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Hydrogen bomb

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The Hydrogen Bomb, also known as the Thermonuclear Bomb, is highly destructive nuclear weapon. [1] There are two types of nuclear explosions, those that act through nuclear fission and explosions that act through nuclear fusion. A Hydrogen Bomb acts through the latter. [2] The world's first Hydrogen Bomb was named "Mike", weighed 70 tons and was as big as a house. [3] The fusion bombs require extreme heat to work, so a four foot atomic bomb was put in and then surrounded by a 20 foot long casing to house it. This was the makeup of the Thermonuclear Bomb. [4] Currently, the United States, Russia, the United Kingdom, France, China, India, and Pakistan are the countries that have openly admitted to possessing nuclear bombs. [5]


The idea for the creation of the Hydrogen Bomb came from the mind of Hans Bethe while he was working on the thermonuclear study of the stars. Before the creation of the bomb, scientists began asking if they should even try. Was it their place to make a weapon capable of dealing out so much death and destruction? A nation wide argument began, which included many people from scientists to politicians to the president at the time. [6] The H-Bomb project came out of the work in the Manhattan A-Bomb project. [7] A scientist named Klaus Fuchs was discovered to be selling nuclear secrets to Soviet Russia concerning the Hydrogen Bomb. [8] The original design of the Hydrogen Bomb was based on the design of Edward Teller. After Truman announced that the USA was going to develop the Hydrogen Bomb, Teller's design was shot down by a mathematician named Stainslaw Ulam. This did not create any lasting friendships between Ulam and Teller and they debated the design often. Ulam came up with a new design for the bomb. Eventually, a combination of the two designs was reached and the result is known as the Teller-Ulam design.[9][10]

How it Works

The Hydrogen Bomb is a fusion weapon. The bomb gets its power from fusing atoms in hydrogen. [11] In the reaction that causes the explosion for a Hydrogen Bomb, two atoms of Deuterium or Tritium hit each other to create a helium atom and neutrons. "The resulting energy is proportional to the difference in mass between the original atoms and the products of the collision." (MSN Encarta) In order for the explosion to work, an extreme amount of heat is necessary. A nuclear fission is necessary in order to generate that much heat (which would need to be as hot as the sun). The exact temperature would be about 100,000,000 K(Kelvins) or 99,999,726 C(Celsius) or 179,999,540 F(Fahrenheit). In order to achieve this, a nuclear fission bomb is placed at the center of the device. The fission reaction creates the immense temperatures needed for the fusion reaction to take place and the real explosion occurs. [12]

Destructive Capability

The resulting explosion from a Hydrogen Bomb.

The Hydrogen Bomb is capable of releasing a 10-15 megaton blast on a target, which is several hundred times more powerful than an Atomic Bomb. [13] Even though the bomb is incredibly more destructive than the A-Bomb, the radioactive fallout from the bomb is surprisingly minimal. When the bomb explodes it creates an incredibly hot area near the center of the blast. Everything inside the hot area is vaporized instantly. [14] Upon the test of the first Hydrogen Bomb "Mike", the mushroom cloud from the explosion reached a height of 57,000 feet within 90 seconds, while the cloud itself was a giant, 100 miles wide. [15]

Uses in History

The world's first thermonuclear bomb was detonated in 1952 on Eniwetok Atoll in the Marshall Islands. The actual test itself took place on the Island of Elugelab. When the test was completed, the island of Elugelab was completely obliterated and severe damage was done to the nearby islands. [16] Another test of the Hydrogen Bomb took place in 1956. A B-52 bomber flew over Namu Island, Bikini Atoll in the Pacific and dropped the bomb. The blast was measured at 15 megatons. [17] The Russians tested their first bomb in 1953; it was nicknamed the Joe 4. However, their first bomb was not really a true fusion bomb, more like a better fission bomb. Their first test of a true Hydrogen Bomb took place on November 22, 1955. [18]

Comparison to Other Weapons and Natural Disasters

The explosion from the very first Hydrogen Bomb Test.

The Hydrogen bomb is a nuclear bomb, an extremely powerful nuclear bomb.[19] It is recorded that the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima carried a 15 kiloton explosion, which is the equivalent of 15,000 pounds of dynamite. [20]. The Hydrogen Bomb, on the other hand, has a 10.4 megaton blast, the equivalency of 10,400,000 pounds of dynamite! Only nuclear weapons and powerful disasters are measured in power by dynamite comparison. There are several notable natural disasters that can be compared to the hydrogen bomb's destructive power. [21] One of them is the Tunguska event in 1908 near Russia. The resulting 15 to 30 megaton explosion was believed to be caused by a meteor. [22] The explosion of the volcano, Krakatau on the Sunda Strait in Indonesia, was an extremely powerful one. It is believed there was a total of four explosions on August 26,1883 within a two-day period. Of the four, the third was the most powerful, generating a 150 megaton explosion. Scientists have calculated that all four explosions added together would equal a 200 megaton blast. [23] The island of Krakatau was 450 meters above the sea level before the explosion, after the explosion it was 250 meters below the sea level.[24] In 1980, in Washington State, Mount St. Helens violently erupted, producing an impressive 24 megaton explosion that killed 57 people and thousands of animals. [25] However, the Yellowstone volcano that erupted is believed to have been 1000 times more powerful than the St. Helens blast. It spread ash 240 cubic miles from the center and created a 53 miles long and 28 miles wide crater. [26] It has been researched and reported that during World War II if someone added up the total amount of explosives and their explosive power together, the total amount of destructive power would be equal to 2 megatons. That is only 20% of the power of a single Hydrogen Bomb. [27]

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