Hydrogen Bomb The Hydrogen Bomb The hydrogen bomb is a nuclear weapon in which light atomic nuclei of hydrogen are joined together in an uncontrolled nuclear fusion reaction to release huge amounts of energy. The hydrogen bomb is about a thousand time more powerful than the atomic bomb, which produces a nuclear fission explosion almost a million times more powerful than that of a comparably sized bomb using conventional high explosives such as TNT. The atomic bomb was an essential first step towards the development of the hydrogen bomb, before the atomic bomb w2as developed by the United States during World War 2, there was no way to produce the extreme amounts of heat needed to initiate the fusion reaction of the hydrogen bomb. Even afer World Waar 2, the hydrogen bomb faced many political and technical obstacles. The U.S. government gace priority to perfecting and stockpiling atomic bombs, and scientists discovered that initiating a fusion reaction was mmore tehn somply placing a container of hydrogen near a fusion trigger. Tension to develop the hydrogen bomb increased in the United States after the Sovier Union set off ites first atomic bomb in August 1949. The military, the joint congressional committee on atomic energy, and several noted physicists, including Edward Teller and Ernest Lawrence, called for creation of a so-called super-bomb, but the general advisory of the Atomic Energy Commission (AEC), Chaired by J.
Robert Oppenheimer, in agreement recommended that the bomb should not be developed, because of the technical difficulties involved, the need to enlarge the atomic bomb reserve, and because of the moral considerations. A mojarity of the AEC supported this decision and paddes their recommenndartion on to president Harry S. Truman. A National Security Council report recommended otherwise, however and at the end of January 1950, Truman ordered that the United States should investigate the possibility of producing hydrogen bombs. Edward Teller was placed in charge of the investigation. The decision to move ahead with the hydrogen bomb development was made in response to U.S.
perceptions that the USSR was close to porducing its own hydrogen bomb. Thermonuclear device testing was to begin in 1952, and in 1954, both the United States and the USSR had acheived hydrogen bomb capablitites. Since that year each side has developed nuclear arsdenals taht are almost entirely composed of fusion weapons, rather than fission weapons. They have reached a strategic conditon taht promises total destruction, this condition is now appropriatly and ominously called Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD). Early hydrogen bomb designs called for the use of deuterium, a hydrogen isotope of mass two, as the primary fuel.
It was soon recognized that pure deuterium was difficult to burn, but that reaction coulf be speeded up by mixing tritium, a hydrogen isotope of mass three, with the deuterium. Since tritium does not occur does not occur in nature, several reaactors were built along the Savannah river, in South Carolina, to manufacture it. The light isotoope of lithium was bombarded with neutrons on these reactors to form tritium and helium. The tritium could then be burned with deuterium. The first completely succesful hydrogen bomb test involved an experimental device which burned pure deuterium liquefied under great pressure and low temperature.
This device, which was detonated in the Mike test at eniwetok, ine the Pacific Ocean, on Novenber 1st, 1952, with a yeild of 10 megatons (the equivalent of 10 million tons of TNT), proved to be the viability of the basic ideals of a super-bomb. A year before the Mike test, scientists had shown a different way of using fusion in nuclear weapons, the so-called booster priciple. Unlike the super-bomb, which used a small atomic bomb simply to ignite the huge hydrogen burn that produced its tremendous yeild, the booster bomb used a neraly large fission explosion to ignite a small hydrogen burn neutrons produced by the hydrogen burn were then used to increase, or boost, the ability of the continuing fission reaction. In 1953 the USSR exploded a small booster device that used dry lithium deuteride, instead of liqiud deuterium or a mixture of deuterium and tritium, as fuel. The neutrons released by the atomic bomb explosion created tritium on the spot, which then fused with the deuterium in the compound.
This method made it needless to produce expensive tritium in reactors and made it podddible to build fusion weapons that could fit into an airplane. The United States exploded a 15-megaton super device using this principle in the Bravo test at Bikini Atoll on March 1, 1954 and a Soviet test followed a year later. In the following years, development efforts were directed toward perfecting hydrogen bombs of various sizes that could be delivered by aircraft, intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs), and submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs). Bombs ranged in size from small-yield tactical weapons to the 60-megaton bomb exploded by the USSR in 1961. The 60-megaton Soviet bomb is believed to have consisted of the first two parts of a fission-fusion-fission bomb. Technology Essays.