The CND symbol

One of the most widely known symbols in the world, in Britain it is recognised as standing for nuclear disarmament – and in particular as the logo of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND). In the United States and much of the rest of the world it is known more broadly as the peace symbol. It was designed in 1958 by Gerald Holtom, a professional designer and artist and a graduate of the Royal College of Arts. He showed his preliminary sketches to a small group of people in the Peace News office in North London and to the Direct…

The history of CND

  The first atomic bomb was dropped by the United States on the Japanese city of Hiroshima on 6 August 1945. Three days later the second was dropped on Nagasaki. Hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians died and countless more had their lives blighted by the horror, by sickness and by loss. The Atomic Age had begun. During the late 1940s and 50s, first the US, then the Soviet Union and Britain developed and tested new atomic weapons with ever increasing frequency. Not only were there fears of nuclear war breaking out but there was growing concern and protest around the…

Nuclear weapons: who's got them?

There are five officially declared nuclear weapon states in the world: the United States, Russia, Britain, France and China These states are signatories to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). Three more states have developed nuclear weapons outside the treaty framework: Israel, India and Pakistan In the case of Israel, this was first revealed by Mordechai Vanunu, a technician in a nuclear installation who exposed the nuclear weapons programme to a British newspaper in 1986. North Korea (DPRK) claims to have a nuclear weapons capability. It withdrew from the NPT in 2003 and has since tested three nuclear devices, one in…

The bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki

On August 6, 1945 the US dropped an atomic bomb ("Little Boy") on Hiroshima in Japan. Three days later a second atomic bomb ("Fat Man") was dropped on the city of Nagasaki. These were the only times nuclear weapons have been used in war. Reasons for the bombing Many reasons are given as to why the US administration decided to drop the atomic bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Reasons include the following: The United States wanted to force Japan's surrender as quickly as possible to minimize American casualties. The United States needed to use the atomic bomb before the Soviet…

How do nuclear weapons work?

Nuclear bombs are weapons of mass destruction. They harness the forces that hold the nucleus of an atom together by using the energy released when the particles of the nucleus (neutrons and protons) are either split or merged. There are two ways that nuclear energy can be released from an atom: Nuclear fission - the nucleus of an atom is split into two smaller fragments by a neutron. This method usually involves isotopes of uranium (uranium-235, uranium-233) or plutonium (plutonium-239). Nuclear fusion - two smaller atoms are brought together, usually hydrogen or hydrogen isotopes (deuterium, tritium), to form a larger…

The effects of nuclear weapons

Nuclear weapons have been used twice, on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945. Evidence from these occasions, as well as atmospheric nuclear testing and nuclear power accidents have formed the basis of our knowledge of the effects of nuclear weapons. Modern nuclear weapons generally have much greater explosive power than those first two bombs, and would greatly increase the scale of the devastation.  The effects can be divided into four categories: instantaneous, near-immediate, short term and long term. Instantaneous The heart of a nuclear explosion reaches a temperature of several million degrees centigrade. Over a wide…

Nuclear timeline

1940s Synopsis of the decade The United States' Manhattan Projectbuilds and then tests the first atomic bombs. The new weapons are used on Hiroshima, then Nagasaki. World War II ends. The beginning of the Cold War follows and the USSR tests its first atomic bomb in 1949. Key dates July 1945: The United States conducts the world’s first atomic bomb test, called 'Trinity' at Alamogordo, New Mexico. August 1945: The United States drops atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. August 1949: The Soviet Union tests its first atomic bomb. 1950s Synopsis of the decade This decade sees the first British…

Albert Einstein 1879 - 1955

His role in the construction of the atomic bomb Albert Einstein did not build the atomic bomb. But, with his Theory of Relativity, he published the formula which constitutes the basic principle of the atomic bomb, or how a huge amount of energy can be released from a small amount of matter. This theory was summarised by the equation: E=mc² (energy = mass times the speed of light squared) Einstein did not want to use his discovery to build bombs, but he changed his mind during the Second World War as Nazi Germany was growing more powerful. In addition, in…