On November 1st, 1952, the United States detonated its first hydrogen bomb, another giant step forward in the arms race. Today we look back at that day and see how much you know about the infamous weapon...
What Was the Name of the First Hydrogen Bomb? The first hydrogen bomb was named "Mike," because there's no reason even a weapon of mass destruction shouldn't get a nickname. While its name was small, the bomb was anything but. It was three stories tall, and when the team designing it drew a full-scale model, they had to build a balcony to view it from just so people could see the whole thing. The bomb was so giant that it realistically could not have been used as a weapon and the Soviets even referred to it as a "thermonuclear installation." Say what you will about the Soviets, but it's pretty impressive to have the chutzpah to mock a hydrogen bomb.
How Powerful Was the Hydrogen Bomb? The new hydrogen bomb had a yield of 10.4 megatons. We don't know what the heck that means, but it sure sounds like a lot. In reality, the bomb was about 700 times as powerful as the one dropped on Hiroshima, and it created a fireball over three miles wide. The bomb completely destroyed the island of Elugelab that it was tested on--like wiped it off the face of the planet. It also destroyed parts of several nearby islands. So to answer your question? Pretty freaking powerful.
Who Are Edward Teller and Stanislaw Ulam?
Edward Teller was an early member of the Manhattan project and one of the people who helped develop the atomic bomb. He was involved with atomic weaponry projects for most of his life including championing project Chariot, which was an idea to build an artificial harbor in Alaska by setting off a string of nuclear weapons, because apparently there's nothing nuclear weapons can't solve.
He is referred to as the father of the hydrogen bomb and some believe he was the inspiration for Dr. Strangelove. Meanwhile, Ulam was a successful mathematician who, among other things, pioneered the Monte Carlo Method, a system for computing probabilities and outcomes of various events still popular today. They both contributed heavily to the design of the hydrogen bomb to the point where it is now referred to as the Teller-Ulam design that became the foundation for modern atomic weapon design.
Who Developed the Hydrogen Bomb After the United States?
Of course, the hydrogen bomb did not stop with the United States. The Soviet Union created and detonated its own bomb the next year and other nations soon followed. Here's a (debatably) fun trivia question: Which country was the third to test a hydrogen bomb? That honor goes to the UK. Due to a 1970 treaty, only five countries are allowed to legally have them. The Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons officially recognizes five countries as nuclear-weapon states: China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Of course, this isn't necessarily the case. Some countries, like India and Pakistan, never signed the treaty and are believed to possess nuclear weapons. Israel has neither confirmed nor denied that is possesses nuclear weapons, but it is widely accepted that the country holds them in its arsenal. And while North Korea ratified the treaty in the 1980s, it withdrew its commitment in 2013 and has since conducted numerous nuclear weapon tests.