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A 23 kiloton tower shot called BADGER, fired on April 18, 1953 at the Nevada Test Site, as part
of the Operation Upshot-Knothole nuclear test series.
The Greenhouse George test early fireball.
A nuclear explosion occurs as a result of the rapid release of energy from an intentionally highspeed nuclear reaction. The driving reaction may be nuclear fission, nuclear fusion or a
multistage cascading combination of the two, though to date all fusion based weapons have used
a fission device to initiate fusion, and a pure fusion weapon remains a hypothetical device.
Atmospheric nuclear explosions are associated with mushroom clouds, although mushroom
clouds can occur with large chemical explosions, and it is possible to have an air-burst nuclear
explosion without these clouds. Nuclear explosions produce radiation and radioactive debris.
In 1963, the United States, Soviet Union, and United Kingdom signed the Limited Test Ban
Treaty, pledging to refrain from testing nuclear weapons in the atmosphere, underwater, or in
outer space. The treaty permitted underground tests. Many other non-nuclear nations acceded to
the Treaty following its entry into force; however, three nuclear weapons states have not
acceded: France, China, and North Korea.
The primary application to date has been military (i.e. nuclear weapons). However, there are
other potential applications, which have not yet been explored, or have been considered but
abandoned. They include

Nuclear pulse propulsion, including using a nuclear explosion as asteroid deflection


Power generation; see PACER

Peaceful nuclear explosions

Nuclear weapons are largely seen as a 'deterrent' by most governments; the sheer scale of the
destruction caused by a nuclear weapon has prevented much serious consideration of their use in

Nuclear weapons
In the history of warfare, two nuclear weapons have been detonatedboth by the U.S. in World
War II. The first event occurred on the morning of 6 August 1945, when the United States

dropped a uranium gun-type device code-named "Little Boy" on the Japanese city of Hiroshima.
The second event occurred three days later when, again, the United States dropped a plutonium
implosion-type device code-named "Fat Man" on the city of Nagasaki. These bombings resulted
in the immediate deaths of around 120,000 people and more over time, because of the nuclear
radiation. The use of these weapons was and remains controversial. (See Atomic bombings of
Hiroshima and Nagasaki for a full discussion).

Nuclear testing
Nuclear tests are experiments carried out to determine the effectiveness, yield and explosive
capability of nuclear weapons. Throughout the twentieth century, most nations that have
developed nuclear weapons have staged tests of them. Testing nuclear weapons can yield
information about how the weapons work, as well as how the weapons behave under various
conditions and how structures behave when subjected to nuclear explosions. Additionally,
nuclear testing has often been used as an indicator of scientific and military strength, and many
tests have been overtly political in their intention; most nuclear weapons states publicly declared
their nuclear status by means of a nuclear test.

Effects of nuclear explosions

The dominant effects of a nuclear weapon (the blast and thermal radiation) are the same physical
damage mechanisms as conventional explosives, but the energy produced by a nuclear explosive
is millions of times more per gram and the temperatures reached are in the tens of megakelvins.
Nuclear weapons are quite different from regular weapons because of the huge amount of
explosive energy they can put out and the different kinds of effects they make, like high
temperatures and nuclear radiation.
The devastating impact of the explosion does not stop after the initial blast, as with regular
explosives. A cloud of nuclear radiation travels from the epicenter of the explosion, causing an
impact to lifeforms even after the heat waves have ceased. The radiation can cause genetic
mutation, radiation poisoning, and death.

Effects of nuclear explosions

An American nuclear test.
The energy released from a nuclear weapon detonated in the troposphere can be divided into four
basic categories:[1]

Blast40-50% of total energy

Thermal radiation30-50% of total energy

Ionizing radiation5% of total energy

Residual radiation5-10% of total energy

However, depending on the design of the weapon and the environment in which it is detonated
the energy distributed to these categories can be increased or decreased. The blast effect is
created by the coupling of immense amounts of energy, spanning the electromagnetic spectrum,
with the surroundings. Locations such as submarine, surface, airburst, or exo-atmospheric
determine how much energy is produced at blast and how much as radiation. In general, denser
media around the bomb, like water, absorb more energy, and create more powerful shockwaves
while at the same time limiting the area of its effect.
The dominant effects of a nuclear weapon where people are likely to be affected (blast and
thermal radiation) are identical physical damage mechanisms to conventional explosives.
However the energy produced by a nuclear explosive is millions of times more powerful per
gram and the temperatures reached are briefly in the tens of millions of degrees.
Energy from a nuclear explosive is initially released in several forms of penetrating radiation.
When there is a surrounding material such as air, rock, or water, this radiation interacts with and
rapidly heats it to an equilibrium temperature (i.e. so that the matter is at the same temperature as
the atomic bomb's matter). This causes vaporization of surrounding material resulting in its rapid
expansion. Kinetic energy created by this expansion contributes to the formation of a shockwave.
When a nuclear detonation occurs in air near sea level, much of the released energy interacts
with the atmosphere and creates a shockwave which expands spherically from the hypocenter.
Intense thermal radiation at the hypocenter forms a fireball and if the burst is low enough, its
often associated mushroom cloud. In a burst at high altitudes, where the air density is low, more
energy is released as ionizing gamma radiation and x-rays than an atmosphere-displacing
In 1942 there was some initial speculation among the scientists developing the first nuclear
weapons that there might be a possibility of igniting the Earth's atmosphere with a large enough
nuclear explosion. This would concern a nuclear reaction of two nitrogen atoms forming a
carbon and an oxygen atom, with release of energy. This energy would heat up the remaining
nitrogen enough to keep the reaction going until all nitrogen atoms were consumed. This was,
however, quickly shown to be impossible, due to inverse Compton effect cooling of the fireball.
Nevertheless, the notion has persisted as a rumour for many years.


To maximise the power generation and profitability from nuclear power

stations with the motto safety first and production next.

Toincrease nuclear power generation capacityin the country, consistent

with available resources in a safe, economical and rapid manner, in
keeping with the growth of energy demand in the country.

To continue and strengthen QA activitiesrelating to nuclear power

programme within the organisation and those associated with it.

To develop personnel at all levels through an appropriate Human

Resources Development (HRD) programme in the organisation with a
view to further improve their skills and performance consistent with
the high technology.

To continue and strengthen the environmental protection measures

relating to nuclear power generation.

To continue and strengthen the neighborhood welfare programme/CSR

activities for achieving inclusive growth of surrounding population.

To share appropriate technological skillsand expertise at national and

international levels.

To bring about modernisation and technological innovation in activities.

The Cold War ended over two decades ago, and many people have never lived under the shadow
of nuclear and radiological threats. Still, a nuclear attack is a very real threat. Global politics are
far from stable, and human nature has changed none in the last two decades. "The most persistent
sound which reverberates through man's history is the beating of war drums".[1] As long as
nuclear weapons exist, there is always the danger they will be used.
Is nuclear war survivable? Only predictions exist, as some say yes, others say no. Keep in mind
that modern thermonuclear weapons are many hundreds, and in the case of the largest weapons,
several thousand times more powerful than the bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in
1945. We really do not fully understand what will happen when thousands of these weapons are
detonated at the same time. For some, especially those in large population centers, it may seem
like an entirely futile endeavor.[2] If it is survived at all, it will be by those who are mentally and
logistically prepared for such an event and that live in very remote areas with no strategic
Following the military use of nuclear weapons in August 1945, attention turned to harnessing
nuclear power in a more controlled manner for electricity generation. However, at the same time
there was considerable investigation and testing of peaceful nuclear explosions (PNE) by both
the USA and USSR.
From the outset it was realized that thermonuclear blasts (as distinct from fission) would have
the least potential for radioactive fallout. However, along with early weapons tests, some PNE
tests did contribute to atmospheric radioactivity, and some test sites now pose a radiological
Of these, the first four have been tested (and even applied in some cases by the USSR) while the
remaining five have been investigated but not tested.
A total of 151 PNE experiments have been carried out by both the USA (27) and the USSR (124
plus 32 tests that helped develop explosive devices used in PNEs). No other country has ever
carried out a PNE testa and there are currently no moves towards a resumption of tests.
Some advocates claim that PNEs would be the most economically feasible method of carrying
out large terrestrial engineering projects, and that they provide one of only a few feasible means
of managing large gas field fires and destroying chemical weapons. However, a significant
concern is that the widespread commercial introduction of PNEs would represent a security risk
increasing the number of nuclear explosives and their locations, along with civilian
PNE programs resulted in some international collaboration. Following an approach from the
Soviet Union to the USA, the first of four bilateral discussions on PNEs was held in Vienna in
April 1969. Subsequent meetings were held in Moscow (1970), Washington (1971), and Vienna
(1975). In the course of these meetings with scientists from the US Plowshare Program (see next
section), Soviet scientists unveiled some of the technical details of their first few PNE.

Nuclear weapons testing according to the standard definition used in treaty language for the
space/time requirement is:
In conformity with treaties between the United States and the Soviet Union, a salvo is defined,
for multiple explosions for peaceful purposes, as two or more separate explosions where a period
of time between successive individual explosions does not exceed 5 seconds and where the burial
points of all explosive devices can be connected by segments of straight lines, each of them
connecting two burial points, and the total length does not exceed 40 kilometers. For nuclear
weapon tests, a salvo is defined as two or more underground nuclear explosions conducted at a
test site within an area delineated by a circle having a diameter of two kilometers and conducted
within a total period of time of 0.1 second.
This definition is inclusive of "zero yield" safety tests of warheads, whether the test is successful
(there is no nuclear yield) or the test is unsuccessful (there is a nuclear yield). It does not include
hydronuclear, cold or subcritical tests because no nuclear explosions are possible, even in failure.
In these sorts of tests there may be small amounts of chain reaction occurring, but they stop
before materially adding to the chemical explosion that causes them. The line here is finely
drawn, but, among other things, subcritical testing is not prohibited by the Comprehensive
Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, while safety tests are.
The table in this section summarizes all worldwide nuclear testing (including the two bombs
dropped in combat which were not tests). The country names are links to summary articles for
each country, which may in turn be used to drill down to test series articles which contain details
on every known nuclear explosion and test. The notes attached to various table cells detail how
the numbers therein are arrived at. As of 1993, worldwide, 520 atmospheric nuclear explosions
(including 8 underwater) have been conducted with a total yield of 545 Megaton (Mt): 217 Mt
from fission and 328 Mt from fusion, while the estimated number of underground nuclear tests
conducted in the period from 1957 to 1992 is 1,352 explosions with a total yield of 90 Mt.

By looking at the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, we are able to see how
certain aspects were affected by the geography, how the geography was affected
by the bombings, and how warfare transformed because of it. The US military
selected five possible targets for atomic bomb attacks based on various criteria,
including importance of military and morale effect. On August 6, 1945, the first
atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima. Three days later, Kokura was the target of
another attack, but cloud cover saved the city and made Nagasaki the recipient of
the only other nuclear attack in history. The geographic landscape was changed
after the bombings in a few ways. First is by the physical and cosmetic damage by
wiping out the skyline and buildings. Second, the radiation that lingered in the soil
for years after and how the radiation was able to be transmitted by the rain, wind
and weather. Finally, it was changed by the rebuilding of the cities. Over a half
century later, the skylines in the cities are magnificent and almost a complete turn
into a new Japan. One of the biggest military geographic changes, however, was
the transition from mass ammunition bombing to technology that would allow for
detonation prior to impact.

Likewise, the introduction of nuclear bombs as a

weapon in war was immense. In any conflict today, nuclear weapons can be
present as part of a countrys arsenal.

For better or worse, the bombing of

Hiroshima and Nagasaki helped transform the generation of warfare to include

nuclear weapons as a key strategic weapon in 4th generation warfare.

Yields of nuclear explosions can be very hard to calculate, even using numbers as rough as in the
kiloton or megaton range (much less down to the resolution of individual terajoules). Even under
very controlled conditions, precise yields can be very hard to determine, and for less controlled
conditions the margins of error can be quite large. For fission devices, the most precise yield
value is found from "radiochemical/Fallout analysis", that is, measuring the quantity of fission
products generated, in much the same way as the chemical yield in chemical reaction products
can be measured after a chemical reaction. The radiochemical analysis method was pioneered by
Herbert L. Anderson.
While for nuclear explosive devices where the fallout is not attainable or would be misleading,
neutron activation analysis is often employed as the second most accurate method, with it having
been used to determine the yield of both Little Boy and thermonuclear Ivy Mike's respective
yields. Yields can also be inferred in a number of other remote sensing ways, including scaling
law calculations based on blast size, infrasound, fireball brightness(Bhangmeter), seismographic
data(CTBTO),[15] and the strength of the shock wave.
Standard bomb's energy distribution, in the "moderate" kiloton range, near sea
Thermal energy
Initial ionizing radiation
Residual fallout radiation

Enrico Fermi famously made a (very) rough calculation of the yield of the Trinity test by
dropping small pieces of paper in the air and measuring how far they were moved by the blast
wave of the explosion, that is, he found the blast pressure at his distance from the detonation in
pounds per square inch, using the deviation of the papers' fall away from the vertical as a crude
blast gauge/barograph, and then with pressure X in psi, at distance Y, in miles figures, he
extrapolated backwards to estimate the yield of the Trinity device, which he found was about 10
kiloton of blast energy.
Fermi later recalled that:
I was stationed at the Base Camp at Trinity in a position about ten miles[16 km] from the site of
the explosion...About 40 seconds after the explosion the air blast reached me. I tried to estimate
its strength by dropping from about six feet small pieces of paper before, during, and after the
passage of the blast wave. Since, at the time, there was no wind I could observe very distinctly
and actually measure the displacement of the pieces of paper that were in the process of falling
while the blast was passing. The shift was about 2 1/2 meters, which, at the time, I estimated to
correspond to the blast that would be produced by ten thousand tons of T.N.T.
The surface area(A) and volume(V) of a sphere are:

The blast wave however was likely assumed to grow out as the surface area of the approximately
hemispheric near surface burst blast wave of the Trinity gadget. The paper is moved 2.5 meters
by the wave - so the effect of the Trinity device is to displace a hemispherical shell of air of
volume 2.5m*2*pi*(14 km)^2 Multiply by 1 Atm to get energy of 3e14 J ~ 80 kT TN.[quantify]
Picture of the blast, captured by Berlyn Brixner were used by G.I. Taylor to estimate
the yield of the device during the Trinity test

A good approximation of the yield of the Trinity test device was obtained in 1950 from simple
dimensional analysis as well as an estimation of the heat capacity for very hot air, by the British
physicist G. I. Taylor. Taylor had initially done this highly classified work in mid-1941, and
published a paper which included an analysis of the Trinity data fireball when the Trinity
photograph data was declassified in 1950 (after the USSR had exploded its own version of this
Taylor noted that the radius R of the blast should initially depend only on the energy E of the
explosion, the time t after the detonation, and the density of the air. The only number having
dimensions of length that can be constructed from these quantities is:
Here S is a dimensionless constant having a value approximately equal to 1, since it is low order
function of the heat capacity ratio or adiabatic index
which is approximately 1 for all conditions.
Using the picture of the Trinity test shown here (which had been publicly released by the U.S.
government and published in Life magazine), using successive frames of the explosion, Taylor
found that R5/t2 is a constant in a given nuclear blast (especially between 0.38 ms after the shock
wave has formed, and 1.93 ms before significant energy is lost by thermal radiation).
Furthermore, he estimated a value for S numerically at 1.
Thus, with t = 0.025 s and the blast radius was 140 metres, and taking to be 1 kg/m (the
measured value at Trinity on the day of the test, as opposed to sea level values of approximately
1.3 kg/m) and solving for E, Taylor obtained that the yield was about 22 kilotons of TNT
(90 TJ). This does not take into account the fact that the energy should only be about half this
value for a hemispherical blast, but this very simple argument did agree to within 10% with the
official value of the bomb's yield in 1950, which was 20 kilotons of TNT (84 TJ) (See G. I.
Taylor, Proc. Roy. Soc. London A 200, pp. 235247 (1950).)
A good approximation to Taylor's constant S for below about 2 is:
The value of the heat capacity ratio here is between the 1.67 of fully dissociated air molecules
and the lower value for very hot diatomic air (1.2), and under conditions of an atomic fireball is
(coincidentally) close to the S.T.P. (standard) gamma for room temperature air, which is 1.4. This
gives the value of Taylor's S constant to be 1.036 for the adiabatic hypershock region where the
constant R5/t2 condition holds.


Nuclear weapon designs are physical, chemical, and engineering arrangements that cause the
physics package[1] of a nuclear weapon to detonate. There are three existing basic design types.
In most existing designs, the explosive energy of deployed devices is derived primarily from
nuclear fission, not fusion.[citation needed]

Pure fission weapons were the first nuclear weapons built and have so far
been the only type ever used in warfare. The active material is fissile uranium
(uranium with a high percentage of U-235) or plutonium (Pu-239), explosively
assembled into a chain-reacting critical mass by one of two methods:

Gun assembly: one piece of fissile uranium is fired at a fissile uranium

target at the end of the weapon, similar to firing a bullet down a gun
barrel, achieving critical mass when combined.

Implosion: a fissile mass of either material (U-235, Pu-239, or a

combination) is surrounded by high explosives that compress the
mass, resulting in criticality.

The implosion method can use either uranium or plutonium as fuel. The gun
method only uses uranium. Plutonium is considered impractical for the gun
method because of early triggering due to Pu-240 contamination and due to
its time constant for prompt critical fission being much shorter than that of U235.

Boosted fission weapons improve on the implosion design. The high

pressure and temperature environment at the center of an exploding fission
weapon compresses and heats a mixture of tritium and deuterium gas (heavy
isotopes of hydrogen). The hydrogen fuses to form helium and free neutrons.
The energy release from this fusion reaction is relatively negligible, but each
neutron starts a new fission chain reaction, speeding up the fission and
greatly reducing the amount of fissile material that would otherwise be
wasted when expansion of the fissile material stops the chain reaction.
Boosting can more than double the weapon's fission energy release.

Staged thermonuclear weapons are essentially a chain of fusion-boosted

fission weapons, usually with only two stages in the chain. The secondary
stage is imploded by x-ray energy from the first stage, called the "primary."
This radiation implosion is much more effective than the high-explosive
implosion of the primary. Consequently, the secondary can be many times
more powerful than the primary, without being bigger. The secondary can be
designed to maximize fusion energy release, but in most designs fusion is
employed only to drive or enhance fission, as it is in the primary. More stages
could be added and conceptual designs incorporating up to seven have been
produced, but the result would be a multi-megaton weapon too powerful to
serve any plausible purpose.[2] (The United States briefly deployed a threestage 25-megaton bomb, the B41, starting in 1961. Also in 1961, the Soviet
Union tested, but did not deploy, a three-stage 50100 megaton device, Tsar

Pure fusion weapons have not been invented. Such weapons, though,
would produce far less radioactive fallout than current designs, although they
would release huge numbers of neutrons.

Pure fission weapons historically have been the first type to be built by a nation state. Large
industrial states with well-developed nuclear arsenals have two-stage thermonuclear weapons,
which are the most compact, scalable, and cost effective option once the necessary industrial
infrastructure is built.
Most known innovations in nuclear weapon design originated in the United States, although
some were later developed independently by other states;[3] the following descriptions feature
U.S. designs.
In early news accounts, pure fission weapons were called atomic bombs or A-bombs, a misnomer
since the energy comes only from the nucleus of the atom. Weapons involving fusion were called
hydrogen bombs or H-bombs, also a misnomer since their energy comes mostly from fission.
Practioners favored the terms nuclear and thermonuclear, respectively.
The term thermonuclear refers to the high temperatures required to initiate fusion. It omits the
equally important factor of radiation pressure, which was considered secret at the time the term
became widespread. Many nuclear weapon terms similarly obfuscate because of their origin in a
classified environment.
Nuclear reactions

Nuclear fission separates or splits heavier atoms to form lighter atoms. Nuclear fusion combines
together lighter atoms to form heavier atoms. Both reactions generate roughly a million times
more energy than comparable chemical reactions, making nuclear bombs a million times more
powerful than non-nuclear bombs, which a French patent claimed in May 1939.[4]
In some ways, fission and fusion are opposite and complementary reactions, but the particulars
are unique for each. To understand how nuclear weapons are designed, it is useful to know the
important similarities and differences between fission and fusion. The following explanation uses
rounded numbers and approximations.[5]

When a free neutron hits the nucleus of a fissile atom like uranium-235 (235U), the uranium
nucleus splits into two smaller nuclei called fission fragments, plus more neutrons. Fission can
be self-sustaining because it produces more neutrons of the speed required to cause new fissions.
The U-235 nucleus can split in many ways, provided the atomic numbers add up to 92 and the
atomic weights add to 236 (uranium plus the extra neutron). The following equation shows one
possible split, namely into strontium-95 (95Sr), xenon-139 (139Xe), and two neutrons (n), plus
The immediate energy release per atom is about 180 million electron volts (MeV);
i.e., 74 TJ/kg. Only 7% of this is gamma radiation and kinetic energy of fission
neutrons. The remaining 93% is kinetic energy (or energy of motion) of the charged

fission fragments, flying away from each other mutually repelled by the positive
charge of their protons (38 for strontium, 54 for xenon). This initial kinetic energy is
67 TJ/kg, imparting an initial speed of about 12,000 kilometers per second. The
charged fragments' high electric charge causes many inelastic collisions with
nearby nuclei, and these fragments remain trapped inside the bomb's uranium pit
and tamper until their motion is converted into heat. This takes about a millionth of
a second (a microsecond), by which time the core and tamper of the bomb have
expanded to plasma several meters in diameter with a temperature of tens of
millions of degrees Celsius.

This is hot enough to emit black-body radiation in the X-ray spectrum. These X-rays are
absorbed by the surrounding air, producing the fireball and blast of a nuclear explosion.
Most fission products have too many neutrons to be stable so they are radioactive by beta decay,
converting neutrons into protons by throwing off beta particles (electrons) and gamma rays.
Their half lives range from milliseconds to about 200,000 years. Many decay into isotopes that
are themselves radioactive, so from 1 to 6 (average 3) decays may be required to reach stability.[7]
In reactors, the radioactive products are the nuclear waste in spent fuel. In bombs, they become
radioactive fallout, both local and global.
Meanwhile, inside the exploding bomb, the free neutrons released by fission carry away about
3% of the initial fission energy. Neutron kinetic energy adds to the blast energy of a bomb, but
not as effectively as the energy from charged fragments, since neutrons are not slowed as
quickly. The main contribution of fission neutrons to the bomb's power is the initiation of other
fissions. Over half of the neutrons escape the bomb core, but the rest strike nearby U-235 nuclei
causing them to fission in an exponentially growing chain reaction (1, 2, 4, 8, 16, etc.). Starting
from one atom, the number of fissions can theoretically double a hundred times in a
microsecond, which could consume all uranium or plutonium up to hundreds of tons by the
hundredth link in the chain. In practice, bombs do not contain hundreds of tons of uranium or
plutonium. Instead, typically (in a modern weapon) the core of a weapon contains only about 5
kilograms of plutonium, of which only 2 to 2.5 kilograms, representing 40 to 50 kilotons of
energy, undergoes fission before the core blows itself apart.
Holding an exploding bomb together is the greatest challenge of fission weapon design. The heat
of fission rapidly expands the fission core, spreading apart the target nuclei and making space for
the neutrons to escape without being captured. The chain reaction stops.
Materials which can sustain a chain reaction are called fissile. The two fissile materials used in
nuclear weapons are: U-235, also known as highly enriched uranium (HEU), oralloy (Oy)
meaning Oak Ridge Alloy, or 25 (the last digits of the atomic number, which is 92 for uranium,
and the atomic weight, here 235, respectively); and Pu-239, also known as plutonium, or 49
(from 94 and 239).
Uranium's most common isotope, U-238, is fissionable but not fissile (meaning that it cannot
sustain a chain reaction by itself but can be made to fission with fast neutrons). Its aliases include
natural or unenriched uranium, depleted uranium (DU), tubealloy (Tu), and 28. It cannot sustain
a chain reaction, because its own fission neutrons are not powerful enough to cause more U-238

fission. The neutrons released by fusion will fission U-238. This U-238 fission reaction produces
most of the energy in a typical two-stage thermonuclear weapon.

Fusion produces neutrons which dissipate energy from the reaction.[8] In weapons, the most
important fusion reaction is called the D-T reaction. Using the heat and pressure of fission,
hydrogen-2, or deuterium (2D), fuses with hydrogen-3, or tritium (3T), to form helium-4 (4He)
plus one neutron (n) and energy:[9]
The total energy output, 17.6 MeV, is one tenth of that with fission, but the
ingredients are only one-fiftieth as massive, so the energy output per unit mass is
greater. In this fusion reaction 80% of the energy, or 14 MeV, is in the motion of the
neutron which, having no electric charge and being almost as massive as the
hydrogen nuclei that created it, can escape the scene without leaving its energy
behind to help sustain the reaction or to generate x-rays for blast and fire.

The only practical way to capture most of the fusion energy is to trap the neutrons inside a
massive bottle of heavy material such as lead, uranium, or plutonium. If the 14 MeV neutron is
captured by uranium (either type: 235 or 238) or plutonium, the result is fission and the release
of 180 MeV of fission energy, multiplying the energy output tenfold.
Fission is thus necessary to start fusion, helps to sustain fusion, and captures and multiplies the
energy released in fusion neutrons. In the case of a neutron bomb (see below) the last-mentioned
does not apply since the escape of neutrons is the objective.
Tritium production

A third important nuclear reaction is the one that creates tritium, essential to the type of fusion
used in weapons. Tritium, or hydrogen-3, is made by bombarding lithium-6 (6Li) with a neutron
(n). This neutron bombardment will cause the lithium-6 nucleus to fission, producing helium-4
(4He) plus tritium (3T) and energy:
A nuclear reactor is necessary to provide the neutrons if the tritium is to be provided before the
weapon is used. The industrial-scale conversion of lithium-6 to tritium is very similar to the
conversion of uranium-238 into plutonium-239. In both cases the feed material is placed inside a
nuclear reactor and removed for processing after a period of time.
Alternatively, neutrons from earlier stage fusion reactions can be used to fission lithium-6 (in the
form of lithium deuteride for example) and form tritium during detonation. This approach
reduces the amount of tritium-based fuel in a weapon.[10]
The fission of one plutonium atom releases ten times more total energy than the fusion of one
tritium atom. For this reason, tritium is included in nuclear weapon components only when it
causes more fission than its production sacrifices, namely in the case of fusion-boosted fission.
Of the four basic types of nuclear weapon, the first, pure fission, uses the first of the three
nuclear reactions above. The second, fusion-boosted fission, uses the first two. The third, twostage thermonuclear, uses all three.

Pure fission weapons

The first task of a nuclear weapon design is to rapidly assemble a supercritical mass of fissile
uranium or plutonium. A supercritical mass is one in which the percentage of fission-produced
neutrons captured by another fissile nucleus is large enough that each fission event, on average,
causes more than one additional fission event.
Once the critical mass is assembled, at maximum density, a burst of neutrons is supplied to start
as many chain reactions as possible. Early weapons used an "urchin" inside the pit containing
polonium-210 and beryllium separated by a thin barrier. Implosion of the pit crushed the urchin,
mixing the two metals, thereby allowing alpha particles from the polonium to interact with
beryllium to produce free neutrons. In modern weapons, the neutron generator is a high-voltage
vacuum tube containing a particle accelerator which bombards a deuterium/tritium-metal hydride
target with deuterium and tritium ions. The resulting small-scale fusion produces neutrons at a
protected location outside the physics package, from which they penetrate the pit. This method
allows better control of the timing of chain reaction initiation.
The critical mass of an uncompressed sphere of bare metal is 110 lb (50 kg) for uranium-235 and
35 lb (16 kg) for delta-phase plutonium-239. In practical applications, the amount of material
required for criticallity is modified by shape, purity, density, and the proximity to neutronreflecting material, all of which affect the escape or capture of neutrons.
To avoid a chain reaction during handling, the fissile material in the weapon must be sub-critical
before detonation. It may consist of one or more components containing less than one
uncompressed critical mass each. A thin hollow shell can have more than the bare-sphere critical
mass, as can a cylinder, which can be arbitrarily long without ever reaching criticallity.
A tamper is an optional layer of dense material surrounding the fissile material. Due to its inertia
it delays the expansion of the reacting material, increasing the efficiency of the weapon. Often
the same layer serves both as tamper and as neutron reflector.
Gun-type assembly weapon

Little Boy, the Hiroshima bomb, used 141 lb (64 kg) of uranium with an average enrichment of
around 80%, or 112 lb (51 kg) of U-235, just about the bare-metal critical mass. (See Little Boy
article for a detailed drawing.) When assembled inside its tamper/reflector of tungsten carbide,
the 141 lb (64 kg) was more than twice critical mass. Before the detonation, the uranium-235
was formed into two sub-critical pieces, one of which was later fired down a gun barrel to join
the other, starting the nuclear explosion. About 1% of the uranium underwent fission;[11] the
remainder, representing most of the entire wartime output of the giant factories at Oak Ridge,
scattered uselessly.[12]
The inefficiency was caused by the speed with which the uncompressed fissioning uranium
expanded and became sub-critical by virtue of decreased density. Despite its inefficiency, this
design, because of its shape, was adapted for use in small-diameter, cylindrical artillery shells (a
gun-type warhead fired from the barrel of a much larger gun). Such warheads were deployed by
the United States until 1992, accounting for a significant fraction of the U-235 in the arsenal, and
were some of the first weapons dismantled to comply with treaties limiting warhead numbers.

The rationale for this decision was undoubtedly a combination of the lower yield and grave
safety issues associated with the gun-type design.
Implosion-type weapon

For both the Trinity device and the Fat Man, the Nagasaki bomb, nearly identical plutonium
fission through implosion designs were used. The Fat Man device specifically used 13.6 lb
(6.2 kg), about 12 US fl oz or 350 ml in volume) of Pu-239, which is only 41% of bare-sphere
critical mass. (See Fat Man article for a detailed drawing.) Surrounded by a U-238
reflector/tamper, the Fat Man's pit was brought close to critical mass by the neutron-reflecting
properties of the U-238. During detonation, criticality was achieved by implosion. The plutonium
pit was squeezed to increase its density by simultaneous detonation, as with the "Trinity" test
detonation three weeks earlier, of the conventional explosives placed uniformly around the pit.
The explosives were detonated by multiple exploding-bridgewire detonators. It is estimated that
only about 20% of the plutonium underwent fission; the rest, about 11 lb (5.0 kg), was scattered.
Flash X-Ray images of the converging shock waves formed during a test of the high
explosive lens system.

An implosion shock wave might be of such short duration that only part of the pit is compressed
at any instant as the wave passes through it. To prevent this, a pusher shell may be needed. The
pusher is located between the explosive lens and the tamper. It works by reflecting some of the
shock wave backwards, thereby having the effect of lengthening its duration. It is made out of a
low density metalsuch as aluminium, beryllium, or an alloy of the two metals (aluminium
being easier and safer to shape, and is two orders of magnitude cheaper; beryllium for its highneutron-reflective capability). Fat Man used an aluminium pusher.
The series of RaLa Experiment tests of implosion-type fission weapon design concepts, carried
out from July 1944 through February 1945 at the Los Alamos National Laboratory and a remote
site 9 miles (14.3 km) east of it in Bayo Canyon, proved the practicality of the implosion design
for a fission device, with the February 1945 tests positively determining its usability for the final
Trinity/Fat Man plutonium implosion design.[13]
The key to Fat Man's greater efficiency was the inward momentum of the massive U-238 tamper.
(The natural uranium tamper did not undergo fission from thermal neutrons, but did contribute
perhaps 20% of the total yield from fission by fast neutrons). Once the chain reaction started in
the plutonium, the momentum of the implosion had to be reversed before expansion could stop
the fission. By holding everything together for a few hundred nanoseconds more, the efficiency
was increased.
Plutonium pit

The core of an implosion weapon the fissile material and any reflector or tamper bonded to it
is known as the pit. Some weapons tested during the 1950s used pits made with U-235 alone, or
in composite with plutonium,[14] but all-plutonium pits are the smallest in diameter and have been
the standard since the early 1960s.
Casting and then machining plutonium is difficult not only because of its toxicity, but also
because plutonium has many different metallic phases. As plutonium cools, changes in phase
result in distortion and cracking. This distortion is normally overcome by alloying it with 33.5

molar% (0.91.0% by weight) gallium, forming a plutonium-gallium alloy, which causes it to

take up its delta phase over a wide temperature range.[15] When cooling from molten it then has
only a single phase change, from epsilon to delta, instead of the four changes it would otherwise
pass through. Other trivalent metals would also work, but gallium has a small neutron absorption
cross section and helps protect the plutonium against corrosion. A drawback is that gallium
compounds are corrosive and so if the plutonium is recovered from dismantled weapons for
conversion to plutonium dioxide for power reactors, there is the difficulty of removing the
Because plutonium is chemically reactive it is common to plate the completed pit with a thin
layer of inert metal, which also reduces the toxic hazard.[16] The gadget used galvanic silver
plating; afterwards, nickel deposited from nickel tetracarbonyl vapors was used,[16] but gold is
now preferred.[citation needed]
Levitated-pit implosion

The first improvement on the Fat Man design was to put an air space between the tamper and the
pit to create a hammer-on-nail impact. The pit, supported on a hollow cone inside the tamper
cavity, was said to be levitated. The three tests of Operation Sandstone, in 1948, used Fat Man
designs with levitated pits. The largest yield was 49 kilotons, more than twice the yield of the
unlevitated Fat Man.[17]
It was immediately clear that implosion was the best design for a fission weapon. Its only
drawback seemed to be its diameter. Fat Man was 5 feet (1.5 m) wide vs 2 feet (61 cm) for Little
Eleven years later, implosion designs had advanced sufficiently that the 5-foot (1.5 m)-diameter
sphere of Fat Man had been reduced to a 1-foot (0.30 m)-diameter cylinder 2 feet (0.61 m) long,
the Swan device.
The Pu-239 pit of Fat Man was only 3.6 inches (9.1 cm) in diameter, the size of a softball. The
bulk of Fat Man's girth was the implosion mechanism, namely concentric layers of U-238,
aluminium, and high explosives. The key to reducing that girth was the two-point implosion
Two-point linear implosion

There are other types of nuclear weapons as well. For example, a boosted fission weapon is a
fission bomb that increases its explosive yield through a small amount of fusion reactions, but it
is not a fusion bomb. In the boosted bomb, the neutrons produced by the fusion reactions serve
primarily to increase the efficiency of the fission bomb. There are two types of boosted fission
bomb: internally boosted, in which a deuterium-tritium mixture is injected into the bomb core,
and externally boosted, in which concentric shells of lithium-deuteride and depleted uranium are
layered on the outside of the fission bomb core.

Some weapons are designed for special purposes; a neutron bomb is a thermonuclear weapon
that yields a relatively small explosion but a relatively large amount of neutron radiation; such a
device could theoretically be used to cause massive casualties while leaving infrastructure mostly
intact and creating a minimal amount of fallout. The detonation of any nuclear weapon is
accompanied by a blast of neutron radiation. Surrounding a nuclear weapon with suitable
materials (such as cobalt or gold) creates a weapon known as a salted bomb. This device can
produce exceptionally large quantities of long-lived radioactive contamination. It has been
conjectured that such a device could serve as a "doomsday weapon" because such a large
quantity of radioactivities with half-lives of decades, lifted into the stratosphere where wind
currents would distribute it around the globe, would make all life on the planet extinct.
In connection with the Strategic Defense Initiative, research into the Nuclear pumped laser was
conducted under the Dod program Project Excalibur but this did not result in a working weapon.
The concept involves the tapping of the energy of an exploding nuclear bomb to power a singleshot laser which is directed at a distant target.
During the Starfish Prime high-altitude nuclear test in 1962, an unexpected effect was produced
which is called a Nuclear electromagnetic pulse. This is an intense flash of electromagnetic
energy produced by a rain of high energy electrons which in turn are produced by a nuclear
bomb's gamma rays. This flash of energy can permanently destroy or disrupt electronic
equipment if insufficiently shielded. It has been proposed to use this effect to disable an enemy's
military and civilian infrastructure as an adjunct to other nuclear or conventional military
operations against that enemy. Because the effect is produced by very high altitude nuclear
detonations, it can produce damage to electronics over a very wide, even continental,
geographical area.
Research has been done into the possibility of pure fusion bombs: nuclear weapons that consist
of fusion reactions without requiring a fission bomb to initiate them. Such a device might
provide a simpler path to thermonuclear weapons than one that required development of fission
weapons first, and pure fusion weapons would create significantly less nuclear fallout than other
thermonuclear weapons, because they would not disperse fission products. In 1998, the United
States Department of Energy divulged that the United States had, "...made a substantial
investment" in the past to develop pure fusion weapons, but that, "The U.S. does not have and is
not developing a pure fusion weapon", and that, "No credible design for a pure fusion weapon
resulted from the DOE investment".[13]

Overpressure ranges from 1 to 50 psi (6.9 to 345 kilopascals) of a 1 kiloton of TNT air burst as a
function of burst height. The thin black curve indicates the optimum burst height for a given
ground range.
An estimate of the size of the damage caused by the Atomic bombings of Hiroshima and
Nagasaki. A modern hydrogen bomb would be tens [3] of times more powerful and cause similar
levels of damage at 2-5 times the distance.

The high temperatures and radiation cause gas to move outward radially in a thin, dense shell
called "the hydrodynamic front." The front acts like a piston that pushes against and compresses
the surrounding medium to make a spherically expanding shock wave. At first, this shock wave
is inside the surface of the developing fireball, which is created in a volume of air by the X-rays.
However, within a fraction of a second the dense shock front obscures the fireball, causing the
characteristic double pulse of light seen from a nuclear detonation. For air bursts at or near sealevel, between 50-60% of the explosion's energy goes into the blast wave, depending on the size
and the yield-to-weight ratio of the bomb. As a general rule, the blast fraction is higher for low
yield and/or high bomb mass. Furthermore, it decreases at high altitudes because there is less air
mass to absorb radiation energy and convert it into blast. This effect is most important for
altitudes above 30 km, corresponding to <1 per cent of sea-level air density.
Much of the destruction caused by a nuclear explosion is due to blast effects. Most buildings,
except reinforced or blast-resistant structures, will suffer moderate to severe damage when
subjected to overpressures of only 35.5 kilopascals (kPa) (5.15 pounds-force per square inch or
0.35 atm).
The blast wind may exceed one thousand km/h. The range for blast effects increases with the
explosive yield of the weapon and also depends on the burst altitude. Contrary to what one might
expect from geometry the blast range is not maximal for surface or low altitude blasts but
increases with altitude up to an "optimum burst altitude" and then decreases rapidly for higher
altitudes. This is due to the nonlinear behaviour of shock waves. If the blast wave reaches the
ground it is reflected. Below a certain reflection angle the reflected wave and the direct wave
merge and form a reinforced horizontal wave, the so-called Mach stem (named after Ernst
Mach). For each goal overpressure there is a certain optimum burst height at which the blast
range is maximized. In a typical air burst, where the blast range is maximized for 5 to 20 psi (34
to 140 kPa), these values of overpressure and wind velocity noted above will prevail at a range of
0.7 km for 1 kiloton (kt) of TNT yield; 3.2 km for 100 kt; and 15.0 km for 10 megatons (Mt) of
Two distinct, simultaneous phenomena are associated with the blast wave in air:

Static overpressure, i.e., the sharp increase in pressure exerted by the shock wave. The
overpressure at any given point is directly proportional to the density of the air in the

Dynamic pressures, i.e., drag exerted by the blast winds required to form the blast wave.
These winds push, tumble and tear objects.

Most of the material damage caused by a nuclear air burst is caused by a combination of the high
static overpressures and the blast winds. The long compression of the blast wave weakens
structures, which are then torn apart by the blast winds. The compression, vacuum and drag
phases together may last several seconds or longer, and exert forces many times greater than the
strongest hurricane.

Acting on the human body, the shock waves cause pressure waves through the tissues. These
waves mostly damage junctions between tissues of different densities (bone and muscle) or the
interface between tissue and air. Lungs and the abdominal cavity, which contain air, are
particularly injured. The damage causes severe hemorrhaging or air embolisms, either of which
can be rapidly fatal. The overpressure estimated to damage lungs is about 70 kPa. Some
eardrums would probably rupture around 22 kPa (0.2 atm) and half would rupture between 90
and 130 kPa (0.9 to 1.2 atm).
Blast Winds: The drag energies of the blast winds are proportional to the cubes of their
velocities multiplied by the durations. These winds may reach several hundred kilometers per

Thermal radiation
Mushroom cloud height depending on yield for ground bursts.
0 = Approx altitude commercial aircraft operate
1 = Fat Man
2 = Castle Bravo.
Nuclear weapons emit large amounts of thermal radiation as visible, infrared, and ultraviolet
light. The chief hazards are burns and eye injuries. On clear days, these injuries can occur well
beyond blast ranges. The light is so powerful that it can start fires that spread rapidly in the
debris left by a blast. However, the high winds following the blast wave will put out almost all
such fires, unless the yield is very high. This is because the intensity of the blast effects drops off
with the third power of distance from the explosion, while the intensity of radiation effects drops
off with the second power of distance. However, in urban areas, the extinguishing of fires ignited
by thermal radiation matters little, as fires will be started anyway by electrical shorts, gas pilot
lights, overturned stoves, and other ignition sources. The range of thermal effects increases
markedly with weapon yield. Thermal radiation accounts for between 35-45% of the energy
released in the explosion, depending on the yield of the device.
There are two types of eye injuries from the thermal radiation of a weapon:
Flash blindness is caused by the initial brilliant flash of light produced by the nuclear detonation.
More light energy is received on the retina than can be tolerated, but less than is required for
irreversible injury. The retina is particularly susceptible to visible and short wavelength infrared

Gamma rays from a nuclear explosion produce high energy electrons through Compton
scattering. These electrons are captured in the Earth's magnetic field, at altitudes between twenty
and forty kilometers, where they resonate. The oscillating electric current produces a coherent
electromagnetic pulse (EMP) which lasts about one millisecond. Secondary effects may last for
more than a second.

The pulse is powerful enough to cause long metal objects (such as cables) to act as antennas and
generate high voltages when the pulse passes. These voltages, and the associated high currents,
can destroy unshielded electronics and even many wires. There are no known biological effects
of EMP. The ionized air also disrupts radio traffic that would normally bounce off the
One can shield electronics by wrapping them completely in conductive material such as
aluminum foil, however the effects of the EMP can penetrate any shielding depending on the
thickness of the metal shielding, the density of the material (lead offers close to the best due to its
relative density) and of course the proximity of the blast. This shielding can also be rather
ineffective if proper grounding of the shielding is not employed, consequent re-radiation inside
the shielding can occur. Semiconductors are extremely susceptible to the effects of EMP due to
the close proximity of the PN junctions, this is not the case with thermionic tubes or valves
which use stimulated electron emission and are therefore immune. All American and Russian
backup communications systems are tube (UK "valve") operated to ensure effective operation
during or after a nuclear incident.[dubious discuss] A Faraday cage doesn't offer protection from the
effects of EMP unless the mesh is designed to have holes no bigger than the smallest wavelength
emitted from a nuclear explosion. In practice this is impossible as a nuclear explosion emits all
known wavelengths, some smaller than the atomic bonds of some metals. A Faraday cage is
designed to protect from electrical discharges only. Additionally, radios cannot operate while
shielded, because broadcast radio waves cannot reach them.
About 5% of the energy released in a nuclear air burst is in the form of ionizing radiation:
neutrons, gamma rays, alpha particles, and electrons moving at speeds up to the speed of light.
Gamma rays are high energy electromagnetic radiation; the others are particles that move slower
than light. The neutrons result almost exclusively from the fission and fusion reactions, while the
initial gamma radiation includes that arising from these reactions as well as that resulting from
the decay of short-lived fission products.
The intensity of initial nuclear radiation decreases rapidly with distance from the point of burst
because the radiation spreads over a larger area as it travels away from the explosion. It is also
reduced by atmospheric absorption and scattering.
The character of the radiation received at a given location also varies with distance from the
explosion.[4] Near the point of the explosion, the neutron intensity is greater than the gamma
intensity, but with increasing distance the neutron-gamma ratio decreases. Ultimately, the
neutron component of initial radiation becomes negligible in comparison with the gamma
component. The range for significant levels of initial radiation does not increase markedly with
weapon yield and, as a result, the initial radiation becomes less of a hazard with increasing yield.
With larger weapons, above 50 kT (200 TJ), blast and thermal effects are so much greater in
importance that prompt radiation effects can be ignored.
The neutron radiation serves to transmute the surrounding matter, often rendering it radioactive.
When added to the dust of radioactive material released by the bomb itself, a large amount of
radioactive material is released into the environment. This form of radioactive contamination is

known as nuclear fallout and poses the primary risk of exposure to ionizing radiation for a large
nuclear weapon.
Details of nuclear weapon design also affect neutron emission: the gun-type assembly Hiroshima
bomb leaked far more neutrons than the implosion type 21 kt Nagasaki bomb because the light
hydrogen nuclei (protons) predominating in the exploded TNT molecules (surrounding the core
of the Nagasaki bomb) slowed down neutrons very efficiently while the heavier iron atoms in the
steel nose forging of the Hiroshima bomb scattered neutrons without absorbing much neutron
As the fireball rises through still air, it takes on the flow pattern of a vortex ring with
incandescent material in the vortex core as seen in certain photographs.[8] At the explosion of
nuclear bombs lightning discharges sometimes occur. Not related to the explosion itself, often
there are smoke trails seen in photographs of nuclear explosions. [9] These are formed from
sounding rockets emitting smoke launched before detonation. The smoke trails are used to
determine the position of the shockwave, which is invisible, in the milliseconds after detonation
through the refraction of light, which causes an optical break in the smoke trails as the
shockwave passes.
The heat and airborne debris created by a nuclear explosion can cause rain. After the Hiroshima
explosion, these drops of water were recorded to have been about the size of a marble.[10]
A fizzle occurs if the nuclear chain reaction is not sustained long enough to cause an explosion
(known as a criticality accident when unintentional), or if the explosion is of much less energy
than expected. This can happen if, for example, the yield of the fissile material used is too low,
the compression explosives around fissile material misfire or the neutron initiator fails.

1. ^ a b c d e f "Frequently Asked Questions #1". Radiation Effects Research Foundation.
http://www.rerf.or.jp/general/qa_e/qa1.html. Retrieved Sept. 18, 2007.
2. ^ Hakim, Joy (1995). A History of Us: War, Peace and all that Jazz. New York: Oxford
University Press. ISBN 0-19-509514-6.
3. ^ a b Rezelman, David; F.G. Gosling and Terrence R. Fehner (2000). "The atomic
bombing of hiroshima". The Manhattan Project: An Interactive History. U.S. Department
of Energy. http://www.cfo.doe.gov/me70/manhattan/hiroshima.htm. Retrieved Sept. 18,
2007. page on Hiroshima casualties.
4. ^ Adams, S. & Crawford, A.. 2000. World War II. First edition. Printed in association
with the Imperial War Museum. Eyewitness Books series. New York, Doring Kindersley
5. ^ Harry S. Truman Library & Museum. U. S. Strategic Bombing Survey: The Effects of
the Atomic Bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, June 19, 1946. President's Secretary's
File, Truman Papers. 2. Hiroshima., page 22 of 51.
6. ^ a b The Spirit of Hiroshima: An Introduction to the Atomic Bomb Tragedy. Hiroshima
Peace Memorial Museum. 1999.
7. ^ a b Mikiso Hane (2001). Modern Japan: A Historical Survey. Westview Press. ISBN 08133-3756-9.
8. ^ Trinity and Beyond: The atomic bomb movie. Dir. Kuran, P., Nar. Shatner, W.. 1997.
VHS. Goldhil Video, 1997.
9. ^ Koizumi, Junichiro (August 6, 2005). "Address by Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi
at the Hiroshima Memorial Service for the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Ceremony". Prime
http://www.kantei.go.jp/foreign/koizumispeech/2005/08/06aisatu_e.html. Retrieved Nov.
28, 2007.
10. ^ a b Walker, J. Samuel (April 2005). "Recent Literature on Truman's Atomic Bomb
Decision: A Search for Middle Ground". Diplomatic History 29 (2): 334.
11.Cohen, Sam, The Truth About the Neutron Bomb: The Inventor of the Bomb
Speaks Out, William Morrow & Co., 1983
12.Coster-Mullen, John, "Atom Bombs: The Top Secret Inside Story of Little Boy
and Fat Man", Self-Published, 2011

13.Glasstone, Samuel and Dolan, Philip J., editors, The Effects of Nuclear
Weapons (third edition) (PDF), U.S. Government Printing Office, 1977.
14.Grace, S. Charles, Nuclear Weapons: Principles, Effects and Survivability
(Land Warfare: Brassey's New Battlefield Weapons Systems and Technology,
vol 10)
15.Hansen, Chuck, "Swords of Armageddon: U.S. Nuclear Weapons Development
since 1945" (CD-ROM & download available). PDF. 2,600 pages, Sunnyvale,
California, Chucklea Publications, 1995, 2007. ISBN 978-0-9791915-0-3 (2nd
16.The Effects of Nuclear War, Office of Technology Assessment (May 1979).
17.Rhodes, Richard. The Making of the Atomic Bomb. Simon and Schuster, New
York, (1986 ISBN 978-0-684-81378-3)
18.Rhodes, Richard. Dark Sun: The Making of the Hydrogen Bomb. Simon and
Schuster, New York, (1995 ISBN 978-0-684-82414-7)

Both the Hiroshima and the Nagasaki atomic bombs exhibited similar effects.
The damages to man-made structures and other inanimate objects was the result in both cities of
the following effects of the explosions:
A. Blast, or pressure wave, similar to that of normal explosions.
B. Primary fires, i.e., those fires started instantaneously by the heat radiated from the atomic
C. Secondary fires, i.e., those fires resulting from the collapse of buildings, damage to electrical
systems, overturning of stoves, and other primary effects of the blast.
D. Spread of the original fires (B and C) to other structures.
The casualties sustained by the inhabitants of both cities were due to:
A. "Flash" burns, caused directly by the almost instantaneous radiation of heat and light at the
moment of the explosion.
B. Burns resulting from the fires caused by the explosion.
C. Mechanical injuries caused by collapse of buildings, flying debris, and forceable hurling about of persons struck by the blast pressure waves.
D. Radiation injuries caused by the instantaneous penetrating radiation (in many respects similar
to excessive X-ray exposure) from the nuclear explosion; all of these effective radiations
occurred during the first minute after initiation of the explosion, and nearly all occurred during
the first second of the explosion.
No casualties were suffered as a result of any persistent radioactivity of fission products of the
bomb, or any induced radioactivity of objects near the explosion. The gamma radiations emitted
by the nuclear explosion did not, of course, inflict any damage on structures.
The number of casualties which resulted from the pure blast effect alone (i.e., because of simple
pressure) was probably negligible in comparison to that caused by other effects.
The central portions of the cities underneath the explosions suffered almost complete destruction.
The only surviving objects were the frames of a small number of strong reinforced concrete

buildings which were not collapsed by the blast; most of these buildings suffered extensive
damage from interior fires, had their windows, doors, and partitions knocked out, and all other
fixtures which were not integral parts of the reinforced concrete frames burned or blown away;
the casualties in such buildings near the center of explosion were almost 100%. In Hiroshima
fires sprang up simultaneously all over the wide flat central area of the city; these fires soon
combined in an immense "fire storm" (high winds blowing inwards toward the center of a large
conflagration) similar to those caused by ordinary mass incendiary raids; the resulting terrific
conflagration burned out almost everything which had not already been destroyed by the blast in
a roughly circular area of 4.4 square miles around the point directly under the explosion (this
point will hereafter in this report be referred to as X). Similar fires broke out in Nagasaki, but no
devastating fire storm resulted as in Hiroshima because of the irregular shape of the city.
In both cities the blast totally destroyed everything within a radius of 1 mile from the center of
explosion, except for certain reinforced concrete frames as noted above. The atomic explosion
almost completely destroyed Hiroshima's identity as a city. Over a fourth of the population was
killed in one stroke and an additional fourth seriously injured, so that even if there had been no
damage to structures and installations the normal city life would still have been completely
shattered. Nearly everything was heavily damaged up to a radius of 3 miles from the blast, and
beyond this distance damage, although comparatively light, extended for several more miles.
Glass was broken up to 12 miles.

The following are the main conclusions which were reached after thorough examination of the
effects of the bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki:
1. No harmful amounts of persistent radioactivity were present after the explosions as determined
A. Measurements of the intensity of radioactivity at the time of the investigation; and
B. Failure to find any clinical evidence of persons harmed by persistent radioactivity.
The effects of the atomic bombs on human beings were of three main types:
A. Burns, remarkable for (1) the great ground area over which they were inflicted and (2) the
prevalence of "flash" burns caused by the instantaneous heat radiation.
B. Mechanical injuries, also remarkable for the wide area in which suffered.
C. Effects resulting from penetrating gamma radiation. The effects from radiation were due to
instantaneous discharge of radiation at the moment of explosion and not to persistent
radioactivity (of either fission products or other substances whose radioactivity might have been
induced by proximity to the explosions).
The effects of the atomic bombs on structures and installations were of two types:
A. Destruction caused by the great pressure from the blast; and

B. Destruction caused by the fires, either started directly by the great heat radiation, or indirectly
through the collapse of buildings, wiring, etc.
4. The actual tonnage of T.N.T. which would have caused the same blast damage was
approximately of the order of 20,000 tons.
5. In respect to their height of burst, the bombs performed exactly according to design.
6. The bombs were placed in such positions that they could not have done more damage from
any alternative bursting point in either city.
7. The heights of burst were correctly chosen having regard to the type of destruction it was
desired to cause.
8. The information collected would enable a reasonably accurate prediction to be made of the
blast damage likely to be caused in any city where an atomic explosion could be effected.