenpeace to Helmut Hirsch, a German expert on nuclear safety, the accident at the Japanese Fukushima has already released such a level of radioactivity to be classified as a level 7. This level, according to the INES scale (International Nuclear radiological Event Scale), is the utmost gravity. So far it has only been achieved in the accident at Chernobyl in Ukraine in 1986. But, while the Chernobyl accident involved a single reactor in Fukushima are four reactors that release radioactivity. Of particular concern are the effects that the spread of radioactivity can have in a country with a high population density as Japan: 335 people per square kilometre, rising to about 6000 people per square kilometre in the metropolitan area of ​​Tokyo, which is just over 200 km from the Fukushima nuclear power plant. Even the drinking water in Tokyo has a radioactivity twice the normal level: it was then advised not let children drink it. It was also recommended not to eat vegetables from the contaminated areas. It is still too early to say what will be the effects on health population. It is feared, however, that they can be severe.

CONCLUSION

On August 6, 1945 at an air base off a part of the Marianas B-29 named Enola Gay (the name of the mother of the pilot) on board with the first atomic bomb to use in war of history, called by physicists: Little Boy, directed to the Japanese city of Hiroshima. The city has just begun a new day at 8.16 go down in history as one of the darkest moments of humanity, the bomb is released along with the one dropped on Nagasaki three days later, called “Fat Man” will produce a number of casualties, mostly civilians, between 100000 and 200000. This act put an end to the hostilities, but in the community is generally determined horror and a sense of responsibility, a desire to make sure that such a thing does not happen again.

The history books will recall that fateful moment when the man touched the lowest point in its history and has threatened to not only erase all the values ​​and ideals that have shaped our civilisation, but the very existence of the human race .

Do not forget, because maybe one day not too far someone will want to try again, but the company will have the upper hand and the memory will be the guide for the only right choice: life, because as Gandhi said, “or humanity will destroy the weapons or weapons will destroy humanity.”

Reference


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