Compiled and edited by
Samuel Glasstone and Philip J. Dolan

Third Edition

Prepared and published by the
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When "The Effects of Atomic Weapons" was published in 1950, the explosive
energy yields of the fission bombs available at that time were equivalent to some
thousands of tons (i.e., kilotons) of TNT. With the development of thermonuclear
(fusion) weapons, having energy yields in the range of millions of tons (i.e.,
megatons) of TNT, a new presentation, entitled "The Effects of Nuclear Weap-
ons," was issued in 1957. A completely revised edition was published in 1962 and
this was reprinted with a few changes early in 1964.
Since the last version of "The Effects of Nuclear Weapons" was prepared, much
new information has become available concerning nuclear weapons effects. This
has come in part from the series of atmospheric tests, including several at very high
altitudes, conducted in the Pacific Ocean area in 1962. In addition, laboratory
studies, theoretical calculations, and computer simulations have provided a better
understanding of the various effects. Within the limits imposed by security re-
quirements, the new information has been incorporated in the present edition. In
particular, attention may be called to a new chapter on the electromagnetic pulse.
We should emphasize, as has been done in the earlier editions, that numerical
values given in this book are not-and cannot be-exact. They must inevitably
include a substantial margin of error. Apart from the difficulties in making
measurements of weapons effects, the results are often dependent upon circum-
stances which could not be predicted in the event of a nuclear attack. Furthermore,
two weapons of different design may have the same explosive energy yield, but the
effects could be markedly different. Where such possibilities exist, attention is
called in the text to the limitations of the data presented; these limitations should not
be overlooked.
The material is arranged in a manner that should permit the general reader to
obtain a good understanding of the various topics without having to cope with the
more technical details. Most chapters are thus in two parts: the first part is written at
a fairly low technical level whereas the second treats some of the more technical and
mathematical aspects. The presentation allows the reader to omit any or all of the
latter sections without loss of continuity.
The choice of units for expressing numerical data presented us with a dilemma.
The exclusive use of international (SI) or metric units would have placed a burden
on many readers not familiar with these units, whereas the inclusion of both SI and
common units would have complicated many figures, especially those with i
logarithmic scales. As a compromise, we have retained the older units and added an
explanation of the SI system and a table of appropriate conversion factors.


Many organizations and individuals contributed in one way or another to this
revision of "The Effects of Nuclear Weapons," and their cooperation is gratefully
acknowledged. In particular, we wish to express our appreciation of the help given
us by L. J. Deal and W. W. Schroebel of the Energy Research and Development
Administration and by Cmdr. H. L. Hoppe of the Department of Defense.
Samuel Glasstone
Philip J. Dolan

Army Engineer Waterways Experiment Station Naval Surface Weapons Center Department of Defense Contractors Stanford Research Institute General Electric. Ballistic Research Lab- oratories V.~ : I I I I II . Department of Defense Headquarters.S. Army Aberdeen Research and Development Center.II ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS Preparation of this revision of "The Effects of Nuclear Weapons" was made possible by the assistance and cooperation of members of the organizations listed below. Defense Nuclear Agency Defense Civil Preparedness Agency Armed Forces Radiobiology Research Institute V. TEMPO Mission Research Corporation Department of Commerce National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Atomic Energy Commission! Energy Research and Development Administration Headquarters Divisions and the laboratories: Brookhaven National Laboratory Health and Safety Laboratory Lawrence Livermore Laboratory Los Alamos Scientific Laboratory Lovelace Biomedical and Environmental Research Laboratories Oak Ridge National Laboratory Sandia Laboratories i ! . S.

I Scientific Basis of Nuclear Explosions. 244 . 26 Description of Air and Surface Bursts. 96 CHAPTER IV-Air Blast Loading 127 Interaction of Blast Wave with Structures. 154 Introduction 154 FactorsAffectingResponse . 132 CHAPTER V -Structural Damage from Air Blast. 80 Reflection of Blast Wave at a Surface. 156 Commercial and Administrative Structures. 231 Deep Underground Bursts 238 Damage to Structures. 86 Modification of Air Blast Phenomena. 58 Scientific Aspects of Nuclear Explosion Phenomena. 158 IndustriaIStructures 165 ResidentiaIStructures 175 Transportation 189 Utilities. 63 CHAPTER III-Air Blast Phenomena in Air and Surface Bursts. 92 Technical Aspects of Blast Wave Phenomena. 80 Characteristics of the Blast Wave in Air. 48 Description of Underground Bursts. 12 CHAPTER II-Descriptions of Nuclear Explosions. 241 Characteristics of Underwater Bursts. 27 Description of High-Altitude Bursts. 45 Description of Underwater Bursts. 26 Introduction. CONTENTS Page CHAPTER I-General Principles of Nuclear Explosions. 195 MiscellaneousTargets 206 Analysis of Damage from Air Blast 212 CHAPTER VI-Shock Effects of Surface and Subsurface Bursts. I Characteristics of Nuclear Explosions. 231 Characteristics of Surface and Shallow Underground Bursts. 127 Interaction of Objects with Air Blast.

439 Delayed Fallout.'. 461 Introduction 461 Atmospheric Ionization Phenomena. 575 . 489 CHAPTER XI-The Electromagnetic Pulse and its Effects. 260 IJoading on Buried Structures. 296 IncendiaryEffectsinJapan 300 Technical Aspects of Thermal Radiation.' 442 Technical Aspects of Residual Nuclear Radiation. 409 Fallout Distribution in Land Surface Bursts. 450 CHAPTER X-Radio and Radar Effects. . 276 RadiationfromtheFireball 276 Thermal Radiation Effects 282 Incendiary Effects. 326 Neutrons. 324 Nature of Nuclear Radiations 324 Gamma Rays. 422 Attenuation of Residual Nuclear Radiation. 340 Transient-Radiation Effects on Electronics (TREE) 349 Technical Aspects of Initial Nuclear Radiation. Technical Aspects of Surface and Underground Bursts. 387 Radioactive Contamination from Nuclear Explosions. 268 CHAPTER VII-Thermal Radiation and Its Effects. 316 CHAPTER VIII-Initial Nuclear Radiation. 541 Introduction 541 Blast Injuries. 414 Fallout Predictions for Land Surface Bursts. 548 BurnInjuries 560 Nuclear Radiation Injury. 263 DamagefromGroundShock 265 Technical Aspects of Underwater Bursts.'- I . 462 Ionization Produced by Nuclear Explosions 466 Effects on Radio and Radar Signals. 353 CHAPTER IX-Residual Nuclear Radiation and Fallout. 253 Technical Aspects of Deep Underground Bursts. 479 Technical Aspects of Radio and Radar Effects. 387 Sources of Residual Radiation. 305 Radiant Exposure-Distance Relationships. 514 OriginandNatureoftheEMP 514 EMP Damage and Protection 523 Theory of the EMP 532 CHAPTER XII-Biological Effects.

588 Late Effects of Ionizing Radiation. 614 Blast-RelatedEffects 618 Effects on Farm Animals and Plants. Characteristics of Acute Whole-Body Radiation Injury. 589 Effects of Early Fallout 594 Long-Term Hazard from Delayed Fallout. 583 CombinedInjuries. 618 Glossary. 609 Pathology of Acute Radiation Injury. 604 Genetic Effects of Nuclear Radiation. 629 GuidetoSIUnits 642 Index. 644 ~ i i ! ! rr .

re. they expand amount of energy. The sudden tween nuclear and high-explosive liberation of energy causes a consider. but "nuclear" is preferred for the reason given in § 1. and atomic" may be used interchangeably so far as weapons. however.: . as well as their destructive action is due mainly as for a nuclear (or atomic) explosion. the because it resembles and is accompan. the mass of a nuclear rapidly and thus initiate a pressure explosive would be much less than that wave.weapons.02 Nuclear weapons are similar to space. On the other hand.01. called a "shock wave. In the first place. the term "shock" 1. so that all the materials present are millions) of times more powerful than converted into hot. large amount of energy within a limited 1.. CHAPTER I GENERAL PRINCIPLES O. ~ . A shock wave in air is gen. This results in some- Fig. in general.11)." such as TNT.01 An explosion.11.' to blast or shock. water." in the of a conventional high explosive. in the former case. Con- surrounding medium-air.F NUCLEAR EXPLOSIONS CHARACTERISnCS OF NUCLEAR EXPLOSIONS INTRODUCTION the ground. with a verted into the hot.iiii'~:~~. and energy are concerned. 1. compressed gases gradual decrease behind it... compressed gases.what different mechanisms for the ini- erally referred to as a "blast wave" tiation of the blast wave. nuclear ex- able increase of temperature and pres. I ~~~ -t. Since these gases are at very high tem. there is a earth. Third. although the energy is produced in quite there are several basic differences be- different ways (§ 1. becausethe effect is like that of suIts from the very rapid release of a a sudden impact. is used. for the release of a given peratures and pressures.plosions can be many thousands (or sure. as shown in mentioned above. the largest conventional detonations.. or sequently. The characteristic of a shock much smaller amount of material avail- wave is that there is (ideally) a sudden able in the weapon itself that is con- increase of pressure at the front. In water or in plosion are very much higher than in a 'The terms "nuclear'. Second.temperatures reached in a nuclear ex- ied by a very strong wind. This is true for a conventional those of more conventional types insofar "high explosive. explosions..

former. and a fairly understanding of the mechanical and the large proportion of the energy in a nu. Variation of pressure (in excess of ambient) with distance in an ideal shock wave. conventional explosion. and to show how they may affect rays. Where numerical values are after a nuclear explosion are radioac. the nu. to control. given for specific observed effects. AMBIENT PRESSURE DISTANCE Figure 1. Fur- In this connection. it tive. first place. emitting similar radiations over an should be kept in mind that there are extended period of time.02). "thermal radiation. in making exact measurements of mental differences between a nuclear weapons effects. " !~~i . various radiation phenomena associated clear explosion is emitted in the form of with a nuclear explosion are of vital light and heat.04 The purpose of this book is to causing skin burns and of starting fires at describe the different forms in which the considerable distances. people (and other living organisms) and tion.01. 2 GENERAL PRINCIPLES OF NUCLEAR EXPLOSIONS w Q: ::) (/) (/) W Q: Q. Fourth.03 It is because of these funda. 1." This is capable of 1. The results are often and a conventional explosion. if not impossible. there are inherent difficulties 1. including dependent on circumstances which are the tremendously greater power of the difficult." Finally the substances remaining materials. two weapons producing the ~~~ III t. This is known inevitable uncertainties associated with as the "residual nuclear radiation" or the data. to explain how they are propa- highly-penetrating and harmful invisible gated. In the "residual radioactivity" (Fig. predicted in the event of an attack. for at least two reasons. energy of a nuclear explosion are re- clear explosion is accompanied by leased. that the effects of nuclear even in a test and certainly cannot be weapons require special consideration. generally referred to as importance. called the "initial nuclear radia. a knowledge and thermore.

and fire. and zinc. because of its use as a source of nuclear 1.08 Every atom consists of a rela- "elements. have different quantitative effects be. I ATOMIC STRUCTURE AND ISOTOPES clally (§ 1. there are atoms of hydrogen. such as those of pluto- radiations.-': CHARACTERISTICS OF NUCLEAR EXPLOSIONS 3 BLAST AND SH MAL RADIATION NUCLEAR EXPLOSION INITIAL RESIDUAL NUCLEAR RADIATION NUCLEAR RADIATION Figure 1. of iron. may be 1. that energy. able to utilize the data in the design of The hydrogen atom is the lightest of all I structures having increased resistance to atoms. the atomic nucleus is itself ." Among the common ele. of dition.c." bon. which I cause of differences in composition and has attained prominence in recent years design. normally a solid the information contained in this vol. cleus. nium. have been made artifi- .. two or more i atoms of the same or of different ele- 1. . the solid nonmetals car. Frequently. also important for the release of nuclear energy. such as iron. the characterIstics of the element.e~ist. and phosphorus. which is the best available.02. nevertheless. metal. while still retainin. is uranium.07 The smallest part of any ele- of assistance to those responsible for ment that can. shock. same amount of explosive energy may various metals. architects and engineers may be uranium.. may arise from nuclear warfare. light particles known as "electrons.g defense planning and in making prepa. copper. . for all the elements. Thus.05 It is hoped. sulfur.-c~. oxygen. tively heavy central region or "nu- ments are the gases hydrogen. IS rations to deal with the emergencies that called an "atom" of that element. and so on. " kinds of simple materials known as 1. I ume. which provide shielding against nuclear Heavier atoms.14). A less familiar element. and Further. and are the heaviest of those found on earth. Effects of a nuclearexplosion. whereas the atoms of uranium damage by blast." surrounded by a number of very and nitrogen. In ad.06 All substances are made up ments join together to form a "mole- from one or more of about 90 different cule.~'.

and plutonium atoms 94 protons. ra. carbon. i. 1. the energy is produced as a result tons. tion 143 neutrons and the latter 146 tricity whereas the neutron. these involve a rearrangement charges) in the nucleus. and many other neutrons within atomic nuclei are tre- isotopes. and neutrons within the interacting nu- tons. There is a definite nium. on the other protons.e... since it results from particular numbers but which differ in their nuclear interactions. have been obtained in various the atoms. than conventional (or chemical) energy ment is identified by its' 'mass when equal massesare considered. number. of hydrogen. Hy. hand. The resulting atomic spe. too.09 The essential difference be. contain in the chemical high-explosive material.11 In a conventional explosion. mainly of two isotopes with mass and when a decrease of mass occurs in a numbers of 235 and 238. It is for the same masses.e. but not all are accompanied by nucleus. which are unstable. as found in nature. e. "atomic number" of the element. for example. present drogen atoms. as its name neutrons. same number of protons but different trons surrounding the nucleus." These two par. i. Isotopes of normal atom this is exactly balanced by a given element are nuclides having the the negative charge carried by the elec. sequently referred to as uraniul\D-235 damental particles.12 Many nuclear processes are numbers of protons and neutrons in the known. this is called the among the atoms. is of a much higher order of magnitude 1. uranium atoms have 92 pro. mendously greater than those between dioactive. The nu- tons" and "neutrons. is uncharged electrically. The general term "nuclide" is implies. and nitrogen. i. and uranium-238. Because of the protons tinguished by the composition of its nu- present in the nucleus. that atomic weapons are particular element. All but about 20 of preferably called "nuclear weapons. tween atoms of different elements lies in the energy releasedarises from chemical the number of protons (or positive reactions.g. of the formation of different atomic nu- Although all the nuclei of a given ele. numbers of neutrons in their nuclei. the release of energy. consequently. but in the and the number of neutrons. For example. they may have different numbers clei. are called "isotopes" of the reason. by the number of protons positive electrical charge. What is sometimes referred to as of neutrons. nuclear reaction there is an accompany- .e. which have identical atomic energy. respectively. referred to as "pro. 1.4 GENERAL PRINCIPLES OF NUCLEAR EXPLOSIONS made up of a definite number of fun. only one proton.10 Each isotope of a given ele. used to describe any atomic species dis- it is neutral. the latter has a cleus." the elements occur in nature in two or The forces between the protons and more isotopic forms. nuclear energy ways. oxygen. but tons-as do the nuclei of all uranium they differ in the respect that the proton isotopes-but the former have in addi- carries a unit charge of positive elec.. atomic energy is thus actually nuclear cies. they are con. clei by the redistribution of the protons ment contain the same number of pro. clei of both isotopes contain 92 pro- ticles have almost the same mass. consists equivalence between mass and energy." which is the sum of the 1.. helium atoms have two In a nuclear explosion. the element ura.

able atom. hydrogen. for namely. 1.18 In certain fusion processes. the other extreme. does not occur nat." The complete fission of I there is a net decrease in mass. a given mass of material. As isotopes.. § 1. involves some of the Other fusion reactions are described in lightest (low atomic number) nuclei. Since only insignifi. at helium. uranium-233.17 Nuclear fusion reactions can nuclear explosions by fission are certain be brought about by means of very high isotopes of the elements uranium and temperatures. the fissionable isu- related to the decrease in mass.000 (short) tons of that the reaction should be able to re. neutrons of high energy are lib- .16 In nuclear fusion. the fusion of all the nuclei ily fissionable species that is commonly present in 1 pound of the hydrogen iso- used in nuclear weapons. - CHARACTERISTICS OF NUCLEAR EXPLOSIONS 5 ing release of a certain amount of energy are found in nature. uranium-235 (about 0.' The nature consists mainly of two isotopes.69.3 the particular isotope (or isotopes) in- percent). by the release of a large amount of and a corresponding decrease in mass.. number) nuclei. whereas the latter. The former process takes place two deuterium nuclei may combine to with some of the heaviest (high atomic form the nucleus of a heavier element. uranium in to as "thermonuclear processes. it can cause the nucleus to gether by weaker forces into one in split into two smaller parts. uranium-235. with the release of energy. the pound of uranium or plutonium releases release of nuclear energy in amounts as much explosive energy as does the sufficient to cause an explosion requires explosion of about 8.000 tons of TNT." Under suitable conditions. As noted above.13 In addition to the necessity for which result are called the "fission the nuclear process to be one in which products. They are known as "fission" isotope known as deuterium or "heavy (splitting) and "fusion" (joining to. gether). the various nuclei. An of large amounts of energy in a short example is the fusion of the hydrogen time. These tope used in nuclear weapons.14 The materials used to produce 1. is made artificially from ura- the difference in the internal forces in nium-238. but it is also readily fissionable plosion of 26. This is the which the forces are stronger must be fission process. and uranium-238 (about 99. energy. TNT . produce itself once it has been started. and they are thus referred plutonium. an example.15 When a free (or unattached) nature that the conversion of any system neutron enters the nucleus of a fission- in which the constituents are held to. depends on cent). The smaller (or lighter) nuclei 1. a pair of Two kinds of nuclear interactions can light nuclei unite (or fuse) together to satisfy the conditions for the production form a nucleus of a heavier atom. Another iso. The less abundant of these volved in the nuclear fusion reaction. pluto- mass changes are really a reflection of nium-239. tope deuterium would release roughly tope. It is a basic law of 1.7 per.e. between nuclei of the hydrogen iso- cant amounts of the element plutonium topes. with thorium-232. actual quantity of energy liberated. is the read. the same amount of energy as the ex- urally. i. which is accompanied accompanied by the release of energy. 1. and it can be made artificially starting 1.

Similarly. a I-kiloton nuclear great as that produced by a chemical weapon is one which produces the same explosive. therefore. The (uranium-238) in ordinary uranium as earliest nuclear bombs. much higher than in the latter. however. other words. the general has not undergone fission remains in the terms "nuclear bomb" and "nuclear weapon residues after the explosion. The efficiency is thus said to be correctly described as nuclear weapons. However. only the explosive energy results from nu. part of the nuclear material suffers fis- clear reactions.000 tons 1. Consequently. Thus. and hydrogen (or thermo. irrespective of the type of nuclear reaction producing DISTRIBUTION OF ENERGY IN the energy of the explosion. in a fission weapon. with en- fusion (thermonuclear) reactions are ergy yields in the megaton range. however. have combined can therefore produce an ex. weapon" will be used.19 A distinction has sometimes of TNT. the energy produced by a erate the same amount of energy when it nuclear explosive is millions of times as explodes. Consequently. the tempera- amount of energy in an explosion as tures reached in the former case are very does 1 kiloton (or 1.24). In each case. a I-megaton weapon would tens of millions of degrees in a nuclear " I . Since that time.21 From the statement in § 1. These can cause have the energy equivalent of 1 million fission in the most abundant isotope tons (or 1. plutonium will release the same amount sion and from fusion. plosion of great power. on undergo fission.000 tons) of TNT. weight of uranium or plutonium in such nuclear) weapons. released very appropriate fusion reactions with natural roughly the same quantity of energy as uranium can result in an extensive utili.72). 20. Such weapons 1. the actual the one hand. A device in which fission and much more powerful weapons. for weight. dropped over Japan in 1945 and used in in uranium-235 and plutonium. on a weapon is greater than this amount. been developed.15 might typically release about equal that the fission of 1 pound of uranium or amounts of explosive energy from fis. of explosive energy as about 8. NUCLEAR EXPLOSIONS ENERGY YIELD OF A NUCLEAR 1. association of the the tests at Bikini in 1946.5 pounds of material which the energy arises from fission. in nuclear weapon 2. In the other hand. such as were well .000 tons (or 20 kilotons) of TNT zation of the latter for the release of (see. weight of the quantity of TNT that would gen. § 2.20 The "yield" of a nuclear sions is the appearanceof an appreciable weapon i& a measure of the amount of proportion of the energy as thermal ra- explosive energy it can produce. involving fusion. The basic usual practice to state the yield in terms reason for this difference is that. The material that In this book.000 kilotons) of TNT. so that they are both sion.22 It has been mentioned that one EXPLOSION important difference between nuclear and conventional (or chemical) explo- 1. it is evident that in a 20-kiloton been made between atomic weapons.6 GENERAL PRINCIPLES OF NUCLEAR EXPLOSIONS erated (see § 1. It is the diation in the former case. less than 100 percent. namely. energy.

energy ergy between air shock and thermal ra- of motion of electrons.01. The final 10 percent is used in the production of air shock. and so essen.. However. . diation is related in a complex manner to ecules as a whole. In addition.). duced within a minute or so of the about 50 percent of the explosive energy explosion (§ 2. however. somewhat higher altitudes. in Fig. as will be seen in this ation energy increases rapidly with in.36). a consid. This is almost entirely moderately low altitudes. Because of about half of that from a conventional the very much higher temperatures in a high explosive with the same total en- nuclear explosion. as thermal radiation is correspondingly 1. At of the total fission energy represents that mm ~ . below an altitude of about 100. The proportion of thermal radi. essentially all erable proportion of the energy is re. ergy release.the energy increased(§ 1.24 The fraction of the explosion so. may be divided into three categories: 1. atoms.000 feet or 1. weapon exploded in the air at an altitude plosion. For a explosive energy of a nuclear fission nuclear detonation in the atmosphere weapon produces air blast (and shock). 74).25 The exact distribution of en- kinetic (or external) energy.42)..e. As a is less air with which the energy of the result of this great difference in temper-' exploding nuclear weapon can interact. internal energy of the explosive energy yield. i. for example. defined as that pro- below an altitude of about 40. approximately 85 percent of the the environment of the explosion. where there sands in a conventional explosion. nuclear radiation.77 et seq.000 feet is that 35 is comparatively small. The manner air blast.CHARACTERISTICS OF NUCLEAR EXPLOSIONS 7 explosion compared with a few thou. and heat. Thus. in the energy from a fission weapon will be manner described in § 1. the amount of thermal radiation of less than about 40. weapon design. At the moderate proximate rule of thumb for a fission temperatures attained in a chemical ex. of the explosive energy is in the form of leased as thermal radiation. This means that if a 20-kiloton in which this takes place is described fission weapon. to some extent.02 depends on the nature and 1.000 feet. ploded in the air below 40. and mol. an ap- creasing temperature. in the latter. thermal radiation. the burst these particles. 1. to the energy. and.000 feet. ature. i. for a burst at internal energy. the energy used in the production of energy received at a distance from the blast would be roughly equivalent to burst point in each of the forms depicted that from 10 kilotons of TNT. the air shock converted into blast and shock. percent of the explosion energy is in the tially all the energy released at the time form of thermal radiation and 50 percent of the explosion appears as kinetic and produces air shock. and later chapters.23 Broadly speaking. 5 percent constitutes the initial spectrum (see Fig.26 Regardless of the height of yield of the weapon and particularly on burst. the distribution of the explosion the proportion of energy converted into energy is quite different in the two shock is decreased whereas that emitted cases. the visible and infrared portions of the Of this. is ex- later (§ 1. The re- from 35 to 45 percent of the explosion maining 15 percent of the energy is energy is received as thermal energy in released as various nuclear radiations. and thermal radiation altitude.

but like of the total fission energy. Although they can neither tivity of the fission products present in be seen nor felt by human beings. travel great distances through air and diation which is emitted over a period of can penetrate considerable thicknesses time. the quantity of the radionuclide and the rate 1. can of time. a radioactive when the yield of a nuclear weapon is nuclide (or radionuclide) . in a tingling sensation.29 The delayed nuclear radiation in the chemical reactions which take arises mainly from the fission products place. emit gamma rays and another 1. These ra. about 95 percent of the total energy of the fission and fusion reactions.18)." ily. In a thermonuclear device. explosion but diminishes in the course diations. the initial nuclear radia- of the energy released in the explosion. they included when the energy yield of a are formed by a change (neutron -+ nuclear explosion is stated. Beta particles. in proton + electron) within the nuclei of terms of the TNT equivalent as in the radioactive atoms. is a gradual process. are much less the explosion energy is about 90 percent penetrating than gamma rays. . form of residual nuclear radiation some particles carrying a negative electric time after the detonation. fission products. this is not charge. such as the quoted or used in equations. especially gamma rays. at a energy delivered within a minute or so. This is largely due to the radioac. nuclear radiation carries only 5 percent Consequently. tion is an important aspect of nuclear It should be noted that there are no explosions.. due mainly to the fission high energy (see § 1.e. nuclear radiations from a conventional explosion since the nuclei are unaffected 1.28 The initial nuclear radiation of emission of radiation decrease stead- consists mainly of "gamma rays. ex- the weapon residues (or debris) after the cept at very high intensities which cause explosion. gamma rays and which only about half of the total energy neutrons can produce harmful effects arises from fission (§ 1. i.. ard. i. Because of the continuous decay. rate depending upon the nature of the and will exclude the contribution of the material and upon the amount present. ~"'. of material.'c?' 8 GENERAL PRINCIPLES OF NUCLEAR EXPLOSIONS of the residual (or delayed) nuclear ra. --- . This means that the residual nuclear which are electromagnetic radiations of radiation. It etc. moving with high speed." The latter are electrons. and in a the latter they represent a potential haz- thermonuclear device it is.27 Because about 10 percent of type of nuclear radiation called "beta the total fission energy is released in the particles.30 The spontaneous emission of common convention will be adhered to beta particles and gamma rays from ra- in subsequent chapters. it will represent that portion of the takes place over a period of time. in a pure fission weapon which are also invisible. and neutrons.g. age. Hence. e. on the aver. figures.. in the course of their radioactive decay. the residual even at a distance from their source. For example.e. residual nuclear radiation.. which.73) originating in products.20. dioactive substances. § 1. is most intense soon after the atomic nuclei. This 1.

31 The immediate phenomena mitred into the ground. (3) underwater buildings and clothing can provide pro- burst. the explosion must distance of about I mile from an air occur at least 2.35 In the event of a moderately ena are much the same in all cases.g.. TYPES OF NUCLEAR EXPLOSIONS leaves the fireball appears as air blast. For miles from a I-megaton explosion. vary intensity to cause moderately severe with the location of the point of burst in bums of exposed skin as far away as 12 relation to the surface of the earth. ordinary opaque materials. For air bursts of higher are distinguished.CHARACTERISTICS OF NUCLEAR EXPLOSIONS 9 i. .33 The quantitative aspects of an designed blast-resistant structures would air burst will be depend~nt upon its survive. ~ c although some is generally also trans- 1. roughly spherical in shape. at this distance the blast effect burst. would be so great that only specially 1. The arise in practice. (2) high-altitude burst. in both gamma rays and neutrons. on a descriptive purposes five types of burst fairly clear day. The interac- residues almost immediately incorporate tions with matter that result in the ab- material from the surrounding medium sorplion of energy from gamma rays and and form an intensely hot and luminous from neutrons are quite different. called be seen in Chapter VIII. the fireball (at roughly maximum bril. 1. as diation will travel long distances well as the effects of shock and blast and through the air and may be of sufficient of thermal and nuclear radiations. which thermal radiation is largely stopped by will be defined below.000 feet. Different ma- the "fireball. especially if it incorporates a 100. energy yield. The thermal ra- associated with a nuclear explosion. the weapon tances from the explosion. surface burst. energy yields." An "air burst" is de. 1."-~-. e. be greater. but the general phenom. quate protection from the effects of the mum brilliance.850 feet above the burst of a I-megaton nuclear weapon. the corresponding dis- tions and intermediate situations can tances will.34 The initial nuclear radiation 1. in this initial nuclear radiation for people at a particular case. but exploded in the air at an altitude below concrete. represents a r~asonable practical com- liance in its later stages) does not touch promise for reducing the intensities of the surface of the earth.32 Provided the nuclear explosion from an air burst will also penetrate a takes place at an altitude where there is long way in air. earth's surface if it is to be called an air However.terials are thus required for the most fined as one in which the weapon is efficient removal of these radiations. although many varia. hence. of course. The main types. falls off fairly rapidly at increasing dis- below about 100. This means that. although the intensity still an appreciable atmosphere. but at such a height that heavy element. For example.1 mile) across at maxi.700 feet (1. as will mass. are (I) air burst. the fission Nearly all of the shock energy that products remaining after the nuclear ex-l .--"C"" ---". high (or high) air burst. such as iron or barium. A the explosion of a I-megaton weapon thickness of about 4 feet of ordinary the fireball may grow until it is nearly concrete would probably provide ade- 5.000 feet. and (5) tection. (4) underground burst.

since a shock wave products and other weapon residues will does not form so readily in the less not be significant on the ground dense air. part of which will soon fall to plosion becomes smaller. the first to as "ionization. height of burst. if the burst factor becomes the more important. have been used in the produc.neutrons received at a distance will vary fined as one in which the explosion takes since a significant fraction of the gamma place at an altitude in excess of 100. at lower al. Furthermore. ual nuclear radiations from high-altitude tion of air blast. represent a pos. of the initial nuclear radiation with in- edly different from that at lower alti. In both cases affect the thermal energy radiated at the residual radiation from the fission high altitude.. and a larger "ion pairs. The residual nuclear radiation released in the form of thermal radiation arising from these products will be of than at lower altitudes." The existence of large [t~'i~tll~ . First. In general. varies with the determined by the total amount of air altitude. more initial nuclear radia- those of an air burst." and the separated of these factors is effective between electrons and positive ions are called 100. Two factors moderately high air burst. and occurs nearer the earth's surface. the fireball is able to radiate (§ 1. 1. Since the lower altitudes. it the energy that can be radiated within a is a positive ion. For explosions minor immediate consequence on the above about 140. Above this level. the less dense bursts will interact with the constituents air allows energy from the exploding of the atmosphere to expel electrons weapon to travel much farther than at from the atoms and molecules.37 The fraction of the explosion sion.e. thermal energy that would. the second ground.000 feet. Second.35). the residual part of the atom (or the fireball and it does not conttibute to m9lecule) is positively char~ed. the ground at points close to the explo. of that energy between gamma rays and 1.79).000 rays result from interactions of neutrons feet. Some of this energy electron carries a negative electrical simpl.36 A "high-altitude burst" is de. for a given explosion high-altitude explosion to differ from energy yield. creasing distance from the explosion is tudes and. the the fraction of the energy that appearsas fission products may fuse with particles thermal radiation at the time of the ex- of earth. 1. the tion will be received at the same slant fraction of the energy converted into range on the earth's surface from a blast and shock is less and decreases high-altitude detonation than from a with increasing altitude. consequently. However. For example. This process is referred short time (§ 1. proportion of the explosion energy is phere.:! warms the air at a distance from charge.000 feet. the attenuation energy with the surroundings is mark. i. the air density is with nitrogen atoms in the air at low so low that the interaction of the weapon altitudes.38 Both the initial and the resid- titudes.000 and 140. 10 GENERAL PRINCIPLES OF NUCLEAR EXPLOSIONS plosion will be dispersed in the atmos. The absence of relatively dense through which the radiation travels. air causes the fireball characteristics in a This means that. the partition sible danger to living things. On the other hand. moreover. This dirt and other debris will be energy emitted from a weapon as nu- contaminated with radioactive material clear radiations is independent of the and will.

40 A "surface burst" is regarded ing damage to unprotected electrical or as one which occurs either at or slightly electronic equipment located in an ex. most of the burst have been considered as being shock energy of the explosion appears fairly distinct. explosion is decreased. blast and ground (or water) shock are water burst. subsurface explosion at a shallow depth. fireball (at maximum brilliance in its tion point is affected. of the thermal and nuclear radiations to divide nuclear explosions into the five will escape. a surface burst merges into a within a short distance of the explosion. Depending It is nevertheless a matter of conven- upon the depth of the explosion.: " CHARACTERISnCS OF NUCLEAR EXPLOSIONS 11 numbers of electrons and ions at high erally be less than for an air burst. Since some produced in varying proportions de- of the effects of these two types of pending on the energy of the explosion explosions are similar. the situation is described as an an air burst. In a subsurface burst...41 Although the five types of bursts.39 If a nuclear explosion occurs or water. line of demarcation between them. Provided the distance above the nomenon known as the' 'electromagne. there is actually no clear as underground or underwater shock. -- (~t. the radiation emitted after the first radar signals (see Chapter X). 1." respectively. cuTTingon the surface. surface is not great. effects on the propagation of radio and i. As the height of duced in surface and low air bursts. altitudes may have seriously degrading However.. which is less will be apparent that. general types defined above. The EMP can also be pro. as will be seen in later chapters. It but a certain proportion. and an the thermal radiation and of the initial air burst will become a surface burst. .. the residual nuclear radiation. electromagnetic fields capable of caus. later stages) no longer touches the land 1. the phenomena are tic pulse" (or EMP) is described in essentially the same as for a burst oc- Chapter XI. nuclear radiation will be absorbed Similarly. the air "underground burst" or an "under.. water. some ience. the ground or body of water. but the intensities will gen. above the actual surface of the land or tensive area below the burst. The free minute. Much of burst will become an air burst.e. since large quantities of ionization of the air in a high-altitude earth or water in the vicinity of the explosion may also interact with the explosion will be contaminated with ra- earth's magnetic field to generate strong dioactive fission products. The energy of the absorbed radiations when part of the fireball actually breaks will merely contribute to the heating of through the surface of tbe land or water. there is a transition zone in under such conditions that its center is which the behavior is intermediate be- beneath the ground or under the surface tween that of a true surface burst and of of water. as the height of the the greater the depth of the burst. In surface bursts. considered here together as subsurface 1. a high-altitude escapesand produces air blast.~ ~ ". --.. now becomes of considerable electrons resulting from gamma-ray significance. they will be and the height of burst. The phe. but burst increases up to a point where the a much smaller area around the detona.

in addition sociated with fission is shown in Table to the release of a large quantity of 1. known substances. in prin.43. the electron volt (or 1 MeV) unit has been energy distribution is quite similar to found convenient for expressing the en. the most in which the nuclei of a given fission. Uranium-238. is that the process is accompan- ied by the instantaneous emission of two Table 1. a single neutron could start off a ably stable so that they can be stored chain of nuclear fissions. each taken as being approximately applicable such process resulting in the emission of to either uranium-233. and so on. . when 200 million electron volts.14). which are reason- ciple. A s~tis. increasing at a tremendous of all energies. abundant isotope in natural uranium able species can split up into two fission (§ 1. energy.6 x 10-6 erg or 1. The million fission does occur in these elements. they are the only rate.44 The results in the table may be uranium (or plutonium) nuclei. Thus. Hence. materials that can by used to sustain a 1. but fission by neutrons of high energy only. The manner in which this 1. thus-' DISTRIBUTION OF FISSION ENERGY { uranium-235 } MeV Neutron + (or uranium-233) Kinetic energy of fission fragments 165:t 5 (or plutonium-239) Instantaneousgamma-rayenergy 7 :t I Kinetic energy of fission neutrons 5 :t 0. it. .42 The significant point about the energy is distributed among the fission fission of a uranium (or plutonium) nu. ergy released in nuclear reactions. the total amount of energy liberated per but not by those of lower energy. 12 GENERAL PRINCIPLES OF NUCLEAR EXPLOSIONS SCIENTIFIC BASIS OF NUCLEAR EXPLOSIONS2 FISSION ENERGY equivalent to 1. that are cap- nuclei suffering fission. the number of without appreciable decay. Neutrinosfrom fission products 10 Total energy per fission 200:t 6 The neutrons liberated in this manner are able to induce fission of additional 1. These are the only three ther fission. and the energy able of undergoing fission by neutrons liberated. However. this reason these substances cannot sus- factory average value of this energy is tain a chain reaction.5 .43 or more neutrons.43 There are many different ways fission chain.6 x 10-13 joule.Beta particlesfrom fission products 7 :t I ~ fissIon fragments + Gammarays from fission products 6 :t I 2 or 3 neutrons + energy.45 Only part of the fission energy 2Theremaining(more technical) sectionsof this chaptermay be omitted without lossof continuity. as will be seen shortly. fragments and the various radiations as- cleus by means of a neutron. uranium-235. For fission does not vary greatly. and thorium-232 will suffer fragments (initial fission products). plutonium-239. or more neutrons which can produce fur. is 1. that shown in the table.

SCIENTIFIC BASIS OF NUCLEAR EXPLOSIONS 13 is immediately available in a nuclear CRITICAL MASS FOR A FISSION explosion. to cause although somewhat arbitrary. The large enough. This is equivalentto I short kiloton of TNT if the energyreleaseis I. There are ther fission for each neutron previously 6. fission neutrons are lost by escape. .100 caloriesper gram.~ X 10" ml. with continuous debris.18 x 1012joules) surface area. this includes the kinetic en. On the other hand. it wasagreedthatthe term "kiloton" would refer to the releaseof 10'2caloriesof explosiveenergy.205 x 10- pounds). but the amount would not be equivalents of I kiloton of TNT. It is necessary.18 X 1019ergs (4.057 kg (57 gramsor 1. neutron must be available to cause fur- ately available per fission. . 11Ion ' I t It e ec ron vo s esca pe will thus be determmed by the 4.02 x 1023 nuclei in 235 grams of absorbed in fission.47 The escape of neutrons occurs 2 ounces)fissionablematerial at the exterior of the uranium (or pluto- Fission of 1.45 x 1023nuclei nium) material. which results in the for- 3. most of the energy of the instantaneous gamma 1.' 26 . to establish conditions under which the loss of neutrons is minimized. and the rate of liberation calculations are based on an accepted. There is some compensation from whereas others are lost in various non- energy released in reactions in which fission reactions. rate than they are formed by fission.43) chain reaction would not be self-sus- the results quoted in Table 1.or a long kiloton (2. In this connection.pounds). Iherewas someuncertaintyas to whetherthe term "kiloton" of TNT referredto a short kiloton (2 x 10. in order to achieve a nuclear the explosion of this amount of TNT. takes place 'The majority of the experimentaland theoreticalvalues of the explosive energy releasedby TNT rangefrom 900 to 1.In orderto avoid ambiguity. figure of an effective explosion.97 x 109British thermal units mation of more neutrons. and so it is usually accepted that release of energy.kilowatt-hours fission process. it is especially im- Table 1.24 x 10' pounds). Some energy would be pro- obtained for the energy (and other) duced.16 x 10.46 Although two to three neu- rays. would not be sufficiently fast.a metric kiloton (2. which is converted into other trons are produced in the fission reaction forms of energy within the exploding for every nucleus that undergoes fission. ucts. At one time. such that the neutrons are lost at a faster nium-239). Some of the of the decay energy of the fission prod.. 1012 calories as the energy released in therefore.3 explosion. CHAIN ergy of the fission fragments. § 1. the miliar conversion factors (cf.45 may be taining. and by making use of fa.45 portant to consider the neutrons which EQUIVALENTS OF I KILOTON OF TNT escape from the substance undergoing fission. and also most of the neutron not all of these neutrons are available for kinetic energy. at least one fission about 180 MeV of energy are immedi. In order to sustain a neutrons are captured by the weapon fission chain reaction. The rate of loss by 10'2calories . Completefission of 0. weapon. but only a small fraction causing further fissions. 102caloriesper gram or to I long kiloton if the energyis 984 calorics per gram of TNT. the 1. If the conditions are uranium-235 (or 239 grams of pluto.

The a much greater fraction of the neutrons same result can also be achieved by is lost from the smaller than from the having a constant mass but compressing larger mass. It is supposed that in each quantity of material is said to be "sub- act of fission three neutrons are emitted.14 GENERAL PRINCIPLES OF NUCLEAR EXPLOSIONS throughout the whole of the material and neutron from the system is indicated by its rate is. an arrow- mass. Fission is initiated by a chain. it to a smaller volume (higher density). isotope of uranium (or plutonium) is 1. 1.48 that mation by fission is decreased. 1. and hence the production of an neutron represented by a dot within a explosion. therefore. the proportion of two spherical masses. It is evident from Fig. of fissionable material of the that the propagation of a nuclear fission same density.48. consequently.48 The situation may be under." But as the mass of the piece of in other words.48 showing the mass is large. one larger than neutrons lost by escape will be so great the other. sion has occurred and extra neutrons are the ratio of the surface area to the mass produced. the loss of side the sphere implies the loss of a neutrons by escape relative to their for. one neutron is captured uranium (or plutonium) is increased (or and three are expelled. - \v . Effect of increased mass of fissionable material in reducing the proportion of neutrons lost by escape. Such a small circle. neutron. such that the ratio of the surface area to stood by reference to Fig. whereas an arrowhead out- is decreased. at constant density. The removal of a the volume is decreased by compres- Figure 1. By increasing the mass of the head within the sphere means that fis- fissionable material. critical.49 If the quantity of a fissionable so that the surface area is decreased. will not be possible. Thus. dependent upon the the head of an arrow. 1.

a quantity of a suitable place. its of fissionable material that is as large as composition and density (or compres. and the critical tion. that before detonation. two or more pieces of fission- the familiar tamping in blasting opera. for ergy. Principle of a gun-assembly nuclear device. As a consequence of its neutron mass. the critical mass (Fig. mass can thus be decreased. Actually. device. By surrounding the fis.SCIENTIFIC BASIS OF NUCLEAR EXPLOSIONS 15 sion) and the relative loss of neutrons is ATTAINMENT OF CRITICAL MASS IN thereby decreased. This is referred to as the 1. Moreover. the in order to form one piece that exceeds "tamper" permits the fissionable mate. larger than the critical sionable material with a suitable neutron mass.. critical. therefore. the weapon must thus contain a isotope of uranium (or plutonium) ex- sufficient amount of a fissionable ura. ceeding the critical mass would be likely nium (or plutonium) isotope for the to melt or possibly explode. that is to say. into a supercritical one. stray neutrons in the atmosphere or the rial under the existing conditions. . the critical mass for the given condi- sion) . among other nuclear weapon should contain no piece things. on the shape of the material. each less than a critical tions.51 Because of the presence of "critical mass" of the fissionable mate.52 Two general methods have elements of high density. able material. a point is reached at A WEAPON which the chain reaction can become self-sustaining. provide inertia. 1. thereby delaying quickly converting a subcritical system expansion of the exploding material. This may rial in a nuclear weapon to be used more be achieved in some kind of gun-barrel efficiently." the loss of neutrons by subexplosive change in the configura- escape can be reduced. It is neces- critical mass to be exceeded. in a time so short as to preclude a "reflector.50 For a nuclear explosion to take various ways. such as by melting." i. 1. which can remove neutrons in nonfis. clear explosion. the material must then be made "super- sion reactions. In the first The action of the reflector is then like method.e. a the critical mass depends. which make been described for bringing about a nu- good reflectors for neutrons of high en. in which an explosive propellant SUBCRITICAL SUBCRITICAl SUPERCRITICAL MASS MASS MASS --- EXPLOSIVEPROPELLANT (IMMEDIATELY AFTER FIRING) (BEFORE FIRING) THEN EXPLODES Figure 1.52. and the presence of impurities tions.52). possibility of their being generated in 1. In order to produce an explosion. sary. are brought together very rapidly reflecting and inertial properties.

. . When the high.. 1. are. by able nuclei and produce more neutrons. chain is regarded as a generation. These neu- fissionable material. When the implosion wave reaches and most of the neutrons are emitted the sphere of uranium (or plutonium). in the fission process system is placed a subcritical sphere of other neutrons are released. I C"!!". ..53). trons. ""T' J -~:il:'. The compression may treating the fission chain as a series of be achieved by means of a spherical "generations.. In a hole in the center of this able nuclei. and that these are captured by fission- sive. the generation causes the latter to be compressed and time is essentially equal to the average become supercritical (Fig. Each stage of the fission each lens. TIME SCALE OF A FISSION 1.53 The second method makes use EXPLOSION of the fact that when a subcritical quan- tity of an appropriate isotope of uranium 1. of the gun into another subcritical piece firmly held in the muzzle end.53. then.Cc. The time required for the actual points distributed over a spherical sur. and cal "implosion" wave is produced.7 ( IMMEDIATELY AFTER FIRING) . in turn..54 An interesting insight into the (or plutonium) is strongly compressed. means of a detonator on the outside of and so on... an inwardly-directed spheri. captured by fission- explosive lens system is set off. fission of a nucleus is extremely short face. (BEFORE FIRING) THEN EXPLODES Figure 1. Principle of an implosion-type nuclear device." Suppose that a certain arrangement of specially fabricated number of neutrons are present initially shapes (lenses) of ordinary high explo. The time elapsing between the release of a introduction of neutrons from a suitable neutron and its subsequentcapture by a SUBCRITICAL COMPRESSED SUPERCRITICAL MASS CHEMICAL IMPLOSION J EXPLDSIVE ill 'Q'1fi~J£i!Ji(. A the "generation time" is the average similar wave can be realized without time interval between successive gener- lenses by detonating a large number of ations. rate at which the energy is released in a it can become critical or supercritical as fission explosion can be obtained by indicated above. it promptly.16 GENERAL PRINCIPLES OF NUCLEAR EXPLOSIONS is used to blow one subcritical piece of source can then initiate a chain reaction fissionable material from the breech end leading to an explosion. Consequently.

hence. ations. The same where No is the number of neutrons conclusion is reached for any value of present initially and N is the number at a the fission explosion energy. If gis the generation time. that is.1) neutrons are of fairly high energy..4 any prescribed number of generations in 1.1) can be used to cal- dred-rnillionth part (10-8) of a second.45 x 1022 fis- there are N neutrons present at any in. the increase in of neutrons. so that No is 1.e.e.55. hence. This time depends.55.. is close to unity. the tions to produce the necessary number quantityf. alternatively.e.5.". The fraction fig is the 1.t ~~.56. to release 100 neutrons per fission. so that x. tis about 2. There will thus be f -[neutrons 1. that 99. 10-8 second. If the fission chain is be produced at the end of one genera. let equation (1. and if this is among other things. the not all the fission neutrons are available generations required to attain a particu- for maintaining the fission chain because lar number of neutrons.1) may be written as [ be the average number of neutrons N = Noenor N = NoI0lt'23.5. is often called a "shake.. For uranium- some are lost by escape and by removal 235. It is increases is given by seen. i. a hundredth of a microsecond. or.55. in a period of roughly The solution of this equation is 0. If 1.01 microsecond. I \. to produce 0.initiated by one neutron. and hence the same number of stant. (1. after the ini- .1.56. most of the N N I fission energy is released in an ex- = 0exrg' tremely short time period. in one way or another..".9 percent of the Rate of neutron increase energy of a l00-kiloton fission explo- dNldf = NxI: sion is released during the last 7 gener- g. SCIENTIFIC BASIS OF NUCLEAR EXPLOSIONS 17 fissionable nucleus. Clearly. i. tion.45 x by x. then as a result of their capture by neutrons. then the 1025neutrons and this number would be rate at which the number of neutrons attained in about 58 generations. (1. [.45. and if most of the N = Noexn. [may be taken to be in nonfission reactions. usually referred to as "fast neutrons. elapsed during the time f.07 microsecond.ii. for each fission. i..1) lost. it follows that speed) of the neutron.. 1). which is equal to when a nucleus captures a neutron and f -[ -1. time f later. For convenience. 10-6 second. sions.equation (1. . that is." 1. number of generations which have roughly half microsecond. ~~:. 0.e. suffers fission fneutrons are released.57 According to the data in Table available to carryon the fission chain.55 It was mentioned earlier that the fission chain. the increase in the number it follows from equation (1... culate either the neutron population after i." The generation time in fission by fast neutrons is thus roughly I shake.1 kiloton equiv- fissionable nuclei N(f -/) neutrons will alent of energy.56 If the value of x is known.:.1) that it of neutrons per generation is N(f -/) -would take approximately 51 genera- Nor N(f -[. Suppose that roughly 0. the generation time is about a one-hun. therefore. Similarly.A microsecond is a one-millionth part of a second.58 In 50 generations or so. it would need 1. on the energy (or represented by n. will be represented kilotons of energy would require 1.

the particular substance undergoing fis- quently. particles (§ 1.62 As a result of the expulsion of fraction of a second. a few cases. Conse. in principle to produce a although not always.59 To summarize the foregoing known. when casing. the mass of fissionable material uranium-238 undergoes fission as a re- will begin to expand rapidly. accompanied by self-sustaining chain reaction accom. There are 40 or so different ways of different ways in which fission can in which the nuclei can split up when occur and the several stages of decay fission occurs. The radioac- discussion. i.60 Many different. so much fragments are produced. 1. the mass becomes subcri.61 Regardless of their origin. The nature and energy will have been released-about proportions of the fission fragment nu- 1011calories-that extremely high tem. hence about 80 different involved. the decay products are generally also radioactive. This is frequently. from uranium-235 by ordinary fission tion soon ends. the nucleus of a radio- the explosion of many thousands of tons active substance is changed into that of of TNT. As a result. depending on peratures will be attained. if not all.29).50) and the weapon causing fission. On the 1." In the case of the fission fragments.e. tinue as a result of neutron capture. lighter elements. and these FISSION PRODUCTS in turn may decay with the emission of beta particles and gamma rays. sometimes called the nuclear fission weapons. which serves to carry panied by the rapid release of large off excess energy. "decay product. as much energy as a beta particle.. gamma radiation. fission fragments. neutrons. of the approximately 80 the amount of energy released at this fission fragments are the nuclei of ra- stage is relatively small. in spite of the restraining effect sion and on the energy of the neutrons of the tamper (§ 1.gamma radiation only is emitted. especially in their more readily. Because of the large number sion. the fission product mixture . For example. This is the basic principle of another element. it may be stated that because tivity is usually manifested by the the fission process is accompanied by emission of negatively charged beta the instantaneous liberation of neutrons. dioactive forms (radioisotopes) of well- 1. clei vary to some extent. tion of the fissionable material remains unchanged and some fissions will con. pounds of fissionable material can be made to liberate. the products are expansion permits neutrons to escape somewhat different. initial fission average there are about four stages of product nuclei. In a few special amounts of energy. An appreciable propor." Since the reactions (§ 1. but most. radioactivity for each fission fragment are formed when uranium or plutonium before a stable (nonradioactive) nucleus nuclei capture neutrons and suffer fis. from those formed tical and the self-sustaining chain reac.72). relative amounts. within a very small 1. it is possible. The time suIt of the capture of neutrons of very at which this expansion commences is high energy released in certain fusion called the "explosion time. 18 GENERAL PRINCIPLES OF NUCLEAR EXPLOSIONS tiation of the fission chain. is formed.

Each individual radionuclide has their activity consists in the emission of a definite half-life which is independent what are called "alpha particles." of its state or its amount.64. indicated by the curve. the activity will have decreased {!.66 Because of their greater mass to representthe decay as a whole in and charge. The residual radioactivity nium) present in the weapon residues from the fission products at 1 hour after does not constitute a hazard if the latter a nuclear detonation is taken as 100 and are outside the body. in fact.SCIENTIFIC BASIS OF NUCLEAR EXPLOSIONS 19 becomes very complex. It is seen that at through skin abrasions. . This is defined as the time fissionable material.5 More than 300 about one-tenth (10 percent) of its different isotopes of 36 light elements. 1. Nevertheless. as required for the radioactivity of a given noted in § 1. the uranium (or pluto- Fig. part of which. tive sources can travel more than I to 3 mately by means of a fairly simple for. but the general nature of through the unbroken skin.30) mentioned. Thus. plosion. have been iden. based certainly cannot penetrate clothing. of the fission products have been found since they are expelled from atomic nu- to range from a small fraction of a clei. will be apparent from Consequently. there is another kind of usually expressed by means of the residual radioactivity that should be "half-life" of the radionuclide (§ 1.e. alpha particles are much terms of a half-life.. is sion products.65 In addition to the beta-particle change. it has less penetrating than beta particles or been found that the decrease in the total gamma rays of the same energy. This is the activity of the involved. the helium atoms. identical with the nuclei of known to have a definite half-life. amount at I hour. and value. radiation intensity from the fission very few alpha particles from radioac- products can be calculated approxi. This will be given and discussed doubtful that these particles can get in Chapter IX. if plu- the subsequent decrease with time is tonium enters the body by ingestion. It is mula. on this formula. inches in air before being stopped. remains after the ex- quantity of a particular nuclide to de. 2 days. the rate of emission of beta and gamma-ray activity due to the fis- particles and gamma radiation.64 Although every radionuclide itive electrical charge. to 1 percent of the I-hour value. mixture formed after a nuclear explo- sion is so complex that it is not possible 1. and they the decay rate of fission products. the effects may be product activity will have decreased to serious. 'The general term "fission products" is used to describe this complex mixture. Within approximately "'"i from zinc to terbium.\ tified among the fission products. However. the fission through inhalation. but they differ from the beta par- second to something like a million ticles arising from the fission products in years. or particularly 7 hours after the explosion. Alpha particles present among the fission products is are. The half-lives These are a form of nuclear radiation. The fissionable uranium and crease (or decay) to half of its original plutonium isotopes are radioactive. 1.58.63 The rate of radioactive 1. i. being much heavier and carrying a pos- 1.

deuterium (2H or D). This element is nuclei of the three hydrogen isotopes. The lightest (IH) and stars is undoubtedly due to fusion nuclei (or protons) contain no neutrons. FUSION (THERMONUCLEAR) tritium (3H or T). charged-particle accelerators. respectively.e. they all contain one proton. and 3.68 Several different fusion reac- concluded that the fusion of isotopes of tions have been observed between the hydrogen was possible.20 <t -J W a: 0 0 6 8 12 TIME AFTER EXPLOSION (HOURS) Figure 1. One drogen (IH).10) of I. involving either two similar or two dif- in which the nuclei have mass numbers ferent nuclei.. All the nuclei carry a REACTIONS single positive charge. Rate of Decay of fission products after a nuclear explosion (activity is taken as 100 at I hour after the detonation). i. reactions occur to an appreciable extent.67 Energy production in the sun number of neutrons. and way in which this energy can be sup- f~~ ~-- . known to exist in three isotopic forms. the nuclei must have high energies. From tron. 2. CC"::: 20 GENERAL PRINCIPLES OF NUCLEAR EXPLOSIONS 100 U) l- t) :) 0 080 a: a. and tritium (T) nuclei contain two experiments made in laboratories with neutrons. These are generally referred to as hy. it was 1. In order to make these (§ 1.64. reactions involving the nuclei of various deuterium (D) nuclei contain one neu- light (low atomic weight) atoms. z 0 U) ~ 60 IL IL 0 >- I- ? 40 l- t) <t W > I. but they differ in the 1.

3 MeV. In these circumstances the fusion processes are referred to as "thermonuclear reactions.43). The only practical way in which higher probability and the fourth a much such temperatures can be obtained on lower probability. Other reactions can occur with lithium-6 or the more abun- 21 '-.. How- expected to occur sufficiently rapidly at ever. Thus.70 Another reaction of therrnonu.0 MeV the form of the compound lithium deu- T + D = 4He + n + 17. terium nuclei would produce nearly 1. . Because of their 1. temperatures of the order of (several tens of million degrees Kelvin). fission device. the fusion of deu. a mass evolution. as a result mixture of deuterium and tritium) with a of the first three reactions given above. the reaction shown above is of realizable temperatures.72 It will be observed that in three three times as much energy as the fis. plosion may be realized. small mass..8 MeV upon clear fusion reactions given above.8 MeV. therefore. parison of the energy released in fusion Consequently. reaction has a high probability of in- teracting with the deuterium.(). in the fission these reactions.SCIENTIFIC BASIS OF NUCLEAR plied is to raise the temperature to very high levels. with a total mass initiate one or more of the thermonu- of 10 units. a valid com.69. first two of these reactions occur with 1. where 6Li represents the lithium-6 iso- tope.. Weight tope (or isotopes) a thermonuclear ex- for weight.71 In order to make the nuclear almost equal probability at the tempera.69 Four thermonuclear fusion re- -. of the fusion reactions given in § 1. sion of uranium or plutonium. . these neutrons carry off clear weapons interest. fusion reactions take place at the re- tures associated with nuclear explosions quired rate.17. On the other hand. several tens of million degrees are nec- whereas the third reaction has a much essary. The with lithium-6.2 MeV the lithium is placed in the weapon in D + D = T + lH + 4. earth is by means of a fission explosion. the tritium formed in the T + T = 4He + 2n + 11. can be propagated rapidly of 235 units will produce a total of about through a volume of the hydrogen iso- 200 MeV of energy (§ 1. it should be possible to five deuterium nuclei. Large where He is the symbol for helium and n amounts of energy are thus released by (mass = 1) represents a neutron. these are: most interest for two reasons: (1) it has a high probability of occurrence and (2) if D + D = 3He + n + 3. If fusion. is quently.4 percent of natural lithium. of uranium-235.7 and various par- production of energy because they are ticles produced in the weapon. The the third reaction in § 1.g." as men- tioned in § 1. e. they have sufficient energy to c . and addi- energy liberated in each case is given in tional neutrons are produced to react million electron volt (MeV) units. accompanied by energy process.69.'" -".'" EXPLOSIONS 6Li + n -+ 4He + 3T + 4. c ::i'. " actions appear to be of interest for the dant isotope lithium. which makes up about 7. with tritium as a most of the reaction energy. conse- product. 1.6 MeV teride (LiD). will liberate 24. by combining a quantity reactions with that produced in fission of deuterium or lithium deuteride (or a can be made by noting that. .'-- --'I . neutrons are produced.

The energy roundings. nuclear radiation arising from the fission different kinds of electromagnetic radi- ~ products. nuclear weapon originates in roughly frequency v in hertz. tions decreases from left to right in the-. As the velocity of light. . (or very high frequency) gamma rays g clear neutrons by surrounding the fusion (§ 1... in ex known as "electromagnetic radia.74. According to ~ fission weapons. more exactly.e. cc resulting from oscillating electric These are obtained from equation h) charges and their associated magnetic (1. In "boosted" x 1010 cm per second. and z nium. in waves (or <t equal amounts from fission and fusion cycles) per second. i.jg. carried by the "photon. thermonuclear neu.74.tii ~-.73 The observed phenomena as. ble ultraviolet to the visible region. through the invisi- g: weapon with a blanket of ordinary ura. electron volt. ergy. k . re somewhat further. a It is seen that the energy of the radia- dr vacuum) at the same velocity.- 20 22 GENERAL PRINCIPLES OF NUCLEAR EXPLOSIONS I cause fission of uranium-238 nuclei. i. are related by AV = ~ processes. trons of high energy. to make use of the thermonu. 6. million electron volt.1) by writing it in the form kr fields.62 x 10-27 erg-second. On the average." -.. where c is the velocity of light.1.24 X 10-10 (1. d.A() (1. the clear reaction is then a small fraction of postulated particle (or atom) of radia- the total energy yield. Ordinary visible light is the most in f . The high-energy neutrons are then to the infrared and radar and radio . keV. thereby con. this process requires neu.. 199 x 10-16 sociated with a nuclear explosion and = . kilo (or thousand) electron ct tions.74.e.1) R the effects on people and materials are cm RI largely determined by the thermal radi. second. It is possible. responding "quantum" (or unit) of en- ess.e. Electromagnetic radiations (/) I. tion. wavelength A in centimeters and the t. Planck's theory. E (MeV) = 1. Thermal radiations 1.e. 186.e.00 j:: tions in individual cases. The ~ released in the explosion of a thermo. and all such radiations travel A(cm) TJ through the air (or. namely..28) and X rays. and also to the residual and frequency regions occupied by the >. i:i: tributing to the overall energy yielq of 1. or in eV.\ij. i. is given by Fij THERMAL RADIATION E (ergs) = hv = ~hc 1. the energy ations are indicated in Fig.74. 1. the energy of the cor- ~ trons serve to enhance the fission proc. 3. d f I amllar m 0 eectromagnetlcrala- .74 The approximate wavelength '0 the explosion." These are a kind of wave motion volt. (and low frequency). energy released in the thermonu.000 miles per stated earlier." i. It is desirable.2) (§ tion.. c. i. units. therefore. i . to quantum values for the various electro- ar consider the nature of these radiations magnetic radiations are included in Fig. range from the very short wavelength g therefor~.74. where h is a universal constant equal to ation and its interaction with the sur. waves of relatively long wavelength ~ the latter undergo fission.. the results are expressed either in Ii! belong in the broad category of what are MeV. although there may be varia.2 then captured by uranium-238 nuclei.

J ""' ~ . 0 0 N~ (j x """ -0.. ~ < ~ . --.J. ""' :I: -uJ ~ ffi ~ Z 0- U ~ uJ"O ~ .. N. " --~ ""' -~-~ .. 0 "! = -X-' ""' -0 (:1fjio UoZ. .> 0 -~ < < ~ X N -~ .- ~~.JuJ '". '" E-- (:1 ~ Z ~ 0 -0' . ~o~2S ~ :1:::> < ~ .... Uo~~ ""' -(j :I: ~ :.Jo<~ o~~ 0 --. x N. - ~ ""' -Q) "- 0 '" ~ 0.>:I: (j 0 x ~ C uJ -~.> C uJ -~~ -N ~.-= .J (:1:1:E-.>"" . -.. . Q) ~ b t: N~ ~ C ~ x . >< < ""' ~ ~ < (:1 .9..J ~ 0 .- ~ ~ ~ 0 "...J X - N:>" ~ > . -= ""' --bO .> ~ ~... ..> 0 .J <..t ~ t"- ~.. ~" :.> ~ 'i -0 -b ...> ~ U ~ Q) ~ """ 0 ~ .u c ~ <0 z ~ ~ :I: ~uJ "uJ E-. . SCIENTIFIC BASIS OF NUCLEAR EXPLOSIONS 23 ~ . o - -: ~.. ""' ~ ~E--~uJo . 0 = -~.> 0.> ~ ~ ~ . L- " 0 ~ c "! <&j -~ Q) ~ E--O ~. x N..> Q) 0 -.J ~ 0 = uJ ""' 0' Q) .Q) uJ .-Q) .. 0 x "! .. (:1 0 --uJ -O~- E-...>uo< Q) ~ C bO ~ uo E :I: .> ~ ~ .0 .~ ~ x ~ "!~ ..> . 0~ ~. ~~ -~.. .> ..-Q) Z ""..

between the thermal radiation received clear explosion. For materials at temperatures of a of the energy is then reradiated at a few thousand degrees Kelvin. In a nu. the ultraviolet region. E (ra d. the soft X rays in the energy is in the range of 1014to 1015 primary thermal radiation are com- ergs/cm3. compared with the form of kinetic energy of the weapon roughly 108 ergs/cm3 for the material debris at this time. plodes. most of which consists of soft X rays.andthey aremoreeasilyabsorbedthanhardX rays.24 GENERAL PRINCIPLES OF NUCLEAR EXPLOSIONS figure. into as thermal radiation energy. and rotational) particles with the surroundings will vary energy. The interaction of the energy. but most of this energy is mary thermal radiation may constitute 'X rays are frequently distinguishedas "hard'. cent of the fission energy from an air tures of a nuclear explosion.g. Hence. .23. kinetic energy and internal primary thermal radiation and the debris (electronic. the radia.x 10 1sT" -ergs / cm 3 . occurs in the air. They are. where the atmospheric tion energy density will be of the order pressure (and density) is near to sea- of 1016ergs/cm3. some 70 to 80 percent of the where T is the temperature in degrees explosion energy. 1. and in. serves to heat the air immediately sur- ture but the rate of its emission as ther.g. e. as the wavelength increases in the spectral region with wavelengths and the frequency decreases. burst is received as thermal radiation not only is the radiation energy emitted energy at a distance. 1. Part ingly. on the other hand. It is in this mal radiation increases correspond. It has been estimated that in a pletely absorbed within a distance of a nuclear explosion some 80 percent of few feet. At the temperature of a con. At the tempera. as indicated in § 1. but most of the 1.77 When a nuclear weapon ex- density for matter in temperature equi. although the pri- -- very rapidly.e. Within .6 5." The latter have longer wavelengthsand lower energies. is emitted as primary thermal radiation. visible. i. vibrational.76 Not only does the radiation energy of the primary thermal radiation energy density increase with tempera.78 When a nuclear detonation million degrees are reached... temperature equilibrium is rap- librium is given by idly established in the residual material. \ \. however. about one microsecond after the explosion.27. or "soft. shorter than the ultraviolet. i.radiationsof high energy comparedwith ultraviolet or visible light.ooooK. ventional chemical explosion. manner that the fireball is formed. This frared regions of the electromagnetic explains why only about 35 to 45 per- spectrum (Fig. (or blast) energy (see Chapter II). at a distance and shock. with the greatest the remainder is converted into shock part in the ultraviolet..e. Some of the radiations are the total energy may be present initially degraded to lower energies. as defined in § 1. nevertheless. latIon ) = 7 6 . the en. e. with the altitude of burst and will deter- the radiation energy is a very small mine the ultimate partition of energy proportion of the total energy. where temperatures of several tens of 1. the radiation energy density is Almost all of the rest of the energy is in then less than 1 erg/cm3. Kelvin..75 The (thermal) radiation energy 1.74). whereas the material level conditions. lower temperature from the fireball and ergy is radiated slowly. rounding the nuclear burst..

e. "Nucleonics Fundamen- Effecls. G. ultravio. SELDON. the available energy is it produces a smaller pressure increase spread throughout such a large volume than from an air burst of the same yield. "Atomic Energy for Military Fission of Uranium-238. USNRDL.c".. however..TR-67-111.[c~ .. Inc. BIBLIOGRAPHY BRODE. tivities of the Products of High Energy Neutron SMYTH. The remainder. but before they are degraded and absorbed.".. "Review of Nuclear Weapons HOISINGTON.153 (1968). Inc. L. UCID-15554. DeW. A shock wave is the soft X rays travel long distances generated from a high-altitude burst.e.. Naval Radiological Defense Laboratory. 'It is sometimes referred to as the "prompt thermal radiation" because only that which is received within a few seconds of the explosion is significant as a hazard. radiated very much more rapidly. R. B. J. "Calculated Abundances and Ac. 1967. R.c.. DASA 525. 1. "Fission Product Decay LAURENCE... E." U.~. Chapter 14. is VII). Livermore." Princeton University Press. i." University of California. May 1959. about half is rera- of the spectrum with longer wavelengths diated so slowly by the heated air that it (lower photon energies).79 In the event of a burst at high in a shorter time interval.S.. March 1%3. Half-Lives." D. Van Nostrand Co. O. W. P. "An Introduction to Fission Naval Radiological Defense Laboratory. and P. 1959. "Estimated Total Chain and Indepen- ergy. Third Edi. WEAVER. at distances of normal practical interest At this stage. Although the total energy emitted as Furthermore. STROM. case at lower altitudes. (and mass) that most of the atoms and These matters are treated more fully in molecules in the air cannot get very hot. has no great significance as a cause of let. visible.. CROCKER. duced Fission Processes. A.. USNRDL-TR-633.." Annual Review of Nuclear Science. where the air density is low. "Men and Atoms. Chapter II. than is the altitudes. H. and infrared7 (see Chapter damage. it lies mainly in the region closer to sea level. because the secondary thermal radiation in a high-altitude ex- thermal radiation is emitted at a lower plosion is greater than for an air burst temperature.. June Explosions.. DOLAN. H. Lawrence Radiation Laboratory. LEEN.. 18." U. P. and Schuster. 1945." Simon Chains: Schematics with Branching Fractions." Defense Atomic Purposes. Support Agency. and Literature References. Inc. D. SCIENTIFIC BASIS OF NUCLEAR EXPLOSIONS 25 as much as 70 to 80 percent of the total. S. tals. dent Fission Yields for Several Neutron-ln- tion. i.." McGraw-HilI Book Co. L. "Sourcebook on Atomic En.. ~i[~' ~~ c " ~.~~. 1959. July 1%9.S. 1967. L.. KIL- GLASSTONE. W.

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