Nuclear and Thermonuclear Explosives and their Peaceful Uses

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Civilian users consume far more chemical explosives every year than all the armed forces of the world. Nuclear and thermonuclear explosives, although ordinarily conceived of in terms of weapons of war, are likewise applicable to peaceful uses. In fact, most people would be surprised to know that there have been more operational uses of nuclear explosives for peaceful than for warlike purposes : the Soviet Union used them on five separate occasions to extinguish gas-well fires.

The theory of implosion-type and gun-type nuclear fission explosives will be covered, as will tritium boosting, and the Teller-Ulam radiation-implosion multistage thermonuclear explosive.

Applications to be discussed will include civil engineering (earthmoving), the petroleum industry (fracturing, fire extinguishment), and space propulsion (Project Orion).


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Dates Offered

2015-12-08 (Tuesday), 8 PM