Is an A-Bomb the Same As an H-Bomb?

Not at all. The natural process that powers the atomic bomb, or A-bomb, is the opposite of the process that makes the hydrogen bomb, or H-bomb, work!

In an atomic bomb, energy is produced by splitting uranium atoms. This releases some of the energy that held the atoms together. The process is called fission, which means “splitting apart.”

But hydrogen bombs work by fusion, which means “joining together.” In a hydrogen bomb, enormous amounts of heat cause hydrogen atoms to join together, forming helium atoms. When the hydrogen atoms join together, some of their mass is changed into energy. This is the energy released by the H-bomb.

The only way scientists have found to create enough heat to make atoms in an H-bomb join together is by exploding an atomic bomb. So, a hydrogen bomb contains an atomic bomb. The atomic bomb explodes first, releasing enough heat to set off the hydrogen bomb.

The bombs used during World War II were atomic bombs, but the most powerful weapons today are hydrogen bombs.

About Karen Hill

Karen Hill is a freelance writer, editor, and columnist. Born in New York, her work has appeared in the Examiner, Yahoo News, Buzzfeed, among others.

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