Zero-radiation nuclear bomb?

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Hello, some long time ago I've heard the suggestion that low-yield radiation-free nuclear devices may some day be used for peacefull purposes, such as large scale removal of ground, e.g. for mining operations.

Does current physical knowledge allow for the possibility to develop such devices in the future (not that I think they should be developed, but out of pure curiosity)? How might a device like this operate? What are the unknowns that would need to be researched in order to develop such technology?
 

Answers and Replies

  • #2
Chronos
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One version is called the neutron bomb. It makes a loud noise, but leaves no appreciable fallout, residual radiation, or life forms in the immediate vicinity.
 
  • #3
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Clean nukes

Chronos said:
One version is called the neutron bomb.
No. A neutron bomb is an otherwise-ordinary fission-triggered hydrogen bomb with no neutron-absorbing/explosion-boosting U-238 jacket. Today's "clean" hydrogen bombs use lead jackets to absorb the fusion-produced neutrons, but they still have the problem of spreading fission-products produced by their fission triggers (the primary stage of the bomb).

What is currently proposed for future use in civil engineering is a hydrogen bomb with no fission primary stage. For example, laser inertial confinement might possibly suffice as a substitute for the fission primary.
 
  • #4
Morbius
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Chronos said:
One version is called the neutron bomb. It makes a loud noise, but leaves no appreciable fallout, residual radiation, or life forms in the immediate vicinity.
Chronos,

Absolutely positively WRONG.

The neutron bomb is not as clean as you think it is, or as portrayed in the
modern mythology.

It is a weapon - NOT an earth moving device.

Dr. Gregory Greenman
Physicist
 
  • #5
Morbius
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alpha_wolf said:
Hello, some long time ago I've heard the suggestion that low-yield radiation-free nuclear devices may some day be used for peacefull purposes, such as large scale removal of ground, e.g. for mining operations.

Does current physical knowledge allow for the possibility to develop such devices in the future (not that I think they should be developed, but out of pure curiosity)? How might a device like this operate? What are the unknowns that would need to be researched in order to develop such technology?
alpha_wolfe,

Yes - "earth moving" nuclear explosives were developed by Lawrence
Livermore and Los Alamos National Laboratories as part of the
Ploughshare Project back in the 1960s.

One test of this technology was the Sedan test at the Nevada Test Site -
you can see a picture of the Sedan crater here, although it looks much
more impressive when you are actually standing next to it:

http://www.nv.doe.gov/news&pubs/photos&films/Images/photolib/8X10/NF121.JPG [Broken]

Dr. Gregory Greenman
Physicist
 
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  • #6
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At the moment any type of Nuclear bomb is to uncontrolable to be used on a safe scale.
 
  • #7
Morbius
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J20gU3 said:
At the moment any type of Nuclear bomb is to uncontrolable to be used on a safe scale.
j20gU3,

That is untrue.

After all - the USA tested nuclear weapons underground for about 30 years -
from 1962 to 1992.

The designers were able to design the bombs to the yield that they wanted -
and were able to figure out how deeply the bomb had to be buried so that
the explosion would not break out of the surface. With the exception of
a very few that "vented" - the explosions were well contained.

Since the bombs can be successfully designed to a particular yield - one
knows how much energy will be generated and how much soil is going to
be displaced.

The yield of a nuclear explosive CAN be controlled - the designer can
make the nuclear explosive generate the amount of energy necessary to
do the earth-moving job at hand.

Dr. Gregory Greenman
Physicist
 
  • #8
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but then u have greenpeace and them people who will go against it. to me it is a good idea.
 
  • #9
Morbius
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J20gU3 said:
but then u have greenpeace and them people who will go against it. to me it is a good idea.
j20gU3,

Well THAT'S a given. Greenpeace will oppose anything.

I wonder what Greenpeace thinks of beavers building dams across streams?
They would probably scream like hell if humans wanted to dam a stream.
But what about beavers - aren't they "natural" like the stream?

Nature made beavers to build dams across streams. So in the eyes of
Greenpeace - who wins - "natural" beavers or "natural" streams?

Dr. Gregory Greenman
Physicist
 
  • #10
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I look at life that we are part of nature and anything we create is a part of nature. Like the bevers and the dams.
 
  • #11
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Morbius said:
j20gU3,

Well THAT'S a given. Greenpeace will oppose anything.

I wonder what Greenpeace thinks of beavers building dams across streams?
They would probably scream like hell if humans wanted to dam a stream.
But what about beavers - aren't they "natural" like the stream?

Nature made beavers to build dams across streams. So in the eyes of
Greenpeace - who wins - "natural" beavers or "natural" streams?

Dr. Gregory Greenman
Physicist
Ok, this is a bit off-topic, so you may skip this if you want (unless you're Morbius :biggrin: ).

When you compare human made dams with beaver made dams, you have to consider a few important differences:
1. The scale of human dams is MUCH MUCH larger than any beaver-made dam, and so the impact is also much more significant.
2. Beaver build dams in places where the ecosystem has evolved to not only cope with the dams, but even require them. Hence beaver dams are beneficial to the local environment. On the other hand, humans build dams whereever they like, or more specifically where the ecosystem has not evolved to cope with such dams. Hence human dams are damaging to the environment. This is made far worse by point 1.
3. (closely related to 2) If you put a beaver where it doesn't belong, its dams would also be disruptive to the local environment.
 
  • #12
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ok its not about how much gets effected its a matter of principle.
 
  • #13
Mk
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What about an antimatter bomb? As I recall, there is no alpha or beta radiation, and only heat and light or produced.
 

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