• Question: what is nuclear energy used for in nuclear weapons?

    Asked by ckitima2 on 26 Jun 2019.
    • Photo: Matthew Bareford

      Matthew Bareford answered on 26 Jun 2019:

      Nuclear bombs work by initiating a nuclear chain reaction releasing, huge amounts of energy that is tied up in holding the nucleus or centre of the atoms together.

      There are essentially two type of nuclear weapon:

      Fission Bomb – this is the same type of reaction as in a nuclear reactor (only not controlled) where the nucleus of an atom is split in two by a neutron, resulting in a huge release of energy.

      Fusion bomb – This model, also called thermonuclear bomb or (H bomb) is where two small atoms are brought together to form a bigger atom.

      So in essence, nuclear energy is used to release huge amounts of heat and radiation in nuclear weapons in order to affect as much people as possible over as big an area as possible.

    • Photo: Alex Blenkinsop

      Alex Blenkinsop answered on 26 Jun 2019:

      In a nuclear reaction, the nuclei of radioactive materials split (this is called fission), releasing energy. To produce nuclear energy, these reactions are carried out in a controlled way to boil water which turns turbines and generates electricity. For nuclear weapons, however, these reactions are concentrated into a tiny space and are set up to occur very quickly, which can cause a massive explosion.
      Nuclear armament is very worrying due to the devastating damage it can cause, which is why many people want global governance on how it should be used. The Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons was signed by many countries to control and prevent the spread of nuclear weapons, but several have still not joined.

    • Photo: Nina Rzechorzek

      Nina Rzechorzek answered on 27 Jun 2019:

      Great answers by Matthew and Alex – I can’t really add to this!

    • Photo: Deepak Chandrasekharan

      Deepak Chandrasekharan answered on 27 Jun 2019:

      There are some elements like plutonium and uranium (these were the elements in the two bombs at Hiroshima and Nagasaki) that split apart by themselves and release huge amounts of energy. In a nuclear weapon., this happens lots of times and really quickly to cause an explosion.