History Module


  1. What was the size of the explosion produced by the atomic bomb on Hiroshima and what were the casualties?

    The bomb's yield was about 15 kilotons and resulted in about 140,000 injured and a like number killed. Note: The exact number is uncertain since the city's records were destroyed in the bombing.

  2. Discuss Albert Einstein's role in the development of the atomic bomb.

    Einstein was very concerned about the Nazis and lent his support to begin the American atomic bomb development. He did not involve himself in the project in any way. In the immediate post-war period he was vehement in his opposition to reliance on the bomb and fearful that "everything has changed save our ways of thinking, and thus we drift toward unparalleled catastrophe."

  3. When did the Soviet Union explode its first atomic bomb? hydrogen bomb?

    The Soviet Union exploded its first atomic bomb in 1949 to the surprise of many. Their first H-bomb explosion occurred in 1953, but it was not a deliverable weapon. Its first deliverable H-bomb was available about the end of 1955.

  4. Discuss the Bravo Test of 1954 with particular reference to the radiation fallout and its consequences.

    The Bravo test is an example of how even under supposedly controlled conditions the fallout from nuclear tests is difficult to predict. The Marshallese were lucky to escape with 'only' about 200 rads of radiation exposure. In their normal habitat exposures would have been several thousands and lethal. There was world-wide indignation about the radioactive contamination of the environment that Bravo and other tests produced. In particular the radioactive fish entering the Japanese markets, and the injury and death of Japanese fisherman due to radioactive fallout.

  5. Give a brief summary of the Manhattan Project.

    The key points are as follows: Einstein & Szilard wrote the letter to President Roosevelt, Fermi built the world's first atomic reactor (pile) at the University of Chicago, sites at Hanford, Oakridge and Los Alamos were built to build the bomb. The project was led by J. Robert Oppenheimer. The first bomb was tested on July 16, 1945. All three sites still exist and contribute to America's nuclear arsenal.

  6. Discuss ways in which the U.S. might have demonstrated that it had an atomic bomb other than exploding one over a populated area.

    Alternative ways to demonstrate an atomic weapon; give a demonstration over an unpopulated area. This was rejected over fear of a dud or the possibility of the Japanese moving American POWs into the area. A high-altitude burst over Tokyo at night was suggested. However the bombs could only be delivered by airplanes, and there was no way for the bomber to safely leave the area before the explosion occurred.

  7. What are the novel features of the I.N.F. Treaty.

    The novel feature of the INF treaty was an elimination of the entire class of nuclear weapons. All other arms control agreements either limited the amount of weapons or reduced their levels.

  8. Discuss motivations for development of the atomic bomb in the United States during World War II.

    The primary motivation for the U.S. to develop an atomic bomb was the overriding fear of a German atomic bomb. This was stressed in the Einstein/Szilard letter to President Roosevelt. After the surrender of Germany in 1945, work on the American bomb continued forward without pause. The project had gained its own momentum even though the original motivation was gone.

  9. What are the components of the U.S. triad? the C.I.S. Triad? What are the main differences between the triads?

    Both the US and C.I.S. triad are made of an ICBM's, SLBM's, and long-range bombers. The US triad is 46% ICBMs, 12% SLBM, and 42% bombers (by megaton). The C.I.S.'s triad is 60% ICBMs, 30% SLBM, and 10% bombers (by megaton).

  10. Define MAD, MIRV, ICBM, SLBM.
    Mutual Assured Destruction. Both the United States and the Soviet Union have built up a strategic nuclear inventory that is survivable enough to retaliate effectively following a nuclear attack by the opponent.
    Multiple Independently targetable Reentry Vehicles. The MIRV systems gives a single missile the ability to strike several independent targets several hundred kilometers apart.
    InterContinental Ballistic Missile. A ballistic missile with a range of 3,400 miles or more. Conventionally, the term ICBM is used only for land-based systems, in order to differentiate them from submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs), which can also be intercontinental range.
    Submarine-Launched Ballistic Missile (SLBM): A ballistic missile deployed on a submarine.
  11. According to Office of Technology Assessment, how many people would be killed by a C.I.S. nuclear attack?

    The Office of Technology Assessment (1979) made an estimate of the effects of a large scale nuclear attack by the Soviets on the US military and economic targets. Over 140,000,000 Americans would be killed in a direct attack on 250 cities with a total yield of 7,800 megatons.

  12. Who are members of the 'nuclear club'? Who are near nuclear, that is, who in the next 5-10 years might develop nuclear weapons?

    At present the 'nuclear club' includes: the United States, the C.I.S., the People's Republic of China, Great Britain, France, Israel, India and Pakistan. The near-nuclear countries include; North Korea, Iraq, Libya, South Africa, Argentina, and Brazil. Recent world events have altered this list. With the Persian Gulf War, Iraq's nuclear program has, for the time being, been halted. Also, Argentina and Brazil have both pledged not to develop atomic weapons, and opened their facilities to international inspection.

  13. Would you consider the development of weapons specifically designed to destroy information gathering systems, stabilizing or destabilizing? Explain.

    Any weapons system designed to destroy the information gathering system of the other country is highly destabilizing. Today's world depends on the large amount of data it has available to make proper choices. In a crisis, if one side cannot tell what the other side is doing, it must assume the worst. In doing so, it must respond accordingly. So if one side were only to strike at information gathering systems, the attacked country must assume the worst. The attacking country may be starting only a minor aggression, but given a lack of information, a worst case scenario would have to be assumed. This is why such weapons systems or targeting plans are highly destabilizing.

  14. Who is considered the 'father' of the U.S. hydrogen bomb? the Soviet H-bomb?

    The father of the U.S. hydrogen bomb is Edward Teller. The father of the Soviet bomb was Andrei Sakharov.

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