- Three atomic weapons existed in the world in 1945

- In 1986, nearly 70,000 nuclear weapons existed.

- Earliest known name for a nuclear weapon is "atomic bomb" 

- Fusion weapons are "thermonuclear" because high temperatures are required for fusion reactions to occur 

- A megaton is the explosive power of one million tons of TNT 

- A kiloton is the power of one thousand tons of TNT 

- The bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945 were between 10 and 20 kilotons 

- Immediate effects include blast and thermal radiation 

- Delayed effects are produced by ionizing radiation, neutrons and radioactive fallout 

- Ground zero is the point directly under the explosion 

- The Manhattan Project's technology, which was used to create the bombs dropped on Japan, is now readily available to almost anyone who has a personal computer 

- The U.S. uranium bomb dropped on Hiroshima was not tested first due to limited enriched uranium sources 

- Two-thirds of the deaths occurring on the first day the Hiroshima bomb was dropped were caused by burns 

- The U.S. plutonium bomb dropped on Nagasaki was more complex and was first tested in New Mexico 

- Uranium is a natural element that exists primarily in a form unsuitable for fueling an atomic reaction 

- Estimates at the end of the Cold War show that the U.S. had then produced over 750 tons of highly enriched uranium (HEU), and the Soviet Union had produced over 1200 tons 

- The element plutonium (Pu) is a man-made by-product of uranium irradiation 

- Pu-239 and uranium-235 shares similar fissile characteristics, making both suitable nuclear fuel for bombs 

- Only a few kilograms of plutonium existed on the planet 50 years ago 

- The U.S. plutonium inventory was about 100 tons at the end of the Cold War, while the Soviets had twice that amount 

- Plutonium is more radioactive and more dangerous to handle than uranium 

- The radiation hazard posed by handling weapons-grade uranium is relatively low 

- Smugglers are most interested in highly enriched uranium (HEU) because it is easier to use 

- Catching plutonium and uranium smugglers is unlikely unless authorities have prior knowledge of the materials' location 

- Plutonium and uranium are odorless and can only be detected by radiation meters 

- Nuclear material removed from weapons as a result of weapons reduction agreements must be stored, utilized, or destroyed 

- Most of the plutonium recovered from destroyed U.S. weapons is stored at the Pantex site in Texas 

 

Sources:

-Bombs for Beginners — www.fas.org/nuke/intro/nuke/design.htm;
-Frontline —www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/nukes/;
-Nuclear Weapons — www.geocities.com/SiliconValley/Way/1300/index.html