H bomb harvard dating
To the experts, the bang that day 50 years ago was more of a whimper.
At 300 kilotons, it may have had 20 times the power of the atom bombs that destroyed Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945, but the Americans and Soviets were already experimenting with explosions calculated in megatons.
If everything went to plan, there would be an almighty bang.
But, given the rush in which the job had been done and the uncertainty of the complex science involved, that was very much in doubt.
Scroll down for more He and his crew were being particularly careful - they had an historic piece of kit on board.
The year was 1957, the date May 15 - exactly 50 years ago yesterday - and down in the bomb bay was a four-ton metal cylinder containing ultrahigh explosives, obscure metals and isotopes, a spaghetti of electrical circuitry, top secret triggers and a team of boffins from the secret Atomic Weapons Research Establishment at Aldermaston in Berkshire.
(A kiloton is the equivalent of 1,000 tons of TNT, whereas a megaton is a million tons.) More importantly, they were doing so with a new sort of science.
The Chancellor, Hugh Dalton, and President of the Board of Trade, Stafford Cripps, questioned whether the country could afford it.The new H-bomb was based on forcing hydrogen atoms to fuse together.And the power produced by that fusion was so great that the calculations ran off the end of the physicists' blackboards. A-bombs could destroy whole cities, but Hbombs could devastate entire regions.If radioactive fall-out settled on the ship, everyone else would hide below while they scrubbed the decks with brooms and caustic soda.For now, the 160 crew sat on deck with their backs to the drop zone, their hands over their eyes, waiting. The intensity of the flash penetrated hands and eyelids so that some men claimed they could see their bones through their skin, as in an X-ray. Ten seconds later, the spectators turned round to see, in the words of an observer on the aircraft carrier HMS Warrior, "an enormous ball of fire that changed swiftly into a bubbling cauldron of coppery red streaked with grey.