My explanation on how Atomic bombs work :D

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    Gamma Justice For All is offline
    Aug 2011 Join Date
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    My explanation on how Atomic bombs work :D

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    Lately I've been really interested in nuclear and particle physics, and have been studying how atomic bombs work. (Disclaimer: yes, this is legal, and no, you won't "be put on some list" or have the FBI knock at your door for looking this stuff up). It's public knowledge and there are literally college courses on how atomic bombs work. Now if I were to look up stuff like "how to make a bomb" or "where to get the stuff to make a bomb" then I might be in a little bit of trouble, (uh-oh I just typed it in this thread they must be watching me now!!! ) but the information that I look up and will discuss in this thread is 'declassified' and is public knowledge that anyone has the right to look up.

    Anyways, let's get into it.


    First we have to start off with the knowledge that everything in the universe consists of energy. Energy is the end all be all of everything ever in existence or to be in existence. I like to mention the law of conservation of energy here; being that energy cannot be created or destroyed - it can only be transformed or converted into other forms of energy.

    There are different forms/types of energy that need to be listed.You can read about the many forms/types of energy here and here in depth, but they are simply listed as Kinetic, Potential, Mechanical, Electric, Magnetic, Gravitational, Chemical, Ionization, Nuclear, Chromodynamic, Elastic, Mechanical Wave, Sound Wave, Radiant, Rest, and Thermal energy.

    Each of these forms of energy can be applied to different properties and behaviors of all matter in the universe.Atomic bombs are essentially chemical and nuclear energy. (More specifically mechanical, thermal and electrical energy.)

    Now that we know of the different forms of energies, let's explain the forms associated with what we are talking about, the Atomic bomb.To start, atomic bombs are basically a huge release of energy over an astonishingly small amount of time, which creates a drastic explosion. Atomic and nuclear bombs are similar to the process that the sun undergoes, which is nuclear fusion. Nuclear fusion is the process of fusing the atoms of hydrogen (in the case of the sun) together which releases energy in the form of nuclear energy, when a hydrogen atom is fused together with another hydrogen atom energy is released. This is what the sun constantly does, this is what happens in a nuclear fusion bomb.Now, there are different "kinds" of bombs. There are fusion and fission bombs.

    Fusion bombs, are as I just explained, like the sun. They get their energy through the process of nuclear fusion. Fission bombs, however, are the opposite. They get their energy through the process of splitting atoms and releasing energy. When a radioactive atom such as uranium or plutionium is struck with another, it splits into two and emits particles known as protons and neutrons. This process creates an exponential chain reaction and, in turn, releases energy. Every atom consists of a proton and a neutron, with an electron that 'orbits' around the nucleus (or center) of the atom. What holds all of this together is, in laymen's terms, energy - or the electromagnetic force. Again, when these are separated by being struck with another particle, energy is released. This is the basic principle behind nuclear fission bombs.

    Did I lose you? Well, I've drawn up an infograph on how it works! Hopefully it helps if you are lost.
    As you can see, you start out with a simple uranium or plutonium atom, which consists of of a proton, a neutron and an electron. The uranium atom is struck by a 'free neutron' which initiates the chain reaction, which exponentially grows, exponentially releasing more and more energy because energy is stored in the nucleus of each atom. (Remember how I said energy cannot be created or destroyed - only transformed? That is a perfect example.)A uranium-238 atom has 92 protons and 146 neutrons in its nucleus. That is in one simple atom of uranium. So imagine how many protons and neutrons a small pound of uranium consists of... Mind blowing isn't it? This is where the energy for the atomic explosion is derived from. But wait, we don't stop there, as silly as we humans are we wanted MORE power, and more destruction. (Like we don't already have enough, right? )

    So we wanted to figure out how to make the explosion even bigger. How do we do this? By creating even more chain reactions and allowing the chain reactions to 'stew' or 'simmer' and brew up more and more energy until a cataclysmic event takes place. The longer this can happen, the larger and more powerful the explosion is in the end.

    So how do we achieve this? By using different materials and something called a "tamper", as-well as changing the shape of the container for the explosive material. A square or rectangle for example has maximum surface area whereas a circle or sphere has minimal surface area - allowing more efficient use of reflection of atoms back into each other to create more and more power releasing more and more energy.

    A tamper with special material (usually lead) deflects the atoms back into each other inside of the bomb container allowing them to create more and more chain reactions until an explosion of great magnitude takes place. Now, you may be wondering, how does it detonate, or, how do they initiate the explosion? You may know how they initiate the chain reaction, but how do they start the explosion itself?

    Well, again, there are multiple types of atomic and nuclear bombs.

    There are implosion and gun type bombs.

    Gun type bombs are essentially, as it sounds, a gun type explosion - while implosion type bombs, are, again, how they sound, implosive type explosions. (If I've confused you just keep reading I will explain the correlation and difference(s) between each as-well as implosion and explosion.)

    A Gun type explosion happens by having a 'sub-critical' material launched into another sub-critical material, resulting in something called a 'supercritical' material which is when the explosion takes place because the atoms become unstable, not being able to hold themselves together anymore, which, as we talked about earlier, initiates the chain reaction, which in-turn, initiates the explosion.

    Interesting fact: Hiroshima was a gun-type fission weapon.

    An Implosion type explosion is as it sounds, it implodes on itself increasing the density and pressure of the uranium or plutonium pit, building more and more energy until it is released in a devastating explosion. How do they do this? Conventional explosives are placed around the pit of the uranium or plutonium, which are then detonated, causing the shockwave to travel inwards, or implode, compressing the uranium or plutonium atoms, causing a chain reaction, which, again, initiates the explosion through the release of energy stored in the atoms being split apart.

    Interesting fact: Nagasaki was an implosion-type weapon.


    So there you have it, my 'article' I guess on how certain types of atomic and nuclear bombs work. I hope it all made sense to you, but if any of it does not make sense, please, feel free to ask! There is no such thing as a stupid question and I love when questions are asked because it allows me to explain in better detail when somebody is confused.

    Hope you enjoyed!