Dr. Rajkumar Singh In the years following the dropping of nuclear bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Japan in August 1945 the scientists of the day turned their attention from atomic weapons to the peaceful uses of atomic energy. From the beginning a connection between nuclear power and nuclear weapons exists because both require fissile materials. Some of the technology that can be used to produce or purify a fissile material for a nuclear power plant could also be applied to producing nuclear weapons. Hence, it is not possible to separate entirely the peaceful from the military uses of atomic energy. Even today people in general are not aware that the energy from atoms could be put to important peace-time use. It can easily be transformed into useful power: electric power to light our cities and keep our industries going; heat for our homes; power to propel our boats; and perhaps all other important uses in not too distant future. But the fact of the time was that with the end of war, the world was not at peace. With this the period known as the “Cold War” set in. The Democratic Western countries and the Communist Eastern countries formed two large blocs, each with difference in ideas, about freedom and the rights of men. The two blocs were extremely suspicious of each other’s intentions. Each side was afraid that the other would turn the cold war into a true war and start an attack with atomic weapons of great destructiveness. In the circumstances, an arms race in atomic weapon sphere continued as earlier and the countries that knew how to build atomic weapons went on building them. However, the other side of the coin was not only good but encouraging too. A few people of the time along with scientists’ knowledge thought on the issue positively and incoming days decks were cleared for peaceful uses of nuclear energy. Countries of the world including the US were known about the nuclear weaponisation of the nations and in December,1953 American President Eisenhower made a bold proposal before the UN General Assembly for ‘Atoms-for-Peace’ plan. The President knew that the countries with large atomic projects were using most of their uranium for fissionable materials to make atomic weapons. He proposed that each of these countries should begin to pool some of its fissionable materials and distribute them to other countries forpeaceful uses. He was sure that in the hands of scientists and engineers these materials would help in scientific research, medicine and agriculture and would produce abundant electricity in the power-starved countries of the world. He added further that it was not general knowledge that the radio-isotopes made in reactors have very wide and varied applications: doctors use them to treat diseases and biologists use them to study the life processes of men, animals and plants. The concept ‘Atoms for Peace’ plan led the convening of the first. International Conference on the Peaceful Uses of Atomic Energy in Geneva, Switzerland, in the summer of1955. When we put nuclear energy in process we find that it is obtained as a result of nuclear fission or nuclear fusion. In comparison to nuclear fusion, nuclear fission releases a large amount of energy to be used for different purposes. Mass for mass, uranium yields about 2500,000 times more energy by fission than carbon does by combustion. The nuclear fusion of deuterium to form helium releases about400 times as much energy as the fission of uranium. Nuclear fission is a nuclear reaction in which a heavy nucleus such as uranium splits into two parts, called fission products, which subsequently emit either two or three neutrons, releasing a quantity of energy equivalent to the difference between the rest mass of the neutrons and the fission products and that of the nucleus. Fission may occur spontaneously or as a result of irradiation by neutrons. Nuclear fission is the process used in nuclear reactors and atom bombs. On the other hand, nuclear fusion is also a type of nuclear reaction in which atomic nuclei of low atomic number fuset of or ma heavier nucleus with there lease of large amounts of energy. In nuclear fission reactions, a neutron is used to breakup a large nucleus, but in nuclear fusion the two reacting nuclei themselves have to be brought into collision. As both nuclei are positively charged there is a strong repulsive force between them, which can only be overcome if the reacting nuclei have very high Kinetic energies. As the Kinetic energy required increases with the nuclear charge, reactions involving low atomic number nuclei are the easiest to produce. At the elevated temperatures, however, fusion reactions are self- sustaining; the reactants at these temperatures are in the form of a plasma with the nuclei possessing sufficient energy to overcome electro-static repulsion forces. The fusion bomb and the stars generate energy in this way. In a nuclear weapon explosion is caused by nuclear fission, nuclear fusion ,or a combination of both. In the fission bomb, which is called atomic bomb orA-bomb two sub-critical masses of a fissile material, Uranium 235 or Plutonium 239 are brought together by a chemical explosion to produce one super-critical masses. But the nuclear fusion bomb which is also called thermo nuclear weapon, hydrogen bomb, or H-bomb relies on a nuclear fusion reaction, which becomes self-sustaining at a critical temperature of about 35 ×106 K. This is achieved by means of an inner fission bomb, which is surrounded by a hydrogenous material, such as heavy hydrogen or Lithium Deuteride. The megaton explosion produced in such a thermo nuclear reaction has not yet been used in war. Discovered in 1789, by M.H. Klaproth, uranium, symbol ‘U’ is a white radio active metallic element. It occurs as uranite,from which the metal is extracted by an ion-exchange process.Three isotopes are found in nature:Uranium.238 (99.28 per cent), Uranium-235(0.71percent),and Uranium-234(0.006 percent). As Uranium-235 undergoes nuclear fission with slow neutrons, it is the fuel used in nuclear reactors and nuclear weapons. It has therefore, assumed enormous technical and political importance since their inventions were extremely suspicious of each other’s intentions. Each side was afraid that the other would turn the cold war into a true war and start an attack with atomic weapons of great destructiveness. In the circumstances, an arms race in atomic weapon sphere continued as earlier and the countries that knew how to build atomic weapons went on building them.
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