The Hydrogen Bomb Reaches Retirement Age

The hydrogen bomb turned sixty-two just the other day. The first one was exploded on November 1, 1952 at Eniwetok Atoll in the Marshall Islands. The event was called Ivy Mike. “Ivy” was the name of the test operation and “Mike” was the particular test. The Mike shot was the first test of a “true” two-stage Teller/Ulam design, the basic configuration of a hydrogen bomb. “Teller/Ulam” refers to the bomb’s inventors, physicist Edward Teller and mathematician Stanislaw Ulam.

The basic idea for a hydrogen bomb had been around for several years: You set off a regular atomic bomb, one that works by the fission (splitting) of heavy nuclei like Uranium-235 or Plutonium, which generates the millions of degrees (the “thermo” part of “thermonuclear”) needed to ignite a fusion reaction. Fusion occurs when light elements, like hydrogen, are fused into heavier elements, like helium–with a massive release of energy. The basic concept is simple, but a workable design was elusive until Teller and Ulam got the idea of using radiation (not heat) from the fission bomb to implode the fusion fuel, compressing and heating it until it goes off with a very big boom.

The device used in the Mike test was —> Read More Here


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