Portal:Nuclear Technology
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This symbol of radioactivity is internationally recognized.
Nuclear technology is technology that involves the nuclear reactions of atomic nuclei. Among the notable nuclear technologies are nuclear reactors, nuclear medicine and nuclear weapons. It is also used, among other things, in smoke detectors and gun sights.
A nuclear weapon (also called an atom bomb, nuke, atomic bomb, nuclear warhead, A-bomb, or nuclear bomb) is an explosive device that derives its destructive force from nuclear reactions, either fission (fission bomb) or from a combination of fission and fusion reactions (thermonuclear bomb). Both bomb types release large quantities of energy from relatively small amounts of matter. The first test of a fission ("atomic") bomb released an amount of energy approximately equal to 20,000 tons of TNT (84 TJ). The first thermonuclear ("hydrogen") bomb test released energy approximately equal to 10 million tons of TNT (42 PJ). Nuclear bombs have had yields between 10 tons TNT (the W54) and 50 megatons for the Tsar Bomba (see TNT equivalent). A thermonuclear weapon weighing little more than 2,400 pounds (1,100 kg) can release energy equal to more than 1.2 million tons of TNT (5.0 PJ). A nuclear device no larger than traditional bombs can devastate an entire city by blast, fire, and radiation. Since they are weapons of mass destruction, the proliferation of nuclear weapons is a focus of international relations policy.

Nuclear weapons have been used twice in war, both times by the United States against Japan near the end of World War II. On August 6, 1945, the U.S. Army Air Forces detonated a uranium gun-type fission bomb nicknamed "Little Boy" over the Japanese city of Hiroshima; three days later, on August 9, the U.S. Army Air Forces detonated a plutonium implosion-type fission bomb nicknamed "Fat Man" over the Japanese city of Nagasaki. These bombings caused injuries that resulted in the deaths of approximately 200,000 civilians and military personnel. The ethics of these bombings and their role in Japan's surrender are subjects of debate.

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Op hurricane.jpg
High Explosive Research ("HER") was the British project to develop atomic bombs independently after the Second World War. This decision was taken by a cabinet sub-committee on 8 January 1947, in response to apprehension of an American return to isolationism, fears that Britain might lose its great power status, and the actions by the United States to withdraw unilaterally from sharing of nuclear technology under the 1943 Quebec Agreement. The decision was publicly announced in the House of Commons on 12 May 1948.

HER was a civil project, not a military one. Staff were drawn from and recruited into the Civil Service, and were paid Civil Service salaries. It was headed by Lord Portal, as Controller of Production, Atomic Energy, in the Ministry of Supply. An Atomic Energy Research Establishment was located at a former airfield, Harwell, in Berkshire, under the direction of John Cockcroft. The first nuclear reactor in the UK, a small research reactor known as GLEEP, went critical at Harwell on 15 August 1947. British staff at the Montreal Laboratory designed a larger reactor, known as BEPO, which went critical on 5 July 1948. They provided experience and expertise that would later be employed on the larger, production reactors.

Production facilities were constructed under the direction of Christopher Hinton, who established his headquarters in a former Royal Ordnance Factory at Risley in Lancashire. These included a uranium metal plant at Springfields, nuclear reactors and a plutonium processing plant at Windscale, and a gaseous diffusion uranium enrichment facility at Capenhurst, near Chester. The two Windscale reactors became operational in October 1950 and June 1951. The gaseous diffusion plant at Capenhurst began producing highly enriched uranium in 1954.

William Penney directed bomb design from Fort Halstead. In 1951 his design group moved to a new site at Aldermaston in Berkshire. The first British atomic bomb was successfully tested in Operation Hurricane, during which it was detonated on board the frigate HMS Plym anchored off the Monte Bello Islands in Australia on 3 October 1952. Britain thereby became the third country to test nuclear weapons, after the United States and the Soviet Union. The project concluded with the delivery of the first of its Blue Danube atomic bombs to Bomber Command in November 1953, but British hopes of a renewed nuclear Special Relationship with the United States were frustrated. The technology had been superseded by the American development of the hydrogen bomb, which was first tested in November 1952, only one month after Operation Hurricane. Britain went on to develop its own hydrogen bombs, which it first tested in 1957. A year later, the United States and Britain resumed nuclear weapons cooperation.

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Trinity Site Obelisk National Historic Landmark.jpg
Credit: Samat Jain

Trinity Site obelisk.
The black plaque on top reads:

Trinity Site
Where The World's First Nuclear Device Was Exploded On July 16, 1945
Erected 1965 White Sands Missile Range J. Frederick Thorlin Major General U.S. Army Commanding

The gold plaque below it declares the site a National Historic Landmark, and reads:

Trinity Site has been designated a National Historical Landmark
This Site Possesses National Significance In Commemorating The History of the United States of America
1975 National Park Service United States Department of the Interior

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Norris Bradbury.JPG
Norris Edwin Bradbury (30 May 1909 - 20 August 1997), was an American physicist who served as Director of the Los Alamos National Laboratory for 25 years from 1945 to 1970. He succeeded Robert Oppenheimer, who personally chose Bradbury for the position of director after working closely with him on the Manhattan Project during World War II. Bradbury was in charge of the final assembly of "the Gadget", detonated in July 1945 for the Trinity test.

Bradbury took charge at Los Alamos at a difficult time. Staff were leaving in droves, living conditions were poor and there was a possibility that the laboratory would close. He managed to persuade enough staff to stay, and got the University of California to renew the contract to manage the laboratory. He pushed continued development of nuclear weapons, transforming them from laboratory devices to production models. Numerous improvements made them safer, more reliable and easier to store and handle, and made more efficient use of scarce fissionable materiel.

In the 1950s Bradbury oversaw the development of thermonuclear weapons, although a falling out with Edward Teller over the priority given to their development led to the creation of a rival nuclear weapons laboratory, the Lawrence Livermore Laboratory. In later years, he branched out, constructing the Los Alamos Meson Physics Facility to develop the laboratory's role in nuclear science, and during the Space Race of the 1960s, the laboratory developed the Nuclear Engine for Rocket Vehicle Application (NERVA). The Bradbury Science Museum is named in his honor.

Nuclear technology news

27 October 2020 - India-United States relations
Following high-level talks in Delhi, India and the United States sign a military agreement on sharing sensitive satellite data. The Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement on Geospatial Cooperation (BECA) gives the Indian Armed Forces access to a range of sensitive geospatial and aeronautical data for military use. Agreements on nuclear energy, earth sciences and alternative medicine are also signed. (BBC)
26 October 2020 -
Japan rejects the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons after all nuclear powers boycott the treaty. This rejection happened days after the United Nations said there was enough signatories for it to go into effect and following pressure from atomic bomb survivors to adopt it. Japan states it is unrealistic to pursue the treaty with both nuclear and non-nuclear states being sharply divided over it, and instead the country will serve as a bridge to narrow the gap between the two sides. (ABC News)
16 October 2020 - Nuclear arms race, Russia-United States relations
President of Russia Vladimir Putin proposes to extend New START, the last major nuclear arms treaty standing between both Russia and the United States, "without any pre-conditions at least for one year to have an opportunity to conduct substantial negotiations". (PTI via Deccan Herald)

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