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What is the difference

  1. Feb 24, 2006 #1
    Is there a difference between an atomic bomb and a nuclear bomb? or it's two names for one kind of bomb?
    I am so confused :confused: !!!
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 24, 2006 #2


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    Gold Member

    Wiki is your friend:

    In a nutshell:

    An atom bomb (or A-bomb or fission bomb) exploits the power released when a heavy element such as plutonium is split into two lighter elements.

    A hydrogen bomb (or H-bomb or fusion bomb) exploits the power released when a light element such as hydrogen is fused into a heavier element such as helium.

    If you look up "binding energy", you'll see http://www.alaskajohn.com/physics/charts/binding_energy.jpg" [Broken]. A reaction that jumps up the chart (such as U > Kr (not listed) or H > He) releases a corresponding amount of energy.

    Considering the height that He is above H, it becomes apparent why H-bombs are much more powerful than A-bombs.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 2, 2017
  4. Feb 24, 2006 #3


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    Staff: Mentor

    But the question was about "atomic" vs "nuclear".... My understanding was that the word "atomic" fell out of favor because it isn't quite descriptive: the energy comes from the nucleus of the atom, hence "nuclear".
  5. Feb 24, 2006 #4


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    i think, the common usage also meant that "atomic bomb" precluded the fusion bomb, but "nuclear bomb" could mean either fission or fusion bomb.
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