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Nuclear weapons active research program/new designs?

  1. Nov 26, 2009 #1
    reading my earlier thread about India and thorium
    makes me wonder whether nuclear weapons remains an active engineering field with any new proposed designs of nuclear weapons?

    hard to imagine given the cold war is over and current h-bombs are powerful enough
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 26, 2009 #2

    mgb_phys

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    Current H bombs are too powerful, that's why you can't use them.
    A bomb that was only the equivalent of a few tons to a few 10s of tons of TNT might be very useful against caves or concrete bunkers and by not killing the surrounding 100,000 people you might be more tempted to use one.

    Of course developing one would be against all sorts of treaties and non-proliferation conventions so obviously no-one would dream of doing it.
     
  4. Nov 26, 2009 #3
    so there's actual research into this? do nuclear engineering programs teach students about how to engineer nuclear bombs?
     
  5. Nov 26, 2009 #4

    mgb_phys

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    Research yes - development would be illegal.

    In N. Korea possibly. In most countries nuclear weapon design tends to be a bit more secret.
     
  6. Nov 27, 2009 #5

    Astronuc

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    To my knowledge, no. Most programs provide sufficient background to enable one to calculate critical masses of fissile materials. Much of what was in the public domain has been removed since the 1980's.

    The program in which I obtained my degrees had a course in nuclear weapons, but it was restricted. Ultimately it was discontinued.


    Nuclear weapons research is conducted under controlled and restricted conditions at certain national labs. People involved do not talk about their work outside of the lab.
     
    Last edited: Nov 28, 2009
  7. Nov 27, 2009 #6

    mheslep

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    Most of the modern weapons are hybrids. As Astronuc indicated, Pu is used to ingite secondary thermonuclear (i.e. fusion) explosions, using H based fuel.
     
    Last edited: Nov 27, 2009
  8. Nov 27, 2009 #7
    you answered my questions, thanks
     
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