Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Physics of a Hydrogen Bomb

We explained last time how an atom bomb works. What about a hydrogen bomb (H-bomb)?

An H-bomb works on the principle of fusion. Fusion occurs when multiple like-charged atomic nuclei join to form a heavier nucleus, which releases a tremendous amount of energy in the process. The energy released through fusion is 3-4 times greater than the energy of fission because the amount of mass transformed into energy is that much greater. Fusion is the process that occurs in stars in the universe, like the sun.

In an H-bomb, 2 forms of hydrogen fuse to form a nucleus of helium and a neutron, causing a release of 17.6 MeV of energy (= to a 100 kiloton TNT explosion). Unlike nuclear fission, nuclear fusion has no limit in regards to how many times it can occur.

Here is a clip of an h-bomb.

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