Nuclear Weapons and Nuclear Power - Book Report/Review Example

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The aim of the paper “Nuclear Weapons and Nuclear Power” is to analyze "The last war: a world set free”, a novel published by G.Wells. The book is considered to foretell nuclear weapons. The author takes speculation he had read about the chance of releasing energy from atoms…
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Nuclear Weapons and Nuclear Power
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Download file to see previous pages The facts, however, seem to point to a different conclusion. In this 1913 book (published in 1914), the author takes speculation he had read about the chance of releasing energy from atoms, and writes about a future of atomic power and atomic weapons. The atomic weapons of this book make relatively small, but on-going (for centuries!) explosions. Plus, it seems that at the time they knew little about the effects of radiation on living organisms. Scientists of the time were well conscious that the slow natural radioactive decay of elements like radium continues for thousands of years, and that while the rate of energy release is negligible; the total amount released is enormous. Wells used this as the basis for his story. In his fiction, The problem which was already being mooted by such scientific men as Ramsay, Rutherford, and Soddy, in the very start of the twentieth century, the trouble of inducing radio-activity in the heavier elements and so tapping the internal energy of atoms, was solved by a magnificent combination of induction, intuition, and luck by Holsten so soon as the year 1933. The physicist Leo Szilard read the book during 1932, conceived the idea of nuclear chain reaction during 1933, and filed for patents for it during 1934. Wells did have some knowledge of atomic physics, and William Ramsay, Ernest Rutherford, and Frederick Soddy's discovery of the disintegration of uranium. The physicist Leo Szilard read the book during 1932, conceived the idea of nuclear chain reaction. during 1933, and filed for patents for it during 1934. Wells did have some knowledge of atomic physics, and William Ramsay, Ernest Rutherford, and Frederick Soddy's discovery of the disintegration of uranium. In Wells's story, the "atomic bombs" have no more power than ordinary high explosive-but they "continue to explode" for days. Never before in the history of warfare had there been a continuing explosive; indeed, up to the middle of the twentieth century the only explosives known were combustibles whose explosiveness was due entirely to their instantaneousness; and these atomic bombs which science burst upon the world that night were strange even to the men who used them.
Wells offers the subsequent details of how the bombs are believed to work:
"Those used by the Allies were lumps of pure Carolinum painted on the outside with unoxidised cydonator inducive enclosed hermetically in a case of membranium. A little celluloid stud between the handles by which the bomb was lifted was arranged so as to be easily torn off and admit air to the inducive, which at once became active and set up radio-activity in the outer layer of the Carolinum sphere. This liberated fresh inducive, and so in a few minutes the whole bomb was a blazing continual explosion."(Wells)
"Certainly it seems now that nothing could have been more obvious to the people of the earlier twentieth century than the rapidity with which war was becoming impossible. And as certainly they did not see it. They did not see it until the atomic bombs burst in their fumbling hands... All through the nineteenth and twentieth centuries the amount of energy that men were able to command was continually increasing. Applied to warfare that meant that the power to inflict a blow, the power to destroy, was continually increasing. There was no increase whatever in the ability to escape... Destruction was becoming so facile that any little body of malcontents could use it".(Wells) Before the last war began it was a matter of common knowledge that a man could carry about in a handbag an amount of latent energy sufficient to wreck half a city.
Wells viewed war as the unavoidable outcome of the Modern State; the introduction of atomic energy in a world divided resulted in the ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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