Saturday, March 01, 2008


This Day in the History of Really Big Thermonuclear Weapons

On this day in 1954, a hydrogen bomb, code-named Bravo, exploded in a test just 7 feet above the Bikini Atoll in the Pacific Ocean. With explosive power between 15 and 20 megatons of TNT, it was the most powerful of all U.S. thermonuclear bomb tests. In fact it was about three times as big an explosion as predicted. I know that makes me ever more confident in modern science. It was a deliverable bomb of the 'dry' type (using lithium deuteride with a 40% content of the lithium-6 isotope as its fusion fuel) as opposed to a huge device, with cryogenics, taking up the greater part of a barge. Its bigger yield, combined with bad weather conditions, exposed some Japanese fishermen and Marshall Island inhabitants to radiation fallout. One of the fishermen died. Much of Bikini Atoll is still uninhabitable due to just this test.
I guess the only thing worse would have been No Bikini Atoll.


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