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Weapon whose enormous explosive power is generated by the nuclear fusion of hydrogen isotopes. The high temperatures required for the fusion reaction are produced by detonating an atomic bomb (which draws its energy from nuclear fission). The bomb's explosion produces a blast that can destroy structures within a radius of several miles, an intense white light that can cause blindness, and heat fierce enough to set off firestorms. It also creates radioactive fallout that can poison living creatures and contaminate air, water, and soil. Hydrogen bombs, which may be thousands of times more powerful than atomic bombs, can be made small enough to fit in the warhead of a ballistic missile (seeICBM) or even in an artillery shell (seeneutron bomb). Edward Teller and other U.S. scientists developed the first H-bomb and tested it at Enewetak atoll (Nov. 1, 1952). The Soviet Union first tested an H-bomb in 1953, followed by Britain (1957), China (1967), and France (1968). Most modern nuclear weapons employ both fusion and fission.
Variants of HYDROGEN BOMB
hydrogen bomb or H-bomb or thermonuclear bomb
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on hydrogen bomb, visit Britannica.com.