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Wednesday, January 6, 2016

DID NORTH KOREA EXPLODE A HYDROGEN BOMB?

Two and a half years ago I advised North Korea's White-walled Leader Kim Jong-un on a total makeover for him and his country.  Clearly, he is not listening to me, for he has continued to employ that severe female newscaster, who yesterday announced that they just detonated a Hydrogen Bomb.  There is only world speculation at this point.  Certainly, if what they say turns out to be true, then life on Planet Earth has become only all that more dangerous.  Here are the known facts:

  • The Young Leader last month bragged that North Korea had H-Bomb capability.
  • A rather significant 5.2 (only 4.8 said South Korea, with the previous 2013 test measuring 4.9) moment magnitude tremor was detected to have occurred in the northeast region of North Korea.
  • Propaganda news from Pyongyang indicated that a "miniaturized" hydrogen bomb was detonated.
  • U.S. and South Korean authorities doubted the explosion was caused by a "real" hydrogen bomb.
  • China condemned North Korea, while Russia has not commented yet.
  • Japan expressed mostly fear.
  • The United Nations Security Council also expressed condemnation and indicated discussions would be initiated to take the appropriate measures.
Other bits of information:
  • The U.S., Russia, France, United Kingdom and Chinese definitely have hydrogen bombs.
  • India and Israel almost surely also have this capability.
  • Pakistan and North Korea maybe, and the former has been aiding the latter.
  • The U.S. has been the only country to drop nuclear bombs, the 1945 devastation of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, (right), killing at least 129,000.
  • Nine countries have exploded 2119 nuclear weapons, led by the U.S. with 1032, the former Soviet Union 727 and France 217.
Largest yields, thousand tons of TNT:
  • Hiroshima Little Boy (Atomic Bomb)  13-18
  • Nagasaki Fat Man (A-Bomb)  20-22 
  • Ivy King (largest A-Bomb, 1952)  500
  • Ivy Mike (first Hydrogen Bomb, 1952)   10,400 
  • Castle Bravo (largest U.S, H-Bomb, 1954)  15,000
Here I am to the right with an A-Bomb (Fat Man), and below, Pearl with an H-Bomb:


  • Tsar Bomba (largest Soviet H-Bomb, 1961, above)  50,000
  • All nuclear testing as of 1996  510,300

Some points to mull over:
  • If that was a real Hydrogen Bomb, and it was actually miniaturized, that is ominous, because you need a smallish bomb to serve as a missile warhead.
  • You could say that, while the H-Bomb is a lot more powerful than an A-Bomb, there are no Plutonium, Uranium and other dangerous radioactive fallout concerns.
  • However, in 2011 I published in The Huffington Post, Why Worry About Fukushima When Hiroshima and Nagasaki are Safe?  Yes, those cataclysmic A-Bombs have half-life radioactive products that last for hundreds of thousands of years.  How possibly can these two cities thrive so well today?  I've been there on numerous occasions, asked a bunch of questions, and still wonder what happened.
  • Should nuclear power plants, thus, be of far greater concern than actual nuclear weapons?  Chernobyl remains a death zone for humans and Fukushima could become a ten trillion dollar liability, remaining uninhabitable for centuries, if not forever.
  • An Atomic Bomb is energized by the fission of large molecules (Uranium and Plutonium), and is the principle by which all nuclear power plants today operate.  A Hydrogen Bomb is the fusion of hydrogen isotopes (deuterium and tritium).  War bombs or electricity, I suspect fission energy will soon become obsolete, with fusion ultimately prevailing, and hopefully not the bomb version.  Read my HuffPo on Star Power.
I once worked for Edward Teller, Father of the Hydrogen Bomb.  He felt terrible that his ideas could lead to the end of Mankind, and devoted the rest of his life to finding a fusion solution.  I spent two stints at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory on laser fusion.  However, forty years ago I mostly gave up on this concept as worthy of my time, for no one could even then speculate on the type of laser that ultimately would be used to commercialize the concept.  We still don't know.  I continue believe, though, that inertial confinement (lasers) will ultimately prevail over magnetic confinement (the donut, as being pursued by ITER in South France). 

Anyway, what I worry about most is that this news from North Korea about a possible H-Bomb mostly will incite the Military-Industrial Complex to immediately clamor for more defense funds. Surely enough, in the Star-Advertiser today, right  on cue, immediately below that Hydrogen Bomb article was another entitled:


In short, our Navy needs 12 more nuclear submarines at a cost of $100 million.  Worse, the price tag for next generation missiles and the like add up to $348 billion by 2024.  Why?  Oh, because Russia and China are modernizing and we just must keep up.  True, Eisenhower was right.

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1 comment:

R Peppe said...

This is an informative post. However it is interesting to me that the writer does not venture to inquire how it is that North Korea, a small poor country, can present a realistic nuclear weapon threat. North Korean nuclear threat reflects engineering talent. See my blog WARBYIQ,com.