Talk:Fusion device

From Citizendium
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This article is developing and not approved.
Main Article
Related Articles  [?]
Bibliography  [?]
External Links  [?]
Citable Version  [?]
To learn how to update the categories for this article, see here. To update categories, edit the metadata template.
 Definition An explosive device, whether used as a weapon or for other purposes, which depends for most of its explosive power on the release of energy by combining atomic nuclei [d] [e]
Checklist and Archives
 Workgroup categories Military and Physics [Categories OK]
 Subgroup categories:  Nuclear Engineering and Technology
 Talk Archive none  English language variant American English

Howard, in a book by Rhodes (Dark Sun) I read that the first thermonuclear device was called Mike and detonated November 1, 1952 7.15 am local time. The place was Eniwetok Atoll. I was about to write this up in Edward Teller, so we better synchronize. --Paul Wormer 17:11, 28 May 2009 (UTC)

IVY MIKE, specifically: [1]. For technical discussions, Carey Sublette's webpage is still authoritative: [2]. You may also want to look at Single Integrated Operational Plan, George Kistiakowsky, and national means of technical verification for some of the politics. One interesting book is Howard Morland's The Secret that Exploded, which is about his reverse engineering the design as an anti-nuclear activist.Howard C. Berkowitz 18:09, 28 May 2009 (UTC)
I looked at the first website you mentioned, it is interesting and in accord with Rhodes' description. However, I read your text differently: as I read your text the first fusion bomb was exploded on Bikini Island (not Eniwetok Atoll) and the code name of the operation was CASTLE BRAVO (not IVY). Probably Castle Bravo was the first H-bomb small enough to transport by plane and Mike was too big? Maybe it would be good if you mentioned this (if my guess is true; you doubtlessly know it).--Paul Wormer 07:35, 29 May 2009 (UTC)
PS I read further in Rhodes' book and found Castle Bravo. In case you don't have easy access to that book, I e-mailed you a pdf containing the pertinent page. Indeed, the "SHRIMP" (bomb exploded in the CASTLE BRAVO operation) was designed to fit in the bomb bay of a B-47.
--Paul Wormer 07:35, 29 May 2009 (UTC)
There were two distinct test sequences in the South Pacific, IVY in 1952 and CASTLE in 1954. IVY was primarily proof of concept; CASTLE was weapons effects. Both sequences included multiple explosions.
IVY MIKE, as you surmise, was the first test of what I call a fusion device rather than a fusion bomb. It both was far too large to get into an aircraft, and the Secondary used cryogenic deuterium rather than the more transportable lithium deuteride. IVY KING, also known as the Super Oralloy Bomb, was not thermonuclear. It was the largest-yield pure fission bomb ever developed, with Ted Taylor as the primary designer. Once IVY MIKE proved that thermonuclear reactions worked, and indeed were more powerful than expected, the focus turned to the thermonuclear. IVY KING was an airdrop, but of a 500 KT "fusion range" pure fission bomb.
The 1953 UPSHOT-KNOTHOLE series were detonated in the U.S.; they were primarily concerned with either fission weapons or Primary components. One area that still remains unclear is when some of the efficiency enhancements for the Primary were first tested. Tritium boosting fairly clearly was in 1953, but it is not clear when the levitated plutonium pit, mass drivers, some of the beryllium reflectors, etc., were first tried. 1953 did see the first external neutron generators.
Unfortunately, the same test can have an overall operation code name (e.g., CASTLE), a test name within the series (e.g., CASTLE BRAVO), a name for the complete device as distinct from the test (i.e., Shrimp), possibly a derivative name for components (Shrimp was a variant of Runt). All of the CASTLE series were fired on a barge or on an island surface.
The first true airdrop test was REDWING CHEROKEE in 1956. Unfortunately, the crew used the wrong navigational beacon and dropped it on the wrong island, so most data was lost. This operation was large enough that both Bikini and Eniwetok atolls were used. Perhaps the key test was REDWING TEWA, also known as Bassoon, which led directly to the largest U.S. bomb, the Mk.41, renamed the B41. Howard C. Berkowitz 14:27, 29 May 2009 (UTC)
Howard, why don't you include your above answer in the article? The title of the article is fusion device, not fusion bomb, so IVY MIKE is covered by the title.--Paul Wormer 15:12, 29 May 2009 (UTC)
Mostly because when I wrote the article, I was concentrating more on principles than history. These can always be added. Howard C. Berkowitz 15:27, 29 May 2009 (UTC)
I'd also want to do some fact-checking on Rhodes' claim that these were intended for the B-47. The general maximum bombload of a B-47 was 20,000 pounds, and 10,000 pounds was sometimes preferred for long range. His 23,500 pound load fits the larger B-52 and B-36. Howard C. Berkowitz 15:33, 29 May 2009 (UTC)