donderdag 12 augustus 2010
Inside the nuclear threat (NGC Explorer)
What could we do if we had evidence terrorists were close to acquiring nuclear weapons, or even making their own? How would we defend ourselves from a blast with fireballs hotter than the sun? Race from motorcade to helicopter to confidential meeting, as scientists and intelligence experts brief viewers on the hard facts about the world's most lethal weapons - and the unbreakable physical laws that govern them.
Nuclear weapons are the world’s most dangerous artillery with a blast that can destroy a entire city and whose fireballs burn hotter than the sun. Today, defiant nations desperately pursue them, while at home, agencies prepare for the worst. But what goes into making them? Who has them? And how do they work?
* The blast of a nuclear weapon can travel 1,000 feet per second and their fireballs burn at over 9,000 degrees Fahrenheit. The explosion of even a makeshift nuclear device could vaporize five city blocks and would irreparably damage buildings up to a mile away.
* Wind can carry radioactive fallout over 100 miles, this would force survivors to stay sheltered for weeks to avoid the risk of illness or even death.
* If the nuclear force is broken, then the two pieces go flying apart releasing an enormous amount of energy—it is one million times stronger than the explosion caused by one atom of TNT.
* The basic design of a nuclear bomb includes a small particle called a neutron, which is propelled into a piece of uranium or plutonium triggering the explosion.
* The most common types of nuclear weapons are the plutonium bomb and the uranium bomb.
* Hiroshima was the site of the world's first uranium explosion.
* Uranium is a natural element mined from metallic ores in the Earth.
* A simple uranium bomb would require about 60 pounds of pure uranium. It can take a year for 3,000 centrifuges to produce enough material for a single weapon.
* There are more than 400 nuclear power plants in the world, a quarter of which subside in the United States alone. Most run on uranium while all of them produce plutonium.
* To protect radioactive materials in a power plant, the core is surrounded by eight-inch thick steel and three to seven feet thick concrete shielding. Surrounding that barrier is another two inches of steel and three to four feet of reinforced concrete.
* The protective structures around the radioactive core are designed to withstand tornadoes, hurricanes, and earthquakes; they could even endure the impact of a crashing jumbo jet, like those used in the World Trade Center attacks.