Nukes and Thermonuclear Accessories

Early nuclear tests weren’t in danger of igniting the atmosphere. The scientists were kind of sure it wouldn’t.

But they also were concerned with the ocean:

if the Earth’s oceans had twenty times more deuterium than they actually contain, they could be ignited by a 20 million megaton bomb (which is to say, a bomb with the yield equivalent to 200 tera tons of TNT, or a bomb 2 million times more powerful than the Tsar Bomba’s full yield).

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Seeing this thread start last night scared the shit out of me.

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At least, I can say I’d probably tweet before I’d post here if I were giving “the bad news” on any nuclear development.

I stand by my promise that I’ll never lie about or minimize this stuff, and that no news is always good news. :wink:

Is a cleansing conflagration really such a bad thing given the current state of the world?

I’m always reminded of this board game. I feel like I see an unloved copy of it in every game store and every game library, but have never played it, or even looked inside the box.

We have that game here atTvHQ. I think dad just loaded it into the basement but we have it, I remember trying to learn it with my friend Mosby but the instructions weren’t very readable.

The story of John Wheeler, the guy who lost the document describing how to make the H-bomb in a train bathroom in 1953.

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It’s still amazing that the gnosis on how to make a thermonuclear weapon is to this day unknown. It’s possibly the best kept secret in human history.

Heh I posted this in totd a few days ago. Along with how the author of that article is a pretty accomplished expert on nukes himself.

Hey ya’ll,

Ya wanna learn about nukes from someone who knows more about nukes than Rym?

This guy made this


New footage of the Tsar Bomba. ROSATOM released a previously-classified documentary:

Footage of the explosion starts around 22:30

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Raise Thread

Teller of some of my favourite history of nuclear development stories (including the time a dude lost some classified nuke documents on a train (whole train got stripped down to bare metal)) is coming out with a book this week:


A couple months back I came across this New Yorker article about John Coster-Mullen, a civilian who investigated the design of nuclear bombs. I learned that the gun design didn’t fire a bullet into a target with a bullet-shaped hole, it was the other way around.

NOT this:

But this:

He recently passed away:


Yeap. The goal was to maximize the time where a critical mass was present. Even the “simple” nuclear weapon designs were extremely well engineered and were not in practice simple to build.

This type of weapon was obsolete before it was even deployed. It’s also the type of weapon that South African 6kt yield thing was based on. The design probably maxed out, if engineered and produced extremely well, ~30kt. They also can not use plutonium for reasons, and thus only ever existed as uranium-based devices.

South Africa chose this design largely due to their lack of sophisticated engineering and manufacturing capabilities, and also due to their “mission profile.”

That mission profile was horrific and racist. Their plan was basically to nuke the desert if the (justified) unrest around their regime grew too disruptive, hoping to scare Africans into leaving the regime intact and likely getting the US to intercede on their behalf as a fellow nuclear power.


This was in the 80s! The last US weapon that used this obsolete design was retired in the early 60s*.

*There was one weapon that technically was still in service until the 90s, but not practically. The US W33 warhead.

It was a highly specialized device for nuclear artillery. (Yes, that is as terrible of an idea as it sounds). Hence, while they weren’t disassembled until the early 90s, they were not really “operational” during that service history.

Little is known about the details of its design, save that it very likely used two separate gun devices internally. This is both due to the implausibility of a 30kt yield from a single gun-type device and due to its own mission profile.

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Want to know where our nukes are stored? Just check on some…flashcards.

This is even better than the time a bunch of covert bases got revealed on Strava. Or a bunch of personnel and bases got exposed on Untappd. (The latter of which being broken by the same reporter as this story, funnily enough.)

This was gonna be my news on Monday.

Alex Wellerstein with an article about Really Big Bombs:

At [Teller’s] Livermore laboratory, he reported, they were working on two new weapon designs, dubbed Gnomon and Sundial. Gnomon would be 1,000 megatons and would be used like a “primary” to set off Sundial, which would be 10,000 megatons.

Supposedly a 10GT airburst was calculated to be able to set an area the size of France on fire.

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