Nuclear Bombs – The Science Behind it



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Name _______________________________ no. ___________ date ________________

Nuclear Bombs – The Science Behind it

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An atom is the smallest particle of a substance that can exist by itself or be combined with other atoms to form a molecule. The atom is made up of protons, neutron, and electrons. The central part of the atom is called the nucleus, and it includes protons and neutrons.
Nuclear energy is produced when nuclei (plural of nucleus) are split apart (fission) or are joined together (fusion.)

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There are two types of bombs mentioned during our social studies class. One is the atom bomb, which is “set-off” or triggered through fission or splitting very large atoms, such as uranium and plutonium atoms. The other is called the hydrogen bomb, which is triggered by fusion or a joining together of particles. The hydrogen bomb is more powerful than the atom bomb because it requires a large amount of energy (heat) to trigger the reaction. In order to trigger a hydrogen bomb, an atomic bomb is used to produce high levels of energy, making the hydrogen bomb more powerful.



Atom bombs (Little Boy and Fat Man) which were used during WW2 on Japan - Hiroshima (Little Boy) and Nagasaki (Fat Man) - used fission to create energy based on a series of chain reactions. Uranium and Plutonium are elements which were used to create these nuclear chain reactions. Plutonium is more powerful than Uranium because it emits a stronger radiation. Uranium was used to create the first bomb, Little Boy, while Plutonium was used to create the second bomb, Fat Man. Yet, “Fat Man” did not do as much damage to Nagasaki as “Little Boy” did to Hiroshima due to the geographical area.

Both atom and hydrogen bombs are nuclear weapons which are very destructive. They have been the source of many wars and conflicts, especially with Russia during the Cold War and today in the Middle East (Iran) and now, North Korea.


Kim Jong Un, the North Korean dictator, runs a totalitarian government, which overtly controls people’s lives. You will be reading about the claims made by Kim Jong Un regarding testing of a newly developed hydrogen bomb. Many are skeptical, though, and believe he is not being honest about his claim. Instead, he’s using his claims to manipulate both the citizens of North Korea and the international community.
Vocabulary

Directions: Match the following words with their correct definition based on the reading.




  1. Atom ________ a. a dictatorship (controlling government)

  2. Nucleus ________ b. bomb which uses fission to trigger reaction




  1. Atom bomb ________ c. atom bomb which was used at Hiroshima




  1. Hydrogen bomb __________ d. splitting the nucleus to trigger reaction




  1. Fission ___________ e. the smallest part of a substance




  1. Fusion __________ f. bomb which was used at Nagasaki




  1. Little Boy ___________ g. bomb which uses fusion to trigger reaction




  1. Fat Man ____________ h. the central part of the atom




  1. Totalitarian ___________ i. joining together particles to trigger reaction

Does North Korea Have the H-Bomb?”




  1. According to the article, what is the difference between a hydrogen bomb and a “traditional atomic device” or “conventional nuclear weapon?”



  1. The U.S. and North Korea have been at odds for seven decades (70 years). Why? Explain and summarize (using complete sentences) the conflict between the U.S. and North Korea from 1945 to today, according to the article.




  1. North Korea is a totalitarian government. What evidence does the article provide to show that Kim Jong Un is, in fact, a dictator (running a totalitarian government)?



  1. North Korea’s claim that it created a hydrogen bomb appears to be an exaggerated claim by Kim Jong Un. Why would he be exaggerating such a claim according to the article?



  1. The United Nations Security Council and China are opposed to North Korea developing an h-bomb. How are both the United Nations Security Council and China responding to the threat?



  1. What questions do you still have regarding the article or the atom or hydrogen bomb?


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