Barry SCHWARTZ (Barijo ŜVARC) (chemoelectric) wrote,

Things one didn’t know

A week or two ago I read up on nuclear weapons, in the Wikipedia. It was thus that I learned something I hadn’t known: thermonuclear weapons are, like conventional nuclear weapons, still primarily fission bombs. The nuclear fusion is used to squeeze together a supercritical mass of plutonium or uranium with more oomph.

Actually ‘conventional’ nuclear weapons these days can include some fusion of that sort. An actual thermonuclear weapon is actually a two-stage device, in which the explosion of the first fusion-fission stage sets off a second stage with even more oomph. Three stage devices have been created and exploded but I guess they don’t really make people any happier than two-stage devices, particularly, if you are a Soviet leader, if the two-stage devices are MIRVed.

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