By Robert Mugisha
About 1,300 Iranian university students have applied to switch their majors to the field of nuclear sciences following the assassination of a top nuclear expert in Iran
"Three hundred talented students at Sharif University and about a thousand brilliant students at the country's universities have applied in recent days to change their major and start studying nuclear physics and nuclear engineering," Kamran Daneshjo, Iranian Minister of Science Research and Technology, said in a press conference Monday, according to Iran's Tehran Times.
Daneshjo's comments came five days after the assassination of 32-year-old Mostafa Ahmadi Roshan, a former graduate of Sharif University and, until his death, the deputy director of the Natanz uranium enrichment facility, according to Iranian media.
|Assasinated: Iranian Scientist, Mostafa Ahmadi Roshan|
Roshan was killed Jan. 11 when a magnetic explosive device was slipped under his car by a motorcyclist and then detonated, according to Iranian news reports. He is the fourth Iranian nuclear scientist assassinated in the past two years
What is a nuclear weapon?
One of the largest atomic bombs in the world
The global security institute defines a nuclear weapon as a weapon whose explosive power is generated by the process of nuclear fission (an atomic bomb) or nuclear fusion (a hydrogen or thermonuclear bomb).
How is a nuclear weapon different from a conventional weapon?
In order to create a fission or fusion reaction, a nuclear weapon must use what are commonly called fissile materials, either plutonium or highly enriched uranium (HEU), to fuel its explosion. A conventional weapon does not use fissile materials as its explosive fuel. As a result, even a nuclear weapon with a relatively small yield is much more destructive than any conventional weapon, with the capability to nearly destroy an entire city.
What happens in a nuclear explosion?
A nuclear explosion is the result of a rapid release of energy from a nuclear reaction, either fission or fusion. The result is an enormous blast of energy and thermal radiation.
Nuclear Fission: In a nuclear fission reaction, the nucleus of an atom is split into two smaller nuclei and other by-product particles. If this process is uncontrolled, as in a nuclear weapon, it starts a chain reaction whereby large amounts of energy are rapidly released. Nuclear fission is the type of nuclear reaction that was used in the atomic bombs the United States dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki during WWII.
Nuclear Fusion: Whereas an atom is split in the process of nuclear fission, in a nuclear
Fusion reaction many nuclei come together to form one heavier nucleus, causing the release
of great amounts of energy in self-sustaining reactions. Thermonuclear weapons involve
|Hardliner: Iranian president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.|
both fission and fusion.
What is a kiloton? A megaton?
Kilotons (kt): a unit of measuring the explosive power of a nuclear explosion. This
measurement is in relation to the explosive power of an equivalent amount of TNT. For example, a 15kt nuclear explosion (the size of the explosion in Hiroshima) has the explosive power equivalent to 15,000 tons of TNT.
Megatons (Mt): Also in relation to the explosive power of an equivalent amount of TNT, amegaton is the explosive power equivalent to 1 million tons of TNT, or 1,000 kilotons. This level of power can only be obtained through a thermonuclear or hydrogen blast.
If you wanted to picture the amount of TNT needed for a 1-Megaton explosion, imagine a
200-mile long train filled with TNT; for a 5-Mt bomb, a train 1000 miles long.
Iran is said to be capable of making nuclear bombs in months
Are we safe if all the 1300 students graduated as specialists in nuclear science?
The writer is a second year student of Journalism and Communication at Makerere University, Kampala, Uganda.