For most of human existence, people were unaware of the powerful nuclear forces deep inside atoms, although they were exposed to natural background radiation derived from these forces. Not until the end of the 19th century did the first “nuclear scientists,” notably Henri Becquerel and Marie and Pierre Curie, discover energetic rays emanating from certain types of atoms due to these forces. Because of its relative natural abundance and its powerful radiation, radium became a workhorse radioactive substance for the first half of the 20th century.
In this report, FAS President Charles Ferguson examines the national and international efforts to control and secure radioactive materials. He provides background on the basic principles of the science of ionizing radiation and radioactive materials; a risk assessment of the safety and security of these materials; a discussion of various pathways for malicious use of commercial radioactive sources; and an analysis of the many efforts underway to reduce the risk of radiological terrorism with recommendations for the inclusion of this issue at the 2012 Seoul Nuclear Security Summit (“Seoul Summit”) and beyond.
A full PDF version of the report can be found here.
To empower new voices to start their career in nuclear weapons studies, the Federation of American Scientists launched the New Voices on Nuclear Weapons Fellowship. Here’s what our inaugural cohort accomplished.
The FAS Nuclear Notebook is one of the most widely sourced reference materials worldwide for reliable information about the status of nuclear weapons and has been published in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists since 1987. The Nuclear Notebook is researched and written by the staff of the Federation of American Scientists’ Nuclear Information Project: Director Hans […]
[UPDATED] The Biden administration has decided to add a new nuclear gravity bomb to the US arsenal. The bomb will be known as the B61-13.
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