10 years ago
nuclear weapons. We did "Duck and Cover" drills in school, and I
thought I had a fair notion about how these things worked.
But this photo (second one on this page) of the PU core of the
"Fat Man" implosion device - it's so small...fit's in your hand.
The majority of the energy release is nearly instantaneous, the mean
time from neutron release to fission can be of the order of 10
nanoseconds, and the chain reaction builds exponentially. The result is
that greater than 99% of the very considerable energy released in an
atomic explosion is generated in the last few (typically 4-5)
generations of fission -- less than a tenth of a microsecond.*
This tremendous energy release in a small space over fantastically short
periods of time creates some unusual phenomena -- physical conditions
that have no equal on earth, no matter how much TNT is stacked up.
A fascinating collection of high speed photos...
and the "rope tricks"...