Nuclear Advancements After the Manhattan Project
When the first atomic bomb was detonated in Alamogordo New Mexico on June 16, 1945, all the scientists involved in the Manhattan Project understood the great destructive power of radio-active isotopes. Although the atomic bomb was a very destructive force our world would not be as good without it. Because of the government funding involved in the project coupled with the need for an atom bomb, much research that otherwise may not have occurred took place in the US. The Manhattan project opened the door to nuclear advancements and applications.
After World War II atomic research escalated into a frenzy. Many countries were trying to duplicate what America had done. The great arms race had begun. Although these countries knew the destructive power of the atom, they did not fully understand its more peace-full side, a side which helps us today with so much.
The atom is used for many things in today’s world. For example nuclear power plants are a much cheaper way of creating electricity. However, not only are they cheaper but they also help conserve the earth’s resources. Instead of burning millions of metric tons of coal in a year and polluting the air with harmful carbons, nuclear plants use fuel rods as their energy. These rods heat water, create steam, and generate electricity, while not giving off any harmful gases.
Atoms and radiation have many applications in agriculture, medicine, industry and research. They greatly improve the day to day quality of our lives. One interesting use of a radio-active isotope is in reducing insect population. The Sterile Insect Technique (SIT) consists of irradiating laboratory-reared male insects before hatching, to sterilize them. The sterilized males are then released in large numbers in the infested areas. When they mate with females, no offspring are produced. With repeated releases of sterilized males, the population of the insect pest in a given area is drastically reduced. The largest SIT operations so far have been conducted in Mexico against the Mediterranean fruit fly and the screwworm. In 1981 the Medfly operation was declared a complete success, and by 1991 the screwworm eradication had...