Documentation and Diagrams of the A-Bomb


The information contained in this document is strictly for academic use alone. Outlaw Labs and all publishers of this document will bear no responsibility for any use otherwise. It would be wise to note that the personnel who design and construct these devices are skilled physicists and are more knowledgeable in these matters than any layperson can ever hope to be. Should a layperson attempt to build a device such as this, chances are s/he would probably kill his/herself not by a nuclear detonation, but rather through radiation exposure. We here at Outlaw Labs do not recommend using this document beyond the realm of casual or academic curiosity.




  1. The History of the Atomic Bomb

    1. Development (The Manhattan Project)

    2. Detonation

      1. Hiroshima

      2. Nagasaki

      3. Byproducts of atomic detonations

      4. Breakdown of the Atomic Bomb's Blast Zones


  2. Nuclear Fission/Nuclear Fusion

    1. Fission (A-Bomb) & Fusion (H-Bomb)

    2. U-235, U-238 and Plutonium



I. The History of the Atomic Bomb

A. Development (The Manhattan Project)

Nuclear explosion On August 2nd 1939, just before the beginning of World War II, Albert Einstein wrote to then President Franklin D. Roosevelt. Einstein and several other scientists told Roosevelt of efforts in Nazi Germany to purify U-235 with which might in turn be used to build an atomic bomb. It was shortly thereafter that the United States Government began the serious undertaking known only then as the Manhattan Project. Simply put, the Manhattan Project was committed to expedient research and production that would produce a viable atomic bomb.

The most complicated issue to be addressed was the production of ample amounts of `enriched' uranium to sustain a chain reaction. At the time, Uranium-235 was very hard to extract. In fact, the ratio of conversion from Uranium ore to Uranium metal is 500:1. An additional drawback is that the 1 part of Uranium that is finally refined from the ore consists of over 99% Uranium-238, which is practically useless for an atomic bomb. To make it even more difficult, U-235 and U-238 are precisely similar in their chemical makeup. This proved to be as much of a challenge as separating a solution of sucrose from a solution of glucose. No ordinary chemical extraction could separate the two isotopes. Only mechanical methods could effectively separate U-235 from U-238. Several scientists at Columbia University managed to solve this dilemma.

A massive enrichment laboratory/plant was constructed at Oak Ridge, Tennessee. H.C. Urey, along with his associates and colleagues at Columbia University, devised a system that worked on the principle of gaseous diffusion. Following this process, Ernest O. Lawrence (inventor of the Cyclotron) at the University of California in Berkeley implemented a process involving magnetic separation of the two isotopes.

Following the first two processes, a gas centrifuge was used to further separate the lighter U-235 from the heavier non-fissionable U-238 by their mass. Once all of these procedures had been completed, all that needed to be done was to put to the test the entire concept behind atomic fission. [For more information on these procedures of refining Uranium, see Section 3.]

Over the course of six years, ranging from 1939 to 1945, more than 2 billion dollars were spent on the Manhattan Project. The formulas for refining Uranium and putting together a working bomb were created and seen to their logical ends by some of the greatest minds of our time. Among these people who unleashed the power of the atomic bomb was J. Robert Oppenheimer.

Oppenheimer was the major force behind the Manhattan Project. He literally ran the show and saw to it that all of the great minds working on this project made their brainstorms work. He oversaw the entire project from its conception to its completion.

Finally the day came when all at Los Alamos would find out whether or not The Gadget (code-named as such during its development) was either going to be the colossal dud of the century or perhaps end the war. It all came down to a fateful morning of midsummer, 1945.

At 5:29:45 (Mountain War Time) on July 16th, 1945, in a white blaze that stretched from the basin of the Jemez Mountains in northern New Mexico to the still-dark skies, The Gadget ushered in the Atomic Age. The light of the explosion then turned orange as the atomic fireball began shooting upwards at 360 feet per second, reddening and pulsing as it cooled. The characteristic mushroom cloud of radioactive vapor materialized at 30,000 feet. Beneath the cloud, all that remained of the soil at the blast site were fragments of jade green radioactive glass. ...All of this caused by the heat of the reaction.

The brilliant light from the detonation pierced the early morning skies with such intensity that residents from a faraway neighboring community would swear that the sun came up twice that day. Even more astonishing is that a blind girl saw the flash 120 miles away.

Upon witnessing the explosion, reactions among the people who created it were mixed. Isidor Rabi felt that the equilibrium in nature had been upset -- as if humankind had become a threat to the world it inhabited. J. Robert Oppenheimer, though ecstatic about the success of the project, quoted a remembered fragment from Bhagavad Gita. "I am become Death," he said, "the destroyer of worlds." Ken Bainbridge, the test director, told Oppenheimer, "Now we're all sons of bitches."

Several participants, shortly after viewing the results, signed petitions against loosing the monster they had created, but their protests fell on deaf ears. As it later turned out, the Jornada del Muerto of New Mexico was not the last site on planet Earth to experience an atomic explosion.


B. Detonation

Hiroshima, August 6th, 1945 1. Hiroshima

As many know, atomic bombs have been used only twice in warfare. The first and foremost blast site of the atomic bomb is Hiroshima. A Uranium bomb (which weighed in at over 4 & 1/2 tons) nicknamed "Little Boy" was dropped on Hiroshima August 6th, 1945. The Aioi Bridge, one of 81 bridges connecting the seven-branched delta of the Ota River, was the aiming point of the bomb. Ground Zero was set at 1,980 feet. At 0815 hours, the bomb was dropped from the Enola Gay. It missed by only 800 feet. At 0816 hours, in the flash of an instant, 66,000 people were killed and 69,000 people were injured by a 10 kiloton atomic explosion.

The point of total vaporization from the blast measured one half of a mile in diameter. Total destruction ranged at one mile in diameter. Severe blast damage carried as far as two miles in diameter. At two and a half miles, everything flammable in the area burned. The remaining area of the blast zone was riddled with serious blazes that stretched out to the final edge at a little over three miles in diameter. [See diagram below for blast ranges from the atomic blast.]

2. Nagasaki

On August 9th 1945, Nagasaki fell to the same treatment as Hiroshima. Only this time, a Plutonium bomb nicknamed "Fat Man" was dropped on the city. Even though the "Fat Man" missed by over a mile and a half, it still leveled nearly half the city. Nagasaki's population dropped in one split-second from 422,000 to 383,000. 39,000 were killed, over 25,000 were injured. That blast was less than 10 kilotons as well. Estimates from physicists who have studied each atomic explosion state that the bombs that were used had utilized only 1/10th of 1 percent of their respective explosive capabilities.

3. Byproducts of atomic detonations

While the mere explosion from an atomic bomb is deadly enough, its destructive ability doesn't stop there. Atomic fallout creates another hazard as well. The rain that follows any atomic detonation is laden with radioactive particles. Many survivors of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki blasts succumbed to radiation poisoning due to this occurance.

The atomic detonation also has the hidden lethal surprise of affecting the future generations of those who live through it. Leukemia is among the greatest of afflictions that are passed on to the offspring of survivors.

While the main purpose behind the atomic bomb is obvious, there are many by-products that have been brought into consideration in the use of all weapons atomic. With one small atomic bomb, a massive area's communications, travel and machinery will grind to a dead halt due to the EMP (Electro-Magnetic Pulse) that is radiated from a high-altitude atomic detonation. These high-level detonations are hardly lethal, yet they deliver a serious enough EMP to scramble any and all things electronic ranging from copper wires all the way up to a computer's CPU within a 50 mile radius.

At one time, during the early days of The Atomic Age, it was a popular notion that one day atomic bombs would one day be used in mining operations and perhaps aid in the construction of another Panama Canal. Needless to say, it never came about. Instead, the military applications of atomic destruction increased. Atomic tests off of the Bikini Atoll and several other sites were common up until the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty was introduced. Photos of nuclear test sites here in the United States can be obtained through the Freedom of Information Act.


4. Breakdown of the Atomic Bomb's Blast Zones

                         .                           .

              .                        .                        .
                             .                   .
               [5]                    [4]                    [5]
                      .        .               .        .

       .                  .                         .                  .

                 .          [3]        _        [3]          .
                      .           .   [2]   .           .
                                .     _._     .
                               .    .~   ~.    .
    .          . [4] .         .[2].  [1]  .[2].         . [4] .          .
                               .    .     .    .
                                .    ~-.-~    .
                      .           .   [2]   .           .
                 .          [3]        -        [3]          .

       .                  .                         .                  .

                      .        ~               ~        .
               [5]           .        [4]        .           [5]
              .                                                 .

                         .                           .
[1] Vaporization Point

Everything is vaporized by the atomic blast. 98% fatalities. Overpress=25 psi. Wind velocity=320 mph.

[2] Total Destruction

All structures above ground are destroyed. 90% fatalities. Overpress=17 psi. Wind velocity=290 mph.

[3] Severe Blast Damage

Factories and other large-scale building collapse. Severe damage to highway bridges. Rivers sometimes flow countercurrent. 65% fatalities, 30% injured. Overpress=9 psi. Wind velocity=260 mph.

[4] Severe Heat Damage

Everything flammable burns. People in the area suffocate due to the fact that most available oxygen is consumed by the fires. 50% fatalities, 45% injured. Overpress=6 psi. Wind velocity=140 mph.

[5] Severe Fire & Wind Damage

Residency structures are severely damaged. People are blown around. 2nd and 3rd-degree burns suffered by most survivors. 15% dead. 50% injured. Overpress=3 psi. Wind velocity=98 mph.


Blast Zone Radii
[3 different bomb types]

  ______________________   ______________________   ______________________
 |                      | |                      | |                      |
 |    -[10 KILOTONS]-   | |     -[1 MEGATON]-    | |    -[20 MEGATONS]-   |
 |----------------------| |----------------------| |----------------------|
 | Airburst - 1,980 ft  | | Airburst - 8,000 ft  | | Airburst - 17,500 ft |
 |______________________| |______________________| |______________________|
 |                      | |                      | |                      |
 |  [1]  0.5 miles      | |  [1]  2.5 miles      | |  [1]  8.75 miles     |
 |  [2]  1 mile         | |  [2]  3.75 miles     | |  [2]  14 miles       |
 |  [3]  1.75 miles     | |  [3]  6.5 miles      | |  [3]  27 miles       |
 |  [4]  2.5 miles      | |  [4]  7.75 miles     | |  [4]  31 miles       |
 |  [5]  3 miles        | |  [5]  10 miles       | |  [5]  35 miles       |
 |                      | |                      | |                      |
 |______________________| |______________________| |______________________|


II. Nuclear Fission/Nuclear Fusion

A. Fission (A-Bomb) & Fusion (H-Bomb)

atomic explosion There are two types of atomic explosions that can be facilitated by U-235: fission and fusion. Fission, simply put, is a nuclear reaction in which an atomic nucleus splits into fragments, usually two fragments of comparable mass, with the evolution of approximately 100 million to several hundred million volts of energy. This energy is expelled explosively and violently in the atomic bomb. A fusion reaction is invariably started with a fission reaction, but unlike the fission reaction, the fusion (Hydrogen) bomb derives its power from the fusing of nuclei of various hydrogen isotopes in the formation of helium nuclei. Being that the bomb in this section is strictly atomic, the other aspects of the Hydrogen Bomb will be set aside for now.

The massive power behind the reaction in an atomic bomb arises from the forces that hold the atom together. These forces are akin to, but not quite the same as, magnetism.

Atoms are comprised of three sub-atomic particles. Protons and neutrons cluster together to form the nucleus (central mass) of the atom while the electrons orbit the nucleus much like planets around a sun. It is these particles that determine the stability of the atom.

Most natural elements have very stable atoms which are impossible to split except by bombardment by particle accelerators. For all practical purposes, the one true element whose atoms can be split comparatively easily is the metal Uranium. Uranium's atoms are unusually large, henceforth, it is hard for them to hold together firmly. This makes Uranium-235 an exceptional candidate for nuclear fission.

Uranium is a heavy metal, heavier than gold, and not only does it have the largest atoms of any natural element, the atoms that comprise Uranium have far more neutrons than protons. This does not enhance their capacity to split, but it does have an important bearing on their capacity to facilitate an explosion.

There are two isotopes of Uranium. Natural Uranium consists mostly of isotope U-238, which has 92 protons and 146 neutrons (92+146=238). Mixed with this isotope, one will find a 0.6% accumulation of U-235, which has only 143 neutrons. This isotope, unlike U-238, has atoms that can be split, thus it is termed "fissionable" and useful in making atomic bombs. Being that U-238 is neutron-heavy, it reflects neutrons, rather than absorbing them like its brother isotope, U-235.

U-238 serves no function in an atomic reaction, but its properties provide an excellent shield for the U-235 in a constructed bomb as a neutron reflector. This helps prevent an accidental chain reaction between the larger U-235 mass and its `bullet' counterpart within the bomb. Also note that while U-238 cannot facilitate a chain-reaction, it can be neutron-saturated to produce Plutonium (Pu-239). Plutonium is fissionable and can be used in place of Uranium-235 {albeit, with a different model of detonator} in an atomic bomb.

Both isotopes of Uranium are naturally radioactive. Their bulky atoms disintegrate over a period of time. Given enough time (over 100,000 years or more) Uranium will eventually lose so many particles that it will turn into the metal Lead. However, the process of decay can be accelerated in what is known as a chain reaction. Instead of disintegrating slowly, the atoms are forcibly split by neutrons forcing their way into the nuclei. A U-235 atom is so unstable that a blow from a single neutron is enough to split it and henceforth bring on a chain reaction (by releasing further neutrons). This can happen even when a (comparatively small) critical mass is present. When this chain reaction occurs, the Uranium atom splits into two smaller atoms of different elements, such as Barium and Krypton.

When a U-235 atom splits, it gives off energy in the form of heat and Gamma radiation, which is the most powerful form of radioactivity and the most lethal. When this reaction occurs, the split atom will also give off two or three of its `spare' neutrons, which are not needed to make either Barium or Krypton. These spare neutrons fly out with sufficient force to split other atoms they come in contact with. [See chart below.] In theory, it is necessary to split only one U-235 atom, and the neutrons from this will split other atoms, which will split mor ... so on and so forth. This progression does not take place arithmetically, but geometrically. All of this will happen within a millionth of a second.

The minimum amount to start a chain reaction as described above is known as SuperCritical Mass. The actual mass needed to facilitate this chain reaction depends upon the purity of the material, but for pure U-235, it is 110 pounds (50 kilograms), but no Uranium is ever quite pure, so in reality more will be needed.


Diagram of a Chain Reaction

                        [1] - Incoming Neutron
                        [2] - Uranium-235
                        [3] - Uranium-236
                        [4] - Barium Atom
                        [5] - Krypton Atom

    [1]------------------------------> o

                                    . o o .
                                   . o_0_o . <-----------------------[2]
                                   . o 0 o .
                                    . o o .


                                 . o o. .o o .
    [3]-----------------------> . o_0_o"o_0_o .
                                . o 0 o~o 0 o .
                                 . o o.".o o .
                                  /    |    \
                                |/_    |    _\|
                                ~~     |     ~~
                           o o         |        o o
    [4]-----------------> o_0_o        |       o_0_o <---------------[5]
                          o~0~o        |       o~0~o
                           o o )       |      ( o o
                              /        o       \
                             /        [1]       \
                            /                    \
                           /                      \
                          /                        \
                         o [1]                  [1] o
                 . o o .            . o o .            . o o .
                . o_0_o .          . o_0_o .          . o_0_o .
                . o 0 o .  <-[2]-> . o 0 o . <-[2]->  . o 0 o .
                 . o o .            . o o .            . o o .

                  /                    |                    \
                |/_                   \|/                   _\|
                ~~                     ~                     ~~

      . o o. .o o .              . o o. .o o .              . o o. .o o .
     . o_0_o"o_0_o .            . o_0_o"o_0_o .            . o_0_o"o_0_o .
     . o 0 o~o 0 o . <--[3]-->  . o 0 o~o 0 o .  <--[3]--> . o 0 o~o 0 o .
      . o o.".o o .              . o o.".o o .              . o o.".o o .
        .   |   .                  .   |   .                  .   |   .
       /    |    \                /    |    \                /    |    \
       :    |    :                :    |    :                :    |    :
       :    |    :                :    |    :                :    |    :
      \:/   |   \:/              \:/   |   \:/              \:/   |   \:/
       ~    |    ~                ~    |    ~                ~    |    ~
  [4] o o   |   o o [5]      [4] o o   |   o o [5]      [4] o o   |   o o [5]
     o_0_o  |  o_0_o            o_0_o  |  o_0_o            o_0_o  |  o_0_o
     o~0~o  |  o~0~o            o~0~o  |  o~0~o            o~0~o  |  o~0~o
      o o ) | ( o o              o o ) | ( o o              o o ) | ( o o
         /  |  \                    /  |  \                    /  |  \
        /   |   \                  /   |   \                  /   |   \
       /    |    \                /    |    \                /    |    \
      /     |     \              /     |     \              /     |     \
     /      o      \            /      o      \            /      o      \
    /      [1]      \          /      [1]      \          /      [1]      \
   o                 o        o                 o        o                 o
  [1]               [1]      [1]               [1]      [1]               [1]


B. U-235, U-238 and Plutonium

Uranium is not the only material used for making atomic bombs. Another material is the element Plutonium, in its isotope Pu-239. Plutonium is not found naturally (except in minute traces) and is always made from Uranium. The only way to produce Plutonium from Uranium is to process U-238 through a nuclear reactor. After a period of time, the intense radioactivity causes the metal to pick up extra particles, so that more and more of its atoms turn into Plutonium.

Plutonium will not start a fast chain reaction by itself, but this difficulty is overcome by having a neutron source, a highly radioactive material that gives off neutrons faster than the Plutonium itself. In certain types of bombs, a mixture of the elements Beryllium and Polonium is used to bring about this reaction. Only a small piece is needed. The material is not fissionable in and of itself, but merely acts as a catalyst to the greater reaction.