What is different about the atomic bomb from hydrogen?

As you know, the main engine of progress of human civilization is war. And many of the «hawks» to justify mass extermination to himself like that. The question has always been controversial, and the emergence of nuclear weapons irrevocably turned a plus sign into a minus sign. Indeed, why do we need progress, which ultimately will destroy us? Even in this suicidal man showed his characteristic energy and ingenuity. Not only that, he invented a weapon of mass destruction (atomic bomb) – he continued to improve it, to kill yourself quickly, efficiently and guaranteed. An example of such an active activity can be a very fast jump to the next step of the development of nuclear military technology – the creation of thermonuclear weapons (the hydrogen bomb). But leave aside the moral aspect of these suicidal tendencies and move on to the question posed in the title of the article – the difference between the atomic bomb from hydrogen?

The content of the article

A bit of history
There, across the ocean

As you know, Americans are the most enterprising people in the world. Flair to whatever new they have huge. It is therefore not surprising that the first atomic bomb appeared in this part of the world. Give a little historical background.

  • The first step on the way to the creation of the atomic bomb can be considered an experiment by two German scientists O. Hahn and F. Strassman on the splitting of the uranium atom into two parts. This, so to speak, still unconscious step was taken in 1938.
  • Nobel laureate Frenchman Frederic Joliot-Curie in 1939 proves that the fission of the atom results in a chain reaction, accompanied by a powerful release of energy.
  • The genius of theoretical physics A. Einstein put his signature under the letter (1939) to the President of the United States, was initiated by the other a nuclear physicist L. Szilard. As a result, even before the Second world war it was decided to proceed with the development of atomic weapons.
  • First test of new weapons was conducted on 16 July 1945 in the Northern part of the state of new Mexico.
  • Less than a month on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki (6 and 9 August 1945) was dropped 2 atomic bombs. Mankind has entered a new era – now it was able to destroy itself in a few hours.

Americans have fallen into a kind of euphoria from the results of total and lightning defeat of the peaceful cities. Theorists staff of the U.S. armed forces immediately began drawing up ambitious plans, namely, the complete Erasure from the face of the Earth 1/6 part of the world – the Soviet Union.


In the Soviet Union also did not sit idly by. However, attended some lag caused by the decision of more urgent matters – was the Second world war, the main burden of which lay the land of the Soviets. However, the Americans briefly wore the yellow Jersey. 29 August 1949 at the site near the town of Semipalatinsk was first tested atomic charge of the Soviet model created in terms of shock Russian nuclear scientists headed by academician Kurchatov.

And while frustrated hawks in the Pentagon has revised its ambitious plans to destroy the «Bastion of the world revolution», the Kremlin launched a preemptive strike – in 1953, 12 August was conducted the testing of new varieties of nuclear weapons. There, near the city of Semipalatinsk, was blown up the world’s first hydrogen bomb, codenamed «RDS‑6s». This event caused a real hysteria and panic, not only on Capitol hill but in all 50 States, «the Bastion of world democracy.» Why? What is the difference of the atomic bomb from hydrogen plunged into the horror of a world superpower? Will reply immediately. Hydrogen bomb on their combat power is far superior to nuclear. While it is much cheaper than an equivalent atomic model. Let us consider these differences in more detail.

to table of contents ↑What the atomic bomb?

The principle of operation of an atomic bomb based on the use of energy arising from the growing chain reaction caused by fission (splitting) of heavy nuclei of plutonium or uranium-235, followed by the formation of lighter nuclei.

The process is called single-phase and it occurs as follows:

  • After the detonation of a charge of the substance inside the bomb (the isotopes of uranium or plutonium), moves into a phase of decay begins and the neutron capture.
  • The process of disintegration is growing like an avalanche. The splitting of one atom leads to the disintegration of several. A chain reaction leading to the destruction of all of the atoms in the bomb.
  • Starts a nuclear reaction. The power of the bomb is converted into a single unit, and its mass passes its critical point. And all this Orgy lasts for a short time and is accompanied by instantaneous release of huge amounts of energy, which ultimately leads to a grandiose explosion.

By the way, this feature of the atomic single-phase charge – quickly gain critical mass – does not allow infinitely increase the power of this type of munition. The charge can be with the capacity of hundreds of kilotons, but the closer it is to megaton level, the less its effectiveness. He just doesn’t have time to fully split: there will be an explosion and part of the charge will remain unused – it disperse the blast. This problem was solved in the following form nuclear weapon – a hydrogen bomb, also called thermonuclear.

to table of contents ↑What is a hydrogen bomb?

In a hydrogen bomb is several other release of energy. It is based on work with hydrogen isotopes – deuterium (heavy hydrogen) and tritium. The process is divided into two parts or, as they say, is two-phase.

  • The first phase is when the main supplier of energy is the reaction of fission of heavy nuclei of the lithium deuteride into helium and tritium.
  • The second phase starts thermonuclear fusion based on helium and tritium, which leads to instant heat inside the warhead and, as a consequence, causes a powerful explosion.

Thanks to the two-phase system, a thermonuclear charge can be anything power.

Note. Description of the processes in the atomic and hydrogen bomb, is far from complete and the most primitive. It is given only for a General understanding of the differences between these two types of weapons.

to table of contents ↑the Difference between atomic and hydrogen bomb
What’s the bottom line?

The damaging factors of nuclear explosion any schoolboy knows:

  • light emission;
  • shock wave;
  • electromagnetic pulse (EMP);
  • penetrating radiation;
  • radioactive contamination.

The same can be said about the thermonuclear explosion. But!!! The power and consequences of a thermonuclear explosion is much stronger than the atomic. We give two well known examples.

«Baby»: black humor or cynicism of uncle Sam?

Atomic bomb (codenamed «Little») dropped on Hiroshima by the Americans, is still considered the «benchmark» figure for atomic charges. Its power was approximately between 13 and 18 kilotons and the explosion was perfect on all counts. Later times were tested more powerful warheads, but not much (20 to 23 kilotons). However, they have shown results, little exceeding the achievements of «Baby», and then completely stopped. There are more cheap and strong «hydrogen sister», and meaning to develop atomic charges were gone. That’s what happened in the end after the explosion of «Baby»:

  • The mushroom cloud reached an altitude of 12 km, the diameter of the «cap» was about 5 km.
  • Instant release of energy when a nuclear reaction caused the temperature in the epicenter of the explosion is 4000 °C.
  • Fireball: diameter of about 300 meters.
  • The shock wave beat out glasses at the distance of 19 km, and was felt much farther.
  • Simultaneously killed about 140 thousand people.

The Queen of all Queens

The consequences of the explosion of the most powerful to date, of the tested hydrogen bombs, the so-called Tsar-bomb (code name for the AN602), has surpassed all earlier explosions of nuclear charges (not fusion) combined. The bomb was the Soviet, with a capacity of 50 megatons. Its testing was carried out on 30 October 1961 in Novaya Zemlya.

  • Nuclear mushroom grew by 67 km in height and about 95 miles was the diameter of the top of the «cap».
  • The light beat at a distance of under 100 km, causing third-degree burns.
  • Fire ball, or the ball has grown to 4.6 km (radius).
  • The sound wave was recorded at a distance of 800 km.
  • Seismic wave three times around the planet.
  • The shock wave was felt at a distance of up to 1,000 km.
  • Electromagnetic pulse creating a powerful interference for 40 minutes for a few hundred kilometers from the epicenter.

One can only fantasize what would have happened to Hiroshima if it was dropped the monster. Most likely, would disappear not only the city but also the Country of the Rising Sun. Well, now we give all that we are told, to a common denominator, that is, draw up a comparative table.


The atomic bomb
The hydrogen bomb

The principle of the bomb is built on the fission of uranium and plutonium, causing a progressive chain reaction, resulting in a powerful release of energy, leading to an explosion. This process is called single-phase or single-stage
A nuclear reaction is a two-stage (two-phase) scheme and it is based on isotopes of hydrogen. First, there is fission of heavy nuclei of lithium deuteride, then, without waiting for completion of dividing, starts nuclear fusion with the participation of retrieved elements. Both processes are accompanied by enormous energy release and eventually end in an explosion

Due to certain physical reasons (see above) maximum power of atomic charge ranges from 1 megaton
The power of a thermonuclear charge is almost unlimited. The more source material, the stronger will be the explosion

The process of creating a nuclear warhead sufficiently complex and expensive
The hydrogen bomb is significantly easier to manufacture and not so expensive

Now, we find out what the difference between atomic and hydrogen bomb. Unfortunately, our little analysis only confirmed the thesis stated in the beginning of the article: progress of the war, went on a disastrous path. Mankind stood on the brink of self-destruction. Just click the button. But let’s not end the article on such a tragic note. We very much hope that the mind, the instinct of self-preservation, in the end, will win, and we are waiting for a peaceful future.

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