Types of Nuclear Weapons

When I was in high school I began to listen to music. To find music. To find artists. A guy who owned and operated the store next to where I worked recommended David Bowie, that guy whose songs I had heard on Philly’s classic rock radio stations. Back in those days we still had record stores—not that I knew what a record was—and I found a few used CDs—now that kids today would know what a CD is. Over that summer, I picked up a lot of new music. But what struck me about this David Bowie guy is that Space Oddity, Tonight, and Heathen all sounded so different from each other. He was a great one. And while I’m certain there will be some graphic in the future about his timeline—how can there not—today I am going to follow up once more on the North Korean nuclear test after coming across this graphic from Reuters.

You will recall how last week I looked at a New York Times post that explained the differences between a few different types of nuclear weapons. Well, here Reuters illustrates those differences.

Types of nuclear weapons
Types of nuclear weapons

Credit for the piece goes to S. Scarr.

Did North Korea Test a Hydrogen Bomb?

Yesterday we looked at the sites and timeline of nuclear weapons tests. Today, however, as we learn more about North Korea’s hydrogen bomb test, some are wondering whether it really was a hydrogen bomb or something else. After all, there are different ways to build the bomb. Some suggest North Korea tested an atom bomb on steroids, more properly called boosted fission. Anyway, the New York Times does a nice job explaining the differences between the atom bomb, the hydrogen bomb, and how we can infer what North Korea tested from the calculated size of the blast.

Inside the hydrogen bomb
Inside the hydrogen bomb

Credit for the piece goes to Josh Keller, Ford Fessenden, and Tim Wallace.

Nuclear Tests

Last night, in the States’ time at least, North Korea purportedly tested a hydrogen bomb. How does this differ from their previous tests? Well, those were all nuclear fission bombs, this is a nuclear fusion bomb. (Admittedly, I am simplifying a lot here.) Hydrogen bombs, the H-bomb, are more powerful and more efficient in that they emit less radiation. They are still pretty bad news, though. That bit has not changed.

Anyway, the Washington Post put together a nice piece about nuclear weapons testing. The big feature piece is a map of test sites over time. What I really like about it, however, is that they chose to split the world at a different point—the Pacific Ocean opposite the Prime Meridian. I have occasionally argued for using such maps more often given the increasing relevance of Asia and the relative decline of Western Europe. So it is nice to see it put to good use here.

Nuking the Pacific
Nuking the Pacific

Credit for the piece goes to Kevin Schaul.

Enriching Uranium

This past weekend, the US and allies reached an agreement with Iran on the Iranian nuclear programme. In this graphic the Washington Post explains the several steps necessary to take uranium and make it useful for a reactor, a research reactor, and nuclear weapons. Admittedly, a simplified diagram, but still quite useful.

Enriching uranium
Enriching uranium

Credit for the piece goes to the Washington Post graphics department.

Testing the Atom Bomb

The Washington Post looked at the testing of the first atomic bomb at White Sands. Nuclear weapons are a topic on which I have done some work in the past. But this piece looks more at the historic test called Trinity.

Trinity Test
Trinity Test

Credit for the piece goes to Alberto Cuadra and Laris Karklis.