History of the Universe

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Nuclear Weapons

Industrial scale war increased the speed of technological development. Nuclear weapons were made which could destroy whole cities. The first bombs used the power of radioactive decay to give out huge amounts of energy. They are often called nuclear or atom bombs. Around 50 years ago an atom bomb was dropped on the Japanese city of Hiroshima, killing 100 thousand people and spreading pollution around the world. This day of shame and horror should have made scientists stop and think what they were doing. It did not seem to. Instead they competed with each other to make even bigger bombs. Later bombs used a nuclear explosion to trigger nuclear fusion, the same process which powers the Sun and other stars. These are often called hydrogen bombs.

Image taken from plane which dropped the atomic bomb on Nagasaki, Japan, 9 August 1945

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