« Don't listen to Brian | Main | Project Management Menus »

An Atomic Bomb in 5 Easy Steps

I was reading the September/October issue of the California Monthly and there is an intriguing article on the "Big Bang report" It included a sidebar on the 5 steps required to make a bomb"

1. Mining—the easy part. Uranium is heavier than gold and has the largest atoms of any natural element, which makes the magnitude of its explosive potential greater than that of all elements except hydrogen, the lightest element. Uranium exists in large deposits easily mined on virtually every continent. It even can be harvested from seawater.

But the yield is low.
For every 25,000 tons mined, only 50 tons of uranium metal remain.

2. Extraction—almost any lab tech can do it.
Pure uranium is dried and filtered into coarse powder called yellowcake.
The substance is exposed to fluoride gas and heated to 133 degrees F.
This creates a gas, uranium hexafluoride.

3. Diffusion—the hard part.
The gas consists of two isotopes—U-238, which is too stable for atomic detonation, and U-235, which is lighter and highly fissionable. To separate the isotopes, the gas is pumped through a succession of fine, porous barriers—centrifuges. U-235 isotopes are lighter and propel faster through the barriers and concentrate. After passing through several thousand barriers, the gas contains about 2 percent of U-235—enough for a nuclear reactor.

But an atom bomb requires nearly 95 percent purity.

4. Refinement—the sophisticated, expensive, and time-consuming part.
The slightly enriched uranium undergoes magnetic separation before being fed into another centrifuge. After passing through more than 1,500 barriers, the gas is about 20 percent pure. The process is repeated for nearly a year until the purity reaches nearly 90 percent. At this point, the uranium gas is considered bomb grade. It is then converted into metal powder.

5. Detonation—the easiest part.
The metal is molded into a ball weighing between 50 and 100 pounds.
Size matters less than the purity of the uranium. It is packed into a warhead containing a detonator (the United States used artillery shells in its early versions) and fuse, which can be remotely set.

A 10-megaton bomb equals 10 million tons of TNT.

So now you know.


Comments (8)

A 10 Megaton device can not be built by following directions in a book. I saw this having worked at Rocky Flat Environmental Technology Site (www.rfets.gov) which built the "triggers" for the W88's that are in that range. A 10 MT device is thermo nuclear not fission.


Likely some of the names have been changed to protect the innocent. I think that if anyone published good enough directions to actually make a 10 Megaton bomb then a certain book would be thrown AT them :-) What I found interesting is that much of the work is in isolating and refining the material.

It's not the directions, that's pretty staright forward - minus the dimensions of the shaped charges. It the ability to hold those dimensions while machining the "pit" and the surrouding fission device that's the problem. Couple 100 million dollars of machines tools are needed.

The fission device or a "dud" fission device - very low yield - can be made with simple processes, although the assembly process will likely leave the assemblers dead in a very months so thay have to use it fast.


If someone can make me one of these i'll buy it off them. Please post a response if you think you can do this for me. And remember, bring down the Americain regime! :-)


I am currenly in captivity in America however back om in Iraq I have lots of Nuclear Warheads lieing about ready to fire at the unsuspcting American infidels. For directions on where to find these boms e-mail me and i will give you further instructions. :) Lots of money :) Good work by the way with making that chemical weapon which im sure we will all hear more about soon. I agree, bring down the Americain infidels regime.

Sadam xxx
*Hugs and Kisses*

Rahul Raihkhy:

This pleases me greatly. I agree that we should bring down the Americain infidels. I look forward to the effects of this bomb.


thatnks project managment. i now have enough bombs to blow up your whole factory HURRAY!!!

Patricia A. Anders:

i like my list better-

1) dig it - uranium ore

2) crunch it - yellowcake

3) bake it - fluorine gas + heat = uranium hexafluoride

4) spin it - centrifuge to speed of sound ... produces SOME fissionable material -- U-235 -- 20% = highly enriched

5) spin it again - through 1500 additional centrifuges (takes about a year) = 90% pure - weapon grade

6) squeeze it - enriched uranium converted into powder = uranium oxide, which is then molded into a sphere

7) arm it

oh, and by the way folks, i read the book (the holy bible) and we and israel win in the last chapter. god bless america! god bless israel! and god bless the true living church of christ!

Post a comment

(Comments are moderated to fight SPAM and will be published after I have a chance to approve them. Thanks for waiting.)


The previous article is Don't listen to Brian.

The next article is Project Management Menus.

Current articles are in the main index page and you can find a complete list of articles in the archives.

Creative Commons License
This weblog is licensed under a Creative Commons License.
Powered by
Movable Type 3.34