It’s a scary thought. The what-ifs and the maybes of hostile people with highly destructive weapons. We can only hope that our governments can find resolutions to these situations and prevent future catastrophes without pushing a red button. Or giving into a hollow threat. Or taking control of people and other nations.
On January 5th, 2016, Kim Jong-Un, the young leader of the reculsive Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (widely known as North Korea), announced that his country had achieved the scientific prowess of creating a hydrogen bomb. On January 6th, the DPRK launched their alleged hydrogen bomb, causing a 5.1 earthquake.
In the hours immediately after the bomb was tested, many of the world’s nations were both worried about and skeptical of the ability of the DPRK to create a hydrogen bomb.
Just to clarify, an atomic bomb and a hydrogen bomb are two different entities. The main differences are the elements used to make the weapon and what makes the weapon explode. An atomic bomb uses elements like Uranium (which is very radioactive) and explodes with a process known as fission.
Hydrogen bombs, perhaps obviously, use Hydrogen inside of them – a form of hydrogen called Tritium 3H or T. This gas is placed inside a casing of Plutonium or Uranium. After this portion of the bomb goes through nuclear fission, the Tritium then helps in the process of nuclear fusion. And after those elements go through fusion, they then go through fission again.
According to our own Mr Bruxvoort, “Fission is the splitting of atomic nuclei that occurs in large unstable atoms (also known as radioactivity). Fusion is the joining of the nuclei of small atoms when they are placed under great pressure and temperature (like inside the sun). Both of these processes release energy according to Einstein’s famous E = mC2 formula, but fusion releases a lot more energy.”
So, in other words, both fission and fusion result in major explosions. A hydrogen bomb can result in an explosion several thousand times greater than an atomic bomb.
Just the idea of North Korea having a thermonuclear (hydrogen) bomb is scary and worrisome.
Alinah Solidum ‘17 said it best, “It would just make me feel vulnerable considering I can’t do much as a seventeen-year-old girl against a HYDROGEN BOMB.” It’s a daunting thought, not being able to do anything.
However several scientists and several nations have raised doubts that the test was of a hydrogen bomb. The radioactivity of the aftermath of the explosion and the measured amount of force from the North Korean explosion were similar to those of a basic atom bomb, in fact this most recent test was less powerful than past North Korean tests.
A good friend of mine who works at the Connecticut General Assembly commented on the geopolitics and what he thinks about the test.
“ As a nation severely strapped for resources and a failing economy, that would be pretty mean [diverting resources to weaponry instead of social programs],” said Lee Block.
“Moreover,” he continued, “North Korea has a long, long history of exaggerated threats. The crux of their foreign policy is issuing such threats in exchange for the international community providing the nation with humanitarian aid.”