The Hydrogen Bomb

NAME: __________________
The Hydrogen Bomb
A hydrogen bomb is a nuclear weapon with incredible destructive power. In August 1949, the Soviet Union detonated its first atomic bomb. Realizing that the United States was no longer the only nuclear power, government officials saw a need to develop more powerful weapons. On January 31, 1950, President Harry Truman ordered work to begin on a hydrogen bomb. On November 1, 1952, the first hydrogen device was detonated on Eniwetok in the Pacific. Nicknamed "Mike," the explosion created a huge fireball and left a crater in the island two miles wide. Although Mike had proven that hydrogen bombs could work, at 20 feet long and 65 tons, it was impractical to use as a weapon. The first hydrogen bomb was exploded on March 1, 1954, in the Marshall Islands. Nicknamed "Bravo," the explosion was much larger than scientists expected, and radioactive material rained on nearby Pacific islanders and a Japanese fishing boat. On November 22, 1955, the Soviet Union detonated its first true hydrogen bomb. A new arms race had begun. News of the destructive nature of the hydrogen bomb shocked the world. People became terrified that hydrogen bombs would destroy cities and nations. Since scientists only needed to add more hydrogen to the bomb to increase its yield, there was no limit to the size of explosions that were possible. In addition to the destructive force, hydrogen bombs also had more subtle dangers. Dirt and dust sucked up and irradiated by a bomb explosion entered the atmosphere and fell back to earth miles away as fallout. If breathed in or eaten, fallout could cause cancer or birth defects. Although hydrogen bombs were never used as a weapon, they created a threat that remains to this day.
1) Based on what you know about the Cold War, who are Khrushchev and Kennedy? What countries do they represent?
2) What are Khrushchev and Kennedy each sitting on? 3) Both Khrushchev and Kennedy seem ready to press a button. What do you think would happen if either man pressed their button? Khrushchev and Kennedy sweat it out.
4) Using this cartoon as evidence, why do you think the Cold War remained “cold”?
NAME: __________________
Atomic Café Viewing Guide
Directions: The explosion of the Atomic Bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki ushered in a new global era in which people around the globe lived under the shadow of the most destructive force the world had ever seen. Americans were not immune to the fear created by the bomb, for the Soviet Union added it to their arsenal just four years after it was dropped on Japan. This movie examines the impact of developments in nuclear weapons on American society, and helps explain the intensity of US­Soviet relations between 1945 and 1989. Answer the questions as you watch the movie.
1) How do Americans react to the news that the atomic bomb has forced Japan to surrender?
2) What was the impact upon the city of Hiroshima and its people?
3) What are some concerns about the atomic test on Bikini Atoll that Admiral Blandy attempts to address? What does this say about American’s views on atomic weapons at the time?
4) According to the narrator describing the Wisconsin simulation, what is life like under Communism? 5) What does Truman say will happen if Communists take control of Korea?
6) How does the Senator at the microphone think Russia acquired the atomic bomb? Who is held responsible for the Russian bomb?
7) According to Eisenhower, what makes America strong? What event might lead Americans to lose faith in this strength?
8) What does the commentator say would be the result of a war between the United States and Soviet Union?
10) Write a thesis statement answering the following prompt: How do American views of the atomic bomb change between the end of World War II and the early 1950s?