Nuclear Weapons: What You Need to Know (英語) ハードカバー – 2007/10/15
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This book is a history of nuclear weapons. From their initial theoretical development at the start of the twentieth century to the recent tests in North Korea, Jeremy Bernstein seeks to describe the basic science of nuclear weaponry at each point in the narrative. At the same time, he offers accounts and anecdotes of the personalities involved, many of whom he has known firsthand. Dr Bernstein writes in response to what he sees as a widespread misunderstanding throughout the media and hence among the general public of the basic workings and potential impact of nuclear weaponry. For example, he points out that it has been nearly thirty years since anyone has even seen a nuclear detonation. Likewise, the Nagasaki bomb, primitive when compared to more modern devices, generated an explosion roughly the equivalent of eight thousand copies of the truck bomb used by Timothy McVeigh in Oklahoma City.
"There's no better person to analyze this crucial and fascinating topic. Jeremy Bernstein is a delightful writer and accomplished physicist who worked at Los Alamos as a young scholar and has since written on such subjects as Hitler's nuclear scientists, Einstein, and plutonium. He combines colorful personal tales with wonderfully clear explanations. He's the teacher we all wish we had."
-Walter Isaacson, President of the Aspen Institute and author of Einstein: His Life and Universe (2007)
"Jeremy Bernstein's Nuclear Weapons: What You Need to Know is an important addition to the scientific literature." -David Hafemeister, Physics Today
"...an important addition to the scientic literature." -David Hafemeister, Physics Today
"Jeremy Bernstein's Nuclear Weapons: What You Need to Know delivers as advertised, arming the reader with sufficent historical and technical background to engage contemporary journalism on nuclear weapons or to begin more in-depth study of the histories of science, the Cold War, and related topics." -Edward H. Jeter, World History Bulletin
On history there is discovery of uranium in 1789, Mendelev’s periodic table and its missing elements, Crooke’s cathode–ray tubes, cyclotrons, Zippe gas centrifuges, even elementary star wars (Project Argus). A culmination was in the 1940s at Los Alamos where super weapons like Little Boy and Fat Man that ended WWII were designed.
On theory and technology are various energy conversions and calculations (including TNT/truck bomb baselines), implosive lense balls with plutonium pits, and lithium/ heavy hydrogen fuels. On fusion, an error is made a hydrogen gas cloud could self-collapse under gravity to form a star (p. 214) which is impossible unless a miracle occurred to suspend the ideal gas law.
Smoky’s 1956 nuclear blast anatomy given dispels myths about what happens and types of damage a bomb causes.
The book has many veiled spiritual references for those with eyes to see:
*The first successful test was called Trinity.
*Mendelev and Robert Oppenheimer’s Sanskrit usages: ‘eka’ (‘near’) Osmium, and (at Trinity) Baghavad Ghita 11.32 ‘…I am become Death, The shatterer of Worlds.’
*Uranium and the first few transuranics named after planets (Neptune and Pluto), then people (Fermi and Einstein), so both planets and men can be idolised.
*If the sun was created the eye must have been at the same time (wrong as the eye was created on day six of the universe, two days after the sun).
And what of the future? The conclusion is about proliferation: there are still 1,000s of live weapons, also rogue states, nuclear shopping lists and emboldened Islamic terror groups. Treaties are useless and time to next detonation approaches. For effect the author uses the word Armageddon, which is from the ‘out-dated’ Holy Bible, the battle of that great day of God Almighty:
“And he gathered them together into a place called in the Hebrew tongue Armageddon.”
Revelation 16.16 (cf. I Thessalonians 5.3 and Zechariah 14.12)
A 2007 book, it makes reference to many contemporary problems, Iran, Iraq, a terrorist bomb, DPRK, and proliferation. It includes suggestions for further reading should one find something missing, or wish to pursue the topic in more depth.
The one element I found missing in detail, since this is "What You Need To Know," is what happens to people when such a device explodes overhead or otherwise nearby. Bernstein does state numbers for deaths in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. He gives, 90,000 and 74,000. I believe Carey Sublette provides similar numbers. The question becomes, "In what year do you stop counting?" For many decades now the "official" figure that comes from reliable sources in Hiroshima is that by Dec. 31, 1945, the death toll was 140,000, with 10% possible error. Sadako Sasaki died 10 years later as did many others between 1945 and 1955. In general, not criticizing Bernstein or Sublette, when an enemy of ours kills, we use death figures from the victims; when WE kill we use OUR figures. When the 90,000 figure is used for nuclear deaths, I wonder if someone is trying to make it seem no worse than the Tokyo air raids. The United States government has never published a full and detailed account of what happened to the people of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and still remains with the few survivors to this day, some 63 years after.
I would add to the Further Reading Suggestions, Naomi Shohno's THE LEGACY OF HIROSHIMA, Legacy of Hiroshima: Its Past, Our Future, James C. Warf's ALL THINGS NUCLEAR, All Things Nuclear, and DAYS TO REMEMBER from the Hiroshima Nagasaki Publishing Committee, Days to Remember: An Account of the Bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
NUCLEAR WEAPONS: What You Need To Know, is an excellent book. It has my highest recommendation. Give it 10 STARS!