How do you make an atomic bomb? -Submitted by Erin, answered by Jared Walczak

 

Note: The Odyssey Scoop in no way promotes or endorses those who decide to create atomic bombs. This is one of those "Don't try this at home" FAQ answers, and Jacob Isom in no way would like any of his visitors to attempt such a stupid act. Jared Walczak's answer is very descriptive and detailed, and you may find your mind blown away. Please do not use these instructions as a means of blowing yourself up. The question was brought up by a curious Odyssey fan (bless her heart), and the AIO FAQ had to create an answer, one of which is very graphic, not to mention a good laugh.

 

There was a time, long ago, days innumerable, when The Odyssey Scoop had at least some semblance of being an Adventures in Odyssey Fan Site. Thankfully, those days are now long past.

 

There was also a time, only slightly more recent, when the questions submitted for the answering of the great Scoop webmaster had Odyssey as the topic. Questions like "When will Eugene and Katrina return?" or "What color was Mr. Whittakerís hair before it turned white?" Else "Why is a target age set for Odyssey?" or "Who in the world would name their kid 'Whití?"

 

Those days are also only a distant memory. And indeed, a question submitted by Erin is helping us run laps around those boring, old questions. Unfortunately, Jacob Isom, apparently lacking a well-rounded education, decided to pass the question on to an expert. One not being immediately available, I ended up with it.

 

The question, in its entirety: "How do you make an atomic bomb?"

 

Now, how I personally make my atomic bombs is probably of little interest to you Ė and if I have actually done so, itís a great surprise to me Ė so Iíll focus on how one might do so if one so chose.

 

Youíve heard it said, perhaps, that one could develop a nuclear warhead in oneís garage. And this would be true, providing that you have large stores of uranium stored with the screws, nails, nuts, washers and bolts.

 

Or better yet, plutonium. I mean, if you plan to blow something up, you might as well do it right. You want that mushroom cloud to have some size, not be just your average pinkie or white button mushroom cloud. Now, Porta Bella, maybe, but thatís just too European sounding. So, in conclusion, for best results, letís go with plutonium.

 

Not being personally proficient in the construction of nuclear arms, I naturally went to the source: the internet. And you thought Americaís top German scientists behind the Manhattan Project actually did research and came up with amazing new concepts and principles? How naÔve. They found the information in "The Anarchistís Cookbook," available from spammers everywhere.

 

Now, as to that plutonium, youíll need about fifty pounds of it to get a decent nuclear yield, and as we know (or at least, as the more educated among us know), uranium doesnít grow on trees. So precisely how does one obtain it?

 

One way of procuring such would be to contact your local friendly terrorist organization, which may be willing to donate some of their supply if they deem your cause worthy. Other potential sources include gaining unauthorized access to U.S. Army nuclear storage facilities or conveniently "losing the group" during a tour of a nuclear power plant, although the latter will, at best, only net you uranium.

 

Now might be a good time for a few words of warning. One being that if you inhale one thousandth of a gram of plutonium, you will experience massive fibrosis of the lungs. To put it bluntly, thatís the last thing youíll ever experience. Even one millionth part of a gram of plutonium, if inhaled, is rather dangerous, almost certain to cause cancer. To help decrease the chance of these occurrences, leading scientific experts advise all home bomb makers to, in the words of one physicist, "avoid breathing while working with the stuff."

 

Or, if youíre not on a tight budget, buy a mask.

 

Experts also warn against ingesting plutonium, leading to the oft-quoted atomic scientistsí proverb: "Never make plutonium bombs on an empty stomach."

 

As one of my web sources observed in an article, if the individual constructing an A-bomb suddenly feels light-headed, they should take two aspirin and go to bed. No, actually, they should prick themselves with a sterile needle (please note: use one that has not been dipped in plutonium!), place a drop of blood (their own; taking a sample of someone elseís blood generally proves useless) on a slide and put it under microscope. If you count more than a one to four hundred ratio of white to red blood cells, then youíd better hurry. You are well on your way to completing both parts of that promise to friends and neighbors: "Iím going to make an atomic bombÖ if itís the last thing I do!"

 

With your uranium in hand, youíre well on your way to two things:

 

  1. Developing a crude nuclear bomb.
  2. Developing leukemia.

Of course, depending on your location at the time when you try out your new device, the latter may be of relative insignificance.

 

You know, I really hope youíre not one of those readers who reads a ways, completes those steps, reads a little farther, does what it says and so on.  Because if thatís the case, youíre in a little bit of trouble. You see, fifty pounds of weapons-grade plutonium (you did specify weapons-grade to your local plutonium dealer, did you not?) is what they call in the business "critical mass." We less scientific types use a different word: "boom!"

 

Since you are in good enough condition to read to this point, I will assume that you have not yet picked up your plutonium. When you do, please be kind enough to store it in two separate containers Ė coffee tins might do - and to never allow them to come in contact with each other.

 

At this point, I should probably pass along a useful tip: if there are young children in the household, carefully store your excess plutonium. Despite some similarities, Play-doh and fissionable plutonium are two different things entirely.

 

Weíll need some sort of metal casing to hold your device and different eminent scholars have varying ideas, so Iíll go with what sounds good to me: get some scrap metal (potential sources: local junk yard, various factories or your dadís new 2003 convertible) and with it (the metal must be malleable), construct a casing. It doesnít have to be that great.  You arenít the United States Government, you know, and you donít have to meet their standards of no radioactive leakage en route.

 

Place your two containers of uranium in your casing, keeping them at least two inches apart. We donít want this whole thing to go critical prematurely.

 

Next, youíll need to find some way of transporting your device, as carrying a bent piece of sheet metal with explosives wrapped around will cause undue attention to be focused on you. We still have a ways to go with the construction of our weapon, but most leading experts in the field of garage nukes say that one should construct the casing at this time.

 

While not a connoisseur of movies myself, I am told by reliable sources that sure-of-themselves spies who for some unknown reason tote portable nukes with them everywhere they go often use the briefcase method, so, in the interest of keeping up with popular culture, weíll do likewise. Find a large, inexplicable briefcase and pack your plutonium-containing piece of bent sheet metal carefully inside, exercising care not to spill too much plutonium on the floor, where your dog will likely find and, as dogs are apt to do, consume it. Unless, of course, youíve always desired a glow-in-the-dark dog.

 

The next step is to obtain one hundred pounds of trinitrotoluene (TNT) from a lab product wholesaler. Be willing to settle for "average" stuff, as pure trinitrotoluene can cost as much as $900 per kilogram, which is out of your price range unless youíre Bill Gates. In which case, obtaining a nuclear weapon is extraordinarily simple: make an offer to Kim Jung Il, the "dear leader" of North Korea.

 

Alternatively, find somewhere that boring through a hillside is being done and pilfer some trinitrotoluene. Not that we advocate theft, but then again, whatís a little larceny when youíre planning to detonate a nuclear bomb?

 

Youíll need to string the explosive inside the briefcase, around the casing you created. One enterprising bomb guide writer suggested using modeling clay to hold the TNT on. Since the suggested use for modeling clay is dull, boring and altogether useless, itís not a bad idea.

 

It is also suggested that some sort of glue other strong adhesive be used to hold your two containers firmly in place so that their contents do not mingle prematurely due to jostling. The surgeon general has issued a warning stating that holding a nuclear device during detonation is hazardous to your health.

 

Wait until the personal injury lawyers find out about this one and starting going after "Big Bomb" as soon as the tobacco money dries up.

 

Weíre now nearing the end of our little project and we come to another dilemma: unless you plan to set the bomb off by hand, which, as mentioned previously, is generally unadvisable, you will need some method of remote detonation. Since this device is meant to be a low-tech, do it yourself kind of job, I would suggest removing the plunger mechanism found in a remote control car that responds to commands from the remote unit.

 

By placing this device and the other attached parts, including the battery pack, from said car into your specially rigged briefcase and setting the plunger immediately adjacent to a detonator cap (been on eBay recently?), youíll be ready to go. Close up the briefcase, grab your remote control transmitter and an extra nine volt battery (youíd be amazed at how many nuclear attacks have been averted because of a drained nine volt in the RC car controller) and youíre on your way with a fully functional nuclear device.

 

When you press any button on your remote control, the plunger in the briefcase will strike the detonator cap, igniting the trinitrotoluene, which, in exploding, will join the plutonium together to critical mass and cause a chain nuclear reaction.

 

In laymenís terms, "boom!"

 

So, how are you going to use this bomb, anyway? Iíve heard itís a great home protector, with would-be-burglars generally avoiding homes with a sticker proclaiming, "This home protected by a thermonuclear device" attached to the door, but that seems an immense waste of effort.

 

If you have a more aggressive plan, well, please ascertain that I am not in town during your device test.  Please?

 

Note: quite obviously, I do not approve of the creation and use of nuclear weapons by private individuals.  The above data is all public domain knowledge.  While all accurate, it's not going to do anyone much good without huge supplies of fissionable material.  Still, I feel obliged to say it: don't try this at home.  Or anywhere, actually.


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