Talk:Thermonuclear weapon

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The secret of the Hydrogen Bomb[edit]

Who refers to the Teller-Ulam design as the "secret of the hydrogen bomb"? In my experience when someone is colloquialy describing a Teller-Ulam device they refer to it as an H-bomb or a thermonuclear weapon. Consider this sentence: "The biggest explosion ever made by man is witnessed in the Pacific when US scientists explode their second secret of the Hydrogen Bomb at Bikini Atoll." Holme053 20:07, 18 October 2007 (UTC)

See History of the Teller–Ulam design#The Progressive case. The design was a secret, the existence and effects of thermonuclear weapons in general obviously were not. --JWB 20:22, 18 October 2007 (UTC)

Castle Bravo "worked far better"[edit]

The article states:

"The liquid deuterium fuel of Ivy Mike was impractical for a deployable weapon, and the next advance was to use a solid lithium deuteride fusion fuel instead. In 1954 this was tested in the "Castle Bravo" shot (the device was code-named the Shrimp), which worked far better (2.5 times) than expected and yielded 15 megatons, the largest U.S. bomb ever tested."

I think it is wrong to say it "worked far better". The reason the bomb exceeded the expected yeild was due to a “fuel breader” thermonuclear reaction which had not been predicted as being significant. The excessive high yield was a disaster which caused extensive contamination of the test site and lead to at least one death aboard the Lucky Dragon fishing vessel from radiation poisoning. The high yield was a result of a design flaw.

--ManInStone 12:23, 19 June 2007 (UTC)

I have substituted a more neutral wording. Roger Hui 14:37, 20 June 2007 (UTC)

Thanks Roger, it reads better now. --ManInStone 08:29, 2 July 2007 (UTC)

"Expiration" of Hydrogen-warheads??[edit]

Tritium has a half life of just 12 years, so to maintain a viable warhead, doesn't this mean that the tritium in hydrogen weaponry must be continually replenished with new tritium every 6 months or so? Wouldn't this require the existence of processing facilities to manufacture additional tritium near the warhead's holding areas? — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 18:55, 3 March 2007‎

Why do you suggest six months? The artcile on the WE177 bomb states that replacemnet (relifing) is required after about three years. --ManInStone 12:01, 19 June 2007 (UTC)
6 months, 3 years. I was speculating you'd need the percentage of the tritium to be maintained at nearly the amount originally present in order for it to be viable. Replacing every 3 years means you'd only have ~82% of the tritium originally present at the end of the 3 year cycle- but since that's what the design requires, I suppose it's still a viable warhead at 82%. Still, would this suggest the existence of tritium production facilities near the warhead site? — Preceding unsigned comment added by Tymothy (talkcontribs) 04:04, 15 July 2007‎

My Burden of Sorrow[edit]

You are completely correct that the Tritium in Hydrogen Bombs must be regularly replenished.
However, while Tritium is produced in Nature through the Radioactive Decay of many different Isotopes, it is available on Earth only in very small quantities, as of course it has that very short Half Life, and other oxidizes to form water vapor or, being of very little mass, eventually escaping the Earth's atmosphere completely by flying off into [[Outer Space||. Helium is actually produced with far greater abundance through the decay of radioactive elements found throughout the planet, but because Helium - with a certain very rare exception that I'll have to Google up for you later - does not form chemical bonds with anything, despite Monatomic Helium being heavier than Diatomic Hydrogen, far more He escapes into Space than does Hydrogen.
It is for that specific reason - yes I understand I need a citation, but I myself am a Radiation Physicist, so I'll turn up the needed citation Real Soon Now to add to the article itself - that Hydrogen Bombs were tested so often by most members of the "Nuclear Club" throughout the Cold War. It's not that we didn't know how long the Tritium would remain explosive, but that most of our weapons designs were quite sophisticated so as to facilitate what the Scientific, Military and Disarmament Communites cheerfully refer to as "Delivery".
The problem with Delivery is that the straighforward designs for all three different types of nuclear weapon - the Uranium Assembly Bomb, the Plutonium Implosion Bomb as well as the Two-Stage Plutonium Implosion Hydrogen Bomb are very large, very heavy and so not amenable to being, uh, "Delivered" to their waiting, uh, "Recipient" with much chance at all of the Recipient being quite overcome with Joy that their beloved friends, family, classmates and colleagues were so incredibly thoughtful as to throw them a Surprise Party for their Birthday.
Have a look at the Unclassified photos of any Bombs in use today. Every last one of them is very, very small, even the H-Bombs. The need to replenish the Tritium is far more important than you would at first expect, because for most of those designs, it is not at all obvious ahead of time whether the Bomb will actually detonate upon Delivery, produce a Subcritical Reaction known to the Weapons Community as a Squib Explosion, or fail entirely to go off at all.
But it just wouldn't work to actually produce the Tritium close to the actual locations of the Bombs that are awaiting orders to attack. That's because we have so many Bombs, each of which requires so much Tritium - Deuterium as well - that one requires a whole bunch of Nuclear Reactors to have any hope of obtaining enough of the stuff.
The other problem is that, the designs of the Bombs now being so subtle, sophisticated, arcane and delicate, all manner of expensive, precision and highly Classified facilities are required to actually perform the refueling of the Bombs. So in reality, when it comes time to Juice your Rechargeable Battery back up, it's either flown, or transported by truck or rail to the Pantex Plant in Texas, it's Hydrogen explosive completely removed, then immediately replaced with fresh Explosive that is prepared ahead of time for just such an event, then the Bomb is shipped back to That From Whence It Came.
Have a look at the photos of Fat Man and Little Boy. One was a Uranium Assembly Bomb, the other was a Plutonium Implosion Bomb. Both Bombs were so big and heavy that the very largest Bomber possessed by the United States Army Air Corps could only tote one of each, with the elite pilots who sat out the vast majority of the Second World War never, ever being given the least clue as to why they devoted all the years of WWII to training missions in which they dropped very large, very heavy weights out of the [[Bomb bay]bomb bays]] of their B-29 Superfortresses, then more or less on their own to having figure out a way to Split the Scene Completely.
Let's just say that those two or three dozen Cessna Pilots, while never obtaining any manner of detailed understanding, did at least manage clue in to what was planned not for Hiroshima nor for Nagasaki, but downtown Berlin. It's just that we managed to defeat the National Socialist Worker's Party in a purely conventional way before the Manhattan Project's Magic Elixir was quite done cooking.
The bombs dropped on Japan each had a Yield of ten or fifteen Kilotons - that is, they produced a blast about as powerful as ten or fifteen tons of TNT. TNT works and is actually chemically synthesized just like Nitroglycerin, but is far safer to manufacture, store and handle, because it is a Solid at room temperature rather than a Liquid as Nitroglycerin is, as well as occupying quite a deep Thermodynamic Potential Well, thereby requiring a Detonator to get it to go off:— Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 04:44, 11 July 2012‎


I can't believe this article is new. It's gorgeous. Scary topic, of course, but v. nicely done. jengod 02:58, July 25, 2005 (UTC)

Thanks, it's just something I've studied for awhile, so I had all of the references handy. --Fastfission 10:51, 25 July 2005 (UTC)

I skimmed through the article a bit and didnt really look for it but i did hear that hydrogen bombs explode the air molecules when they go off Atvrider365 (talk) 20:40, 28 October 2008 (UTC)

Nuclear weapons need periodic replacement of "limited life" components, namely the neutron generator and DT gas bottle, but it is done much less frequently than every three years. (talk) 01:01, 18 November 2010 (UTC)


The article describes "X-rays ... which reflect along the inside of the casing" and the diagram gives the impression that X-rays ricochet around the inside of the casing. It is pretty hard to make X-rays reflect: they either pass through or are absorbed by the reflecting medium. Astronomical X-ray telescopes (Chandra, XMM, ASCA) are forced to resort to grazing incidence and nested nearly-cylindrial mirrors.

There is a much better description in radiation implosion:

The term reflector is misleading, since it gives the reader an idea that the device works like a mirror. Some of the X-rays are diffused or scattered, but the majority of the energy transport happens by a two-step process: the X-ray reflector is heated to a high temperature by the flux from the primary, and then it emits X-rays which travel to the secondary. Various classified methods are used to improve the performance of the reflection process.

This seems to imply that the casing is irradiated such that it fluoresces in the X-ray. -- ALoan (Talk) 08:31, 25 July 2005 (UTC)

Hmm, that's interesting. I'd appreciate it if anyone with technical insights could help smooth out that section of the article — I am not a physicist, and am likely to make mistakes (I thought they were "reflected" like a mirror, I must admit, but I have no idea about such things except what I have read, none of which is what I'd call "technical literature"). My only fear in such things, of course, is that I don't want the article to have too much confidence in things which are not securely known (i.e., the secret things), but with a little care that can be avoided. --Fastfission 10:55, 25 July 2005 (UTC)
Also, about the diagram: I've never seen it drawn any other way than "reflecting" like that. I can't think of a better way of drawing it though. --Fastfission 17:15, 25 July 2005 (UTC)
Just as a note: I updated the text to reflect this better. --Fastfission 17:20, 6 August 2005 (UTC)

Fastfission: after interviews with the Ivy-Mike bomb designers, Richard Rhodes corrected the situation on page 486 of "Dark Sun" (Simon and Schuster, N. Y., 1996):

The flux of soft X-rays from the primary would flow down the inside walls of the casing several microseconds ahead of the material shock wave from the primary. ... the steel [OUTER] casing would need to be lined with some material that would absorb the [soft X-ray] radiation and ionize to a hot plasma which could [re-]radiate X-rays [towards the secondary stage, like a mirror] to implode the secondary.

So what the plastic foam does is act as a mirroring surface to reflect back X-rays going toward the outer casing, instead of losing that energy by having it ablate the outer casing. You must reflect those outgoing X-rays back on the fusion fuel capsule in the middle of the radiation channel, so they ablate that, instead of using up the X-ray energy to ablate the inside of the outer bomb casing! Rhodes on page 501 of "Dark Sun", quotes Mike designer Harold Agnew:

I remember seeing the guys hammer the big, thick polyethene plastic pieces inside the casing ... They hammered the plastic into the lead with copper nails.

The plastic foam is just one inch thick (it doesn't fill the radiation channel, and it it did the bomb would fail because of the X-rays would not be focussed on the secondary stage by reflection), so it is purely a Teller "radiation mirror" for the X-rays; reflecting as much X-ray energy back on to the fuel capsule as possible. The plastic foam doesn't fill the entire casing, it's just a relatively thin (1" thick) layer fixed to inside of the outer case. Rhodes, however, was still confused and reverts to Hansen's error on page 492, stating that the plastic foam "would expand rapidly and deliver the necessary shock [to the fusion fuel capsule]". This is untrue; the physical expansion of plastic foam and its "shocking up" into a shock wave takes far longer and exerts far less pressure than the delivery of X-ray energy.

Plastic foam is vital to make the inside of the outer casing into a "radiation mirror" for X-rays. Instead of ablating a metal surface and wasting the energy by transforming it into mechanical kinetic energy of ablating metal vapor and recoil shock in the outer case, because of its low density (compared to a metal) the plastic foam simply heats up and re-radiates the energy it has absorbed as X-rays. This turns it into an excellent mirror for X-rays, since the incident X-ray energy is mostly re-radiated instead of being turned into mechanical shock wave.

To understand this important mechanism in slightly different context, see Glasstone and Dolan, "The Effects of Nuclear Weapons" 3rd ed., 1977:

Two factors affect the thermal energy radiated ... First ... a shock wave does not form so readily in the less dense air [or any less dense medium!] [Paragraph 1.36, p. 10.[1].]
At high altitudes shock waves form much less readily in the thinner air and consequently the fireball is able to radiate thermal energy that would, at lower altitudes, have been transformed to hydrodynamic energy of the blast wave. [Paragraph 7.90, p. 315.[2].]

Plastic foam is able to mirror X-rays because it is able re-radiate X-ray energy efficiently: its low density slows down the rate of shock wave formation, eliminating that mechanism for energy loss, so plastic foam merely heats up and re-radiates the energy as X-rays.

(The plastic foam "mirroring" of X-ray radiation is vital to the Teller-Ulam design as evidenced by the declassified title of their 9 March 1951 joint Los Alamos LAMS-1225 paper: "On Heterocatalytic Detonations. I. Hydrodynamic Lenses and Radiation Mirrors" [3]. The "radiation mirrors" concept is the Teller contribution: this is the key to the whole breakthrough; Ulam's hydrodynamic lenses never worked for the shock wave from the fission primary which is too dense and slow to focus. It is absurd that the one key breakthrough, Teller's radiation mirroring, is completely misunderstood by Rhodes and others, because they don't understand that the difference in density between plastic foam and metal reduces shock wave formation and thus makes plastic into a relatively good radiation mirror.) (talk) 11:20, 22 November 2010 (UTC)


  1. That the sentence about Ivy Mike's impracticability be reenforced, from "The "Ivy Mike" device was far too large to be dropped" to "The elaborate refrigeration plant necessary to keep its fuel liquid meant Ivy Mike was too heavy and too complex to be of practical use." or something similar.
  2. That a bit of explanation be added to W-88 revelations. The article says its primary is oblong (IMO "oblate" is a better word for this than "oblong", as "oblong" means "rectangular" to most people) and that W-88 is intended for MIRVs. I think we should add why it's oblate, and why this is such a big deal. My understanding of this is that the diameter of the MIRV is limited by the diameter of the primary - if you can make an oblate primary work properly, then you can get the same bang from a smaller diameter MIRV or missile, which gives you nicer characteristics for that missle (faster, better gas milage, etc.). The reason an established nuclear power might be thought to want to steal info on W-88 (it's not like China doesn't know how to make A bombs already) is that the calculations needed to get a nonspherical primary to explode efficiently are orders of magnitude harder than those for a spherical primary.
  3. The article isn't entirely clear about this: should it mention that the US had already exploded a boosted device (Greenhouse George) before Ivy Mike, so that no-one had lingering doubts that the secondary wouldn't light? The article does mention boosting, but for the US program it's not clear that boosting came before the super (the wording for the Soviet program is clear in that respect).

-- Finlay McWalter | Talk 13:37, August 4, 2005 (UTC)

Good suggestions -- I'll try to incorporate these in and clarify what is not clear. --Fastfission 12:46, 5 August 2005 (UTC)
I think I've implemented all of these suggestions. --Fastfission 17:20, 6 August 2005 (UTC)

The Foam Plasma Pressure Fallacy[edit]

Aaaaarrrrggghhhhhh, not the foam plasma pressure fallacy again! Doesn't anyone read the FAQ anymore? Nuclear Weapon FAQ Sect, Radiation Channel. The implosion pressure does not come from the filler foam. It's possible to build and fire a Teller-Ulam device with a completely empty radiation channel in the radiation case. The foam is there to retard initial liner and pusher ablation long enough for the energy distribution to even out smoothly. The pressures generated are trivial compared to those required to implode the secondary. What generates the implosion pressure is the ablation (effectively as if it were an in-turned rocket motor) of the fusion pusher layer of the tamper/pusher assembly. A large portion of the tamper/pusher ablates away in this process, leaving a thinner tamper layer up against the now-compressed fuel layer.

I know Moorland's article said that the foam plasma pressure was significant, but Morland wasn't a bomb physicist, and we know a lot more now than we did then. These inaccurate descriptions have got to stop, they're grossly misleading everyone.

I can rewrite the article's implosion description sometime this week, but for now, it flunks peer review on that basis. Sorry. It's not your fault for believing the Morland article, but Morland got that detail (and several others) wrong... Gotta get it right here. Georgewilliamherbert 09:12, 8 August 2005 (UTC)

Per discussion here and on the Peer Review page, I intend to redo the implosion physics section and correct the foam plasma issue probably Wednesday night, Aug 10. Georgewilliamherbert 02:59, 10 August 2005 (UTC)

Does the outer secondary layer expand outwards to fill the radiation channel? If so, the inner layer of the radiation case should do the same thing, closing the radiation channel. Wouldn't the increasing compression of the light-element plasma oppose complete disappearance of the radiation channel?

By conservation of momentum, outward motion of the outer layer needs to occur to balance inward motion of the inside, as long as the outer layer is expanding nearly freely against lighter plasma. But if the outward layer of the secondary is halted by hitting the inner layer of the radiation case, this is no longer necessary. --JWB (talk) 23:27, 12 December 2007 (UTC)

Yes, but the timing is everything.
The objective of the radiation case is to last long enough to efficiently evenly distribute the primary energy around the inside of the radiation case. Once everything is close to thermal equilibrium, that job is done, and where it goes doesn't matter.
What does matter is that the distribution happen faster than things start to block off the channel, and/or disrupt the containment provided by the radiation case.
Preventing the channel from being blocked is the role of the foam filler - it is heated to plasma by the X-ray photon gas, and the pressure of that plasma retards the expansion of heated radiation case inside wall and outside wall of the pusher (and anything else in the radiation case). It just has to retard the expansion long enough that the temperature mostly equalizes before the channel is blocked off.
For three stage weapons, you care what happens outside the second stage radiation case, within the third stage's radiation case. But for two-stage weapons, once the temperature is roughly equalized, you don't care. That's the case with nearly all weapons in use worldwide today, which are two stage.
What happens from the point of rough equalization of temperature is that the expanding hot pusher layer gas rockets off the pusher/tamper outer surface, meeting the radiation case's remnants (which are expanding inwards and outwards all around as well). You can do a momentum balance and look at the expansion behavior. All of this is highly supersonic, so it doesn't matter that the outer layer of the expanding jet of pusher hits the expanding radiation case remnants; a shockwave from that will propogate back inwards, but not catch up with the implosion of the pusher and secondary fuel. Georgewilliamherbert (talk) 02:05, 13 December 2007 (UTC)

Split the article[edit]

In my humble opinion... The history stuff should be split into a separate article, with this article containing a shorter summary and link. This article has just gotten too big. Georgewilliamherbert 06:41, 14 August 2005 (UTC)

Neutron Bombardment, Aluminium?[edit]

Neutron Bombardment of the lithium deutride - Wouldn't that require something to slow down the neutrons to assist the deutrium to become tritrium? Something like aluminium casing on the inside of the lead / uranium secondary casing? or does the lead casing on the outside of the secondary do a good enough job of slowing down the neutrons? Or is it the Li that does the job? or a combination?

  • You should sign your notes (typing four ~ characters in a row gives the name/date signature you see a lot). To answer your question, it's not neutrons being absorbed by the deuterium to make tritium, it's neutrons fissioning the lithium, into tritium, helium-4, and with the Li-7 isotope of Lithium, another free (lower energy) neutron. The original neutron is captured in the lithium nucleus but only briefly. The reactions are described in detail in the Nuclear Weapons FAQ. Georgewilliamherbert 21:14, 30 October 2005 (UTC)

[4] does give the (n,t) cross section for 14 MeV neutrons as relatively low, in fact only 35% of the cross section for (n,2n). Scattering cross sections are much higher, so the lithium deuteride is moderating many of the fast neutrons before they can be absorbed, although multiple scattering would seem to raise the risk of the neutron exiting the compressed LiD. The secondary tamper-pusher must be contributing by scattering back some moderated neutrons (it should not be a good moderator itself) and/or fissioning under 14 MeV neutrons and returning 1-2 MeV fission neutrons to the LiD. If the latter is the dominant source of neutrons for lithium fission (and if most of the lithium is actually fissioned to tritium, instead of most of the deuterium being consumed by D-D fusion or a direct Li-D reaction) then this is truly a mixed fusion-fission explosion, rather than independent fusion and fission stages in series. --JWB (talk) 23:52, 12 December 2007 (UTC)

Two small issues[edit]

Both in the "Basic principle" section:

  • "When fired, the plutonium and/or uranium-235 core would be compressed" Is it really possible to build a uranium implosion bomb? Is there any reason to suppose anyone has ever built a teller-ulam fusion bomb with a U235 primary?
  • "unenriched uranium-238" seems redundant, and confusing (there's really no such think as "enriched U238", so surely there can't be such a thing as "unenriched U238". Shouldn't this just read either "uranium-238" or "depleted uranium"?

-- Finlay McWalter | Talk 02:47, 14 January 2006 (UTC)

First question: Yes, Uranium implosion has been widely discussed. It's a lot easier to do that Plutonium implosion, since U-235 has so much fewer random neutrons generated and the risk of predetonation goes way down. Including the metalurgical issues with Plutonium, it's considered a much better long-term stable bomb design approach, in fact... U metal stays that way, in its standard phase, as far as we know essentially forever without suffering physical degradation or phase changes, as long as you protect it from oxidization.
Second question: I think I agree that the phrasing has gotten bad. Natural, unenriched Uranium is a valid choice there, as is "U-238", or "Depleted Uranium". Unenriched + U-238 is a nonsequitur. Georgewilliamherbert 03:06, 14 January 2006 (UTC)
  • And on point 1 -- I believe that it is thought that most modern cores are composite u-235/pu cores. More bang for the buck or something like that. --Fastfission 02:41, 10 March 2006 (UTC)

Recent edits[edit]

While I appreciate User:Bockspur's enthusiasm, I'm not so hot on all of the edits he/she recently made.[5] I feel they have simply made things more confusing, dressed them up in more complicated (but in the end, not meaningful) language, and much of it is unsourced. The only source added is a paper which nobody outside the classified community has seen, which doesn't help anybody very much, and I suspect Bockspur has not seen it either. But before reverting I thought I'd solicit a second opinion. --Fastfission 02:41, 10 March 2006 (UTC)

Bockspur replies10th of mar 06:outside of the classified community?[edit]

the paper is not that restricted, merely it's not currently availible on the internet or in most libraries. there is nothing ground shaking in the paper, in fact if you were going to use it as a reciepe to make a fusion device you would definetely fail. The paper outlines two key elements for compressing the secondary: the use of soft x-ray radiation proposed by teller as opposed to particle compression by ulam and the concept of ablation. unfortunately teller makes the mistake of assuming that he can bounce the soft x-rays of the interior of the casing like ping pongs. Later someone else would correct this with the hohlraum concept. Also, the use of a second fission source inside of the the secondary to act as a neutron source and to ignite the compressed but relatively cool dueterium liquid is completely missing in the paper. This too would come later.

The paper use to be availible at the library of the university that use to manage LL, take a wild guess where that was. I think some undergrad must have stolen it; technically the paper is classified but for all purposes next to useless other than to point how brillant teller was.

Just because you haven't seen something doesn't make it imaginary.If you would like to get a copy make a fia request, i personally see no reason to reject one for such an aged document. but , as i said earlier you'll be a little disappointed when it doesn't turn out to contain much that can't be done with pencil a piece paper calculation. kid i have a Phd in physics, and a masters in applied math and am working on a phd in math; which is an order of magnitude harder than physics. I've never written a NPDE code for a nuclear device but i have used very similar integrator schemes to run icf simulations in grad school. And yes we read everything in the library hoping for a break that would make the lab projects easier. But , I'm sure that i'm not alone in that boat and others have probably had access to more pertinint information, but , until those people show up to edit my work, you'll just have to be content with my chicken scratchings, ok kiddo.

  • Please see our Verifiability policy. No references can be given that cannot be verified or confirmed. Hard-and-fast rule, and you can make up all sorts of noise about how you have a PhD or secret access or whatever (every crackpot suddenly becomes a PhD on here, it seems) but it doesn't go into the article, simple as that. --Fastfission 00:46, 13 March 2006 (UTC)

DOE statements[edit]

One thing I don't understand from reading the article is, why does the DOE keep declassifying these pointless little statements? What's the point? Who benefits? -- 15:38, 23 April 2006 (UTC)

Several reasons.
  • Much of the technology and information ends up being dual-use, and eventually the other, unclassified use ends up needing to have some sort of reference back in to the nuclear weapons usage.
  • Much of the information accidentally or informally leaks out. Once it's been revealed, non-DOE experts can confirm its accuracy by analysis, and eventually it becomes so well known that continuing to classify it is hard.
  • Some of the information is disclosed due to its relevance to other issues, such as explosives safety, health of nuclear weapons workers, etc.
  • Some information becomes so old and obsolete that classification is pointless.
  • Finally, a lot of the info that's covered under Restricted Data is pretty silly to have classified in the first place, and is eventually just released.
Georgewilliamherbert 23:48, 24 April 2006 (UTC)

Tamper-Pusher ablation, does the tamper fission?[edit]

After ~3/4 of the tamper is ablated off, the rest being forced inwards with the fusion fuel/spark plug, does that 1/4 of the tamper also undergo fission? --Fxer 19:35, 1 June 2006 (UTC)

Depends on the design. Thermonuclear bombs can be "clean" or "dirty". "Dirty" designs us a fissionable tamper/pusher (or at least tamper), such as U-238, the fission of which typically doubles yield. "Clean" designs use a non-fissionable tamper/pusher (lead, tungsten, in some cases perhaps gold) at lower yield and no fission, but much reduced fallout.
Figuring out what modern weapons are clean and dirty is somewhat difficult, since governments tend not to discuss design details, and since underground testing became standard the fallout isn't available for analysis. Yield to weight analysis suggests the modern compact ones tend to be dirty, though. Georgewilliamherbert 20:40, 1 June 2006 (UTC)
I think what he's asking specifically is that does ablation reduce the amount of material remaining to fission, in the end? I never thought about that aspect of it, myself. --Fastfission 20:51, 1 June 2006 (UTC)
Oh, yeah. The ablation material (for example, 3/4, though it may be more or less) moves outwards and is effectively not part of the tamper fissioning.
Basic H-bombs use a single material for the ablation pusher and tamper. Really creative designs from advanced nuclear weapons nations might use different materials, with one material (say, cheap/safe lead) as the ablation pusher, and another (DU, or even HEU) as the tamper. But to know for sure where the boundary is, you almost certainly have to do an H-bomb test program... Georgewilliamherbert 21:47, 1 June 2006 (UTC)
It shouldn't matter if the outer tamper layers are expanding outward. Fast neutrons are still fast enough to cover the small additional distance. --JWB 20:28, 18 October 2007 (UTC)
It affects whether the neutrons interact with any of the fissionable material or not. If you look into how critical mass scales with density of the material, it goes up with the square of density. The reverse works, too... if you look at the flight path of a neutron, what matters is how many fissionable atoms lie on that trajectory. As the material expands, it expands out (radially away), which doesn't decrease the number of interactions from the core to the tamper gas cloud edge, but also laterally away from the line of flight... which does decrease the number of interactions. The count of atoms along (close enough to) the flight line drops with the change in density. So those fast neutrons are much more likely to escape without interacting with anything. For very very large secondaries the density might still be more than a mean free path thick after pusher expansion, during the secondary burn, but for most compact weapons the pusher atoms are negligible or a very small fraction of the secondary fast fission reactions that follow. Georgewilliamherbert 03:43, 8 November 2007 (UTC)

"Dark Sun" description of Mike device[edit]

The description of the Ivy Mike device within this article does not quite agree with that given in "Dark Sun". Within Chapter 24 there is a series of five figures showing the sequence of events within the device. The caption accompanying the second figure states that "X rays from the primary vaporize polyethylene lining of Mike casing and heat it to a plasma. Plasma reradiates longer wavelength X rays that ablate surface of secondary pusher, causing rocket effect that implodes secondary, compressing and heating deuterium to fusion temperature and imploding fission sparkplug". This quite clearly states the presence of polyethylene and not polystyrene, as claimed in the article. The polyethylene is a source of plasma although compression of the secondary is by ablation of the pusher, not radiation from the primary. RegIP 16:51, 16 August 2006 (UTC)

I would have to check again but I'm pretty sure that Rhodes actually includes two slightly different descriptions of how it works in the book, something of a contradiction in any case. --Fastfission 13:11, 1 February 2007 (UTC)

Hydrogen VS Nuclear[edit]

I've been told this many times, but I want to get it straight in my head. The Hydrogen Bomb--to my knowledge and what people have told me--is a non-nature killing version of the nuclear bomb (meaning it causes no nuclear winter, or leaves the land radiation filled.)

Is this true, or does the Hydrogen Bomb still create such a mess? 08:10, 7 November 2007 (UTC)

Disclaimer: I am not a physicist and the following is speculation. First, nuclear winter is thought to be caused by the combustion of vast amounts of flammable material, creating smoke and soot that would block sunlight for a lengthy period. Fusion vs. fission would make no difference in this regard. Second, the Teller-Ulam design specifies a fission primary (with uranium or plutonium) and also fissile material around the secondary, both causing radioactive fall-out. Third, pure fusion, even if possible, produces energetic neutrons and photons that would make other material radioactive. Roger Hui 15:31, 7 November 2007 (UTC)
Fallout is dependent on the amount of fission; you at least have the fission trigger's yield (3% or more of the total), and probably use a fissionable tamper material in the secondary, which (roughly) doubles final yield but increases fission fraction to 50% and thus wildly increases fallout.
Nuclear winter is due to things burning and putting up soot. That's a factor of how much the weapon sets on fire (and how much burns afterwards). It would take a lot of fission bombs to burn a lot of territory and cause a nuclear winter. Thermonuclear bombs have so much more yield that they can cause much larger fires. Georgewilliamherbert 03:47, 8 November 2007 (UTC)

So would it theoreticly be possible by stopping the nuetron and photon escaping or somehow releasing them in a way which would make them non radioactive work. Please do not comment on anything i have got wrong with this just tell me is it possible. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 15:36, 11 June 2009 (UTC)

It's not possible. There is so much energy involved, enough to vaporize tens of thousands of tons of the strongest materials, that nothing can contain it other than burying it deep in rock. Georgewilliamherbert (talk) 20:05, 11 June 2009 (UTC)

Fair use rationale for Image:Tsarbomb.jpg[edit]

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BetacommandBot (talk) 02:13, 12 February 2008 (UTC)

Tom Clancy Novels[edit]

In the Tom Clancy novel The Sum of All Fears, there is a large amount of information on the construction of H-bombs, which he states is available to the public. He also states that a "sufficiently wealthy individual" could produce a mulit-stage thermonuclear device within 5-10 years. Can anyone confirm this?

DarkLite (talk) 17:09, 1 March 2008 (UTC)

Nobody has publicly announced that they did so, but the South African bomb program only cost a few hundred million dollars, including fissile production, and the design problem isn't that difficult.
See for example The Nuclear Weapon Archive website on the design difficulty question, or the classic Nth Country Experiment. It's technically challenging, but feasible with a few man-years work. Georgewilliamherbert (talk) 00:11, 4 March 2008 (UTC)
Well, that's just fission though. Unless one puts bounds on what "sufficiently wealthy" means, I'm not sure the statement is meaningful. Aside from design questions—which you'd have to do a little testing of a few types to have any confidence in—there's still the material production problem. Is our "sufficiently wealthy" individual running his own plutonium production reactors? Does he know how to make lithium hydride? Does he have his own Hanford, Savannah River, Oak Ridge? If so, sure, I guess it's possible, but you're basically postulating an individual with the resources, scientific infrastructure, and unrestricted use of facilities and land on par with a modestly productive country. I don't think it's terribly plausible. -- (talk) 16:40, 17 March 2008 (UTC)


Read this interesting post today: FOGBANK (see also Carey Sublette's comments). There's nothing really on interstage in the article. Maybe someone with knowledge of this could add something? Obviously the blog post is speculative in many ways, but Sublette's comments seem to make sense. It would integrate the "exploding foam" and the "ablation" models quite well if true. -- (talk) 16:42, 17 March 2008 (UTC)

Additionally, General Atomics sells Inertial Confinement Fusion capsules filled with Aerogel (it's in their catalog). This might be further evidence. — Preceding unsigned comment added by DoYouKnow (talkcontribs) 22:44, 8 June 2013 (UTC)

"FOAMS - "GA/Schafer produces a variety of foams that are used for targets to prevent diagnostic hole closure or to support diagnostics or capsules the foams currently available are listed below... " They list "Resorcinol-Formaldehyde Aerogel", and "Silica Aerogel". the Resourcinol one with density ranges of 20-850mg/cm^3, and Silica Aerogel with density ranges of 10-700 mg/cm^3. If the aerogel is used, it may at least partly be used to the wide density tuning and its usage to support the fusion capsules within the hohlraum. — Preceding unsigned comment added by DoYouKnow (talkcontribs) 22:53, 8 June 2013 (UTC)
You're probably onto something, there, DoYouKnow. And since I have no government contact or clearance, I am free to speculate and take off on your comment. If you read the FOGBANK blog post above FOGBANK and focus on acetonitrile, it looks like acetonitrile is necessary as a solvent to make FOGBANK, which is probably low density low-Z X-ray absorbing polymer in the hohlraum. Not silica gel. And guess what? If you look up "resorcinol-formaldehyde aerogels," (google it) you find out that they are copolymers which are made in acetonitrile as the favored solvent. [6]. So that fits. It fits very well. SBHarris 00:48, 9 June 2013 (UTC)

Sigma clearance[edit]

Yeah - that's why reading this stuff is laughable. Its' one thing to say, hey, I love nukes. This is what I am guessing is going on based on reading a bunch of stuff. Some of you get in here, and talk like you're inside the fence with a sigma clearance. Now, go back and reread how some of you pooh-poohed the need for certain poly products in a weapons platform...

watcher —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 07:09, 19 March 2008 (UTC)

(rolling eyes) Thank you, anonymous from Savannah plant whichever.
I've been working with Carey on and off for more than a decade. Please tell us again what we know and don't know. Georgewilliamherbert (talk) 00:24, 20 March 2008 (UTC)
The "Neutron Gun" reference and speculation really makes me laugh - If the objects in the picture are what I suspect they are, they're EXTERNAL neutron sources (ENS), and wouldn't be found anywhere WITHIN the radiation case, much less in the "Interstage"... From what I understand about the functioning of devices like this (And I've been studying and trying to understand them for the past 10 years), the "interstage" is basically just a sophisticated baffle plate, with a number of channels running through it, each of which has an ablative plug in it designed to "slowly" (a relative term when talking about events such as this) burn away and modulate the flow of energy from the Primary to the Secondary. This allows the energy flow to "slowly" ramp up to give a Secondary a smooth "push", instead of a sudden "hammer blow", giving a much more efficient compression. Personally, I ALWAYS treat anything from organisations such as Greenpeace with extreme care, as they're not the most reliable or impartial of sources, and thir grasp of science often leaves much to be desired!! Emma white20 (talk) 19:36, 25 December 2008 (UTC)

X-rays (again)[edit]

It was already mentioned that there is no mirror for X-rays comming at the angle of order of 45degrees. I would remove figire BombH explosion.svg from this and from other articles. This figure is confusing. dima (talk) 15:36, 17 April 2008 (UTC)

X-rays aren't bouncing. Hard gammas are emitted by the very high temperature fissioning pit (by fissions, and by thermal radiation). They go in straight lines until they encounter enough mass to be absorbed (generally, the inside of the radiation case). They heat up what they are absorbed in. Shortly, the inside of the radiation case around the primary is hot enough that it's emitting X-rays, which travel in straight lines until they hit something dense enough to absorb them, which they heat up, etc etc. This happens for a number of cycles. See "photon gas" in the Nuclear Weapons FAQ, and the meaning of the term Hohlraum or "radiation case". Georgewilliamherbert (talk) 02:23, 19 April 2008 (UTC)

The capture reads:"Fission primary emits X-rays which reflects along the inside of the casing"... It is confusing. Could you reword this, according to your explanation above? dima (talk) 13:43, 19 April 2008 (UTC)

My understanding is that gammas emitted by the primary travel (in straight lines, of course) and completely ionize the 'foam' (or plastic); the foam consists primarily of carbon and hydrogen. Nanoseconds later, the nuclei of the atoms (previously making up the 'foam') re-capture the electrons, and in doing so they emit a spectrum of X-rays corresponding to (mostly) the ionization energy of the carbon atoms. These X-rays are emitted spherically-symmetrically, but enough of them fly in the direction of the secondary. Perhaps the secondary is surrounded by a carbon-containing layer to optimize the absorption of these X-rays. (talk) 05:36, 24 May 2010 (UTC)

A basic question[edit]

Hi, all!

Could anyone tell me how much energy (in ergs) can be released by a h-bomb? Thanks

-metanb —Preceding unsigned comment added by Metanb (talkcontribs) 14:59, 5 July 2008 (UTC)

I will probably get this wrong, but I'll give it a try. My college physics classes were in 1976-1980. :-)

First, H-bombs are "tunable" by design and construction techniques across a very wide range of output.

The smallest H-bomb one I've heard of was the "Hood" test, at 70 kilotons. The largest one I've heard of was the Soviet Union's "Tsar Bomba", at 57 Megatons. That's not a typo, it's 57 million tons.

Bomb output is measured in "tons", with a "ton of TNT" being what we're talking about. Generally we start at 1 kiloton for very small A-bombs.

A 1 "kiloton" bomb is very small in the scale of atomic bombs. However, here's the math:

1 kilo = 1000 (of something) 1 ton = 2000 pounds (of something) 1 kilo*ton = 2000 x 1000 = 2 million pounds of TNT going off. Bang!!! Believe me, one pound of TNT going off is very impressive.

Here's from the "The Los Alamos Primer", by Robert Serber.

"The direct energy release is about 170 Mev per atom" (fission)." That's about one hundred million times the energy you'd get from chemical explosions.

"The energy release of TNT is ~~ 4 x 10^10 erg / gram, or ~~ 3.6 x 10^16 erg / ton."

The first hydrogen bomb was codenamed Mike, and went off Nov. 1, 1952. It yielded 10 Megatons.

1 megaton [one million tons] x 3.6 x 10^16 erg, per ton, is 10^6 [a million] x 3.6 x 10^16 erg, giving us 3.6 x 10^22 ergs / megaton.

Mike thus yielded 10 x more, or, 3.6 x 10^23 ergs.

Multiply by 5 or so to get Tsar Bomba.

I hope this is helpful. Please feel free to correct me.

-- thanks, Dave (talk) 01:33, 24 January 2009 (UTC)

Using conventional standard for TNT equivalence, 1 gram TNT = 4184 J:
1 megaton = 4,184,000 gigjoules (or 4.184E022 ergs)
So at the top end, a 50 Mt Tsar Bomba would be 209,200,000 gigjoules (or an ergfest @ 2.092E024)
And so a "typical" modern MIRVed warhead might be 300kt for 1,255,200 gigjoules
And if you accept 15kt as the figure for Hiroshima you get 62,760 gigjoules (or 6.276E020 ergs)
The figures from Serber's most venerable work were rougher, to the tune of about 0.86. Obviously, for ballpark, both work fine--trust me, you'll never notice the difference!
P.S.-- 50 Mt is (or is becoming) the more accepted figure for the Tsar Bomba. The 57Mt figure being the American remote "guesstimate"--the Russian figure is about 50Mt.
Criticality (talk) 03:41, 11 May 2009 (UTC)

Dash in name[edit]

Why does the name of the article now have a dash instead of the normal hyphen? If there is a policy mandating this, where is it? Links to this article such as from Nuclear weapon design have been broken. --JWB (talk) 15:33, 10 March 2009 (UTC)

That's a great question. I don't know the answer. If it is causing a problem (and I tend to agree it is) we should just rename this one to "Teller(normal dash)Ulam design". I don't see that as controversial. Georgewilliamherbert (talk) 18:30, 10 March 2009 (UTC)
Done. --John (talk) 19:10, 10 March 2009 (UTC)
Why did you move this? There should be a dash in the name because Teller and Ulam are two different persons (see Wikipedia:MOS#En dashes).Headbomb {ταλκκοντριβς – WP Physics} 21:54, 10 March 2009 (UTC)
Moved back. Parsecboy (talk) 13:09, 11 March 2009 (UTC)

Hydrogen Bomb[edit]

Why don't someone rename the article? it is the most common name after all, most people have never even heard of the name "Teller-Ulam" before, but surely they'd be familiar with the name Hydrogen Bomb. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Supaman89 (talkcontribs)

This is the most technically correct name for it, and Hydrogen bomb exists as a redirect to this article, so if anyone searches on or tries to go to that article they come here. Georgewilliamherbert (talk) 02:58, 2 July 2009 (UTC)
Yes, but I meant to put it in the article's title, since it's the msot common name. Supaman89 (talk) 23:07, 5 July 2009 (UTC)

Thermonuclear weapon is probably most standard, and that now redirects to Nuclear weapon design, an article with much duplication with this one. --JWB (talk) 04:22, 2 July 2009 (UTC)

It duplicates some of what's here, but in much less detail (as is appropriate for a topic overview article and related specific subtopic article). Georgewilliamherbert (talk) 20:37, 2 July 2009 (UTC)


Despite the citation listed, the characterization of acetolnitrile as "highly toxic, highly volatile" is just silly. ACN is an extremely common solvent in chemistry and manufacturing. Its toxicity is mild outside of heavy exposure, and although it is both volatile and flammable, it is no more so than many other commonly used solvents (e.g. methanol). In bio/chemistry labs it is ubiquitous and considered relatively harmless. I expect that, if it does pose a danger in the manufacture of FOGBANK, it's only because of how it's being used (perhaps heated or in large quantities), rather than properties intrinsic to ACN itself. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 17:13, 1 September 2009 (UTC)

Requested move[edit]

The following discussion is an archived discussion of a requested move. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section on the talk page. No further edits should be made to this section.

The result of the move request was not done.  Skomorokh, barbarian  10:33, 20 October 2009 (UTC)

Teller–Ulam designHydrogen bomb — The WP:NAME policy clearly states that an article's name be "recognizable", "easy to find" and "only as precise as is necessary." Teller–Ulam design self-evidently fails on all three accounts; the current name fails the WP:NCCN guideline as well: a google search reports 20,700 hits for its current name vs. 461,000 for "hydrogen bomb" and 441,000 for "h-bomb". I am proposing the move on the assumption that a WP:BOLD attempt to move it unilaterally would be contested based on this discussion from July 2009. (talk) 19:56, 11 October 2009 (UTC)


Feel free to state your position on the renaming proposal by beginning a new line in this section with *'''Support''' or *'''Oppose''', then sign your comment with ~~~~. Since polling is not a substitute for discussion, please explain your reasons, taking into account Wikipedia's naming conventions.
  • Oppose. This article is only about one type of hydrogen bomb. It may be the only type used, or not ever used, but this sort of thing tends to be kept secret. (talk) 21:25, 11 October 2009 (UTC)
  • Oppose. "Hydrogen bomb" is highly inaccurate as explained in the main article on the subject, Nuclear weapon design. "Nuclear weapon" gets 1.8 million Google hits and "thermonuclear weapon" gets 120,000. The Teller–Ulam design article should have some material transferred or merged into other articles, and concentrate on the specific design of the early 1950s, rather than appearing to be an article on thermonuclear weapons in general. --JWB (talk) 00:06, 12 October 2009 (UTC)
  • Support (sort of). As JWB points out, "hydrogen bomb" is misleading and should be renamed "thermonuclear weapons." Once that move is made, I see no good reason for not incorporating this article into that one. Those interested in the technical details of thermonuclear weapons should be able to find them in an article of that title. NPguy (talk) 03:14, 12 October 2009 (UTC)
Right now thermonuclear weapon redirects to nuclear weapon design which has better detail on the topic than this article. --JWB (talk) 05:14, 12 October 2009 (UTC)
Are you claiming "hydrogen bomb" as used by scientific publications listed below is different than Teller–Ulam design? (talk) 08:33, 13 October 2009 (UTC)
  • Oppose. An article by the name of "hydrogen bomb" would perpetuate the misleading idea that there is such a thing. Redirecting to an article with a more accurate name, i.e., preserving the status quo, seems like a reasonable policy. HowardMorland (talk) 06:15, 13 October 2009 (UTC)
  • Oppose. Specific article for specific topic; as others have noted, "Hydrogen bomb" is somewhere between a superset-article of it and a simple misnomer for that superset. So, per JWB, I think the Hydrogen bomb redirect should be changed to point to nuclear weapon design, which is the article where readers can learn about the whole idea of that topic (and the terminology problem of it) rather than assuming one specific design among apparently several (another idea that is discussed on the more general page). Given that one is a specific example of another topic, I'm not surprised that the more specific/technical one gets fewer g-hits: that would only be relevant if they were truly synonymous. DMacks (talk) 06:22, 13 October 2009 (UTC)
Good point. I agree. HowardMorland (talk) 07:03, 13 October 2009 (UTC)
I'm not sure Teller-Ulam design is the best level of detail for an article title either - a scope like "Early thermonuclear weapons" or "Nuclear weapons in the 1950s" might be better. A question we should ask is, what would be a good choice of first-level subarticle divisions under "Nuclear weapon (design)"? A chronological division by decade or design type seems most likely. --JWB (talk) 23:08, 13 October 2009 (UTC)
A major problem for nomenclature is that boosted fission weapons are also thermonuclear weapons. The distinction between them and two-stage (Teller-Ulam) thermonuclears is mostly academic, important to understanding Oppenheimer's position in 1950 and his security clearance trial in 1954. From almost day one of the thermonuclear age, the major use for fusion-boosted fission bombs was as primaries for two-stage weapons, except for battlefield weapons like the Davy Crockett. The point being, nonetheless, that thermonuclear weapons don't have to be Teller-Ulam devices; they can be single-stage boosters. Single-stage boosted weapons were tested throughout the 1950s, but mostly, of course, for eventual use as primaries in Teller-Ulam devices.
The interest in an article about the Teller-Ulam design is the mystique, the longtime secrecy, the many misconceptions about it, and the fact that the only nations that have it are the five permanent members of the UN Security Council. It is also a nifty technical trick, much more clever than boosting. I think it makes sense to have a separate article about Teller-Ulam, although there is a lot of overlap with Nuclear weapon design.
"Early thermonuclear weapons" or "Nuclear weapons in the 1950s" would not be synonymous with Teller-Ulam, because the Teller-Ulam principle is used in almost all of the weapons deployed today by the big five.
It is a little odd that Thermonuclear weapon redirects to Nuclear weapon design, while Thermonuclear warhead redirects to Nuclear weapon. Oh, well. There is even a title called Thermonuclear fission, whatever that is, which redirects to Nuclear fission. -- HowardMorland (talk) 02:48, 14 October 2009 (UTC)
There is also an article on radiation implosion, which is the generic name for the Teller-Ulam innovation, right? Should it be merged with this article?
Particle accelerator external neutron initiator, gas boosting in primary cavity, and radiation imploded secondary with dry fusion fuel are three innovations that all use fusion, were introduced about the same time in the 50s, and are all integral to mature, compact nuclear weapon design. While each of these could well have a subarticle to discuss their mechanisms in detail if space requires, they have been used together. The particle accelerator does not use thermal equilibrium, though, so I am not sure if it is classified as thermonuclear.
Is it even possible to build a small two-stage weapon without a boosted primary? Slower energy release from an unboosted primary would require a larger radiation case. The early '50s staged weapons before boosting were megaton-yield designs. --JWB (talk) 22:50, 14 October 2009 (UTC)
In addition to Teller-Ulam, radiation implosion also includes inertial confinement fusion experiments in which radiation implosion provides both the compression and the heat to a tiny charge of fusion fuel. In Teller-Ulam, radiation implosion compresses the heat-shielded fusion fuel without heating it (much); the heat comes later from the sparkplug. So they're not the same.
Boosting came slightly before staging; it is desirable but not necessary for staging. The multi-megaton weapons had boosted primaries. HowardMorland (talk) 18:04, 16 October 2009 (UTC)
Wasn't the Swan/Robin primary the first boosted primary, in 1956, after some staged devices had already been tested? --JWB (talk) 20:53, 16 October 2009 (UTC)
My point of reference here is Chuck Hansen's list of nuclear tests in Swords of Armageddon, Vol VIII, Table A-1, pp 154-184. The Greenhouse Item shot on 5/25/51 tested D-T gas boosting. This was two weeks after Greenhouse George had tested a crude form of staging with radiation coupling, but George's secondary did not have a pusher or a sparkplug. Those essential elements of Teller-Ulam were first tested in Ivy Mike on 11/1/52. Hansen doesn't say whether Mike's primary was boosted, but boosting had been tested again, six months before Mike, in Snapper Dog on 5/1/52. Boosting was tested at least three more times in Upshot-Knothole during 1953, to develop the boosted primary called Racer, which was used in Castle Bravo on 3/1/54, the first dry-fueled, potentially deliverable Teller-Ulam device. This is all information that could be worked into the Teller-Ulam article, by the way. HowardMorland (talk) 18:49, 18 October 2009 (UTC)
  • Oppose - as others have stated, the clarification of what physical process/concept is being discussed is important here. Perhaps a brief disambiguation article at Hydrogen Bomb (currently redirects here) would help more, but renaming this article is a mistake IMHO. Georgewilliamherbert (talk) 03:18, 17 October 2009 (UTC)


Any additional comments:
  • As of this writing, the survey section contains several comments expressing the opinion that the term "hydrogen bomb" is "highly inaccurate", "perpetuate[s a] misleading idea", and/or a "simple misnomer". Those opinions fail to meet the survey requirement to "take into account Wikipedia's naming conventions" as stated in the introduction to the survey section. In support of the assertion that Teller–Ulam design self-evidently fails the WP:NAME policy that an article's name be "recognizable", "easy to find" and "only as precise as is necessary" and fails the WP:NCCN guideline, I offer a few of the many reputable uses of the term hydrogen bomb:

I could go on. Remember WP:NAME is one of the few Wikipedia policies, not just a guideline. So I'd like to encourage editors to accompany their survey positions with aspects of the policy that support the points they make, Thanks. (talk) 08:33, 13 October 2009 (UTC).

  • A good analogy for this would be the 1918 flu pandemic. It is much better known as the Spanish flu. A Google search for Spanish flu turns up ten times more hits than a search for 1918 flu pandemic, but the Wikipedia article is titled 1918 flu pandemic, and Spanish flu is redirected there. The term Spanish flu was used in early press accounts, and the name stuck, because Spain was the first country where reporting was not hampered by military censorship. The outbreak first appeared at Fort Riley, Kansas, and the disease may have originated in Asia. Similarly, hydrogen bomb was coined by journalists who did not know how it works, and use of the term contributed to misunderstanding. HowardMorland (talk) 13:24, 13 October 2009 (UTC)
    • 1918 flu pandemic violates WP:COMMONNAME, someone should rename it, as a hydrogen bomb can represent multiple designs, there's no analogy here. (talk) 01:06, 19 October 2009 (UTC)
  • Those are some good links for common use of the term "hydrogen bomb", but they illustrate that the term does not overwhelmingly refer to the Teller–Ulam design of it in particular. Some mean any/all sorts of fusion-involving weapons. The Science Daily one even thinks an H-bomb is mostly fusion-powered, which is explicitly a different sort of thing than T-U warheads, which only use fusion to trigger a more massive fission and state that the real power still comes from the fission reactions. So we have competition between the WP:NAME aims of common usage and precision. common-name and precise. I'll stand by my !vote above in light of this new evidence. DMacks (talk) 18:38, 16 October 2009 (UTC)
The above discussion is preserved as an archive of a requested move. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section on this talk page. No further edits should be made to this section.

Radiation Pressure vs Plasma Pressure vs Ablation Pressure[edit]

I have not yet contributed to this article, preferring to give my attention to Nuclear weapon design. This article is a reasonable expansion of one of the design topics in that article. I do have a small quibble with Teller–Ulam design, which I have not weighed in on because I have a well-known point of view (for plasma pressure) in what seems to be largely a debate between Carey Sublette and myself. (He knows a lot more about physics than I do.)

In Comparing the implosion mechanisms, a set of numbers is presented, apparently taken out of context from Carey Sublette's , which seems to settle the debate in favor of ablation pressure. I doubt that simple calculations like this apply very well in this case.

Everyone agrees that in radiation implosion Newton's third law (conservation of linear momentum) must not be violated. The momentum of material being imploded must equal the momentum of material being exploded. The only question is the location of the dividing point between stuff going in and stuff going out. The ablation pressure theory says that enough of the outer surface of the pusher/tamper moves outward (and soon enough) to be the dominant force in driving the implosion. The plasma pressure theory says that the radiation channel filler is designed to absorb the heat and expand so rapidly that very little of the pusher/tamper surface ablates away. It all goes in with the implosion.

Both theories depend on ablation. The debate is about what ablates and what is compressed. I don't think simple pressure calculations are very helpful here. For one thing, timing is critical. If designers want to compress the pusher/tamper to maximize its fission yield in the final event of the detonation, especially when the pusher/tamper is made of fissile U-235, they would want to delay any tendency for the pusher/tamper to ablate away during its implosion. There are various ways they could do this.

It is well known that efforts to make computer simulations of what is happening and when, based on data from nuclear tests, taxed the capacity of computers of the day, and in fact spurred their development. I attempted to finesse this issue in footnote #39 of Nuclear weapon design: "The public literature mentions three different force mechanism for this implosion: radiation pressure, plasma pressure, and explosive ablation of the outer surface of the secondary pusher. All three forces are present; and the relative contribution of each is one of the things the computer simulations try to explain."

I think it would be safer to conclude the debate in this article with a statement like that, rather than to announce a winner among the three theories.

HowardMorland (talk) 08:44, 13 October 2009 (UTC)

I agree this is a complex issue. The secondary might also have an intermediate-mass outer pusher layer. Depending on whether this is considered as part of the secondary or part of the radiation channel, you might call its pressure ablation pressure or plasma pressure. It seems to me the 2-3 force mechanisms are not really distinct. What is most significant in my view is thermal equilibrium inside the radiation case; once this is realized, force exerted per area of both radiation case inner surface and secondary outer surface will be relatively constant, regardless of the transfer mechanism. --JWB (talk) 18:47, 14 October 2009 (UTC)
That's only true very briefly, early in the implosion process. The integrity of the radiation case is disrupted by its own ablation process - inwards and outwards. As it's thinner than the ablator/tamper for the secondary, that happens while not much physical ablation has happened in the bulk volume of the secondary yet. Once the radiation case has been disrupted (density due to ablation drops to the point that it's no longer optically thick) the energy formerly contained now becomes very free.
What's important is that the radiation front into the tamper moves fast enough that a lot of energy is deposited in depth before the surface ablation and the radiation case ablation disrupt the energy transfer. Georgewilliamherbert (talk) 03:31, 17 October 2009 (UTC)
Thermal equilibrium is a description of your second paragraph, right? Also, the radiation case is thinned not only by ablation (expansion perpendicular to its surface back toward the radiation cavity) but also by expansion outward which increases surface area and decreases mass per unit area.
As a simple case let's assume the radiation case and tamper are the same material, the radiation cavity filler is homogeneous, and temperature is equalized within the radiation cavity. Each unit area of either the inner or outer surface should absorb the same amount of energy. Initially this is thermal energy and some of it is later converted into (macroscopic) kinetic energy, but it is the same amount of energy. If the tamper surface is 10% of the total area, it should get 10% of the heat that is absorbed, not saying how much of the total heat is absorbed and how much is still bouncing around as photons. Again for simplicity, assume at some point the radiation case is disrupted and energy absorption after that is negligible. Then the energy absorbed by the tamper is just the product of the total proportion of radiation that has been absorbed, times the tamper's fraction of total cavity surface area. --JWB (talk) 05:04, 17 October 2009 (UTC)
Ablation happens in both directions, on materials thin enough that they get heated all the way through, and the radiation case is clearly not so thick on modern weapons that the outside says cool "long" into the system's evolution... It expands in both directions, as it's hotter on the inside ablating more in that direction, but also to the exterior to a noticable extent.
The fallacy is in assuming that the energy is effectively absorbed into the tamper/pusher. There's a wave front of energy moving into it - in physical terms, think of an energy shockwave. With explosives, for thin layers of explosives, you get a shockwave into material followed by a rarefaction wave as the back side pressure drops off. You get the same effect in the tamper/pusher - it's still re-radiating like mad as the radiation case falls away, as (assuming like or similar materials) the penetration depth into both will be similar by the time the radiation case goes poof. Once the RC goes poof, then not just its energy, but the thermal reradiation from the tamper within roughly an optical thickness of the surface immediately becomes relevant, and that reradiation is just lost to empty space as there's nothing to hold it in.
At the time of case disruption, the proportion based on relative surface areas is roughly correct, if the speed of radiation diffusion is fast compared to the ablation of the radiation case, which is a reasonable working assumption. But that energy distribution doesn't get fixed at that point and stay that way. There's effectively an energy density rarefaction that forms once the radiation case expands and ionizes, and that reduces the energy in the tamper/pusher.
The term "absorbed" is sort of a misnomer. You're not absorbing it - it doesn't stay where it lands, it is reradiated in a random direction. Absorbtion would imply it stays somewhere - when, in fact, at the moment of equilibrium in the radiation case, everything is hot enough to reradiate away at a rate equal to the rate of infalling photons, sort of by definition. The reradiation is sort of unavoidable, there's no one-way gate for photons entering the tamper/pusher. As energy is diffused further into the material, you get a longer time for it to be re-radiated back out, and fractions travel inwards instead of outwards, but the tamper/pusher optical surface (wherever that is, with ablation and ionization bleaching progressing) is always reradiating...
Georgewilliamherbert (talk) 06:57, 21 October 2009 (UTC)
I don't think we are disagreeing on anything. One additional thought, though, is that as the cavity temperature drops as the radiation case becomes permeable, medium-Z material in the radiation case filler may become opaque again and provide some additional reflection of lower-temperature heat back to the secondary. --JWB (talk) 20:49, 21 October 2009 (UTC)

Clarification of the role of plastic foam in delaying outer case ablation: Richard Rhodes' book Dark Sun stated that a one inch thick layer of plastic foam was fixed to the lead liner of the inside of the Ivy Mike steel casing using copper nails. Rhodes quotes several designers of that bomb explaining that the plastic foam layer inside the outer case is only there to delay ablation and thus recoil of the outer case: if it wasn't there, metal would ablate from the inside of the outer case with a large impulse, causing the casing to rapidly recoil outwards. The whole point of the casing is to contain the explosion for as long as possible, allowing as much X-ray ablation of the metallic surface of the secondary stage as possible, so it compresses the secondary efficiently, maximizing the fusion yield. Plastic foam has a low density so causes a smaller impulse when it ablates than metal does. (talk) 14:51, 26 February 2010 (UTC)


Why isn't there a discussing of focusing in this article? I read a blurb in the Swords of Armegeddon book (page I-137 in VOL I) that said focusing is important in a multistage weapon to get the soft x-rays from the primary to the secondary, or the secondary to the tertiary or the tertiary to the quaternary. This is achieved by a/an elliptical chamber(s). How this would look for an n-stage nuke is what I'd like to know. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 04:33, 6 September 2010 (UTC)

Proposed changes[edit]

I am working on a new introduction which I think is a more accurate overall description of the topic. My draft is posted at [8]. (My only changes are in the introduction.) It may be long for an introduction, I don't know. I would also suggest merging the three competing explanations into one, which I have not tried to do. I may take a stab at it later. HowardMorland (talk) 17:59, 22 October 2009 (UTC)

Looks great for the most part. I would emphasize a couple of things more:
  1. The "Teller-Ulam design" is not a detailed design in the sense of a specific nuclear weapon design, but a general technique also called "staging" etc.
  1. We don't actually know that the newer non-NPT nuclear powers do not have staged devices. India's Operation Shakti#Shakti I was reported as a staged device test. Israel had a neutron bomb program over 20 years ago and has had plenty of time to develop since then, with computer simulation continuously becoming easier. Pakistan and weapons of mass destruction says Pakistan may have 300-500kt warheads, which is unlikely without staging. --JWB (talk) 19:56, 22 October 2009 (UTC)
There are counterexamples - Orange Herald was single-staged, for example, though a layer cake type design (although there seems to be considerable debate if the fusion was necessary or useful - 117 kg (!) of HEU imploded that energetically will give nearly 720 kilotons without any fusion). And it was reasonably compact - 30 inches / 75 cm. Georgewilliamherbert (talk) 08:09, 23 October 2009 (UTC)
Regarding Pakistan, in (Nuclear Notebook, the ultimate source), Norris and Kristensen say, "Absent a successful full-scale thermonuclear test, it is premature to suggest that Pakistan is producing two-stage thermonuclear weapons . . ." They estimate the yield of Pakistani weapons at 5 to 10 kilotons. The higher yield estimate comes from a source I consider less reliable. (That Pakistan article is a mess, anyway.)
Regarding India, questions the validity of the reported yield and the claim to thermonuclear success. HowardMorland (talk) 10:55, 23 October 2009 (UTC)
There is certainly dispute about this, so we should avoid a categorical statement that the new nuclear weapons states do not have staged designs. We could avoid saying anything, or a more accurate statement is that there is much evidence they have worked on staged designs, but not definite evidence of deployed staged weapons. --JWB (talk) 18:29, 23 October 2009 (UTC)

Comment on India's capability section[edit]

Section claims that "Dr. Samar Mubarakmand asserted that Shakti-1 was a successful test,". It should be noted that Dr Samar Mubarakband is a Pakistani scientist. He can not in anyway be involved in Indian tests.

Non insensitive high explosives[edit]

It should be noted that non insensitive high explosives are a feature of the W87 as well as the W88, because given that the W87 is adjacent to the third stage of the missile it makes little difference which kind was used. In general SSBN physics packages aren't held quite as strictly to standards as other physics packages due their operational environment. (I.E. they aren't likely to dropped over friendly territory accidentally, etc... etc...) (talk) 02:04, 10 August 2010 (UTC)

It makes a huge difference, even sitting next to a solid rocket motor, as the difference between "caught fire" and "caught fire and detonated" is a huge, huge safety impact.
Every reference on the W87 lists IHE. Including the handling procedures docs for what warheads can't be shipped by air other than in an emergency, because they have non-IHE primaries, which say the W87 is fine for air shipment...
Georgewilliamherbert (talk) 07:37, 10 August 2010 (UTC)

The use of non insensitive explosives in the W87 and the safety regulations is discussed in Spinardi. I don't recall that we were told one way or another, which isn't surprising as there's more material on some matters available in the open literature than the classified. (The converse is also true for other matters.) (talk) 11:23, 16 August 2010 (UTC)

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malicious changes[edit]

Hi, I don't know how this works exactly. I would like to draw the attention of the authors to changes in the text which have clearly been made maliciously, e.g. dildo.

Fonserl (talk) 17:53, 5 April 2011 (UTC)

Don't worry; such things don't last long. — UncleBubba T @ C ) 18:42, 5 April 2011 (UTC)

File:OperationGrappleXmasIslandHbomb.jpg Nominated for Deletion[edit]

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United States v. The Progressive[edit]

This is a fascinating legal case, anyone want to collaborate on improving the page with me? Please leave a note on my user talk page, — Cirt (talk) 19:01, 16 February 2012 (UTC)

Move to hydrogen bomb[edit]

The following discussion is an archived discussion of a requested move. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section on the talk page or in a move review. No further edits should be made to this section.

The result of the move request was: procedural close, as nominator withdrew the request and started a new discussion just bellow this section. Armbrust, B.Ed. WrestleMania XXVIII The Undertaker 20–0 06:29, 6 July 2012 (UTC)

Teller–Ulam designhydrogen bomb – "hydrogen bomb" redirects here. "hydrogen bomb" is no doubt more common term. Also, I feel there is more than just the design of a hydrogen bomb that Wikipedia should cover: political/social aspects, say. The new name broadens the scope of the article. -- Taku (talk) 10:52, 29 June 2012 (UTC)

  • (Request withdrawn. See below for a new one.)
  • Support per WP:COMMONNAME. --John (talk) 13:30, 29 June 2012 (UTC)
  • Oppose. If there is to be a single article, the title should use the proper term "thermonuclear weapons. NPguy (talk) 02:14, 30 June 2012 (UTC)
  • Support I think the name "Thermonuclear weapon" would be better; since "Hydrogen bomb" is a little dated and is objected to by some because modern thermonuclear weapons get most of their energy from fission, not hydrogen fusion. But either one would be better than Teller-Ulam design, which is certainly not the WP:COMMONNAME. --ChetvornoTALK 04:31, 30 June 2012 (UTC)
  • Oppose – this article's title is appropriate to its topic scope. A new article on Hydrogen bomb or Thermonuclear weapon would be a better idea than hijacking this one; then both of those should probably go to the new article. Dicklyon (talk) 19:44, 30 June 2012 (UTC)

By the way, this same move was proposed in October 2009 and the discussion is preserved above, under Requested move. The proposal was defeated, although that shouldn't stop us from reconsidering. Everyone should read the preserved discussion, which covers many important points. --ChetvornoTALK 04:56, 30 June 2012 (UTC)

The above discussion is preserved as an archive of a requested move. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section on this talk page or in a move review. No further edits should be made to this section.

Move to Thermonuclear weapon[edit]

The following discussion is an archived discussion of the proposal. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section on the talk page. No further edits should be made to this section.

The result of the proposal was Move Mdann52 (talk) 18:15, 8 July 2012 (UTC)(non-admin)

Teller–Ulam designThermonuclear weapon – The same reason as before: WP:COMMONNAME. It's simply too bizarre not to have an article on this topic (or equivalently on hydrogen bomb). Maybe hijacking this page is a wrong approach? Maybe. But this allows us to avoid having duplicated materials. We need one main article; create a sub article if needed. From what I hear "Thermonuclear weapon" is a winner :) Also, there was a similar discussion in 2009. But the consensus can change and also this is a slightly different proposal. -- Taku (talk)

  • Still oppose – the fix for not having an article on thermonuclear weapons is not to move the article on the technical design details of a particular form of thermonuclear weapon. Dicklyon (talk) 23:45, 30 June 2012 (UTC)
    • Actually, that was my initial proposal. There are objection to creating an article on the topic since that would result in duplicated content.; whence, this request. -- Taku (talk) 23:47, 30 June 2012 (UTC)
  • Support unless someone convinces me there are significant "thermonuclear" weapons which do not use the Teller-Ulam design. The lead sentence of the article says T-U is the design used in most of the world's nuclear weapons. Dicklyon, what types of "thermonuclear weapon" do not use T-U design? Neutron bombs use it. The only type I have heard of is boosted fission weapons, which are not used independently anymore but only as first stages for T-U weapons. Anyway, I wouldn't classify a "boosted" fission bomb as "thermonuclear" but as fission; it gets most of its yield from fission. Give me some examples. --ChetvornoTALK 00:23, 1 July 2012 (UTC)
Nobody is claiming there are other important designs. But this is an article on the design, i.e. how they work, not on the weapons. Maybe a split is in order... Dicklyon (talk) 01:30, 1 July 2012 (UTC)
As noted, such a split exists already. The stuff on thermonuclear weapons that is NOT about how they work, resides in the article on nuclear weapons.SBHarris 01:49, 1 July 2012 (UTC)
  • Support rename Even if there are a small number of initial thermonukes that worked (poorly) by the initial layer-cake or alarm-clock configuration, that can be discussed in the historical section and noted as "early H-bombs/thermonukes that were NOT Teller-Ulam". This is about one paragraph, and is not enough to keep the article from being renamed to "thermonuclear weapon" (with "H-bomb" and "hydrogen bomb" redirected to it, as now). And yes, I think that the fix for not having an article on thermonukes is INDEED to rename this perfectly good article about how all modern thermonukes work (indeed, all since 1955). It's appropriate. One might argue that it needs some more information on thermonukes in the world that doesn't involve how they work. But all that arms-control and other delivery stuff is all in nuclear weapon, now. The *thermonuclear* weapon-specific stuff in that article is in need of a subarticle on thermonuclear weapons, but the subarticle specific material naturally mostly involves technical details and history of this particularly type of weapon (thermonuke rather than just fission), and so nearly all of that is related to Teller and Ulam's design. Incidently, by all accounts, Sakharov had the same ideas independently (a bit later), giving thermonukes to the Soviets almost as soon as the U.S. had them, and so actually a number of people thought of this design. That's another reason not to discuss the design under the names of these two people as a main heading. They thought of it first, but other people thought of it also. SBHarris 00:35, 1 July 2012 (UTC)
support - mostly. I think there is room for a general article on thermonuclear weapons, separate from both nuclear weapons and this one. The issues of weapons design issues could be addressed in greater detail here, and issues of history and current status in the separate article. NPguy (talk) 01:00, 2 July 2012 (UTC)
The above discussion is preserved as an archive of the proposal. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section on this talk page. No further edits should be made to this section.

Lead needs updating[edit]

Now that the article is called "Thermonuclear weapon", the first sentence in the lead should discuss thermonuclear weapons instead of the Teller-Ulam design. RockMagnetist (talk) 00:14, 10 October 2012 (UTC)

Thanks for reminding us. Indeed a lot of the lead had to be rewritten, and I have taken a whack at it. SBHarris 04:28, 10 October 2012 (UTC)

Irrelevant content[edit]

This is an article on the design, i.e. how they work. Let's guard against introducing non-essential content, i.e. the ethnic and or religious leanings of the scientists, whatever pure coincidences these might reflect. Kudpung กุดผึ้ง (talk) 23:14, 13 August 2013 (UTC)

I agree. --ChetvornoTALK 02:11, 14 August 2013 (UTC)
Off topic rant
Since when exactly have Jews become a taboo on wikipedia? Why does the article omit the strange fact that all of the [main] inventors were ethnically Jewish? Let alone Oppenheimer and his Manhattan Project. At present, they constitute a tiny ca. 1.8 % of the US population, back then it must have been even lower, I believe, and yet every single one of the inventors was Jewish. Obviously, [insane] one might suggest that this is purely coincidental, just as e.g. the utter domination of Bolshevik Revolution by Jews allegedly was (Lenin, Trotsky, Kamenev, Sverdlov, Kaganovich, Zinoviev, Yagoda, Frenkel, Uritsky, Litvinov, et al. - all the major leaders of the Bolshevik movement were Jewish, and all were responsible for the "Red Terror" [1917-1925 roughly] i.e. regular genocide of tens of millions of Russians and other East and Central European nations, 7 mln in just Ukrainian Holodomor itself). [Insane] one can also impute that the constant harrasment of Irani govt. by Israel and its proxy US [mostly jewish "Neocons"] politicians whilst Iran has repeatedly allowed IAEA inspections and Israel, which is known for its huge atomic arsenal, has not allowed any, is another "pure coincidence". Should we talk about who's in control of the world economic system through usury and creation of money "out of thin air" or the FED [check the list of the FED's chairmen, how many Gentiles do you see?] or the Hollywood or mainstream media worldwide? I hardly think you would stand up to this and find enough courage within yourselves to discuss this "problematic" (as you put it with your own words) topic. I don't want to be banned either, that is why I am going to cease undoing your reverts of my insightful edition. BTW - I should be feeling deeply offended by mr. Irondrome's invectives ["racist"] but somehow, I'm not. Maybe it's the potential hypocrisy of this gentleman possibly belonging to a nation that is still (welcome to the XXI century) exercising Apartheid policies in relation to Palestinians, the true owners of the piece of land that has been occupied since the brutal invasion of 1948. Have a nice day everybody.-- (talk) 16:44, 14 August 2013 (UTC)
Thank you for making your position clear. Understand that pushing this point of view on other pages will also get you blocked. --ChetvornoTALK 20:35, 14 August 2013 (UTC)
Indeed. Far more reasonable people than you, with far more reasonable agendas and ideas of proper contribution on legitimate topics, have been blocked here. For example: [9]. If you Google, "The Wikipedia Jews" you will discover that you're not the first person to take note of these things. That said, some of your ideas are pretty silly. The man who thought of the hydrogen bomb in the first place was Enrico Fermi, a goy forever. SBHarris 04:09, 15 August 2013 (UTC)
Thought of, but not actually invented it. But OK, let's assume you're right for a moment. What about the top bloshevik leaders? Was that a coincidence, too? What about the jewish run eastern block during salinist era? Ana Pauker, Matyas Rakosy, Jakub Berman, do these names ring any bell whatsoever? They've murdered tens of thousands of patriotic anti-communist opposition members in Poland, Hungary, Romania, Czechoslovakia, etc. What about Hollywood?,0,4676183.column (note that the author is jewish, thus no accusation of so called "anti-semitism" can be made) and let's no forget the porn industry run by Jews for the very talmudic hatred toward Gentiles - as Mr. Al Goldstein said: [1] Am I making that up? BTW I would love to see more actual meritorical arguments rather than personal attacks, SBHarris (vide "you're being silly" - an example of pure argumentum ad personam). Can we do that? (talk) 13:08, 15 August 2013 (UTC)
This discussion has gotten very off-topic for this talk page, which is supposed to be limited to the improvement of the Thermonuclear weapon article. May I suggest continuing it on a more appropriate page, such as Talk:Intolerance or Talk:Antisemitism. --ChetvornoTALK 14:16, 15 August 2013 (UTC)
Agreed. The only complaint of mine would be the proper page. How about anti-Gentilism, anti-Christianism or Jewish supremacy/extremism? (talk) 17:31, 15 August 2013 (UTC)
That's fine. --ChetvornoTALK 17:43, 15 August 2013 (UTC)
  1. ^ Abrams, Nathan (2004). "Triple-exthnics". Jewish Quarterly. 196. Retrieved 15 August 2013.  Unknown parameter |month= ignored (help)The only reason that Jews are in pornography is that we think that Christ sucks. Catholicism sucks. We don’t believe in authoritarianism.’ Pornography thus becomes a way of defiling Christian culture and, as it penetrates to the very heart of the American mainstream (and is no doubt consumed by those very same WASPs), its subversive character becomes more charged

Some points[edit]

  • It would be helpful if isotopes were spelled out rather than simply elements unless elements natural abundance was implied. Lithium-6 and Deuterium (Hydrogen-2) are fractionally separated from natural abundance. My understanding is that original weapons were Lithium-6 & Hydrogen-3 (Tritium). (Note that on a US (UN) list of forbidden materials that Lithium enriched to over 8% is a "controlled nuclear material".) Later "Hydrogen" weapons were Lithium-7 and Deuterium (product .
  • Although the ignition requirements for Lithium-6 + Hydrogen-2 > 2X Helium-4 (and no neutrons) has one of the lowest pressure/temperature innition requirements, Lithium-7 also ignites easily and emits an additional Neutron. Lithium-7 however will decompose into Tritium and Alpha upon Temerature, Gamma (>2MeV), or particle impact. Lithium-6 also has a high neutron absorbtion cross section and with fast neutron produces Tritium and Alpha plus 4.7MeV of energy.
  • Berylium? Small nuclei are good for neutron mod0eration however I can think of no earthly reason to do that outside a bomb's fission core. Most bombs/reactors have an initiator neutron source because waiting for neutrons to build up naturally can take too long for proper startup (detonation). Source is typically Polonium-210 (alpha radiation source) and Berylium (emits neutrons with ~1MeV radiation) mixture. Berylium-9 or natural Berylium may be expected to increase neutron flux by decomposition by hard X-rays (Gammas) and participate as neutron multiplier (Deuterium, Lithium-7, and Boron-11 also do so) by (n,2n) reaction.
  • As noted above, the high intensity of gamma/hardX induces fission of Lithium-7 and also in the Tamper shell. Gamma rays in the 40MeV range are assumed which will shred many atoms; only a few MeV is necessary to make U-238 enter the metastabe state where it can fission; "fissionable with neutrons of greater than 1 MeV". Isotopes of Uranium shows the higher energy metastable states of Uranium-236 and Uranium-239 (after absorption of neutron by U-235 and U-238 repectively) only a couple of MeV above ground state and half-life of ~200 nanoseconds.
  • Tritium decays to Helium-3 with a 12 yr half life. He-3 also readily engages in fusion reactions (different, but still low init energy), so as long as the He-3 is contained in the fuel lattice (within the bomb) there should only be minor changes in efficacy. On the other hand even a few percent may cause the fuel to physically deteriorate.
  • Several mentions of Uranium Deuteride (UH3 or UH6) from {Paki bombmaker?}. Not sure if hybrid device or Deuterium as moderates and/or Neutron multiplier. Quoted as "Hydrogen Bomb" weapon.
  • Uranium and Lead as Tampers. Thorium is cheaper than Uranium. Although fast neutrons can fission U-238, so can Gammas or kinetic energy from particles.
  • Not sure if it was this or another fusion article but I remember 40 MeV quoted at/after 2nd stage ignition.
  • You opened the door with neutron bomb and Tamper fallout. From a "Nuclear power is safe" article: fission of U-233 and U-238 produces less long lived radioactive product than U-235 and Plutonium-239 (this was in a reactor environment). If only half of the tamper fissions then what happens to the other half, does the high neutron flux yield transuranic isotopes?

Shjacks45 (talk) 10:50, 5 November 2013 (UTC)

W88 Primary[edit]

The Primary of the W88 warhead is described as and gives a link). The link does not match the image - the primary is an ovioid (1 axis of symmetry) compare to prolare (2 axes of symmetry). The description suggests the image may be wrong as the description of the math is 1D to to 2D, not to 3D as an ovoid would require, — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 17:17, 27 December 2013 (UTC)


1.) I am wondering if this weapon is actually real as I have been told plenty of times we only have bombs that work using fission not fusion. Any help would be appreciated (talk) 18:52, 10 February 2014 (UTC)

Are you sure you don't have it backwards? --ChetvornoTALK 19:16, 10 February 2014 (UTC)

I am pretty sure that plenty of people I know are saying we do not have the energy requirements for a fusion bomb. (talk) 19:20, 10 February 2014 (UTC)

Maybe you could provide some sources. If true, those people are pretty badly mistaken, the world has had hydrogen bombs since 1953. It is fission bombs that are mostly obsolete, except as the triggers for fusion weapons. Perhaps they are talking about fusion power for use as an energy source. We don't have that yet, in spite of the huge amount of research effort that has gone into it for the last 30 years. The only type of nuclear power station is a fission nuclear reactor. --ChetvornoTALK 19:34, 10 February 2014 (UTC)

Lots of unanswered questions[edit]

Well great. This article goes into explicit detail on how the bomb works but it's very hard to follow for someone like myself with very, very little background in physics etc. Does this bomb cause fallout? If so, how long does it last? What would be the medical/veterinary effects on those living outside the blast radius (assuming everything in the radius is dead)? How big is the blast radius? The blast is, according to this article, 450 times stronger than that which decimated Hiroshima. How big a population would be wiped out by something like this? Someone told me that the H bomb does not harm buildings? Sounds wild, but is it true? C'mon people. It's all very well to talk about how it works, but what the HELL does it do? — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 08:01, 5 July 2014 (UTC)

Since some (most?) of the bomb yield still comes from uranium fission, there is still fallout (at a somewhat smaller proportion), and there's certainly destruction of buildings (I think you're confusing this with neutron bombs).
The blast radius and number of deaths always depend on the size of the weapon, just as with fission bombs. Fusion bombs can be much more destructive, but needn't be. --Roentgenium111 (talk) 14:11, 25 November 2014 (UTC)

French developments[edit]

It is said in the section regarding french developments of thermonuclear weapons that "very little is known" about the development of the Teller-Ulam design. The link below, in french, briefly tells this history from an insider's perspective. It seems credible, and was published in a credible science magazine :

Essetially, it says a young engineer named Michel Carayol had the idea in 1967 of used X rays produced by the fission stage to operate the required compression of the fusion ("H") stage.

It is an interesting read, and I suggest that it be used for the expansion of the article.

A minor point of grammar[edit]

I have changed 'the majority of its destructive energy' to 'most of its destructive energy'. (talk) 19:51, 6 September 2014 (UTC)

Fission or fusion?[edit]

Preamble is very confusing. "to compress and ignite a secondary nuclear fusion reaction, from which most of the bomb's explosive yield is derived". However, the same paragraph later says the opposite - "in most applications most of its destructive energy comes from uranium fission rather than fusion". So which one is it? Where is most energy in an H-bomb comes from, fission or fusion? Le Grand Bleu (talk) 20:45, 24 November 2014 (UTC)

I asked myself the same thing, therefore I tagged the claims as contradictory. At least some TN weapons have a fusion yield above 50% (e.g. the Tsar bomb had 97%, but "it was one of the "cleanest" nuclear bombs ever created"). But I don't know about "most" TN weapons. --Roentgenium111 (talk) 14:07, 25 November 2014 (UTC)

Source book[edit]

Came across this book in PDF format that can be downloaded:

The Effects of Nuclear Weapons. Compiled and edited by Samuel Glasstone and Philip J. Dolan. Prepared and published by the United States Department of Defense and the Energy Research and Development Administration. 1977, 3rd ed. PDF 60Mb. 657 pages (!)

Sounds like interesting reading and likely very useful to anyone editing this and related pages. Ping Georgewilliamherbert, who may be interested 220 of Borg 12:38, 29 August 2015 (UTC)

Meaningless "declassification"[edit]

"... United States government declassified a statement that "The fact that in thermonuclear (TN) weapons, a fission 'primary' is used to trigger a TN reaction in thermonuclear fuel referred to as a 'secondary'". This is grammatically meaningless : "...the fact that..." what about it ? is true ? Rcbutcher (talk) 06:15, 27 November 2015 (UTC)

This seems clear enough. The fact that you don't understand is not the fault of the text. ;) NPguy (talk) 18:24, 27 November 2015 (UTC)

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