It's not hard to reason this one but you migh...
18th May, 1974 was celebrated by most Indians as ‘Buddha Jayanti’. In a military test site deep in the Rajasthan desert, however, a different sort of Buddha was smiling.
On that very day, the Indian government conducted the country's first nuclear test at Pokhran. In a tribute to the day's significance, the code for a successful test was "The Buddha has smiled."
And smile it did--only a mere two years after Indira Gandhi flagged the project off in 1972. India had entered the nuclear age, and the country's nuclear program hasn't looked back since. India is now only one of 9 countries around the world to possess nuclear weapons, and the form a crucial deterrent against China and Pakistan.
For the 37th anniversary of the day India entered the nuke club, here are 10 things you never knew about nuclear weapons.
This is one test bomb designed to showcase the real power of these weapons. Ivy mike, an early hydrogen test bomb, managed to completely wipe the small island of Elugelab off the face of the earth.
Its detonation was recorded, and you can check out its awesome destructive power here:
Not Just Another Number
There are currently nine countries in the world that hold nuclear weapons--26,000 warheads in all. These include the US, Russia, UK, France, China, Israel, India, Pakistan and North Korea.
How do they stack up against each other?
2126 strategic warheads
500 operational tactical warheads
6700 reserve warheads
2787 strategic warheads
2000 operational tactical warheads
8000 reserve warheads
Officially, 0 warheads. However, they do have enough Plutonium for 12 warheads, of which 1 or 2 are thought to be semi-operational.
As is apparent, the USA and Russia’s arsenals account for a whopping 95% of the world’s nuclear warheads. So much for the big guys being responsible!
The Big-Ticket Bombs:
Few nuclear bombs have gained as much ‘celebrity status’ as the 2 American Bombs unleashed on the Japanese people during World War 2. Here’s some insight into the ‘fabulous lives of Little Boy and Fat Man,’ the 2 bombs in question.
Little Boy: Its name does it no justice because when it was dropped on Hiroshima it killed close to 1,40,000 people. There was clearly nothing ‘little’ about it’s devastating effects, and most of the casualties were civilians.
Fat Man: Dropped on an unsuspecting Nagasaki, this bad boy had a 1.2 mile blast radius and was responsible for 90000 casualties.
The two bombs destroyed Japan's will to fight, avenged Pearl Harbor, and in a single attack forced Japan to surrender to the Allied forces.
DID YOU KNOW: Currently, the average nuclear weapon in the US arsenal is approximately 8 times more powerful than the nuclear bomb that destroyed Hiroshima.
Hydrogen Happy and Gay?
The Enola Gay, the first--and only--bomber to drop an atomic bomb as a weapon of war was a Boeing B-29 Superfortress named after the pilot's mother.
It has received a lot of attention over the years, and has been completely restored and can be seen at the National Air and Space Museum in Washington D.C.
Plucky Plutonium and Suitcase Nukes:
Plutonium is one of the main materials required to create a nuclear weapon. Weapons can be created with just 3-5 kilograms of the stuff; these are called "suitcase nukes." Worryingly, there's over 5,00,000 kilograms of plutonium stockpiled globally.
Doom by a Boom:
The 2001 US Nuclear Posture Review contains plans to deploy nuclear weapons against Iraq, Iran, Syria, Libya, North Korea, Russia and China. While the first country on that list has been taken care of, the others are all considered to be the biggest threats to the US' interests.
’SORT’-ing it out:
The Strategic Offensive Reductions Treaty (SORT) between the US and Russia requires that both countries reduce their deployed strategic warheads to anywhere between 1,700 and 2,200 by December 31, 2012. On the day after this, the treaty terminates, and each side can redeploy as many nuclear warheads as they like. This will, of course, only happen if another treaty isn't negotiated in the interim to extend the arms cuts.
A Costly Affair:
If you thought that nuclear weapons were perhaps a cost-effective method to deal with national defense and security, think again. The total calculated cost of US nuclear weapons research, development, testing, deployment and maintenance alone has exceeded $7.5 trillion. That's enough to solve world hunger, eliminate poverty, and wipe out the debt of all third world nations.
Size Does Matter:
Introducing the ‘Tsar Bomba.’ This Soviet Union-designed beast remains the largest nuclear weapon ever tested on Earth, with an estimated yield of approximately 50 megatons.
Detonated on October 30, 1961, it was capable of a yield of 100 megatons, but this was halved to reduce fallout.
This power of this 3-stage hydrogen bomb was equivalent to 1400 times the combined power of both bombs used by the USA in World War 2. Now that's a big, big bang!
Pakistani nuclear scientist AQ Khan is the most notorious proliferator in the history of mankind. He first used Chinese know-how to jumpstart Pakistan's nuclear program, acquired plutonium in violation of international law, and then offered the technology for sale to several nations.
At one point, his Khan Research Laboratories even published a brochure of nuclear equipment that was available for sale! Iran, North Korea, Libya, and Iraq all expressed interest in Khan's wares, and of these, Libya, Iran, and North Korea were confirmed to have purchased items via Khan's nuclear black market. Shady stuff indeed!
-Pictures courtesy Flickr Creative Commons/Joseph Thornton-
you might also like
With Skyfall, director Sam Mendes mixes the old an...
If Bollywood ever went down the 007 agent route, w...