On This Day in History: November 1
The first H-bomb
The most immediate threat faced by humanity is still nuclear obliteration. Yeah, climate change is a clusterfuck, but that’s a slow death that we might get our shit together enough to ameliorate and even recover from. Nukes though? They could fly today, because fascist fucknuts have control over enough of them with sufficient radioactive explodey power to render much of the planet a glow-in-the-dark wasteland.
--On This Day in History, Shit Went Down: November 1, 1952--
I want to cock-punch the guy who came up with the idea for ballistic missile silos. It’s their existence that makes the threat of “accidental” nuclear annihilation a brutal reality. The reason is that if you think the enemy has sent their intercontinental boomsticks in your direction, you have very little time to decide if you should retaliate or not. That’s because those nukes are headed for your nukes. And if you don’t send your ground-based nukes back at them in a genocidal “No, fuck you!” then all that fusion kaboom you sunk billions into is gonna be wasted, and we can’t be having that, so better launch those missiles just in case.
I mean, there are still enough nukes on planes and subs that could ruin any country’s day, and if nuclear powers only relied on those for their mutual megadeath it would buy us a lot more time to figure out if there really was an incoming nuclear strike, or to maybe talk things down.
Anyway, August 6, 1945, there was a pretty big kaboom over Hiroshima, but the scientists at Los Alamos, New Mexico—where they created the first atomic bomb—knew they could build something way bigger. They called it “The Super,” and it was a fusion bomb built by a dick. He was a Hungarian-born scientist named Edward Teller, and yeah, he was totally a dick with a volatile personality who stabbed “father of the atomic bomb” Robert Oppenheimer in the back. Teller was the one pushing for creation of a thermonuclear weapon.
And so he did, leading the team that created “Ivy Mike,” the first-ever thermonuclear device to be tested. They blew up the Enewetak Atoll in the Marshall Islands on November 1, 1952, with over 10 megatons of kerblammo. That’s about 500 times more powerful than the bombs dropped on Japan.
Teller was in California at the time of the test, and knew it was successful because he detected it via a seismometer. In celebration he decided to send an unclassified telegram to his colleague Liz Graves, a group leader at Los Alamos, letting her know of the success hours before any word came from the test site. The telegram was only three words: “It’s a boy.”
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