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Bee bee demo

Imagining Nuclear Weapons’ Firepower

The totality and destructive force of nuclear weapons is so overwhelming that it can be hard to understand. How do we begin to comprehend a weapon that can destroy entire cities or regions within a very short period of time? One way to do this is to use our imagination. Albert Einstein said that imagination is more important than knowledge. Perhaps he meant that we have to imagine things in all their aspects and possibilities before we can begin to understand what they really mean.

The Bee Bee Demonstration is one way to begin to understand the totality of nuclear destruction. This exercise was first developed by Physicians for Social Responsibility and uses sound to heighten the power of our imagination.

Albert Einstein also said:

"The splitting of the atom has changed everything, save our mode of thinking, and thus we drift toward unparalleled catastrophe"

One way in which we can change our mode of thinking is to try and comprehend the totality of nuclear destruction, and through that understanding work for the elimination of nuclear weapons. Nuclear disarmament is a goal of the United Nations.

Teacher Tools

Blackboard or large piece of paper, a box of 2,225 bee-bees, or a bag of 2,225 dried beans or corn kernels, a large biscuit tin or similar metal container


To think critically about the current status of nuclear weapons
To use the imagination to envision nuclear dangers as well as a world without war
To create a safe opportunity for discussion on feelings about the nuclear threat
To take action for disarmament and building a peaceful world


In accordance with the recommendations of the United Nations Study on Disarmament and Non Proliferation Education, students should be encouraged to think critically. Through interactive learning, followed by group discussion, students come to understand better the social, historical and political context of nuclear proliferation and nuclear weapons testing.

Developed by Kathleen Sullivan for UN Cyberschoolbus