What is Hydrogen Bomb?

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A hydogen bomb is also called the H-bomb. Hydrogen bomb has immense destructive power. It is a type of thermonuclear bomb which is fueled by nuclear fusion. In nuclear fusion, atoms with light nuclei combine to form a heavier nucleus. It is nuclear fusion which powers celestial bodies such as the sun and stars. 

A hydrogen bomb is hundred times more powerrful than an atomic bomb. Hydrogen bomb’s explosion creates blast, light, heat, and fallout. A residual radioactivity forced into the atmosphere following the blast is called the ‘fallout’. Blast of a hydrogen bomb creates shockwaves. They radiate over several miles at supersonic speeds destroying everything in its path. Light from the blast can even cause blindness. Combustible materials over a vast area are set on fire as a result of the combination of intense heat and light. This leads to a firestorm. Hydrogen bomb explosion causes air, water, and soil contamination.

History of Hydrogen Bomb

Hb history

The Manhattan Project marks the beginning of America’s hydrogen bomb history. It was a top-secret United State’s program which started during Franklin Roosevelt’s presidency in 1942. It was a secret mission, even vice president Harry Truman was uninformed. In the year 1943, Stanislaw Ullam, who was a Polish-American mathematician, started working on the Manhattan project. Complex calculations were carried out by him to determine the behavior of solids at high temperatures and pressures. The calculations played a major role in developing the spherical implosion. In the year 1945, Roosevelt passed away. Following this Truman was sworn in as the next president and he was finally informed of the Manhattan Project. Very shortly after becoming the president, in the year 1945, Truman dropped atomic bombs over the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

This incident marked the beginning of the nuclear arms race between the Soviet Union and the United States. Atomic bomb called the ‘First Lightning’ was tested by Soviets at Semipalatinsk in northern Kazakhstan on August 29, 1949. Around the same time, the British and United States intelligence found out that German-born theoretical physicist Klaus Fuchs was a spy for the soviet union. He was then working in the United States nuclear program. With this finding, the authorities realized that the secret Manhattan Project and its work on nuclear weapons were being  leaked to the Soviet Union.

Polish mathematician Edward Teller is called the father of the hydrogen bomb. Such bombs had limitless destructive power. The atomic test by the Soviet Union in 1949, the ‘spy’ episode and Teller’s influence made the United States very much part of the nuclear arms race. Truman assured his complete support and promised massive funding for the development of the Hydrogen Bomb in the year 1950.  The aim was to construct the world’s first superbomb. Teller collaborated with Ullam on the Manhattan Project. The first workable design called ‘Teller-Ulam design’, for a hydrogen bomb was finalized in the year 1951.

The first hydrogen bomb called Ivy Mike was detonated by the United States on January 1, 1952.

The bomb was tested on the Eniwetok Atoll in the Pacific Marshall Islands. The bomb literally annihilated the entire island, leaving behind a crater over a mile wide. Post explosion, the mushroom-shaped cloud rose 11 miles in the air within 90 seconds reaching a final distance of 23 miles. The radius of the blast extended over 60 miles.

Chemistry of the Hydrogen Bomb

hb chemistry

Hydrogen bomb consists of uranium, plutonium, and two isotopes of hydrogen – deuterium and tritium. The hydrogen bomb is carefully designed in such a manner that ‘each stage’ provides the energy required for igniting the ‘next stage’.

Nucleus of an unstable atom splits into smaller nuclei during nuclear fission chain reaction. Huge amounts of energy is released during fission of elements such as uranium. A chain reaction producing large amounts of energy is created as neutrons produced from the fission reaction bombard and split additional atoms.


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      Answer) Ivy Mike

  Answer) At Eniwetok Atoll in the Pacific Marshall Islands

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