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Former Truck Driver Reconstructs A-bomb

samzenpus posted about 3 years ago | from the we-got-a-great-big-nuclear-convoy dept.

The Military 332

mdsolar writes "Coster-Mullen taught himself how to build an A-bomb. 'The secret of the atomic bomb,' he says, 'is how easy they are to make.' His findings are available in a book he continuously updates and publishes himself called Atom Bombs: The Top Secret Inside Story of Little Boy and Fat Man, which has received rave reviews from the National Resource Defense Council: 'Nothing else in the Manhattan Project literature comes close to his exacting breakdown of the bomb's parts.'"

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332 comments

whoa! (1)

bball99 (232214) | about 3 years ago | (#35677558)

I predict a trip to Gitmo!

Re:whoa! (1)

gtall (79522) | about 3 years ago | (#35678032)

Really? Repeating information that has been public for decades? I have a tin-foil hat tightener that, because I trust you, I'm willing to let you have for about $99.99. Please contact me within the next hour and I'll throw in a Ronco Turnip Twaddler gratis.

georgia stone chosen ones .5 b population closer? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35677576)

everybody has one now? this is great. new bible found. everyman's nukes? the profitsized holycost could not be going better?

do disarmed babys get an in bed, or dead, video? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35678058)

not here with stuff that really matters. maybe on cnn? the unproven dead remain uncounted, unmentioned. enough about bombs, chariots, crap. disarm

How long? (2, Interesting)

HikingStick (878216) | about 3 years ago | (#35677580)

How long before his book get's the Anarchist's Cookbook treatment? I expect we'll see new headlines in the coming weeks, reflecting how the government has now classified all his research and writings, and labeled the author as a threat to national security (or as a friend to terrorists and hater of puppies and kittens).

Re:How long? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35677596)

NOOO! Not the kittens!

2004 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35677662)

It looks like it has been out since around 2004 and referenced in many books and TV shows, so if it was going to be classified, I think it would have already happened.

Re:How long? (2)

Unkyjar (1148699) | about 3 years ago | (#35677672)

Both puppies AND kittens? Is he trying to remain neutral in the Cats vs. Dogs wars? Or does he just have allergies?

Re:How long? (2)

nschubach (922175) | about 3 years ago | (#35677908)

He's been playing cats against dogs for years. It's really a power pull he's playing between the two sides. One minute he'll be whispering in the dog's ear to get the cat, and the next, he'll be telling cats how to get the dogs.

It's genius really. He's positioned himself to be popular among both sides while getting them to compete with each other while ignoring him and look what happens while both the cats and dogs were looking the other way:

Now he has an atomic bomb.

In future news... (1, Funny)

Haedrian (1676506) | about 3 years ago | (#35677606)

Former truck driver magically disappears from society after publishing 'how to make A-bomb"

Re:In future news... (5, Insightful)

afidel (530433) | about 3 years ago | (#35677700)

Not really, everything including technical schematics from the Manhattan Project have been available for decades. The knowledge of how to make a simple gun design device isn't what keeps people from making nukes, it's the availability of highly enriched uranium.

Re:In future news... (1)

nschubach (922175) | about 3 years ago | (#35677918)

Still, I predict that someone will make a mock up and leave it in a public place. You know how people react to stray devices laying around.

Re:In future news... (1)

MoonBuggy (611105) | about 3 years ago | (#35678122)

It could happen, I guess, but it'd be a fairly odd thing to do. The average member of the public isn't going to see a nondescript metal box and say "Oh no, that looks like the design of a gun-type nuclear device", and anybody in a position to recognise the thing for what it might be (probably only the bomb disposal team) will be armed with Geiger counters. People would probably panic far more at seeing one of these [google.com] on the street compared to the reaction that an accurate replica of a nuclear weapon would receive.

Re:In future news... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35678566)

You obviously don't live in the United States of America

Re:In future news... (1)

Jawnn (445279) | about 3 years ago | (#35678420)

You don't even have to go to that much work. Advertising devices, with blinky lights [wikipedia.org], left in public places are enough to cause a Homeland Security "incident".

Re:In future news... (1)

peragrin (659227) | about 3 years ago | (#35677960)

Exactly the highly techincal part of nuclear bombs is enriching uranium to the right levels of the correct isotopes. Once you have enough the rest is Childs play

Re:In future news... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35678360)

It's hard to get Uranium. It's hard to enrich Uranium (whats the standard way to do this? Create uranium-fluoride compounds since that's a gas, and then use some kind of special material that allows the natural process of effusion to separate the gas molecules with the right uranium isotopes?) Whatever the case, nothing a truck driver will be doing.

Here is a question though: I think you can buy heavy water, so what would happen if someone built a powerful particle accelerator in their garage and smashed some charged heavy water molecules into a cup of heavy water? The reason I ask is that H-bombs use a regular A-bomb as a trigger. What if the standard trigger where bypassed and replaced with a particle accelerator as the new trigger? Even a genius truck driver will be unable to obtain Uranium, but a genius truck driver could obtain everything he needs to make his own particle accelerator. I don't want to be blown to pieces by a genius truck driver.

Re:In future news... (1)

bluefoxlucid (723572) | about 3 years ago | (#35678424)

It's hard to ignite that kind of explosion because you need to get an atomic reaction: how do you detonate a full cup of water at the same time? It takes lots of energy input.

Re:In future news... (1)

bluefoxlucid (723572) | about 3 years ago | (#35678386)

Exactly. It's easy to build an atomic bomb, hell I can build a detonator for i.e. dynamite from shit on my office desk and the magnets out of a hard drive we're going to wipe next week. There's no dynamite in my office, no nitroglycerin, no nitrocellulose, no other appropriate explosives... so it's pretty much harmless, I could use it to light an LED maybe just to be funny. In the same way, an atomic bomb mechanism is pretty useless without 4700 pounds of C4 high explosive and a chunk of enriched fissile material.

May not end well (2)

JackSpratts (660957) | about 3 years ago | (#35677622)

John Aristotle Phillips tried this 35 years ago. He toured college towns giving lectures shadowed by pro-nuke goons. I saw him once, and the goons. He was quite the nervous fellow.

Re:May not end well (1)

LordStormes (1749242) | about 3 years ago | (#35677642)

Everybody needs some goons.

Re:May not end well (1)

snspdaarf (1314399) | about 3 years ago | (#35677938)

Everybody needs some goons.

Well, shit. No wonder my world domination plans never worked. I thought it was minions I needed.

Re:May not end well (1)

PhilHibbs (4537) | about 3 years ago | (#35677998)

Henchmen, you amateurs!

Re:May not end well (1)

LordStormes (1749242) | about 3 years ago | (#35678532)

Henchmen, you amateurs!

I can't seem to get my men to hench properly. That's why I switched them out for goons. Or was it Goonies? I don't know, but they scare people off with the Truffle Shuffle.

not so easy for North Korea and Pakistan (2)

peter303 (12292) | about 3 years ago | (#35677632)

Both their first bomb tests fizzled with yields about a tenth of the bomb that destroyed Hiroshima. They had been designed to be Hiroshima-size.

So claiming to be able to make a bomb and actually getting them work properly are two different things.

Re:not so easy for North Korea and Pakistan (0)

Nimey (114278) | about 3 years ago | (#35677680)

It's pretty hard to get an implosion-style bomb right.

Re:not so easy for North Korea and Pakistan (1)

Kjella (173770) | about 3 years ago | (#35677798)

It was pretty hard, back then. But 65 years is a long time ago and tools that were state of the art back then are common today. While you need supercomputers to make "real" simulations, I bet this PC has enough power to run a basic boom-or-fizzle model of a nuke. Production technology, measurement tools, I really doubt 40s technology can be that hard to match. The difficulty has always been weapons-grade uranium (or plutonium). That's not exactly something you'd find in the corner store...

Re:not so easy for North Korea and Pakistan (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35677956)

... The difficulty has always been weapons-grade uranium (or plutonium). That's not exactly something you'd find in the corner store...

Hence the plot of several back to the future movies.

Re:not so easy for North Korea and Pakistan (1)

Anthony Mouse (1927662) | about 3 years ago | (#35678342)

It was just the first one. Marty took the Delorean, which at that time required plutonium to time travel, back to 1955 with no extra plutonium. Hence the reference:

Marty: Doc look, all we need is a little plutonium!

Doc: Oh! I'm sure that in 1985, plutonium is available at every corner drug store, but in 1955 it's a little hard to come by. Marty, I'm sorry, but I'm afraid you're stuck here.

At the end of the first movie the fission reactor had been replaced by a "Mr. Fusion" from the future that would run on empty soda cans and banana peals, and the plot of the second movie involved Biff from 2015 "borrowing" the time machine to give Biff from 1955 a 2015 sports almanac so that he could become rich by betting on sporting events and ruin the timeline.

In the third movie the Delorean is struck by lightning while flying in a storm, which sends Doc back to 1885 and damages the electronics, which can't be repaired with 1885 technology. So Doc leaves the Delorean in a cave for 1955 Doc to fix it. Then Marty goes back for 1885 Doc, at which point the problem becomes not a lack of plutonium but a lack of gasoline to get the car up to 88MPH.

Re:not so easy for North Korea and Pakistan (1)

nschubach (922175) | about 3 years ago | (#35677962)

Re:not so easy for North Korea and Pakistan (1)

tophermeyer (1573841) | about 3 years ago | (#35678098)

I literally had my mouse pointer hovered above one of those before I realized what I would be clicking.

While not really being NSFW in the classic sense, I really really don't want my employer to see my weblogs including things like "Free Shipping on Yellowcake Uranium!"

Though I am tempted to pull out my laptop to check out what the users who looked at those items went on to purchase...

Re:not so easy for North Korea and Pakistan (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35678248)

It's just sugar with caffeine and food colouring.

Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought:
Tiger Blood
Zombie Blood
Health and Mana Potions

Re:not so easy for North Korea and Pakistan (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35678070)

Yeah, the technology is not trivial but it's not overly complex that a determined person/nation couldn't figure it out.

Getting a decent amount of weapons grade material is VERY hard, time consuming, and expensive.

Re:not so easy for North Korea and Pakistan (2)

Buggz (1187173) | about 3 years ago | (#35677720)

with yields about a tenth of the bomb that destroyed Hiroshima.

Only a tenth? I won't need the sunglasses then, will I?

Re:not so easy for North Korea and Pakistan (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35678246)

Both their first bomb tests fizzled with yields about a tenth of the bomb that destroyed Hiroshima. They had been designed to be Hiroshima-size.

Crose enough!

Re:not so easy for North Korea and Pakistan (1)

quenda (644621) | about 3 years ago | (#35678252)

Both their first bomb tests fizzled with yields about a tenth of the bomb that destroyed Hiroshima.

Not the same. Gun-type bombs are so easy that the US and South Africa (at least) built them and did not bother to test them.
NK and Pakistan also did tests only for the more difficult implosion design. If they have sufficient highly enriched uranium, they will not waste it on a test.

Re:not so easy for North Korea and Pakistan (1)

clonan (64380) | about 3 years ago | (#35678332)

They didn't test the uranium device because they didn't have any extra U235. If they had tested it then it would have taken another 3 years to purify enough U235 for another bomb.

They wanted to test it but couldn't so they crossed their fingers and hit the button.

Sensationalist headline is sensationalist (3, Insightful)

chemicaldave (1776600) | about 3 years ago | (#35677648)

He didn't reconstruct a bomb, he reverse engineered it and taught himself how to build one.

Re:Sensationalist headline is sensationalist (2)

hedwards (940851) | about 3 years ago | (#35678228)

Which is why the vision of a nuclear weapon free future is almost certain to never happen. That particular cat is out of the bag, and not going back in any time soon.

It's a Little Boy gun-type bomb (5, Interesting)

Nimey (114278) | about 3 years ago | (#35677654)

which are a rather simple design; among other things, they don't have any safety features.

Broadly, what you need is two correctly sized-and-shaped chunks of enriched uranium with enough U-235 to cause a chain reaction, a smoothbore gun barrel (IIRC Little Boy used one of 6" diameter), and some gunpowder in silk bags to drive one piece of uranium into the other. There are a few other parts to this, such as the tamper and the fuze, but the toughest part should be obtaining enough enriched uranium.

Certainly the featured bomb is not a fully-working model. It'll be a reproduction with inert material standing in for the U-235, no gunpowder, and an inert fuze.

Re:It's a Little Boy gun-type bomb (3, Funny)

somersault (912633) | about 3 years ago | (#35677712)

Certainly the featured bomb is not a fully-working model. It'll be a reproduction with inert material standing in for the U-235, no gunpowder, and an inert fuze.

That seems a bit overkill. Couldn't he at least use two coconut halves for the U-235, a little bit of gunpower and a real fuse? Then at least you'd get a bang and a "clop!" when you set it off.

Re:It's a Little Boy gun-type bomb (2)

hoggoth (414195) | about 3 years ago | (#35678376)

> Couldn't he at least use two coconut halves for the U-235, a little bit of gunpower and a real fuse?

Then the headline would have read "Former Castaway Professor Reconstructs A-Bomb".

no worries, (3, Funny)

Thud457 (234763) | about 3 years ago | (#35677738)

I seriously doubt that he's figured out to use a Frisbee to spoof the motion detectors to steal super enriched plutonium from John Lithgow's lab. D'OH!

Re:It's a Little Boy gun-type bomb (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35677914)

Oh, you're one of those faggots who wants to show off how smart he is by pretending to know about nuclear weapons.

Hope you die the way you lived, with an enormous cock up your ass.

One day I'll start actually reading headlines... (1)

Tigger's Pet (130655) | about 3 years ago | (#35677676)

...not just flicking over them with my eyeballs on autopilot. I read "Former Truck Driver Reconstructs A Bomb" and thought - "So what? Is this a particular bomb, a historical bomb or something". It was only about 10 seconds later when my brain caught up and made me re-check what I'd actually read.
Would it really have hurt to add an extra 5 characters into the headline?

Re:One day I'll start actually reading headlines.. (1)

Unkyjar (1148699) | about 3 years ago | (#35677728)

Maybe not, but by leaving them out they've gotten you to share a funny story which brightened up my day.

Re:One day I'll start actually reading headlines.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35677748)

Would it really have hurt to add an extra 5 characters into the headline?

Which 5? "asdfh"?

Re:One day I'll start actually reading headlines.. (1)

JWSmythe (446288) | about 3 years ago | (#35677842)

...omic ...

Re:One day I'll start actually reading headlines.. (1)

JWSmythe (446288) | about 3 years ago | (#35677920)

Oops, too early for me to be a /. editor too.

"...tomic ..."

I didn't confuse it with the meaning of the article, because this came out a few years ago, and was posted here then too. Only a few things come to mind when I see "truck driver" and "bomb" in the title.

1) Truck driver eats too many beans at a greasy spoon diner, gets food poisoning.

2) The FUD stories just post 9/11 about fuel trucks being hijacked and used as rolling bombs (totally media/gov't driven fiction).

3) The guy who's been researching the WWII atomic bombs in significant detail, and wrote a book.

    The first isn't news, because it happens all the time. The second isn't news, because it wasn't news when it was claimed to have happened, but never actually happened. And the third isn't news, because it already was news. Good for him, he wrote a book. And publicity is always nice to have, especially when you're self-published.

Re:One day I'll start actually reading headlines.. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35678118)

No one cares that you can't bother to read. Fuck off.

Reconstructs A-bomb? (1)

olsmeister (1488789) | about 3 years ago | (#35677682)

So he has one in his garage or something?
There is nothing fundamentally difficult about making an A-bomb, particularly a plutonium-based bomb, except obtaining the fissionable material, handling it, and keeping people from finding out about it.

Re:Reconstructs A-bomb? (3, Informative)

fnj (64210) | about 3 years ago | (#35677886)

Sorry, you've got it wrong. It's a uranium-type gun-type bomb that is dead simple to build and practically foolproof if you've done the elementary physics and workmanship right. The only hard part with that is getting the highly enriched uranium. A plutonium-based implosion-type bomb is another story. The hollow spherical high-explosive lense and the arrangement of synchronized detonators is very, very exacting, and the very specialized grade of krytron tube to set it off just right so it doesn't fizzle.

Re:Reconstructs A-bomb? (1)

afidel (530433) | about 3 years ago | (#35677940)

Actually plutonium bombs are significantly more complex than HE Uranium gun type designs.

Re:Reconstructs A-bomb? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35678002)

You are mistaken - a plutonium bomb must be a implosion-type device, i.e. a hollow sphere of plutonium that needs to be compressed precisely symmetrically, otherwise it just fizzles. The "easy" (but also unsafe and non-scaleable) kind of bomb are the gun-type uranium bombs.

NSA (1)

Stenchwarrior (1335051) | about 3 years ago | (#35677690)

I'm sure someone up at the NSA is saying to themselves "OK wait, this guy is a truck driver and before that was a photographer....and now he's reverse engineered the goddamn A-bomb??". How is that possible?

Re:NSA (1)

Vectormatic (1759674) | about 3 years ago | (#35678158)

i doubt anyone at the NSA is that naive

Back in primary school, at the age of 11-12, i read about the theory of nuclear fision (mostly the basic principals used in a fision reactor), i dont remember wether i also knew about critical mass and the uranium gun-type design, but i truely believe i would have understood the basic design.

Sure, working out the exact dimensions of various parts would have been beyond the working knowledge of a 12-year old, but once out of high school that shouldn't have been a real problem.

This has been known for years... (2)

Wolvenhaven (1521217) | about 3 years ago | (#35677698)

The difficulty isn't the design, it's getting ahold of enough enriched U-235 to actually have a working bomb.

Simple design, extremely complex materials.

Re:This has been known for years... (1)

blueg3 (192743) | about 3 years ago | (#35677846)

It's also tricky to figure out all the physics and finer engineering points (how much to use, etc.) the first time. After that it's not nearly as difficult.

But yes, the engineering behind obtaining enriched uranium is enormously more complex than building the bomb itself.

Re:This has been known for years... (1)

amazeofdeath (1102843) | about 3 years ago | (#35678482)

The GP is correct. Remember how USA didn't need any test for the gun-type bomb before deploying it against Japan? The actual calculations involved aren't too hard; you can do the modelling easily on a home computer in short time, assuming that you know the relevant physical properties (neutron interaction cross-section for the part of neutron spectrum the bomb will use, neutron reflection coefficients if you want to reflectors for improved power, and so on). If you have the materials, you can use them excessively to ensure a decent yield in the construct, as this compression method allows large separation of the fissionable parts, so that you don't have to be limited to 2 x barely sub-critical mass.

Re:This has been known for years... (1)

TerranFury (726743) | about 3 years ago | (#35677932)

I think the real purpose of his work is more historical. It's less, "how does one build an A-bomb" and more "how did they build an A-bomb?"

There was a pretty good magazine article about him a few years back -- I think in Rolling Stone, or maybe Esquire, of all places. They'd spent a lot of time interviewing him, and the picture you got was that he found tiny, probably irrelevant, details of the bomb's construction fascinating. The work he's done for a hobby isn't that of an engineer per-se, but more that of a technical historian.

Viewed in that light, I think what he's done is quite valuable.

Hard to come by ! (1)

Rollgunner (630808) | about 3 years ago | (#35678162)

"I'm sure that in 1985, you can buy plutonium at every corner drugstore... in 1955, it's a little hard to come by !"

Seriously, though, atomic weapons are kind of like supersonic jets. They require a fairly high engineering know-how just to make one that barely works at all. To make one that works really well, you need a tremendous amount of know-how (usually gained through repeated attempts), many hours of supercomputer modelling, and highly exotic materials.

Unfortunately, sometimes even a primitive, barely-functional atomic weapon is "good enough".

He hasn't actually built one (2)

Attila Dimedici (1036002) | about 3 years ago | (#35677704)

He hasn't actually built one, so the only way we would know whether or not he has successfully reconstructed the design would be if someone who actually designs nuclear bombs today were to look at his plans and say that, "Yes, that would result in a functional atomic bomb." Or if someone were to follow his plans, build an atomic bomb and set it off. It is distinctly possible that he has successfully reconstructed the plans, At this point, all we have is his claim that what he put in his book would be sufficient to build a functional atomic bomb.

Re:He hasn't actually built one (5, Funny)

FaxeTheCat (1394763) | about 3 years ago | (#35677854)

So maybe this is a case for Mythbusters?

Re:He hasn't actually built one (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35678094)

As interesting an episode of Mythbusters as this would be, I somehow doubt that even they could acquire the U-235 necessary to actually test the thing. Besides, do you think their bomb range is big enough? I'd watch it, though.

Honey Pot? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35677706)

Maybe it's the conspiracy theorist in me that smells a terrorist honey pot here. I suspect that anyone contacting this gentleman or his lab would be put on a few watch lists.

Conceptually simple, technically difficult? (1)

SockPuppetOfTheWeek (1910282) | about 3 years ago | (#35677716)

I was under the impression that although the concept is fairly simple (smash a bunch of uranium together very fast, and it goes supercritical), the tolerances are so tight that it's very difficult to accomplish that electronically/mechanically. If it isn't exactly right, it just melts down spectacularly rather than detonating properly.

I don't know - maybe he's really got it, but I suspect more likely he'd just contaminate a few hundred square miles with radioactive materials if he ever tried building one and testing it.

(offtopic: damn slashdot eats comments in IE. I tried posting a minute ago using the Ajax post form and clicking "preview" just made my comment disappear and I had to retype the whole thing. Is it too much to ask that this website at least WORKS? This isn't nuclear engineering.)

Re:Conceptually simple, technically difficult? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35677864)

No, this design ( the barrel type) is even technically simple. So simple, that in fact they didn't even test a bomb of this type before dropping it on Hiroshima. The "problem" being of course, that as far as A-Bombs go, this is a very weak and inefficient one. To make a bigger bomb, for example an implosion type, a lot of stuff has be to be done really right, and actually, this is the source of the failed bomb test in for example North Korea. This type was tested (the first A-Bomb ever tested actually) before being dropped on Nagasaki.

Re:Conceptually simple, technically difficult? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35677890)

No. You can either smash enriched uranium fast, or smash plutonium ultra fast. I'm not sure which option you're thinking about, but in each case only the thing in italics is hard.

Re:Conceptually simple, technically difficult? (1)

Vectormatic (1759674) | about 3 years ago | (#35678182)

i'm pretty sure getting a hollow sphere made out of plutonium isnt exactly a cake-walk either

A model (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35677742)

He built a model, not a bomb. It is made of wood and fiberglass, although it is a very, very accurate historical model. Nothing more than an elaborate historical case study.

The real secret of the bomb .. (3, Informative)

scharkalvin (72228) | about 3 years ago | (#35677752)

It isn't how the bomb is constructed that is the hard part. 'Little boy' was very simple, but very crude. Most of the Uranium in the bomb was wasted because critical mass was not maintained long enough to consume most of the material. The yield of Little boy was only 9-10 kilotons, compared to 12-15 kilotons for 'Fat Man'. The hard part was the processing of the nuclear material to get enough of the high grade stuff concentrated enough to reach critical mass. That's the part you can't do in your garage. If you can steal enough material that will assemble to reach critical mass the rest is easy. During the war we were able to process enough Uranium for but a single bomb, and enough Plutonium for perhaps four. There was a third core available to drop on a third city in Japan if necessary and a forth was a few months away. (The first core was the Trinity test bomb, the second over Nagasaki).

Self-published book (1)

Mr.Intel (165870) | about 3 years ago | (#35677768)

Got some good reviews on Amazon [amazon.com]. He self-published and apparently delivers the spiral-bound gems hand signed. I'm thinking the MIB will be visiting him shortly, but if not, it means whatever is in his book is probably not noteworthy.

physics and engineering (1)

k6mfw (1182893) | about 3 years ago | (#35677844)

I heard the physics is easy (basic theory) but the engineering is hard. It takes a lot of development to ensure when bomb is denotated all or most of the fissionable material undergoes reaction (split apart), rather than the TNT simply blows the nuclear material into a big toxic cloud (which is probably just as devastating as a nuclear reaction). Then making the bomb small size and a useful delivery system (i.e. reliable missille that has range, payload, and accuracy). Then there is H-bombs, another host of developmental problems. Of course there are nuclear bombs (though typically called devices) that are very small but these are results of billions of dollars spent by a country with a strong technical base.

On subject of small bombs, there was a bazooka launched a-bomb called the Davy Crockett but the blast area is about the size of the delivery range. Kind of useless like an atomic grenade, you can't throw it far enough away.

As most /. people know the key ingredients are the fissionable materials (U and Pu) which are hard to get, and may be dangerous to handle. Supposably Pu is very toxic, it will kill you by chemical means first before radiation.

In 1970s I heard a story where someone found a chunk of plutonium alongside a road, this person was so pissed off that such material used for A-bombs was found unsecure like a piece of litter, he mailed it to his local congressman with a letter protesting government's lax security for such material. This must me a legend of tall proportions since Pu is toxic.

THE MAKING OF THE ATOMIC BOMB (2)

Darth Snowshoe (1434515) | about 3 years ago | (#35677862)

Let me yet again recommend everybody read THE MAKING OF THE ATOMIC BOMB by Richard Rhodes. The descriptions of what the experience was like, on the ground to survivors of Hiroshima at various radii from the explosion are among the most difficult things I've ever read. I constantly read and hear flip comments about atomic weapons. If you think it's a great opportunity for humor, you're not really familiar with the actual history.

Frightening Article (1)

rogueippacket (1977626) | about 3 years ago | (#35677872)

No, I'm not referring to the fact that he reproduced an historic device. I'm referring to the article itself. From TFA:

Certainly Coster-Mullen's ambitious project is a neat example of the ingenuity that led America to be the first to develop the atomic bomb. But it's also a stark reminder that our most powerful technologies can end up being reworked and used in other ways, by people much less friendly than truck drivers with lots of time on their hands.

Seriously? Someone spends the time to fabricate a replica from the 1940s, validating historical records in the process, and the author thinks it's time to go all fear-crazed? It's akin to panicking over someone building a blunderbuss - without any black powder - and then saying it would be easy for sea-faring pirates to loot our merchant ships with their increased firepower and malicious ways.

Bah! (2)

Greyfox (87712) | about 3 years ago | (#35677882)

Instructions [earthlink.net] on how to do this have been available for YEARS! They won't even get you a runner-up in a junior science competition anymore!

Re:Bah! (1)

scotts13 (1371443) | about 3 years ago | (#35678220)

MANY years. My eighth grade (circa 1969) science project was a "working" model of a gun-type uranium bomb. If you have the fissionable material and do the math right, the engineering is almost trivial. Unfortunately for me, the hidden flash bulb that triggered when my "uranium" masses met caused my teacher to soil her underwear. I got an "F" for inappropriate subject material (overturned on appeal).

Former truckdriver, not surprisingly (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35678230)

Who'd want to be a truck driver if they can be a super-villain instead?

Run For it Marty! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35678364)

The Libyans!

Trruck driver? (2)

PPH (736903) | about 3 years ago | (#35678390)

Next time one of these guys wants to pass, you'll think twice about blocking the left lane.

Two general types of nukes & rules of thumb (1)

A beautiful mind (821714) | about 3 years ago | (#35678456)

Uranium based ones: easy to build, hard to get materials for

Plutonium based ones: relatively easy to get materials for, very hard to build

This has been known for years, nothing much is new here.
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