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hydrogen bomb

Subject History

Period 1000 - 1999 » 1900-1999

DOI: 10.1111/b.9780631209379.1999.x


A fission or thermonuclear weapon, one of whose ingredients is tritium, an isotope of hydrogen, hence the name of the bomb. The idea for such a bomb was first put forward in 1942 and in January 1950 President truman, aware that the Soviet Union might develop its own H-bomb, decided to go ahead with it. The first thermonuclear explosion took place on Eni-wetok Atoll in the Marshall Islands on 1 November 1952, confounding expectations by throwing a fireball five miles high and four miles wide and leaving a hole on the Pacific floor a mile wide. The USSR exploded its own H-bomb in Siberia in August 1953. A US explosion in March 1954 on Bikini Atoll was 750 times more powerful than the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima in 1945 and spread radioactive fall-out from the blast 7,000 square miles across the Pacific. Britain exploded its own H-bomb in 1957, China in 1967 and France in 1968. ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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