We will continue in from the previous segment of this topic, in which we introduced nuclear weapons themselves and took a look at fission bombs.
The other primary type of nuclear weapon is fusion bombs. Fusions bombs are generally referred to as thermonuclear weapons or hydrogen bombs. These bombs rely on fusion reactions between isotopes of hydrogen, deuterium and tritium. All such weapons require a significant portion and sometimes a majority of their energy from fission. This is because a fission reaction is required as a trigger for the fusion reaction, and from their fusion reaction can themselves trigger additional fission reactions.
Thermonuclear bombs work by using the energy of a fission bomb to compress and heat fusion fuel. When a fission bomb is detonated, gamma rays and e-rays emitted first compress the fusion fuel, then heat it to thermonuclear temperatures. Thus ensuring reaction creates enormous numbers of high-speed neutrons, which can then induce fission in materials that are not normally prone to it, such as depleted uranium.
Since fusion reactions do not create fission by products, thus they contribute far less to the creation of nuclear fallout than fission reactions, but because all thermonuclear weapons contain at lesson one fission stage, thermonuclear weapons can generate as least as much fallout as fission only weapons.
Boosted fission weapon
This is a fission bomb that increases its explosive yield through a small amount of fusion reactions, but it is not a fusion bomb. In a boosted bomb the neutrons produced by the fusion reaction serve primarily as a way to increase the efficiency of the fission bomb.
A neutron bomb is a thermonuclear weapon that yields a relatively small explosion but has a relatively large amount of neutron radiation, such a device could theoretically be used to cause massive casualties while leaving infrastructure mostly intact and creating a minimal amount of fallout. The detonation of any nuclear weapons is accompanied by a blast of neutron radiation.
This is a device that surrounds a nuclear weapon with suitable material such as cobalt or gold. These bombs can produce exceptionally large quantities of long-lived radioactive fallout. It has been theorised that such a device could serve as a doomsday weapon because such a large quantity of radioactive material with half-lives of decades, lifted into the stratosphere where wind currents would distribute it around the globe, would make all life on the planet extinct.
Within recent news, the election of Donald Trump and the tensions within the middle east have seen the rise in threat of a nuclear war. The news and social media platforms have been constantly warning the general public about the threat of nuclear warheads. This article shall explain what is a nuclear bomb and its threat to humanity.
The definition of a nuclear bomb is an explosive device that derives its destructive force from nuclear reactions, such as fusion and fission (these have been explained in a previous article)
Both of these reactions releases a vast amount of energy. The first test of a fission bomb( also known as an atomic bomb) released the same amount of energy as approximately 20,000 tons of TNT or 84TJ. The first thermonuclear bomb (also known as a hydrogen bomb) released the same amount of energy as approximately 10 million tons of TNT or 42PJ. A thermonuclear weapon weighing as low as 1100 kg can produce e and explosive force of more than 1.2 million tons of TNT. Warheads the size of tradition bombs, can devastate entire cities by the blast fire and the radiation. Therefore nuclear weapons are known as Weapons of mass destruction of WMD’S, and their control has been a major focus of international relations.
Nuclear bombs have been used two times in Nuclear warfare, both time by the United States against Japan near the end of World War 11. These two bombs, that were dropped over Hiroshima and Nagasaki caused the deaths of around 200,000 civilians and military personnel
All current existing Nuclear bombs have some form of their explosive energy come from nuclear fission reactions. Weapons that have their energy come exclusively from fission reactions are known as atomic bombs. In fission weapons, a mass of fissile material ( a material capable of nuclear chain reactions ) such as enriched uranium or plutonium is assembled into a supercritical mass, which will be needed in order to start an exponentially growing nuclear chain reaction.
There are two methods of starting a fission reactions ; one is done by shooting one piece of sub-critical material into another, this is known as the gun method
Another method is by using explosive lenses , to compress the material so that it is many times its original density, this is known as the implosion device.
All fission reaction generate fission products, these are the radioactive remains of the atomic nuclei split by the fission reactions. These bombs are therefore a serious form of radioactive contamination, if not fully contained. Fission products are the principal radioactive component of nuclear fallout.
In the next segment of this mini-series we will look at fusion bombs and neutrons bombs