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  Educators Course Syllabi History, Shanebrook-The Nuclear Age

The Nuclear Age- History 86:

Prof. Shanebrook

Union College Fall Term, 1997

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Books on Sale at Campus Bookstore

Philip L. Cantelon, Richard G. Hewlett, and Robert Williams (eds.),The American Atom: A Documentary History of Nuclear Policies from the Discovery of Fission to the Present , 2nd Edition (Philadelphia, University of Pennsylvania Press, 1991).

John Hersey, Hiroshima, (New York, Vintage Books, 1989).

Richard Wolfson, Nuclear Choices: A Citizen's Guide to Nuclear Technology, 2nd E

Class 2: 10 September 1997

Introduction of class.

Film or group discussion.

Essay 1 assigned: Begin reading the entire book by Hersey.

Class 2: 10 September 1997

Nuclear Issues in the News: Atoms and Nuclei [Shanebrook]

Assigned reading: Wolfson, 1-38.

Review Questions (Posted After the Class)

  • (1) What is an element?
  • (2) What are transuranic elements?
  • (3) How are transuranic elements artificially produced?
  • (4) What is an isotope?
  • (5) Which isotopes are currently used in nuclear reactors and bombs?
  • (6) What are the isotopes of hydrogen?
  • (7) What is a nuclear reaction?
  • (8) What is the difference between mass number and atomic number?
  • (9) What "force" binds nucleons together to form atomic nuclei?
  • (10) Where do the natural elements after iron (Table 2.1, page 28 in Wolfson) come from?

Class 3: 12 September 1997

Radioactivity [Shanebrook]

Types of radiation and units of measurement.

Assigned reading: Wolfson, 39-65.

Review Questions (Posted After the Class)

  • (1) What is one becquerel?
  • (2) What is one curie?
  • (3) What does the unit, rem, measure?
  • (4) Name three common forms of radioactive decay.
  • (5) What is radioactive half-life?
  • (6) How many years does it take a sample of Pu-239 to decay to one-thousandth of its original radioactivity? Note implications for radioactive waste storage.
  • (7) Which radioactive isotope was released at Chernobyl and accumulated in the thyroid gland?
  • (8) Which radioactive isotope was produced at Hiroshima and Nagasaki and concentrates in bones.
  • (9) Give representative speeds (in miles per second) for the three common types of nuclear radiation. Note potential damage when these energy forms pass through human tissue.
  • (10) Where does radioactive radon gas come from?

Class 4: 15 September 1997

Effects and Uses of Radioactivity [Shanebrook]

Radiation sickness, cancer, and medical applications.

Assigned reading: Wolfson, 66-94.

Review Questions (Posted After the Class)

  • (1) What is ionizing radiation?
  • (2) Name those forms of radiation that ionize and that do not.
  • (3) What are the symptoms of acute radiation sickness?
  • (4) What effects does radiation have on the human fetus?
  • (5) How many excess cancer deaths are expected due to the accident at Chernobyl?
  • (6) Gamma rays can be used to treat cancer and are produced by which radioactive material?
  • (7) Which form of radiation is used for food preservation?
  • (8) How does radiation cause genetic mutations?
  • (9) What does DNA stand for?
  • (10) Explain how radiation can be used for insect control.


Class 5: 17 September 1997

Energy from the Nucleus [Shanebrook]

Fusion, fission, chain reactions, and critical mass. Plutonium production.

Assigned reading: Wolfson, 95-120; Cantelon, Hewlett, and Williams, 1-7.

  • Review Questions (Posted After the Class)
  • (1) Give the nuclear fusion reaction that powers our sun.
  • (2) Give the nuclear fusion reaction for hydrogen bombs.
  • (3) Name three fissile isotopes.
  • (4) Give the nuclear process by which Pu-239 is produced when U-238 absorbs a neutron.
  • (5) Define a supercritical chain reaction.
  • (6) What are the critical masses for U-235 and Pu-239?
  • (7) Given a sample of natural uranium with 1,000 atoms, how many on average would be U-235 atoms?
  • (8) On average, how many neutrons are released per U-235 fission?
  • (9) Name the four scientists who discovered nuclear fission.
  • (10) Name two highly radioactive fission products that are harmful to humans.

Class 6: 19 September 1997

From the Discovery of Nuclear Fission to the Turning Point in the War (Winter

1941/1942) [Walker]

Assigned reading: Cantelon, Hewlett, and Williams, 7-20;

*Spencer Weart, "Where and Earth and Heaven Meet" in Nuclear Fear: A History of Images (Cambridge, MA, Harvard University Press, 1988), 77-102 [on reserve, ask for "Shanebrook"].

Review Questions (Posted After the Class)

  • (1) Why was uranium research popular before the discovery of nuclear fission?
  • (2) Why was uranium research popular after nuclear fission? What was the result?
  • (3) Why is Szilard concerned about after nuclear fission? How does he try to involve the American government?
  • (4) How secret were the secrets of nuclear fission?
  • (5) Why was the Frisch-Peierls memorandum important?
  • (6) Why was the MAUD Report important?
  • (7) Why did the French, Soviet, and British fail to develop nuclear weapons during the war?
  • (8) How do the German and American efforts to develop nuclear weapons compare?
  • (9) What question did the responsible American and German officials ask of their nuclear researchers during the winter of 1941-1942?
  • (10) Why did the American government attempt to make nuclear weapons, while the German did not?

Class 7: 22 September 1997

The Manhattan Project [Shanebrook]

Historical aspects of the USA project in WW II to develop fission weapons from U-235 and Pu-239. Early design of fission weapons. Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Assigned reading: Wolfson, 289-302; F. Forsyth, The Fourth Protocol, 320-329 (reserve reading in Bookstore).

Additional assignment: sketch the nuclear weapon described by Forsyth and label the parts; include material specification for all parts of this weapon; explain how the Forsyth weapon works.

Review Questions (Posted After the Class)

  • (1) When, where, and what constituted the first nuclear explosion on earth?
  • (2) Sketch and explain a uranium gun-type fission weapon.
  • (3) Sketch and explain a plutonium implosion-type fission weapon.
  • (4) What is the role of tritium in fission weapons?
  • (5) Where, when, and what constituted the first use of a nuclear weapon as an act of war?
  • (6) What was the yield (equivalent pounds of the chemical explosive, TNT) of the weapon used to destroy Hiroshima?
  • (7) What is the yield (equivalent pounds of TNT) for a 60 megaton weapon?
  • (8) How many people died from the Hiroshima bombing as of 1950, according to the USA Department of Defense.
  • (9) Name the three scientists who drafted the famous 1939 letter to Roosevelt.
  • (10) Quote the scripture recalled by J. Robert Oppenheimer immediately following the Trinity explosion.

Class 8: 24 September 1997

From the Turning Point in the War to Hiroshima [Walker]

Assigned reading:

Cantelon, Hewlett, and Williams, 20-67;

Elisabeth Crawford, Ruth Lewin Sime, and Mark Walker, "A Nobel Tale of Postwar Injustice," Physics Today (September 1997), 26-32 [on reserve, ask for "Shanebrook"];

*Stanley Goldberg, "Smithsonian Suffers Legionnaires' Disease," Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists (May/June 1995), 28-33[on reserve, ask for "Shanebrook"];

*Spencer Weart, "The News from Hiroshima" in Nuclear Fear: A History of Images (Cambridge, MA, Harvard University Press, 1988), 103-127 [on reserve, ask for "Shanebrook"].

Review Questions (Posted After the Class)

  • (1) What happened to the British nuclear weapons project?
  • (2) What is meant by the German "non-decision" to build nuclear weapons?
  • (3) Explain some of the myths surrounding the German nuclear project.
  • (4) When do the Americans pull ahead of the Germans, and why?
  • (5) Who argued against using the bomb in Japan, and what were their arguments?
  • (6) Who argued for using the bomb in Japan, and what were their arguments?
  • (7) In Germany and the United States, who actually decided whether nuclear weapons would be developed and used?
  • (8) Describe some of the arguments used to explain why the bomb was dropped on Hiroshima.
  • (9) How did the United States inform the Soviets about the new weapon? What were they told?
  • (10) Explain the recent controversy surrounding the Enola Gay.

Class 9: 26 September 1997

The Soviet Atomic Bomb and American Postwar Weapons Development [Walker]

Assigned reading: Cantelon, Hewlett, and Williams, 69-96, 193-201;

*Spencer Weart, "National Defenses" in Nuclear Fear: A History of Images (Cambridge, MA, Harvard University Press, 1988), 128-151 [on reserve, ask for "Shanebrook"].

Essay 1 Submitted

Review Questions (Posted After the Class)

  • (1) How did the Soviet nuclear weapons project begin? Was it any different from other countries?
  • (2) What role did the Soviet secret police and their gulags play in the nuclear weapons project?
  • (3) What four factors contributed to the success of the Soviet nuclear weapons project?
  • (4) What were the motivations of the Soviet scientists? Were these different from their German and American counterparts?
  • (5) Explain the significance of the Atomic Energy Act (1946).
  • (6) What was the Baruch Plan (1946)?
  • (7) Why did the Soviets reject the Baruch Plan?
  • (8) According to Brodie, what is deterrence and why is it a good thing?
  • (9) What were the stated goal of the Bikini tests?
  • (10) What were the short- and long-term goals of the Bikini tests?


Class 10: 29 September 1997

First Test


Class 11: 1 October 1997

The Hydrogen Bomb [Shanebrook]

The Teller-Ulam design for a thermonuclear bomb. Third generation weapons from cobalt to EMP.

Assigned reading: Wolfson, 303-314

Review Questions (Posted After the Class)

  • (1) Name the two scientists who designed the first USA hydrogen bomb in 1952.
  • (2) Sketch and explain the "fission trigger" used in hydrogen bombs.
  • (3) How does the trigger explosion initiate thermonuclear reactions before the whole weapon blows apart?
  • (4) Explain why hydrogen bombs are also called "fission-fusion-fission" weapons.
  • (5) Where and when was the first thermonuclear weapon exploded on earth?
  • (6) Describe the maximum yields of fission weapons and fusion weapons.
  • (7) Describe as many "third generation" nuclear weapons as you can (this is an example of vertical weapons proliferation).
  • (8) Name the three National Laboratories where the USA conducts R&D (research and development) on new nuclear weapons.
  • (9) What government agency oversees the vast USA nuclear weapons enterprise?
  • (10) How does the USA produce tritium for nuclear weapons?


Class 12: 3 October 1997

The American and Soviet Hydrogen Bombs; the Oppenheimer Affair [Walker]

Assigned reading:

Cantelon, Hewlett, and Williams, 109-162, 201-202;

*Yuli Khariton, Viktor Adamskii, and Yuri Smirnov, "The Way It Was," Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists (November/December 1996), 53-59 [on reserve, ask for "Shanebrook"].

Essay 2 given out.

Review Questions (Posted After the Class)

  • (1) Immediately after Nagasaki, how did the United States begin using nuclear weapons?
  • (2) How reliant was the Soviet Union on espionage when building their first atomic bomb?
  • (3) How reliant was the Soviet Union on espionage when building their first hydrogen bomb?
  • (4) What did the USAEC General Advisory Committee recommend with regard to fusion weapons?
  • (5) What did it suggest instead?
  • (6) How did the US government react to these suggestions?
  • (7) What do foreign policy conflicts like the Berlin Blockade and the Korean War have to do with nuclear weapons?
  • (8) Why is it arguably ironic that Edward Teller is considered the "Father of the H-Bomb"?
  • (9) What was the Oppenheimer Affair specifically about? What was he threatened with?
  • (10) Why was the Oppenheimer Affair a public matter?


Class 13: 6 October 1997

Nuclear Power Plants [Shanebrook]

How various nuclear reactors covert heat into electricity. Moderators, control systems (SCRAM), and coolants.

Assigned reading: Wolfson, 121-174.

Review Questions (Posted After the Class)

  • (1) Define electrical energy usage in terms of power units.
  • (2) What percentage of electrical energy was generated by nuclear power plants in the USA, France, and Japan during 1988?
  • (3) How does a thermal power plant produce electricity?
  • (4) What is the efficiency (in percent) of modern thermal power plants and where does the waste heat go?
  • (5) Name the two neutron moderators used in the USA and Canadian nuclear power programs.
  • (6) Explain how a SCRAM operation works and the special role of the control rods.
  • (7) Sketch (block diagram) a boiling-water nuclear power plant and explain how it works (what is the function of each component?)
  • (8) Sketch (block diagram) a pressurized-water nuclear power plant and explain how it works (how is the function of each loop?)
  • (9) Discuss the implications of CANDU reactors with "continuous refueling."
  • (10) Explain the role of heavy water in the nuclear weapons programs of Germany (circa 1943) and India (circa 1974).


Class 14: 8 October 1997

The Breeder Reactor [Shanebrook]

Limited resources of uranium. The liquid metal fast breeder reactor. Elements of the "plutonium economy."

Assigned reading: Wolfson, 175-181; A.M. Weinberg, "To Breed, or not to Breed?" 4-24 (reserve reading in Bookstore).

Review Questions (Posted After the Class)

  • (1) What does "LMFBR" stand for?
  • (2) Sketch (block diagram) a LMFBR nuclear power plant and explain how it works (what is the function ofeach loop?).
  • (3) Discuss the pros and cons of liquid sodium as the coolant in LMFBRs.
  • (4) Discuss the pros and cons of a "plutonium-based energy economy."
  • (5) According to Weinberg, how long will Phase I of the nuclear era last?
  • (6) According to Weinberg, what are the advantages of breeders?
  • (7) According to Weinberg, what are the five "issues" concerning breeders?
  • (8) Explain the Phase II dilemma as presented by Weinberg.
  • (9) What are the five characteristics of Phase II?
  • (10) Explain the "Faustian bargain," as proposed by Weinberg.


Class 15: 10 October 1997

The First Nuclear Power Plants,"Atoms for Peace,"; and Atomic Euphoria

[Walker]

Assigned reading:

Cantelon, Hewlett, and Williams, 96-108, 303-312, 331-335;

*Spencer Weart, "Atoms for Peace," "Good and Bad Atoms," and "The New Blasphemy," in Nuclear Fear: A History of Images (Cambridge, MA, Harvard University Press, 1988), 155-198 [on reserve, ask for "Shanebrook"].

Review Questions (Posted After the Class)

  • (1) Briefly describe the messages contained in Eisenhower's "Atoms for Peace" speech.
  • (2) What responsibilities did the Atomic Energy Act of 1954 give the AEC?
  • (3) What two types of nuclear power plants quickly dominated the American (and world) market? Who made them?
  • (4) Why was Atoms for Peace in the American national interest?
  • (5) Why were reactors with ordinary water and enriched uranium chosen or at least preferred in the United States?
  • (6) What is meant by Atomic Euphoria?
  • (7) What killed this euphoria?
  • (8) [Film] How were the nuclear weapons tests portrayed to the soldiers participating in them?
  • (9) Why was Edward Teller in favor of developing commercial nuclear power plants?
  • (10) Which country was the first to bring on line a commercial nuclear power plant?


Class 16: 13 October 1997

Effects of Nuclear Weapons [Shanebrook]

Radiation and blast effects from nuclear explosions. Radioactive fallout.

Assigned reading: Wolfson, 315-337.

First draft of essay 2 submitted.

Review Questions (Posted After the Class)

  • (1) To maximize blast damage, where should a nuclear weapon be detonated?
  • (2) Explain how "nuclear winter" might cause extinction of the human species.
  • (3) What constitutes radioactive fallout?
  • (4) In order to maximize radioactive fallout, what facilities should be targeted by a military strategist?
  • (5) What type of radioactive fallout contaminated the earth during the 1960s and 1970s?
  • (6) What is the effect of a nuclear detonation about 200 miles above the earth?
  • (7) What is the mathematical relationship between the yield of a weapon, Y, and the radius of destruction, R?
  • (8) Describe how nuclear explosions might produce a firestorm that suffocates blast survivors.
  • (9) How does a large nuclear explosion start fires 20 miles away?
  • (10) What is the destructive radius of a 10-Mt weapon?


Class 17: 15 October 1997

Anti-Nuclear Movements, Sputnik, and the Cuban Missile Crisis [Walker]

Assigned reading:

Cantelon, Hewlett, and Williams, 163-184, 203-207;

Spencer Weart, "Death Dust," and "The Politics of Survival," in Nuclear Fear: A History of Images (Cambridge, MA, Harvard University Press, 1988), 199-214, 241-269 [on reserve, ask for "Shanebrook"].

Review Questions (Posted After the Class)

  • (1) What were the goals of the Civil Defense program?
  • (2) What is Strontium-90, how is it produced, and why is it dangerous?
  • (3) What is Herman Kahn essentially saying about nuclear war?
  • (4) What was Sputnik, and why was it so much of a shock?
  • (5) What were the goals of CND and SANE?
  • (6) According to the government, what should you do in case of a nuclear attack? Why did the government advocate this?
  • (7) According to the government, why should people build fallout shelters? Why did the government advocate this?
  • (8) What was "Death Dust," and how did it influence nuclear policy?
  • (9) How did West German scientists react to the threat of nuclear war? What did they renounce? What did they defend?
  • (10) How does France compare to the "Nuclear Fear" found in Britain and the United States?


Class 18: 17 October 1997

Delivery Systems [Shanebrook]

The strategic triad of bombers, ICBMs, and SLBMs. Cruise missiles.

Assigned reading: Wolfson, 338-367.

Review Questions (Posted After the Class)

  • (1) Roughly, how much time does it take an ICBM to reach the USA from Russia?
  • (2) Define strategic nuclear weapons versus tactical nuclear weapons.
  • (3) Define the strategic triad of delivery systems.
  • (4) Distinguish between SRAMs and ALCMs.
  • (5) Define a "first strike" nuclear attack.
  • (6) What nuclear weapon has the USA deployed in order to "decapitate" some future enemy?
  • (7) What is the "Missile Technology Control Regime" and which nations are involved?
  • (8) Describe the USA fleet of Trident submarines and their capability to wage nuclear war.
  • (9) Describe the USA ALCM.
  • (10) Describe the USA MX missile.


Class 19: 20 October 1997

Second Test.

First draft of essay 2 handed back.


Class 20: 22 October 1997

Civil Defense, Nuclear Angst in Popular Culture, and the Test Ban [Walker]

Assigned reading:

Cantelon, Hewlett, and Williams, 185-187, 207-210, 231-236;

Spencer Weart, "Fail/Safe," "Reactor Poisons and Promises," and "The Debate Explodes," in Nuclear Fear: A History of Images (Cambridge, MA, Harvard University Press, 1988), 273-327 [on reserve, ask for "Shanebrook"].

Review Questions (Posted After the Class)

  • (1) What sort of nuclear tests were banned in 1963, and who signed the treaty?
  • (2) According to the "No Cities" doctrine, what should be the principle military targets?
  • (3) By 1964, who were members in the "Nuclear Club"?
  • (4) How did the Cuban Missile Crisis affect arms control negotiations between the super powers?
  • (5) What was the role of SAC in the United States' nuclear deterrent? Why was this controversial?
  • (6) What were the responsibilities of the Reactor Safeguard Committee of the AEC?
  • (7) Define the "Maximum Credible Accident". What precautions were taken in the USA? in the USSR?
  • (8) What potential problem associated with nuclear power plants caused most concern in the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s?
  • (9) What are ABMs? Do they make nuclear war more or less likely?
  • (10) What is meant by the phrase, "reactors became surrogates for bombs"?


Class 21: 24 October 1997

Nuclear Strategy [Shanebrook]

How to win a nuclear war. Scenario for a First Strike nuclear attack. Counterforce vs. countervalue.

Assigned reading: Wolfson, 368-390.

  • Review Questions (Posted After the Class)
  • (1) Describe the nuclear strategy of counterforce.
  • (2) Describe the nuclear strategy of countervalue.
  • (3) Describe the risks involved in a launch-on-warning strategy.
  • (4) Describe the 1993 START II Treaty.
  • (5) Define nuclear deterrence.
  • (6) What is meant by "decapitation" of the enemy?
  • (7) Describe the nuclear doctrine, mutual assured destruction (MAD).
  • (8) According to the nuclear strategy, flexible response, what might happen if NATO is losing a conventional war in Europe?
  • (9) Give in chronological order, the elements of a first strike nuclear attack.
  • (10) In your opinion, can a nuclear war be won? Explain your answer and account for a worst case scenario.


Class 22: 27 October 1997

Defense from Nuclear Weapons [Shanebrook]

Ballistic missile defense via ground- and space-based weapons. Anti-submarine warfare.

Assigned reading: Wolfson, 391-419; R.C. Aldridge, The Counterforce Syndrome, 45-55 (reserve reading in Bookstore).

Final draft of essay 2 submitted.

Review Questions (Posted After the Class)

  • (1) What is the ABM Treaty and what effect does it have on nuclear strategy?
  • (2) Discuss the advantages of attacking missiles during the boost phase.
  • (3) Discuss the challenges of defending against SLBMs.
  • (4) Discuss the various space-based weapons that could be used in the SDI program.
  • (5) Discuss the possible offensive role of SDI weapon systems.
  • (6) What are the implications of powering SDI weapons systems with orbiting nuclear power plants?
  • (7) Discuss ways of delivering nuclear weapons besides ICBMs and SLBMs.
  • (8) What is SOSUS and how does it work?
  • (9) What is Project Seaguard and what does it accomplish?
  • (10) Describe the ASW capabilities of the Mark-46 torpedo, CAPTOR, and SUBROC.


Class 23: 29 October 1997

Nuclear Proliferation [Walker]

Assigned reading:

David Albright, "An Iranian Bomb?" Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists (July/August 1995), 21-26 [on reserve, ask for "Shanebrook"];

David Albright and Robert Kelley, "Has Iraq Come Clean At Last?" Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists (November/December 1995), 53-64 [on reserve, ask for "Shanebrook"];

Zia Mian and A. H. Nayyar, "A Time of Testing?" Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists (July/August 1996), 35-40 [on reserve, ask for "Shanebrook"].

Review Questions (Posted After the Class)

  • (1) - (5) List the five members of the nuclear club, when they acquired fission and fusion weapons, and how they acquired them.
  • (6) Describe the Israeli nuclear weapons program. Why and how did they acquire nuclear weapons, and why do they deny having them?
  • (7) Why and how is Iran seeking to acquire nuclear weapons?
  • (8) Why did India develop nuclear weapons, and why is it still threatening to develop them further?
  • (9) Why are China and Russia so important with regard to nuclear proliferation?
  • (10) Describe Iraq's efforts to acquire nuclear weapons.


Class 24: 31 October 1997

Arms Control [Walker]

Assigned reading: Cantelon, Hewlett, and Williams, 188-192, 210-230, 236-301;

Spencer Weart, "The War Fear Revival: An Unfinished Chapter," in Nuclear Fear: A History of Images (Cambridge, MA, Harvard University Press, 1988), 375-388 [on reserve, ask for "Shanebrook"].

Review Questions (Posted After the Class)

  • (1) What did the 1974 nuclear weapons treaty and its protocol between the United States and the Soviet Union do? Why?
  • (2) What was "Flexible Response," and why did it end "MAD?"
  • (3) Why did anxiety about nuclear war come back out into the open around 1980?
  • (4) Why was the United States considering deploying neutron bombs?
  • (5) Where was opposition to the new nuclear weapons strongest, and why?
  • (6) Explain the difference between the "Nuclear Winter" and the "Nuclear Freeze?"
  • (7) Describe in your own words the "Strategic Defense Initiative" as Reagan announced it in 1983. What did it promise?
  • (8) What does the collapse of the Soviet Union have to do with the nuclear arms race? Why were Gorbachev and Reagan willing to reduce nuclear weapons?
  • (9) How has the collapse of the Soviet Union complicated the movement for nuclear weapons reduction?
  • (10) According to Reagan, who was ahead in the nuclear arms race? Was he right?


Class 25: 3 November 1997

Nuclear Power in the United States, Soviet Union, and Europe [Walker]

Assigned reading: Cantelon, Hewlett, and Williams, 312-330, 336-338.

Review Questions (Posted After the Class)

  • (1) According to the 1962 AEC report, why was a national effort to support nuclear energy justifiable and necessary?
  • (2) Explain the difference between a converter and a breeder reactor.
  • (3) Describe the different stages in nuclear power plant design, leading from the first plants to "electricity too cheap to meter".
  • (4) Describe the three different types of commercial nuclear power plants available today. Who sells what?
  • (5) Describe France's approach to establishing a nuclear power industry.
  • (6) Describe Germany's approach to establishing a nuclear power industry.
  • (7) Describe the United States' approach to establishing a nuclear power industry.
  • (8) Why did the British nuclear power industry falter?
  • (9) What costs have not been taken into account when calculating the relative competitiveness of nuclear power?
  • (10) What were the nuclear power planners concerned about in 1962? What problems did they not even mention?


Class 26: 5 November 1997

Safety and Waste Issues [Shanebrook]

Accidents at Three Mile Island and Chernobyl. The nuclear fuel cycle with waste disposal options.

Assigned reading: Wolfson, 182-242.

Review Questions (Posted After the Class)

  • (1) Discuss the ramifications of the Three Mile Island accident.
  • (2) Where, when, and what caused the accident at Chernobyl?
  • (3) What is the purpose of the "containment structure" and why did it fail at Chernobyl?
  • (4) What is a LOCA and if it happens, how can a meltdown be prevented?
  • (5) How much plutonium does each 1,000 MW nuclear power plant produce per year?
  • (6) Describe "reprocessing" with special emphasis on plutonium separation and the potential for diversion to weapons.
  • (7) Currently, the USA plans to store nuclear waste where and how?
  • (8) Describe the nuclear fuel cycle sequence.
  • (9) Name the five known nuclear weapons nations who used Pu-239 in their first nuclear explosives.
  • (10) Discuss the differences between HLW and LLW.


Class 27: 7 November 1997

Energy Alternatives [Shanebrook]

Fossil fuels as finite resources with serious pollution characteristics. The solar energy alternative.

Assigned reading: Wolfson, 243-285.

Review Questions (Posted After the Class)

  • (1) Based on current estimates, how much longer will each of the fossil fuels be available for human consumption?
  • (2) Discuss the air pollution characteristics of coal-burning power plants.
  • (3) What measures can be taken to reduce air pollution from coal-burning power plants?
  • (4) Explain how residential cogenerators work.
  • (5) Discuss hydropower for the USA.
  • (6) How does the cost of wind energy compare with fossil and nuclear energy?
  • (7) Describe how biomass energy can be converted into electricity.
  • (8) Is it possible to convert garbage, grass clippings, sewage, and animal waste into electricity? Explain.
  • (9) Explain how the vast desert areas of the southwest (USA) could be used to produce electricity.
  • (10) Study figure 11.19 on page 280 and explain the USA energy research funding levels in Fig. 11.20, page 281.


Class 28: 10 November 1997

Three Mile Island, Chernobyl, and the Decline of Nuclear Power [Walker]

Assigned reading: Cantelon, Hewlett, and Williams, 339-356;

Spencer Weart, "Energy Choices," in Nuclear Fear: A History of Images (Cambridge, MA, Harvard University Press, 1988), 328-347 [on reserve, ask for "Shanebrook"].

Review Questions (Posted After the Class)

  • (1) Describe the sequence of events that led to the accident at Three Mile Island.
  • (2) How did the company and the government react?
  • (3) According to Weinberg, what is the Faustian bargain? Why is it still worth it?
  • (4) According to Weinberg, what is the solution to the threat of accidents like those at Three Mile Island and at Chernobyl?
  • (5) Were the Three Mile Island and Chernobyl accidents like the predicted "Maximum Credible Accidents"?
  • (6) What does Weart mean by the "Reactor Wars"?
  • (7) What was the Rasmussen Report?
  • (8) What does Weart mean by "Its Political"?
  • (9) Why is Whyl significant?
  • (10) Essentially, what do you have to do to anything that has become radioactive, either through normal operation of a nuclear reactor or because of an accident?


Class 29: 12 November 1997

Nuclear Weapons and Power after the Cold War [Walker]

Discussion of assigned reading: Cantelon, Hewlett, and Williams, 357-358.

Review Questions (Posted After the Class)

Arguably the Nuclear Age is over.

  • (1) What does this mean?
  • (2) How did this happen?
  • (3) Why did this happen?
  • (4) Is this irreversible?


Class 30: 14 November 1997

Optional Discussion of final exam.


Class 31: 17-20 November 1997

Final exam during the exam period.


Classroom Discussion

This class will consist of classroom discussion of common reading, as well as lectures and other presentations. Since History 86 will be team-taught by an engineer and a historian, each of which uses different teaching techniques, different class meetings will be taught in different ways, depending on which instructor is taking the lead in teaching that day.

Prof. Shanebrook both lectures and leads classroom discussions. He does not call upon students by name, rather encourages everyone to participate and volunteer answers, questions, or comments.

Prof. Walker does not lecture, rather uses what he calls a “structured discussion”: he calls on students by name and ask them questions. In addition, students are always encouraged to ask their own questions or to volunteer alternative answers. However, this class participation is optional, not mandatory. If you wish, you may opt out, so that Professor Walker will not call upon you by name, although such students would of course still be encouraged to raise their hands and volunteer answers, questions, or comments. We have incorporated a form into the webpage for you to use if you wish to opt out. You must notify Professor Walker that you have opted out by the end of the second week in the term.

Class participation accounts for 20 points out of a possible 100 total. Professor Shanebrook will assign a class participation grade for each student up to 10 points, and Professor Walker will do the same. However, if you opt out (as described above), then Professor Walker will not assign you any points for class participation. Of course, you will not be penalized for opting out, for all final grades will be determined by dividing the points earned by the total points possible. Thus those students who do not opt out will have 100 possible total points, those who do opt out a possible total of 90.



Grades

Components Points
First Test 10
Second Test 10
First Essay 10
Second Essay 10
Optional Classroom Participation 20
Final Exam 40
Total Possible 100


Professors

    Prof. Shanebrook   Prof. Walker
         
Office:   Steinmetz Building 218B   Social Sciences Building 214C
Office Hours:   Tu-Th 9:30-11:00 am   MWF 9:20-9:50, 2:50-3:20
Office Phone:   6266   6994
Email:   shanebrr@union.edu   walkerm@union.edu



Papers

This class will include two essays, the first assigned, critiqued, and graded by Prof. Shanebrook, the second by Professor Walker.

Essay 1

Read John Hersey's Hiroshima, which tells the true story of six survivors after the August 6, 1945 atomic bombing of that city. Then write the following:

Part I: Select one of the survivors and summarize the experiences of this person, as presented by John Hersey.

Part II: Assuming you are a survivor of the Hiroshima atomic bombing and are still living today, how would you react to the current situation of nuclear weapons proliferation. Please refer to "The Cross of Nuclear Weapons Proliferation," which illustrates the two types of proliferation (vertical and horizontal), as well as the book by Wolfson, Chapter 17, 420-454.

This assignment is due September 26, 1997, and should consist of at least five double-spaced pages.

Essay 2

Read Cantelon, Hewlett, and Williams, 109-162, 201-202 (also part of the regular assigned reading) as well as the following reserve material (ask for HST 86: The Nuclear Age, Prof. Shanebrook, "Oppenheimer"):

In the Matter of J. Robert Oppenheimer: Transcript of Hearing before Personnel Security Board and Texts of Principal Documents and Letters (Cambridge, MA, MIT Oress, 1971), 1027-1065.

Write an essay analyzing the Oppenheimer Affair: what happened? why did it happen? what does this affair tell us about the history of nuclear weapons?

The first draft of essay 2 will be due on Monday of week 6. Prof. Walker will critique these drafts and return them on Monday of week 7. The final draft of essay 2 will be due on Monday of week 8.


Daily Reading Assignments, Deadlines. and Review Questions

Review questions for the material covered in each class will be posted shortly thereafter on the webpage. These questions are not be handed in, rather should be used to help prepare for the final exam. The two tests during the term and the final exam will be based in large part upon these questions, although they will not simply repeat them.

There will be an optional review session for that final examination on the last day of class.


Tests

There will be three examinations for this class: two in-class tests during the term and a demanding final exam covering all material presented in this course.

The first test will consist of short answer questions drawn from the material covered from the beginning of the term up to the class immediately preceding the first test.

The second test will consist of short answer questions drawn from the material covered after the first test up to the class immediately preceding the second test.

The final exam will consist of two parts: (i) short answer questions drawn from the material covered after the second test up to the end of the term; (ii) short answer questions covering the entire scope of this course.

Review questions for the material covered in each class will be posted shortly thereafter on the webpage. These questions are not be handed in, rather should be used to help prepare for the final exam. The two tests during the term and the final exam will be based in large part upon these questions, although they will not simply repeat them.


Test 1

Please provide short answers for each of the following twenty questions, anywhere from a few sentences to a short paragraph.

(1) Define both elements and transuranic elements and explain how the latter are produced.

(2) Define an isotope and explain which ones are currently used in nuclear reactors and bombs.

(3) Explain how a nuclear reaction works.

(4) Describe the three common forms of radioactive decay.

(5) What is radioactive half-life, and how many years does it take a sample of Pu-239 to decay to one-thousandth of its original radioactivity? Why is this a problem?

(6) Which radioactive isotope can accumulate in the thyroid gland? Which one can concentrates in bones?

(7) Explain ionizing radiation and name those forms of radiation that ionize and that do not.

(8) Describe the cause and symptoms of acute radiation sickness.

(9) Which types of radiation can cause genetic mutations, and how does it happen?

(10) Describe the type of nuclear fusion reactions that powers our sun and hydrogen bombs.

(11) What happens when U-238 absorbs a neutron? What is the end product?

(12) Define a chain reaction, a supercritical chain reaction, and explain what is released.

(13) Why was uranium research popular before the discovery of nuclear fission? After nuclear fission?

(14) Was nuclear fission ever a secret? If so, why and in what way? If not, why not?

(15) When were nuclear researchers asked about nuclear weapons? What were they asked? Who asked them? What was their reply?

(16) Why did the first nuclear explosion on earth happen? What was the result?

(17) Explain the difference between a uranium gun-type fission weapon and a plutonium implosion-type.

(18) Where and when were nuclear weapons first used as an act of war? What were the casualties?

(19) What is meant by the German "non-decision" to build nuclear weapons? What were the consequences?

(20) Who argued against using the bomb in Japan, and what were their arguments? Who argued for using the bomb in Japan, and what were their arguments?


Test 2

Please provide short answers for each of the following twenty questions, anywhere from a few sentences to a short paragraph.

(1) Give two examples of how the Soviet atomic bomb differed from its American counterpart.

(2) Were the United States and Soviet governments serious about the international control of nuclear weapons?

(3) Compare and contrast the motivations of the different scientists (American, German, Soviet) who worked on fission weapons.

(4) Explain how a hydrogen bomb differs from an atomic bomb.

(5) Explain how "third generation" nuclear weapons differ from the previous generations.

(6) What was Oppenheimer accused of? How was he punished?

(7) Describe the role played by espionage in the Soviet atomic and hydrogen bombs.

(8) Who advocated fusion weapons in the United States? Who opposed them?

(9) Explain the difference (using block diagrams) between boiling-water and pressurized-water nuclear reactors.

(10) Explain how the nuclear power programs in the United States and in Canada differed.

(11) Describe the two "phases" of the nuclear era.

(12) Why is the use of plutonium for nuclear power so controversial?

(13) Explain both the propaganda and reality of "Atoms for Peace."

(14) Which type of nuclear reactor dominated the world market, and why?

(15) Why did Atomic Euphoria begin, and why did it end?

(16) What would cause a "Nuclear Winter," and what effect would it have?

(17)When using nuclear weapons, how would you maximize blast damage? fallout?

(18) What was the goal of the AEC Civil Defense program, and how effective was it?

(19) What were average citizens supposed to do in case of nuclear war?

(20) What was a fallout shelter good for?


Test 3

Section I (worth one point each): Please provide short answers for each of the following thirty questions, anywhere from a few sentences to a short paragraph.

(1) Describe the "strategic triad" of nuclear weapons.

(2) Define the following: ICBM, SRAM, ALCM, and MX.

(3) What sort of nuclear tests were banned in 1963? How did this affect the nuclear arms race?

(4) Compare how the United States and Soviet Union prepared for the "Maximum Credible Accident".

(5) What are the pros and cons of "launch on warning" with nuclear weapons.

(6) What is MAD? Has it been successful?

(7) When SDI was first proposed, what was it supposed to do?

(8) Now that the initial goal of SDI appears impractical, what is it good for?

(9) When did the five members of the nuclear club get their weapons?

(10) How did the five members of the nuclear club get their weapons?

(11) Why are "flexible response" and "MAD" incompatible?

(12) Which is more dangerous, a "nuclear winter" of a "nuclear freeze"?

(13) When the nuclear power industry was first conceived, what stages was it going to have?

(14) Compare and contrast the strategies France and West Germany took with regard to nuclear power.

(15) Describe the nuclear fuel cycle.

(16) Give at least two reasons why the accident at Chernobyl was much more dangerous than the one at Three Mile Island.

(17) How can existing non-nuclear energy sources be made more environmentally-friendly?

(18) What other environmentally-friendly non-nuclear energy sources could be pursued?

(19) What is Weinberg's solution to the problem of potential accidents like Chernobyl and Three Mile Island?

(20) What sort of waste does a nuclear power plant produce?

Section II (worth two points each): Please provide short answers for each of the following forty questions, anywhere from a few sentences to a short paragraph. Give examples to support your answers.

(21) Describe the three generations of nuclear weapons and explain why they were developed or proposed.

(22) What roles has Edward Teller played in the development of nuclear weapons from the 1940s to the 1980s?

(23) Describe the "Atomic Euphoria," explain why it happened, and why it ended.

(24) What is radiation, how is it produced, and why is it harmful?

(25) Explain how nuclear weapons (fission and fusion) and nuclear power plants (converter and breeder) work (or should work in theory).

(26) Why were fission weapons developed and used by the USA, developed and tested by the USSR, and not developed by Germany?

(27) Did the United States and Soviet Union really try to stop the nuclear arms race?

(28) Compare American, Canadian, and Soviet nuclear power plants, including the advantages and disadvantages of each one.

(29) Describe "Nuclear Fear" and explain why it happened. Was this inevitable?

(30) Is the "Nuclear Age" over? If so, why? If not, why not?


Weekly Outline of Class Topics


Week 1

1 Introduction of class

2 Nuclear Issues in the News: Atoms and Nuclei [Shanebrook]; Wolfson, 1-38.

3 Radioactivity [Shanebrook]; Wolfson, 39-65.


Week 2

4 Effects and Uses of Radioactivity [Shanebrook]; Wolfson, 66-94.

5 Energy from the Nucleus [Shanebrook]; Wolfson, 95-120; Cantelon, Hewlett, and Williams, 1-7.

6 From the Discovery of Nuclear Fission to the Turning Point in the War (Winter 1941/1942) [Walker]; Cantelon, Hewlett, and Williams, 7-20; *Spencer Weart, "Where and Earth and Heaven Meet" in Nuclear Fear: A History of Images (Cambridge, MA, Harvard University Press, 1988), 77-102 [on reserve, ask for "Shanebrook"].


Week 3

7 The Manhattan Project [Shanebrook]; Wolfson, 289-302; F. Forsyth, The Fourth Protocol, 320-329 (reserve reading in Bookstore).

8 From the Turning Point in the War to Hiroshima [Walker]: Cantelon, Hewlett, and Williams, 20-67; Elisabeth Crawford, Ruth Lewin Sime, and Mark Walker, "A Nobel Tale of Postwar Injustice," Physics Today (September 1997), 26-32 [on reserve, ask for "Shanebrook"]; *Stanley Goldberg, "Smithsonian Suffers Legionnaires' Disease,"Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists (May/June 1995), 28-33[on reserve, ask for "Shanebrook"]; *Spencer Weart, "The News from Hiroshima" in Nuclear Fear: A History of Images (Cambridge, MA, Harvard University Press, 1988), 103-127 [on reserve, ask for "Shanebrook"].

9 The Soviet Atomic Bomb and American Postwar Weapons Development [Walker]; Cantelon, Hewlett, and Williams, 69-96, 193-201; *Spencer Weart, "National Defenses" in Nuclear Fear: A History of Images (Cambridge, MA, Harvard University Press, 1988), 128-151 [on reserve, ask for "Shanebrook"].

Essay 1 Submitted


Week 4

10 First Test

11 The Hydrogen Bomb [Shanebrook]; Wolfson, 303-314.

12 The American and Soviet Hydrogen Bombs; the Oppenheimer Affair [Walker]: Cantelon, Hewlett, and Williams, 109-162, 201-202; *Yuli Khariton, Viktor Adamskii, and Yuri Smirnov, "The Way It Was," Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists(November/December 1996), 53-59 [on reserve, ask for "Shanebrook"].


Week 5

13 Nuclear Power Plants [Shanebrook]; Wolfson, 121-174.

14 The Breeder Reactor [Shanebrook]; Wolfson, 175-181; A.M. Weinberg, "To Breed, or not to Breed?" 4-24 (reserve reading in Bookstore).

15 The First Nuclear Power Plants,"Atoms for Peace,"; and Atomic Euphoria [Walker]: Cantelon, Hewlett, and Williams, 96-108, 303-312, 331-335; *Spencer Weart, "Atoms for Peace," "Good and Bad Atoms," and "The New Blasphemy," in Nuclear Fear: A History of Images (Cambridge, MA, Harvard University Press, 1988), 155-198 [on reserve, ask for "Shanebrook"].
Week 6

16 Effects of Nuclear Weapons [Shanebrook]; Wolfson, 315-337; First Draft of Essay 2 Submitted.

17 Anti-Nuclear Movements, Sputnik and the Cuban Missile Crisis [Walker]: Cantelon, Hewlett, and Williams, 163-184, 203-207; Spencer Weart, "Death Dust," and "The Politics of Survival," in Nuclear Fear: A History of Images (Cambridge, MA, Harvard University Press, 1988), 199-214, 241-269 [on reserve, ask for "Shanebrook"].

18 Delivery Systems [Shanebrook]; Wolfson, 338-367.


Week 7

19 Second Test

20 Civil Defense, Nuclear Angst in the Popular Culture, and the Test Ban [Walker]; Cantelon, Hewlett, and Williams, 185-187, 207-210, 231-236; Spencer Weart, "Fail/Safe," "Reactor Poisons and Promises," and "The Debate Explodes," in Nuclear Fear: A History of Images (Cambridge, MA, Harvard University Press, 1988), 273-327 [on reserve, ask for "Shanebrook"].

21 Nuclear Strategy [Shanebrook]; Wolfson, 368-390.


Week 8

22 Defense from Nuclear Weapons [Shanebrook]; Wolfson, 391-419; R.C. Aldridge, The Counterforce Syndrome, 45-55 (reserve reading in Bookstore); Final Draft of Essay 2 Submitted

23 Nuclear Proliferation [Walker]: David Albright, "Amn Iranian Bomb?" Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists (July/August 1995), 21-26 [on reserve, ask for "Shanebrook"]; David Albright and Robert Kelley, "Has Iraq Come Clean At Last?" Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists(November/December 1995), 53-64 [on reserve, ask for "Shanebrook"]; Zia Mian and A. H. Nayyar, "A Time of Testing?" Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists (July/August 1996), 35-40 [on reserve, ask for "Shanebrook"].

24 Arms Control [Walker]; Cantelon, Hewlett, and Williams, 188-192, 210-230, 236-301; Spencer Weart, "The War Fear Revival: An Unfinished Chapter," in Nuclear Fear: A History of Images (Cambridge, MA, Harvard University Press, 1988), 375-388 [on reserve, ask for "Shanebrook"].


Week 9

25 Nuclear Power in the United States, Soviet Union, and Europe [Walker]; Cantelon, Hewlett, and Williams, 312-330, 336-338.

26 Safety and Waste Issues [Shanebrook]; Wolfson, 182-242.

27 Energy Alternatives [Shanebrook]; Wolfson, 243-285.


Week 10

28 Three Mile Island, Chernobyl, and the Decline of Nuclear Power [Walker]; Cantelon, Hewlett, and Williams, 339-356; Spencer Weart, "Energy Choices," in Nuclear Fear: A History of Images (Cambridge, MA, Harvard University Press, 1988), 328-347 [on reserve, ask for "Shanebrook"].

29 Nuclear Weapons and Power after the Cold War [Walker]; Cantelon, Hewlett, and Williams, 357-358.

30 Optional Review Session for Final Exam


Exam Period

Final exam during the exam period.