Nuclear War: Overview
Nuclear weapons are weapons, which achieve force through nuclear reactions. These reactions are fission and fusion reactions, which involve the respective splitting and combining of atoms on a minute level. On a comparative level, even small ratios of nuclear powered weaponry is substantially more powerful than traditional explosive devices.
There are two basic types of nuclear weapons. First are the Atom bombs, which only use fission reactions as a source of energy. Fission bombs work through the joining together of a sub-critical organization of material like plutonium or enriched uranium into one that is super-critical.
The nuclear weapons first used in Hiroshima and Nagasaki were both atom bombs that employed a pure fission reaction. The fission bomb is the easiest nuclear weapon to design in terms of machinery needed, and technology used in developing them is considered a prerequisite for further nuclear development. Despite this ease, the military practicality of fission bombs is minimal. These weapons are very cumbersome and require vast amounts of fissionable material. This amount then makes it difficult to maintain the material at a sub-critical level which then decreases overall efficiency.
The second generally classified type of nuclear weapon is the fusion bomb, known as hydrogen or thermonuclear bombs. These can be up to 1,000 times more powerful than fission bombs while also being useful in terms of military operations. This bomb works through the detonation of a fission bomb directly against a fusion powered cell. The emitted particles and gamma rays of the explosion self compress and heat an included met capsule of deuterium, tritium or lithium. At the end of this final phase, begins a fusion reaction.
A growing sub section of these two classifications is the boosted fission bomb. The structural geography is the same as a normal fission bomb with an included deposit of grams of either deuterium or tritium gas mixtures in the center of the enriched core. When the bomb explodes the included gas mixtures undergoes an internal fusion reaction, which amplifies the explosion. This ultimately causes a powerful burst of intense neutrons, thus causing greater fission to occur within the bomb. In most instances, like Hiroshima and Nagasaki, only 20% of the bomb’s potential was used. Using boosted fission, nearly 100% of the fission potential would be utilized.
In terms of current usage, no nuclear weapons have been used in military endeavors since the bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in World War II. This relative stasis is encouraged by the ideology of Mutually Assured Destruction, or MAD. The theory holds that if one country were to fire a nuclear weapon, the other would instantly retaliate and eventually both countries would be doomed to nothing-ness.
Despite this, with the proliferation of terrorist organizations wielding massive political and monetary clout, there remains the grave threat of a nuclear weapon landing in the hands of a dangerous, non-governmental organization or even a rogue state.