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Author Topic: What is the difference between an "atomic" and a "nuclear" bomb?  (Read 174197 times)

Seany

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Is there a difference between an atomic bomb and a nuclear weapon/bomb?
« Last Edit: 19/05/2007 10:49:34 by chris »

daveshorts

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There are two major types of nuclear weapon/bomb
An atomic bomb
A hydrogen bomb

An atomic bomb works by splitting large atomic nuclei (fission) such as uranium or more usually plutonium, this releases quite a lot of energy.

there is however a limited size you can make this as the bomb tends to blow itself apart before it has all ignited.

Hydrogen bombs use an atomic bomb to ignite a nuclear fusion bomb - this is fusing hydrogen istopes together to form helium. This releases a lot more energy, especially as the neutrons released by the fusion part of the bomb makes the fission part more efficient.

Seany

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So an atomic bomb is a nuclear weapon?? I got confused..

daveshorts

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Both atomic bombs and hydrogen bombs are types of nuclear weapon.

Seany

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O... Thanks for clearing that up.. I feel dumb lol

Batroost

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there is however a limited size you can make this as the bomb tends to blow itself apart before it has all ignited.

Yep. I believe only about 4% of a simple Uranium or Plutonium bomb is fissioned before the bomb had undergone 'self-disassembly'...

Fusion bombs only work at very high temperature conditions, so generally use the x-rays released by a fission explosion to give conditions for 'ignition'. The bigger bombs have a layer of fissionable material outside the fusion bomb to increase the yield so you get a fission->fusion->fission explosion. Not sure if the biggest bomb dropped in the atmosphere (Soviets, 47Megatonnes TNT-equivalent) was this type or not but if gives you a feel for it - 3000 times the 15 kilotonnes explosion at Hiroshima.

Hard to understand why anyone would want or need an explosion that big...?


DoctorBeaver

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Hard to understand why anyone would want or need an explosion that big...?

You've obviously never had moles in your garden - they're a bugger to get rid of!  :D

phaskin4

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Hard to understand why anyone would want or need an explosion that big...?

You've obviously never had moles in your garden - they're a bugger to get rid of!  :D

You made my incredibly early morning. It's also a great thing I found this site. I've always had an intrrest for science and I've always know material here and there but for some reason my intrest in chemistry, physics, and astronomy has increased tenfold. I really want to learn more about all three. =P

Bored chemist

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"Is there a difference between an atomic bomb and a nuclear bomb"
One point in scrabble, unless you add the extra points for a word over 7 letters.
The terms are practically synonyms

TheHerbaholic

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Wow, the Russians exploded a bomb that was 3000times more powerful than Hiroshima? World War 3 will definetly be the end of man if countrys have bombs that powerful..

Freeman

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Wow, the Russians exploded a bomb that was 3000times more powerful than Hiroshima? World War 3 will definetly be the end of man if countrys have bombs that powerful..

Well its good to know that at the end of the Cold War all countries that are capable of manufacturing nuclear weapons of that scale have signed a agreement to never use these type of weapons in a war situation.

Cheers
Magneto.
« Last Edit: 31/08/2008 10:43:14 by Magneto »

Don_1

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Is there a difference between them?

Personally, I wouldn't bother hanging around to find out!!!

backgroundwhitenoise

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Wow, the Russians exploded a bomb that was 3000times more powerful than Hiroshima? World War 3 will definetly be the end of man if countrys have bombs that powerful..

Consider that Hiroshima was in the mid to end 1940's, this Soviet bomb was  at least 20 years after that. Now consider that its been aproxomatly 40 years since the Soviet bomb, thats double the time it took the to make a bomb 3000 times the size of hiroshima, imagine a bomb 6000 the times of the soviet bomb, thats what we could have now but we wont ever see the explosion of one of those bombs unless it is used in a war because most countries including the united states and the former USSR.

Also in response to the why would you need such a large bomb question, the Soviets spent their resources making bigger bombs whereas the united states used their money to make accurate bombs, basically the soviets were going under the possibility of why guide a bomb to one house you needed destroyed if you could blow up the whole city and be done with it

HellKittysDevil

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There are two major types of nuclear weapon/bomb
An atomic bomb
A hydrogen bomb

An atomic bomb works by splitting large atomic nuclei (fission) such as uranium or more usually plutonium, this releases quite a lot of energy.

there is however a limited size you can make this as the bomb tends to blow itself apart before it has all ignited.

Hydrogen bombs use an atomic bomb to ignite a nuclear fusion bomb - this is fusing hydrogen istopes together to form helium. This releases a lot more energy, especially as the neutrons released by the fusion part of the bomb makes the fission part more efficient.

What about the nuclear bomb or is that the same as the hydrogen bomb

flights_of_fantasy

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« Last Edit: 11/08/2013 11:51:15 by flights_of_fantasy »

sonu

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hydrogen bomb (thermonuclear bomb) & atomic bomb are two types of nuclear bomb

mashalarusa

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What about the radiation?

alancalverd

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Not a lot of qualitative difference.

Most of the immediate radiation damage to people arises from prompt gamma emissions, roughly proportional to the explosive yield, so you get more from a hydrogen bomb because it can have a bigger yield. Since both radiation and blast intensity decrease with the inverse square law, the immediate killing radius depends on the square root of the yield andthe killing area, hence casualty numbers, is roughly proportional to the yield.

That said, of course, "3000 Hiroshimas" is not a lot of use because there aren't many targets with 3000 times the area or population of Hiroshima, and certainly none of any military significance.

Late effects depend on the altitude of the explosion and to some extent the nature of the terrain. "Fallout" is mostly surface material that has been sucked up into the fireball and irradiated. Dispersal is crudely predictable in the short term but any material sucked into the stratosphere can travel several times round the world before it decays to insignificance. 

The prompt radiation yield can be tailored by constructing a different external casing that transmits rather than captures the fusion neutrons. This increases the radiation lethality of the weapon at the expense of blast yield but its actual tactical value is debatable.

CliffordK

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There are two major types of nuclear weapon/bomb
An atomic bomb
A hydrogen bomb
I would add a third type of nuclear weapon:
Neutron Bomb

The goal behind the Neutron bomb was to have an intense radiation blast for antipersonnel effects, with less damage to property.  Whether that is in fact the case remains to be seen (or hopefully not).  Apparently the design is a special case of the Hydrogen or Fusion bombs.

Of course all the bombs are based on the same fission/fusion principal. 

I would consider "Atomic Bombs" and "Nuclear Bombs" as being synonyms.  And, make the distinction of with Fission vs Fusion bombs.

Fission Bombs:  Uranium & Plutonium.
Fusion Bombs (including Neutron Bombs): Fission trigger mechanism + Hydrogen or Tritium for fusion.  Apparently the Neutron Bombs are a special case of the Fusion Bombs.

As far as yield.  You mentioned a yield of 3,000 Hiroshimas.    With the "inverse square" law, can one take the square root of the yield to get the area of destruction which would then be 55x the area of Hiroshima, or well within the area of many large metro areas.  With urban sprawl, when targeting a metro area like New York or Los Angeles, one may choose extremely high explosive yields.  Or, perhaps one would be better off with a type of nuclear cluster bomb, and thus a broader distribution with lower yields. 

I hope that nuclear or atomic bombs are never used in war again, and are never exploded by terrorists.
« Last Edit: 14/01/2014 14:21:33 by CliffordK »

syhprum

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There is a very faint possibility that "terrorists" might construct a bomb with a yield of about 10% of the yield of the Hiroshima bomb but it would need so many very unlikely things to happen that it is to all effect impossible.

alancalverd

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No need to make when you can buy or steal. And if you just want to create panic and bring down a government, a conventional explosive with some easily obtainable radioactive waste will do the job nicely. Indeed as 9/11 showed, you can destroy democracy with a knife.

CliffordK

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Indeed as 9/11 showed, you can destroy democracy with a knife.

I wouldn't say that 9/11 destroyed much of anything, except perhaps a sense of security and invulnerability (which is recovering).  Civil liberties have taken some punishment, and there will have to be a new point of balance generated between civil liberties and technology.

What it did was act like a shot of methamphetamine to the war mongers.

alancalverd

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Civil liberties have taken some punishment
which appears to have been part of  the objective - to impose a police state on a democracy. The other objective, to start a war between civilisation and Islam, seems also to have been achieved. A brilliant plan, superbly executed, and the idiot Bush fell right into the trap. Which wouldn't matter if he hadn't dragged the rest of us in with him.   

 

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