What is a hydrogen bomb?

The Hydrogen Bomb is the popular name for what is known in military terms as a thermonuclear bomb or fusion bomb.

This type of pump is also known as an H-bomb, thermonuclear or fusion heat pump, and is the most destructive device ever created by man.Hydrogen Bomb

These names are not entirely accurate, because, in reality, this bomb releases energy derived from a chain process of nuclear fission-fusion-fission.

In short, they are far more deadly than conventional nuclear bombs such as those dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in World War II.

The H-bomb takes its name from the hydrogen it uses for fusion. This triggers an explosive reaction of enormous power as a result of the fusion of two atomic nuclei of deuterium (2H) and tritium (3H), which are two hydrogen isotopes.

When they bind together they give off a nucleus of helium and release neutrons in a wave of destructive energy.

The detonation of the first hydrogen bomb

The first such bomb was detonated in Eniwetok (Marshall Islands atoll) on 1 November 1952, during the Ivy Mike test, with marked effects on the region’s ecosystem.

The temperature reached the site of the explosion was more than 15 million degrees Celsius, as hot as the Sun’s core, for a few fractions of a second.

Because of the way they are made, H-bombs are much more powerful than their atomic sisters. The explosive force is between a hundred and a thousand times greater. Hence the concern following the North Korean trials.

The first nuclear bombs

Conventional atomic bombs like the one in Hiroshima are fission bombs. What they do is increase the critical mass of heavy materials such as different artificial isotopes of uranium or plutonium.

In doing so, the nuclei of these atoms become unstable and break down, triggering a reaction that in turn fragments the nuclei of the nearby atoms and releases an enormous amount of energy, usually in the form of gamma rays.

The first atomic bomb used on Hiroshima (Little Boy) used uranium-235 as a fission fuel, but scientists soon realized that it was more efficient to use plutonium. These new artifacts were much more complex.

The power of a fission bomb depends on the density of the material, so plutonium bombs used a sphere of conventional explosives to generate an implosion effect and compress a plutonium ball. In an instant, this sphere passed from the size of a tennis ball to that of a marble.

The Teller-Ulam process

The idea of a fusion bomb was considered as early as the Manhattan Project, but creating a fission device was much easier, so the H-bomb project was not taken up again until 1949 when Russia detonated its first nuclear bomb.

The shock of knowing that they were no longer the only ones to have nuclear bombs led the United States to reopen the program under the tutelage of the Hungarian-American physicist Edward Teller.

Teller’s design was not very effective, but it was revised and improved by the Polish-American mathematician Stanisław Ulam.

Both created an artifact that triggers a fission-fusion-fission process. In essence, such a bomb combines a plutonium fission bomb with a large amount of fusion fuel.

The most dangerous H-bomb

The hydrogen bomb, or”H-bomb,” is the most powerful weapon currently available on the planet, as confirmed by Dr. Matthias Grosse Perdekamp, who teaches a class on nuclear weapons and arms control at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

In fact, to date, no explosion has exceeded the power of the Tsar’s Bomb, a 50 megaton hydrogen bomb, the equivalent of 50 million tons of TNT, tested by the Soviet Union in October 1961.

This bomb was about 3,000 times more powerful than the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima.

What is the future of this type of artifact?

The United States tested it in 1952, and since then, several countries have also tested it: the USSR, France, Great Britain or China. These tests show how H-pumps are far more destructive than conventional ones.

The first nuclear bombs developed were very heavy devices, which according to weapons expert Jeffrey Lewis were “too big” to be incorporated into a ballistic missile. And although they have gradually reduced in weight and size, the aim is to’miniaturize’ them.

However, whether a bomb can fit on the top of an intercontinental ballistic missile is a major challenge that involves testing and design innovations to achieve a balance between its size and destructive capability.

That is why North Korea’s efforts to develop its nuclear programme are evidence of its desire to achieve that goal.

The great danger of H-bombs is that their destructive capacity is unlimited from a theoretical point of view, because the more material they are used, the more their destructive power increases.

Which countries have the H-bomb?

All the nuclear powers are capable of manufacturing H-Bombs. But only the United States, Russia and probably China have sixth-generation mills.

North Korea announced in January 2016 that it had successfully conducted its first hydrogen bomb test, triggering international community alarms.

Kim Jong-un, who personally signed the order to carry out the test, once again made clear his will to achieve his goal despite the reproaches of the international community and the economic sanctions against the regime he leads.

The goal is to have the capability to attack the US mainland with nuclear weapons, and according to North Korean state television this last test has contributed to”completing the state’s nuclear force”.

North Korea described the detonated device as”a thermonuclear weapon of extraordinary explosive power.

The test resulted in a magnitude 6.3 earthquake that was felt in the Chinese province of Jilin, bordering North Korea, and also in the Russian city of Vladivostok.

Minutes later, a second tremor of magnitude 4.6 was recorded, which could be due to an underground sinking caused by the first explosion.

These advances made by Pyongyang have been met with a very harsh response from US President Donald Trump.

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