Power Of The Atom
We now know how atoms, the building blocks of
the whole universe and everything therein, animate-inanimate, form
matter in an extraordinary way. As we have examined, these extremely
minute particles have a perfect organisation within themselves.
Yet, the miraculous aspect of the atom does not end the re; the
atom also houses tremendous energy.
This power hidden in the atom is so great that its
discovery has enab led man to build huge canals uniting oceans,
dig through mountains, pro duce artificial climates and accomplish
many similar useful projects. Ho wever, while the power hidden in
the atom serves humanity on one hand, it poses an extremely great
danger for humanity on the other hand. So much so that by the misuse
of this power, tens of thousands of people lost their lives in a
very short time -a few seconds- at Hiroshima and Nagasa ki during
World War II. In recent years, an accident that took place in the
Chernobyl nuclear power plant in Russia caused the death or injury
of a great number of people.
Before giving detailed information on the disasters
the power of the atom caused in Hiroshima, Nagasaki and Chernobyl,
let us take a short lo ok at the nature of this power in the atom
and how it is released.
Power HIdden In the Nucleus
In the chapter titled "The Formation Adventure of the Atom",
we had said the force keeping the protons and neutrons together
in the atomic nucleus is "the strong nuclear force". The
enormous power of nuclear energy is revealed by the liberation of
a tiny part of this force in the nucleus. The magnitude of this
energy varies depending on the type of the element, because the
number of protons and neutrons in the nucleus of each element is
different. As the nucleus grows, the number of neutrons and protons
and the magnitude of the force bonding them to each other increase.
It is extremely difficult to release this force that is responsible
for keeping protons and neutrons together in a large nucleus. As
the particles grow more distant from each other, they, just like
a taut bow, try to come together with greater force. Before going
into the details of this force, let us think it over. How can such
an enormous force fit in such a small place? This is such a force
that it has been discovered after years of research conducted by
thousands of people. When it is not interfered with, it does not
do any harm to anyone, yet, with the intervention of man, it may
at any time become a force killing millions. Two technical processes
called "fission" and "fusion" release this extraordinary
force in the nucleus of the atom, which may endanger the lives of
millions of people. Although these reactions at first seem to take
place in the nucleus of the atom, they actually involve all the
components of the atom. The reaction known as fission is a nuclear
reaction in which an atomic nucleus splits into fragments, and the
reaction called fusion is the bringing together of two nuclei by
a great force. In either reaction, a tremendous amount of energy
|Fission is a reaction in which the
atomic nucleus splits into fragments. As shown in the picture,
the uranium 235 atom made to collide with a neutron is split
to form the atoms of krypton 92 and barium 142. As a result
of this collision, gamma rays are also released in the form
Fission is a nuclear reaction in which the atomic nucleus, which
is held together by the strongest force in the universe, the "Strong
Nuclear Force", splits into fragments. The main material used
in fission experiments is "uranium" because the uranium
atom is one of the heaviest. In other words, there are plenty of
protons and neutrons in its nucleus.
In fission experiments, scientists shot a neutron at
the uranium nucleus at great velocity. They faced a very interesting
situation. After the neutron was absorbed by the uranium's nucleus,
the uranium nucleus had become very unstable. The nucleus' being
"unstable" means the formation of a difference between
the numbers of protons and neutrons in the nucleus, resulting in
an imbalance in its structure. Therefore, the nucleus starts splitting
into fragments while emitting a certain amount of energy to eliminate
this imbalance. The nucleus, under the impact of the energy released,
starts ejecting the components it contains at great velocity.
Considering the results these experiments yielded, neutrons were
accelerated and uranium was bombarded with neutrons in special environments
called "reactors". However, uranium is bombarded with
neutrons according to a very fine measure, not randomly, because
any neutron bombarding the uranium atom has to hit the uranium immediately
and at the desired point. That is why these experiments are conducted
taking every probability into consideration. The amount of the uranium
to be used, the amount of the neutrons used to bombard the uranium,
and the duration and speed at which the neutrons will bombard the
uranium should all be very precisely calculated.
After all these calculations are made and the appropriate setting
is prepared, the nucleus is bombarded with neutrons in such a way
that they penetrate the nuclei of the atoms in the uranium. It is
sufficient that the nucleus of at least one of the atoms in this
mass is split in two. In this division, an average of two or three
neutrons are sent out from the mass of the nucleus at great velocity
and high energy. Neutrons that are released start a chain reaction
by colliding with other uranium nuclei within the mass. Each newly
split nucleus behaves like the initial uranium nucleus. Thus, a
chain of nuclear reactions starts. A large number of uranium nuclei
are split into fragments as a result of these chain reactions, causing
an enormous amount of energy to be released.
It was these nuclei divisions that have caused the Hiroshima and
Nagasaki disasters, causing the death of tens of thousands of people.
At the moment of the detonation of the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima
by the United States in 1945 during World War II, and in its aftermath,
approximately 100,000 people died. Another atom bomb dropped on
Nagasaki by America three days after the Hiroshima disaster caused
the death of another 40,000 people right at the moment of detonation.
While the power released by the nuclei caused the death of many
people, it also destroyed a very large residential area, and gave
rise to many irreparable genetic and physiological disorders in
the remaining residents of that area, due to the radiation released,
which was to affect generations to come.
If our earth, the whole atmosphere, everything animate and inanimate
including us, are composed of atoms, what prevents atoms from being
involved in nuclear reactions like the ones in Hiroshima and Nagasaki,
that could occur anytime and anywhere?
The neutrons are created in such a way that, when they
are free in nature - without being linked to a nucleus - they are
subjected to a decomposition called "beta disintegration".
Because of this disintegration, no neutrons wander freely in nature.
Therefore, neutrons that are to be used in nuclear reactions must
be obtained through artificial methods.
This makes clear that, Allah, the Creator of the entire universe,
created everything with a precise measure. If neutrons had not decomposed
in the free state, the earth would be nothing but an uninhabitable
spherical celestial body where endless nuclear reactions took place.
Allah created the atom along with this colossal power within it
and keeps this power under control in a phenomenal way.
Nuclear fusion, just the contrary of fission, is
the process of bringing together two light nuclei to form a heavier
nucleus and using the bonding energy thus released. However, to
achieve this in a controlled fashion is very difficult. This is
because nuclei carry positive electrical charges and repel each
other very strongly if forced to come together. Therefore, a force
strong enough to overcome the repulsive force between them must
be used to make them fuse. This required kinetic energy is equivalent
to a temperature of 20-30 million degrees.1 This
is an extraordinarily high temperature and no solid material used
to contain the particles that will be involved in a fusion reaction
can tolerate this temperature. That is, there is no mechanism on
earth that is able to realise this fusion except the heat of the
The detonation left behind permanent traces.
The nuclear accident that occurred in the Chernobyl reactor
in Russia in 1986 had permanent effects on human beings and
all other animate things. Scientists say these effects will
last another 30-40 years. Measures to prevent nuclear leaks
have not been helpful. A study is underway for the elimination
of the harmful effects of radiation.
Fusion reactions take place in the sun all the time.
The heat and light coming from the sun is the result of hydrogen
being fused into helium and energy being released in place of the
matter lost during this conversion. Each second, the sun converts
564 million tons of hydrogen to 560 million tons of helium. The
remaining 4 million tons of matter is converted into energy. This
tremendous event producing the solar energy that is extremely vital
for life on our planet, has continued for millions of years without
pause. This may bring to our minds such a question: If such a great
amount of matter as 4 million tons is lost in the sun each second,
when will the sun be fully consumed?
The sun loses 4 million tons of matter per second, 240 million tons
per minute. If we assume that the sun has been producing energy
at this rate for 3 billion years, the mass it has lost during this
period would be 400,000 million times million tons, which is equal
to one 5,000th of the current total mass of the sun. This amount
is like one gram of sand being lost out of a 5 kilogram rock in
3 billion years. As this makes clear, the mass of the sun is so
enormous that a very long time has to pass before it is finished.
Man has only discovered the composition of the sun
and the events taking place inside it this century. Earlier, no
one ever knew about phenomena such as nuclear explosions, fission
or fusion. Nobody knew how the sun produced energy. Yet, while man
was unaware of all these, the sun always continued to be the energy
source of the earth and life, for millions of years with this incredible
Now, the really curious thing is that our earth has been placed
at such an exact distance from the sun - a source of energy possessing
an enormous mass - that it is neither exposed to its scorching,
destructive power, nor deprived of the useful energy it provides.
In the same way, the sun, which possesses such enormous power and
energy, is created at the distance, with the power and the size
which are perfect for all life on earth, and foremost, man.
This gigantic mass and the incredible nuclear reactions occurring
in it have been carrying on their activities for millions of years
in perfect harmony with the earth and in the most controlled manner.
To understand what an extraordinary, controlled and balanced system
this is, it is good enough to remember that man is incapable of
controlling even one simple nuclear power plant he has established.
No scientist, no technological equipment was able to prevent the
nuclear accident that occurred in the Chernobyl reactor in Russia
in 1986. It is said that the impact of this nuclear accident will
endure for 30-40 years. Although scientists have covered around
the contaminated sections of the reactor with enormously thick concrete
to prevent further damage, it was later reported that there were
leaks from the concrete. Let alone nuclear explosions, even nuclear
leaks are extremely dangerous for human life, and science is helpless
against this threat.
At this point, we stand facing Allah's endless power and His sovereignty
over each particle (atom) in the universe and the sub-atomic particles
inside this particle (protons, neutrons…). Allah's power and sovereignty
over the beings He creates are stated in a verse as follows:
You do not engage in any matter or recite any of the Qur'an or do
any action without Our witnessing you while you are occupied with
it. Not even the smallest speck eludes your Lord, either on earth
or in heaven. Nor is there anything smaller than that, or larger,
which is not in a Clear Book. (Surah
Effects of the AtomIc Bomb: HIroshIma
The atomic bombs dropped in the final year of World War II have
revealed to the whole world the tremendous power hidden in the atom.
Both bombs caused hundreds of thousands of people to lose their
lives and inflicted lifelong physical damage on many of the survivors.
Let us see how the enormous power inside the atom, causing the deaths
of hundreds of thousands of people in a few seconds, is released
second by second:
- The moment of explosIon…
Let us assume that an atomic bomb explodes at an altitude of 2,000
m as it did in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The neutrons bombarding the
uranium and which split the first atoms into fragments creates chain
reactions within the mass as mentioned before. In other words, the
neutrons thrown out from the first fragmented nuclei hit other nuclei
and split these new nuclei as well. Thus, all nuclei are rapidly
fragmented in a chain reaction and the explosion occurs in a very
short time. Neutrons move so fast that the bomb releases a total
energy of 1,000 billion kilo-calories during one millionth of a
The temperature of the gas, into which the bomb is instantaneously
converted, rises to several million degrees and the gas pressure
rises to one million atmospheres.
- One thousandth of a second after the explosIon…
The diameter of the detonated mass of gas increases
and various rays are emitted. These radiations form the "initial
flash" of the explosion. This flash may cause full blindness
in anyone standing within an area having a diameter of tens of kilometres.
This flash is hundreds of times stronger than that emitted from
the surface of the sun (per surface unit). The time elapsed since
the outset of the explosion is so short that people close to the
explosion site cannot even find time to close their eyes.
The pressure of the shock causes heavy damage indoors.
Power transmission towers, two-piece bridges and skyscrapers built
from glass-steel are also damaged. In the close surroundings of
the explosion, a great amount of powder-like fine dust is raised.
- 2 seconds after the explosIon…
The flashing mass and the air surrounding it form a
fireball. The heat radiated from this fireball, whose surface is
still extremely hot and which glows like the sun and even more,
is powerful enough to ignite all combustible matter within an area
of 4-5 kilometres in diameter. The radiance of the fireball may
cause irreparable damage to the sense of vision. At this moment,
a shock wave moving at very great speed develops around the fireball.
- 6 seconds after the explosIon…
At this point, the shock wave hits the earth and causes
the first mechanical damage. The wave creates powerful air pressure,
the intensity of which decreases as one goes farther from the centre
of the explosion. Even around 1.5 km away from this point, the added
pressure is twice as strong as normal atmospheric pressure. The
chance of people staying alive at this pressure is 1%.
- 13 seconds after the explosIon…
The shock wave diffuses along the surface of the earth
and it is followed by the explosion created by the repositioning
of the air sent by the fireball. This explosion diffuses along the
earth at a speed of 300-400 km per hour.
In the meantime, the fireball has cooled down and its
volume has decreased. Being lighter than air, it starts to rise.
This upward motion causes the direction of wind on the earth to
reverse and causes a strong wind to start blowing towards the centre,
even though it was initially blowing outwards from the centre of
- 30 seconds after the explosIon…
As the fireball rises, its spherical shape is distorted
and it takes the appearance of a mushroom.
- 2 mInutes after the explosIon…
The mushroom shaped cloud has now reached an altitude of 12,000
metres. This is the lower limit of the stratospheric layer of the
atmosphere. The winds blowing at this altitude cause the mushroom
shaped cloud to disperse and the components of the cloud (mostly
radioactive remains) to scatter into the atmosphere. As these radioactive
remains consist of very tiny particles, they may rise to higher
layers in the atmosphere. Before falling on the earth, these remains
may be made to travel several times around the earth by the winds
blowing in the upper layers of the atmosphere. Thus, radioactive
remains may be dispersed all over the world.
RadIatIon EmItted By the Atom
Radiation consists of gamma rays, neutrons, electrons and similar
sub-atomic particles moving at very high speeds such as 200,000
km per second. These particles may easily penetrate the human body
and harm the cells forming the body. This damage may cause a fatal
cancer or, if it takes place in reproductive cells, it may give
rise to genetic disorders that will influence generations to come.
Therefore, the results of a radioactive particle hitting a human
being are very serious.
Radiation released in atomic explosions affects living
beings either directly or through the products of radioactive decay
that emerge during the explosion.
As one of these particles or rays travels at high speed
in matter, it collides very strongly with atoms or molecules that
get in its way. This collision may be a disaster for the delicate
structure of the cell. The cell may die, or, even if it recovers,
it may start to grow in an uncontrolled fashion - which is cancer
- perhaps weeks, months, or years later.
Radiation is very intense in an area of 1,000 metres in diameter
around the centre of the explosion. Those who survive other fatal
factors lose almost all white cells in their blood, wounds appear
on their skins, and all of them die because of haemorrhages in a
short period of time from a few days up to two or three weeks. The
effect of radiation on those farther from the point of explosion
varies. Those who are exposed to these harmful rays emitted by the
fireball at distances of 13, 16, and 22 km suffer from third, second,
and first degree burns respectively. Digestive problems and haemorrhages
are experienced less, but real disorders appear later: hair loss,
skin burns, anaemia, sterility, miscarriages, giving birth to crippled
or deformed babies. In these cases, too, death is possible within
a period from ten days to three months. Even years later, sight
disorders, leukaemia and radiation cancer may develop. One of the
greatest dangers of hydrogen bomb explosions (another nuclear bomb
of enormous destructive power caused by the fusion of the nuclei
of various hydrogen isotopes in the formation of helium nuclei)
is the entrance of radioactive dust into the body through respiration,
digestion and the skin. This dust causes the above-mentioned disorders
depending on the degree of contamination.
All these are caused by atoms, which we cannot even see with our
eyes. Atoms can form life just as they can destroy it. This property
of the atom shows us very clearly how helpless we are and how superior
is Allah's power.
Larousse, Tematik Ansiklopedi Bilim ve Teknoloji (Encyclopedia of
Science and Technology), p. 300