Often, whilst researching
information for this web site, I would come across a term which I
did not fully understand, or for which for which no meaning was
apparent. This page will hopefully allow you to understand more
fully the information I've provided for you.
Click on the terms for a brief
description of their meaning.
A pulse of air which
increases sharply at the front, accompanied by strong winds, caused
by a powerful explosion.
The minimum mass of a
fissionable material that will just maintain a fission chain
reaction. For an explosion to occur the system must be
"super-critical", i.e. the mass of the material must exceed the
critical mass under existing conditions.
jet-propelled missile capable of carrying a nuclear or conventional
warhead. Cruise missiles can be launched from land, sea or air.
A sharp pulse of
long-wave electo-magnetic radiation caused by a nuclear explosion.
The intense electo and magnetic fields produced can easily damage
all unprotected electronic equipment. We are unable, at this moment
in time, to protect our equipment fully from such effects. The EMP
has no effect on living organisms.
The term given to
particles of dust and debris which have been sucked into a mushroom
cloud and become eradiated (made radioactive). These particles can
fall to the ground near the site of the explosion or be carried
thousands of miles in the upper atmosphere. More fall out is
produced by ground-blast nuclear weapons.
Stationary mass fire
usually occurring in urban areas. The rapid use of oxygen by the
fires causes an inrush of wind, which supplies fresh oxygen to keep
the fires burning.
This is a type of
nuclear reaction which releases vast amounts of energy when heavy
elements (often uranium 235 or plutonium 239)
are split apart to create a lighter atoms. Nuclear fission is less
effective than fusion.
Caused by the reflex
glance at the immense bright light given off during a nuclear
explosion. Its effects range from temporary blindness to permanent
loss of sight.
This is a type of
nuclear reaction which releases vast amounts of energy when two
atomic nuclei are combined (or fused) to create a heavier nucleus.
This is how the Suns creates its energy, and is the basis of
Hydrogen bombs. Also referred to as thermonuclear reactions.
electro magnetic radiation emitted from nuclei when they decay.
Gamma radiation is visible, similar to light, and is hard to shield
Ballistic Missiles (ICBM) are weapons which are ground launched and
have a range in excess of 3400 miles. They can contain a
conventional or nuclear payload.
The amount of energy
released by detonating 1,000 tons of TNT.
The amount of
explosive energy released by the detonation of 1,000,000 tons of
The pressure (usually
expressed in pounds per square inch) above what would be considered
normal for a particular area. This raise in pressure is caused by
the rapid expansion of gases occurring after a nuclear explosion.
The highest over pressure is usually found the exact moment the
shockwave hits a specific location.
This describes the
process in which more and more countries develop and deploy nuclear
A large pressure wave
formed in air, water or underground caused by the explosion of
The Strategic Air
Command (SAC) was formed in 1946. It is the arm of the US Air force
which controls the USA long-range nuclear strike force. This is
based at Offutt Air force base in Nebraska.
Another name for a
A thermo-nuclear bomb
is one which massive amounts of energy are rapidly released due to
the effects of fusion of hydrogen atoms. The intense heat needed to
initiate a thermo-nuclear blast is created using a fission bomb
located within the thermo-nuclear device.
In July 1945 a test
was carried out of an implosion device, called "Gadget", in the
Southern New Mexico desert. The yield was 15 kilotons and was proof
that nuclear reactions could produce devastating weapons.
The total effective
energy released in a nuclear explosion. Usually expressed in the
terms of tonnage of TNT required to create a similar explosion.