UCSB Science Line
Sponge Spicules Nerve Cells Galaxy Abalone Shell Nickel Succinate X-ray Lens Lupine
UCSB Science Line
How it Works
Ask a Question
Search Topics
Our Scientists
Science Links
Contact Information
How did the atomic bomb hold the pressure before exploding on impact?
Question Date: 2020-06-15
Answer 1:

The fission reaction, which is required for the atomic bomb, is kept "in check" (non-reactive) by keeping the nuclear material at sub-critical mass, meaning that the mass is at a lower density than what is required to sustain fission. The atomic bomb design is based on implosion, so explosives are placed as the outer layers of a sphere of material, and the nuclear material sits at the center of the sphere, to be compressed when the explosives detonate and thus reach critical mass. In other words, there is nothing really holding the "pressure" in an atomic bomb; the pressure of explosions/implosions is simply not generated until impact.

Answer 2:

Nuclear bombs don't explode on impact. They explode when they are triggered. This is because the explosion has to happen in an extremely controlled way or else the fissionable material making up the core of the bomb will not be able to sustain nuclear reactions, and you will not get a nuclear explosion as a result. Blowing up a bomb that would normally be nuclear on impact would result in radioactive fissionable material being strewn around by conventional explosives.

Click Here to return to the search form.

University of California, Santa Barbara Materials Research Laboratory National Science Foundation
This program is co-sponsored by the National Science Foundation and UCSB School-University Partnerships
Copyright © 2020 The Regents of the University of California,
All Rights Reserved.
UCSB Terms of Use