Nuclear Bombs Are Bad For Your Health
In Case You Didn't Know, Radiation Kills

By Heather Rone, Columnist

Radiation is a part of every day life, it is all around us in everything we do. For the most part, the radiation we are exposed to day-to-day is not harmful; it is either a safe, non-ionizing form of radiation, like visible light, microwaves, and radio waves, or it is a very low dosage of ionizing radiation. Dosage can be reduced by limiting time of exposure, increasing your distance from a radioactive material and reducing the intensity with a barrier that cannot be permeated by ionizing radiation. Ionizing radiation is harmful in high levels of exposure because it is so high in energy that it can remove electrons from atoms, resulting in negatively charged ions, positively charged nuclei and broken chemical bonds. As humans we have evolved many special biochemical processes that repair the damage done to living tissue by ionizing radiation, and that is why it is relatively safe in low dosages. When a double stranded DNA break occurs from exposure to radioactive energy, cell enzymes and proteins are recruited to either fix the broken nucleic acid or kill the cell that contains it, preventing it from replicating and passing the mutation on to other cells. Unfortunately, no repair mechanism is perfect. Sometimes damage does not get repaired and sometimes the damage can be to the actual repair enzymes themselves. This is why cancer is such a common result of overexposure to ionizing radiation. The mutations caused by the radiation are often in genes that regulate DNA damage repair or cell growth. The genetic component of cancer is attributed to inherited abnormalities in genes controling DNA damage repair combined with an induced mutation in a cell growth regulatory pathway either by chemical or radiation.


So, where does ionizing radiation come from? The chart above depicts the average annual exposure to ionizing radiation of a person alive today. Eighty-Two percent of our ionizing radiation exposure can be attributed to natural sources we have lived with since the beginning of time. There are even radioactive carbon and potassium isotopes inside our bodies. Eighteen percent of the radiation we are exposed to in our daily lives comes from man made sources, and it is some of these sources that present us with the largest dosages and thus are the greatest risks to our health. Again, the above chart represents a year in the life of an average person, there are plenty of people who substantially exceed the eighteen percent mark because of where they live what they do for a living, for instance a person who works in the manufacture of nucelar weapons or a pregnant woman living near Hiroshima, Japan in 1945. The remainder of this article will focus on internet sites that address the issues concerning these people.

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Trouble In The Making
The Issues of Bomb Manufacture

By Henry Fu, Columnist

Throughout history, humans have invented many different types of technology. This is done through the research and study of different matters of the universe. With the advances in science, new and more powerful technology is rapidly invented. This technology, coupled with the human desire to become more powerful than others, has created the well-known destructive nuclear weapons.

These nuclear devices are nothing like the convention bombs. Nuclear devices harness the powers of elements at the atomic level. There are actually quite a few different types of nuclear bombs. The two general categories in which we can break down the types of bombs are nuclear fission and nuclear fusion. Both types of bombs demonstrate the vast human knowledge of atomic science and show the hard work and research that went into creates these devices.

The first type of bomb is the fission bomb. Basically this device takes an atom of an element and breaks it apart. This is done by shooting a neutron into the atom. This breaks apart the atom releasing a large amount of energy. This is what creates the explosion. There are a few mechanisms which are used to accomplish this task. They are described in detail in the links (Click on Continued).

The second type of bomb is the fusion bomb. This type of bomb is just the opposite of the fusion bomb. This device takes two atoms combines them. The result is a larger atom and extra neutrons. This free neutron carries energy and when it is detached form the rest of the atom, the energy is released. Fusion bombs are usually made with smaller atoms (such as Hydrogen), but are still just as powerful as fission bombs. Fusion bombs also come in different forms and the reaction is triggered by different means. These are described in the links as well (Click on Continued).

The nuclear weapons that are built nowadays are very powerful devices. They are able to destroy human lives and cities in a blink of an eye. The large amount of resources and labor go into developing and making nuclear bombs. Is this a practical cost? Do people consider these resources well spent? A much deeper question is when humans should stop advancing and promoting these types of weapons. Can people be trusted with this kind of power? Already in the past, humans have come very close to using these weapons in an all out war (i.e. The Cold War). The money and resources that are spent making nuclear bombs could be used in other more beneficial ways. It seems that nuclear bombs cause so many different problems, but at the same time they can solve the problems as well. They can create a fear in people because they know that the world could easily be destroyed when using these weapons. It is this fear that prevents countries from pulling this trigger, because most humans prefer to live. However, it would only take one leader, who does not have this fear, to destroy the world. Nuclear weapons can make people feel secure and yet at the same time, make them feel insecure. Nuclear bombs are a highly debated topic and their future is very unclear.

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The Future of Nuclear Weapons
Things Could Get Dirty

By Sy Nakao, Columnist

Currently, there are nine nuclear powers: The United States, Russia, United Kingdom, France, China, India, Pakistan, Israel, and most recently, North Korea, with approximately 20,150 nuclear weapons all together. The future of nuclear weapons and world security is very much uncertain, especially with lingering Cold War paranoia in the United States and Russia, hostilities between India and Pakistan, the unpredictability and instability of North Korea, and emergence of sophisticated and highly organized terror groups, such as Al Qaeda. Major concerns for the future include a space arms race, nuclear terrorism, nuclear proliferation, and ultimately a nuclear winter.

Space has become an increasingly strategic area to the U.S. military, as seen by satellite interaction with ground forces in this past war with Iraq. Although space is not currently weaponized, the Outer-space Treaty does not specifically ban weapons development in space. The United States is already planning to develop space weapons to protect U.S. interests in space, reduce U.S military space vulnerability, deny use of space to adversaries, and to attack Earth targets. The U.S., Russia, and China are all already developing anti-satellite weapons. This increased weaponization of space is the beginnings of a Space Arms Race that probably will heighten to nuclear levels.

The emergence of sophisticated terrorists groups brings up the possibility of nuclear terrorism. Currently, nuclear weapons may now, or soon be, available to terrorist groups, especially with the emergence of North Korea as a nuclear power. North Korea may become an open market for nuclear weapons not only to rogue states, but terror groups as well. Also, the poor control and accountability of many nuclear weapons and Highly Enriched Uranium in the former Soviet Union may be available for sale or theft by terrorists. Nuclear terrorists would be a very large threat to safety, and could hold hostage entire cities. Although most terror groups do not have the technology to produce nuclear weapons, because of leaking information and participation by ex-Soviet nuclear physicists the possibility of nuclear production is increasing. Furthermore, Highly Enriched Uranium may be used to make "dirty" bombs that cause radiological contamination more than structural damage.

The proliferation of nuclear weapons is another concern for the future. Although Russian and the U.S. still have 95% of nuclear weapons, as seen with North Korea, India, and Pakistan, more countries are developing nuclear arms programs. By North Korea building its nuclear artillery, Japan, and South Korea may feel it necessary to develop nuclear weapons, which may instigate further nuclear weapons development in China and consequently in Taiwan as well. North Korea may also decide to supply nuclear weapons to rogue states like Sudan and Iran. Also, because the U.S. refuses to ratify the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty and wants to shorten the time required to resume testing to 12 months, other countries,
such as Russia and China, are encouraged to resume testing.

All these fears ultimately stem from the possibility of a nuclear winter, which could kill billions if not, the entire human race. A nuclear winter would be caused by dust and debris from nuclear blasts entering into the atmosphere and thereby blocking sunlight from entering the Earth. Only 400 nuclear bombs are necessary to cause a nuclear winter, a fairly small number considering that there are over 10,000 nukes in the United States alone.

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The History of the Atomic Bomb
A Scientific Triumph and Ethical Fallout

By Irena Savchenko, Columnist

In August of 1939, just before World War II, Albert Einstein and others told President D. Roosevelt that in Nazi Germany an isotope of uranium, U-235, was close to being purified, which could be used to build an atomic bomb. Shortly thereafter the United States Government began a serious undertaking known as the Manhattan Project, to speed up the research and also the production which would then produce the United States with their first atomic bomb.

A laboratory was built in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. H.C. Urey, with other associates and colleagues of Columbia University, created a system that worked on the principle of gaseous diffusion. After these processes were created Ernest O. Lawrence at the University of California at Berkeley created a process that involved magnetic separation of the two isotopes. Over six years, from 1939 to 1945, more than two billion dollars were spent on the Manhattan Project. J. Robert Oppenheimer was the major mind behind the Manhattan Project. He oversaw the entire projectfrom its conception to its completion, making sure all the scientists put their intelligence together. The day finally came to test the atomic bomb; nicknamed "The Gadget", on July 16th, 1945 the bomb was released in northern New Mexico at the Alamagordo Air Force Base. This was the world's first nuclear explosion test. The light of the explosion turned orange as the atomic fireball shot up into the air at a speed of 360 feet per second. The radioactive vapor materialized at 30,000 feet. Beneath the radioactive cloud all that was left of the soil were pieces of jade green radioactive glass.

The people who participated in the making of the atomic bomb signed petitions against losing the monstrosity they created, but despite all their efforts New Mexico was not the last place that an atomic bomb was used. Not even a month after the test, World War Two came to a disastrous end when two nuclear bombs were dropped on Japan. The locations, explosions, damage and injuries are shown on the left. An estimated 200,000 people were killed as a direct result of the bombings. China, the U.S.S.R., Great Britain, France and India all began to develop and test nuclear weapons. The entire world collectively held its breath in fear of a major catastrophe. It was not until September 24, 1996 that the world's nuclear powers signed the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty in New York City, putting an end to nuclear testing and its consequences.

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