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Thread: WWII Atomic Weapons

  1. Top | #11
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    Stalin waited to the last minute to declare war on Japan. Truman wanted to end it quickly to establish control of Japan before Stalin could make advances.

    Truman managed to keep Russia out of the Japanese surrender document perventing a European like division.

  2. Top | #12
    Veteran Member skepticalbip's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by steve_bank View Post
    Stalin waited to the last minute to declare war on Japan. Truman wanted to end it quickly to establish control of Japan before Stalin could make advances.

    Truman managed to keep Russia out of the Japanese surrender document perventing a European like division.
    Actually it is a rather mixed bag. The U.S. was worried about the cost of lives if an invasion of Japan was needed to end the war. At the Yalta meeting in February 1945, the USSR was promised South Sakhalin and the Kuril Islands if they would enter the war against Japan. They did and as I understand it, the USSR got the northern Kuril Islands and Japan was left with only the four southernmost islands of the Kuril chain. Japan is still a little pissed over the loss of the islands.

  3. Top | #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by skepticalbip View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by steve_bank View Post
    Stalin waited to the last minute to declare war on Japan. Truman wanted to end it quickly to establish control of Japan before Stalin could make advances.

    Truman managed to keep Russia out of the Japanese surrender document perventing a European like division.
    Actually it is a rather mixed bag. The U.S. was worried about the cost of lives if an invasion of Japan was needed to end the war. At the Yalta meeting in February 1945, the USSR was promised South Sakhalin and the Kuril Islands if they would enter the war against Japan. They did and as I understand it, the USSR got the northern Kuril Islands and Japan was left with only the four southernmost islands of the Kuril chain. Japan is still a little pissed over the loss of the islands.
    I believe Japan has disputed sovereignty. It is a short crossing I believe if Russia wanted to invade.

    But yea it was complicated.

  4. Top | #14
    Administrator lpetrich's Avatar
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    It is true that the nuclear bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were not the most destructive air raids in World War II. But they were very destructive, and there was a crucial difference: how many bombs were dropped.

    Consider a much more typical big WWII bombing raid. The Bombing of Tokyo (10 March 1945) devastated much of that city, killing over 100,000 people and leaving at least a million people homeless. That raid involved 279 B-29's dropping 1665 short tons / 1510 metric tons of incendiary bombs. From Bombing of Tokyo, most of the bombs dropped were 500-lb / 230-kg E-46 cluster bombs that contained 38 napalm bomblets each. That means dropping some 6660 bombs, with a total of 253,080 bomblets.

    By comparison, the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki involved one bomb each.

    One bomb.

    One bomb that did the work of thousands.

    Robert Oppenheimer - Wikiquote
    Despite the vision and farseeing wisdom of our wartime heads of state, the physicists have felt the peculiarly intimate responsibility for suggesting, for supporting, and in the end, in large measure, for achieving the realization of atomic weapons. Nor can we forget that these weapons, as they were in fact used, dramatized so mercilessly the inhumanity and evil of modern war. In some sort of crude sense which no vulgarity, no humor, no overstatement can quite extinguish, the physicists have known sin; and this is a knowledge which they cannot lose.

    Physics in the Contemporary World, Arthur D. Little Memorial Lecture at M.I.T. (25 November 1947)
    Isaac Asimov once wrote an essay called "The Sin of the Scientist", collected in "The Stars in their Courses", and he decided that it was making weapons of mass destruction like nuclear bombs. He proposed some previous ones, like the Byzantines' "Greek fire", a kind of napalm, and World War I poison gases like chlorine.

  5. Top | #15
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    IMO dead is dead. Whether it happens in a few seconds or a few hors makes no difference.

    Nuclear bombs were the logical conclusion of the development of weapons capable of large scale killing beginning with Gatling Gun. It led to the machine guns used in WWI warfare. In its day a WMD. It slaughtered millions.

    Krupp made a fortune developing increasing destructive conventional weapons.

    Neutron bombs

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neutron_bomb

    A neutron bomb, officially defined as a type of enhanced radiation weapon (ERW), is a low yield thermonuclear weapon designed to maximize lethal neutron radiation in the immediate vicinity of the blast while minimizing the physical power of the blast itself. The neutron release generated by a nuclear fusion reaction is intentionally allowed to escape the weapon, rather than being absorbed by its other components.[3] The neutron burst, which is used as the primary destructive action of the warhead, is able to penetrate enemy armor more effectively than a conventional warhead, thus making it more lethal as a tactical weapon.

    The concept was originally developed by the US in the late 1950s and early 1960s. It was seen as a "cleaner" bomb for use against massed Soviet armored divisions. As these would be used over allied nations, notably West Germany, the reduced blast damage was seen as an important advantage.[4][5]

    ERWs were first operationally deployed for anti-ballistic missiles (ABM). In this role the burst of neutrons would cause nearby warheads to undergo partial fission, preventing them from exploding properly. For this to work, the ABM would have to explode within ca. 100 metres (300 ft) of its target. The first example of such a system was the W66, used on the Sprint missile used in the US's Nike-X system. It is believed the Soviet equivalent, the A-135's 53T6 missile, uses a similar design.[6][7]

    The weapon was once again proposed for tactical use by the US in the 1970s and 1980s, and production of the W70 began for the MGM-52 Lance in 1981. This time it experienced a firestorm of protest as the growing anti-nuclear movement gained strength through this period. Opposition was so intense that European leaders refused to accept it on their territory. President Ronald Reagan bowed to pressure and the built examples of the W70-3 remained stockpiled in the US until they were retired in 1992. The last W70 was dismantled in 2011.[8]

  6. Top | #16
    Fair dinkum thinkum bilby's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by steve_bank View Post
    IMO dead is dead. Whether it happens in a few seconds or a few hors makes no difference.
    Well your opinion is in the minority. Most people would certainly prefer a quick painless death over a slow painful one.
    Nuclear bombs were the logical conclusion of the development of weapons capable of large scale killing beginning with Gatling Gun. It led to the machine guns used in WWI warfare. In its day a WMD. It slaughtered millions.
    Nuclear weapons are a completely new kind of technology. They are in no sense the logical conclusion of anything that went before them.
    Krupp made a fortune developing increasing destructive conventional weapons.

    Neutron bombs
    What about Neutron Bombs?

    Why did you cut and paste a bunch of stuff about them from Wikipedia? What was your reason for doing this, while not saying anything at all in your won words about this type of weapon?

    PLEASE for the love of any gods that might exist, and all of those that don't, STOP CUT AND PASTING FROM WIKIPEDIA!!!

    Post a link if you must, But don't spam the board with cut and paste from anywhere, unless it is absolutely necessary to support some kind of point that you are making.

    Yes, we are all very impressed that you have discovered how to use Wikipedia; But we all know how too, so we really don't need your spam.

  7. Top | #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by steve_bank View Post
    Should Truman be labeled a war criminal for ordering atomic bombs dropped on Japan?


    Was it a crime against humanity?
    No. It was war, and whole cities (Dresden, Tokyo, etc.) were carpet bombed anyway.
    The atomic bombs probably saves a lot of net lives in the end by hastening the capitulation and the end of WWII.

  8. Top | #18
    Elder Contributor Keith&Co.'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by lpetrich View Post
    By comparison, the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki involved one bomb each.

    One bomb.

    One bomb that did the work of thousands.
    Well, that was the entire point.
    One plane, one bomb, X many destruction.
    Admittedly, they only had two, but the Japanese did not know. They were supposed to imagine a bombing like Tokyo's, with these hammers from a judgmental god.

  9. Top | #19
    Elder Contributor Keith&Co.'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bilby View Post
    Nuclear weapons are a completely new kind of technology. They are in no sense the logical conclusion of anything that went before them.
    Exactly.
    There us no progression from "igniting boom material to break shit" to "boom material smash rocks together, and that breaks a whole LOTTA shit."

    Every military ordnance expert of the time insisted to the President that it was poppycock, a waste of money and manpower, some egghead fantasy. Whst we really needed was more and bigger conventional bombs. And maybe bigger battleships... Not these weird carriers....

  10. Top | #20
    Fair dinkum thinkum bilby's Avatar
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    Conventional explosives are basically just incendiary weapons that burn really fast.

    Fire is a good weapon, and has probably been used as such since it's discovery.

    At some point, the Chinese discovered that blending saltpetre (Potassium Nitrate) with flammable powder, such as charcoal, makes it burn impressively fast. Add a bit of sulphur, to make it easy to ignite, and you have 'black powder', aka gunpowder. It's carbon, made to oxidise really fast by association with nitrate, which carries lots of oxygen.

    Gunpowder burns fast enough to be a useful propellant, and if sufficiently contained, can produce an explosion; It's a 'low explosive', in which the reaction front propogates slower than the speed of sound. The finer you grind the powder, the closer the nitrate is to the carbon, and the easier and faster the burn.

    The next evolution was to put the nitrate and the carbon in the same molecule, which dramatically increases the rate of reaction. Glyceryl Trinitrate, also known as Nitroglycerin, has three nitrate groups and three carbon atoms, and as a result is very reactive indeed. It's a 'high explosive' - the reaction propagates faster than sound, and so (unlike gunpowder) containment is not required for an explosion to occur. Containment still helps to amplify the explosion, however.

    The problem with GTN/NG is that it's too good at exploding, and tends to go 'bang' even when you don't want it to.

    So the search was on for ways to stabilise it - and Nobel discovered that if you adsorb NG onto kieselgur (aka Diatomaceous earth), a kind of clay, you get a material that's hard to accidentally detonate, but which will do so given a small 'primary' explosion from another source.

    As time went on, and two world wars were fought, chemists in the munitions industry found lots of ways to associate nitrate and carbon in stable molecules that could be persuaded to become unstable very rapidly on demand. Trinitrotoluene (TNT) uses a hydroxyl group to destabilise a benzene ring containing three nitrate groups; Trinitrobenzene is a less effective explosive due to the absence of this hydroxyl.

    Mix TNT with ammonium nitrate, and you have the explosive amatol, widely used today in mining, and used for bombs in WWII.

    Essentially all the advances in explosives throughout history have been about getting more nitrogen into association with carbon than before, but without having it blow up your laboratory. RDX is essentially trinitrobenzene, but with three of the carbon atoms in the ring replaced with nitrogen (and as a result, the nitrate groups become nitrite groups with one fewer oxygen atom). RDX is more powerful than TNT and was also widely used in WWII.

    Atomic bombs are radically different. They don't use chemical explosives at all - except as a trigger mechanism.

    No matter how much chemistry you do, you cannot get from gunpowder to nuclear bombs - They are a completely new kind of weapon, for which you need physicists, not chemists.

    A congreve rocket, a gattling gun, a WWII high explosive 'dumb' bomb, and a modern JDAM guided 'bunker buster' are all variations on a theme, and history shows a progression from smaller, less directed, weapons to larger, more accurate, weapons. Even ballistic missiles like the V2 and Scud are developments from this foundation of nitrate enhanced oxidation of carbon - in the V2 the nitrogen is absent from the propellant, replaced with pure oxygen; But the principle is the same. The V2's warhead was TNT.

    The biggest conventional bombs, fuel-air bombs, go back to using atmospheric oxygen - essentially they are what you get if you spray hydrocarbons around until they form an explosive mixture with air, and so their size is limited only by the amount of fuel you can deliver.

    Nuclear weapons are absolutely not 'just another step' towards larger explosions. Despite their effects being very similar, (there's very little difference in effect between a large fuel-air bomb, and a small nuclear device) the underlying cause of the explosion is completely novel.

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