“How queer everything is today! And yesterday things went on just as usual.” ― Lewis Carroll
History of the American and Soviet development of the H-bomb.
Action, adventure, chills and thrills keep you on the edge of your seat as you witness first-hand the race to build a mass destroyer. In this spy-thriller Cold War epic, you travel back in time to August 1945, when the Cold War was just beginning. Caught in a web of destruction, scientists at home and in the Soviet Union are racing to build the hydrogen bomb. Robert Teller, the inventor, is defending the bomb as a deterrent to a Soviet attack. Robert Oppenheimer and Enrico Fermi see it as nothing less than a monster of mass destruction. Americans everywhere are preparing for a terrifying war. Spellbinding military footage combined with recently discovered Soviet archival sources provide a startling portrayal of a world on the brink of destruction. Packed with drama and intrigue, this is an excellent choice for history buffs!
A thermonuclear weapon is a nuclear weapon design that uses the energy from a primary fission reaction to compress and ignite a secondary nuclear fusion reaction, from which most of the bomb's explosive yield is derived. The result is greatly increased explosive power when compared to single-stage fission weapons. While it is colloquially referred to as a hydrogen bomb or H-bomb because it employs hydrogen fusion, in most applications most of its destructive energy comes from uranium fission rather than fusion. The fusion stage in such weapons is required to efficiently cause the large quantities of fission that occur in most thermonuclear weapons.
The concept of the thermonuclear weapon was first developed and used in 1952 and has since been employed by most of the world's nuclear weapons. The modern design of all thermonuclear weapons in the United States is known as the Teller-Ulam design for its two chief contributors, Edward Teller and Stanislaw Ulam, who developed it in 1951 for the United States, with certain concepts developed with the contribution of John von Neumann. The first test of a hydrogen bomb prototype was the "Ivy Mike" nuclear test in 1952, conducted by the United States. The first ready-to-use thermonuclear bomb "RDS-6s" ("Joe 4") was tested on August 12, 1953, in the Soviet Union. Similar devices were developed by the United Kingdom, China, and France, though no specific code names are known for their designs.
As thermonuclear weapons represent the most efficient design for weapon energy yield in weapons with yields above 50 kilotons, virtually all the nuclear weapons deployed by the five nuclear-weapon states under the NPT today are thermonuclear weapons using the Teller–Ulam design.
The essential features of the mature thermonuclear weapon design, which officially remained secret for nearly three decades, are: 1) separation of stages into a triggering "primary" explosive and a much more powerful "secondary" explosive, 2) compression of the secondary by X-rays coming from nuclear fission in the primary, a process called the "radiation implosion" of the secondary, and 3) heating of the secondary, after cold compression, by a second fission explosion inside the secondary.
The radiation implosion mechanism is a heat engine that exploits the temperature difference between the secondary stage's hot, surrounding radiation channel and its relatively cool interior. This temperature difference is briefly maintained by a massive heat barrier called the "pusher", which also serves as an implosion tamper, increasing and prolonging the compression of the secondary. If made of uranium, as is almost always the case, it can capture neutrons produced by the fusion reaction and undergo fission itself, increasing the overall explosive yield. In many Teller–Ulam weapons, fission of the pusher dominates the explosion and produces radioactive fission product fallout.
The basic principle of the Teller–Ulam configuration is the idea that different parts of a thermonuclear weapon can be chained together in "stages", with the detonation of each stage providing the energy to ignite the next stage. At a bare minimum, this implies a primary section which consists of a fission bomb (a "trigger"), and a secondary section which consists of fusion fuel. The energy released by the primary compresses the secondary through a process called "radiation implosion", at which point it is heated and undergoes nuclear fusion. Because of the staged design, it is thought that a tertiary section, again of fusion fuel, could be added as well, based on the same principle as the secondary; the AN602 "Tsar Bomba" is thought to have been a three-stage device.
Surrounding the other components is a hohlraum or radiation case, a container which traps the first stage or primary's energy inside temporarily.
Published on May 9, 2015
Action, adventure, chills and thrills keep you on the edge of your seat as you witness first-hand the race to build a mass destroyer. In this spy-thriller Cold War epic, you travel back in time to August 1945, when the Cold War was just beginning. Caught in a web of destruction, scientists at home and in the Soviet Union are racing to build the hydrogen bomb.