What is the Atomic Bomb?

I am interested in Atomic bombs because I think that the reactions involved to cause the explosion is interesting. While they have devastated the world in many ways, the science is still prevalent. Bombs will continue to be studied and I hope to gain a better understanding of one of the most deadly weapons ever created.

Atomic bombs work through a chemical reaction (1). This chemical reaction is called fission (1). Fission works by a neutron hitting an atom and causing it to split into 2 other atoms (2). When the atoms split, they release up to 3 neutrons (1). The three neutrons then hit the other atoms and hence create a chemical reaction (1). This process of element decay (the splitting of the atom) creates a ton of energy and that is why it explodes. When it explodes, fission happens rapidly and creates more and more energy causing a huge explosion.

The design of an atomic bomb is very interesting. While there are different types of atomic bombs, I’ll be sharing a common type. This bomb was dropped in Hiroshima during world war 2 and is named “Little Boy” (3). This bomb contains the isotope of uranium U-235 (1). When the bomb is dropped, there is a altitude sensor that tells the bomb the appropriate height in which to detonate (1). The explosion is caused by the small bullet of U-235 being slammed into a neutron generator and another U-235 (1). This causes the same reaction (fission) of which I described above and turns the U-235 into U-236 (1). When the bomb hits the ground the impact releases all of the energy created, causing a huge explosion (1).

The way to store bombs is clearly tricky and delicate. One must make sure that the elements do not combine and remain stable (4). U-235 is known to fission easily meaning that it is always looking for another neutron (4). U-235 is also known to be a weapons grade isotope (4). This means that it is again easy for fission to happen and therefore making it ideal for bombs (5). This element must be stored in a state called supercritical mass (4). Supercritical mass is when the element is kept in a state of which is it still able to do through the process of fission easily (6). The way of which they are stored is by keeping them in this state, and far apart from other bombs that contain U-235 (4).


  1. https://science.howstuffworks.com/nuclear-bomb.htm
  2. https://www.atomicheritage.org/history/science-behind-atom-bomb
  3. https://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=eric&AN=EJ1135787&site=ehost-live
  4. https://www.livescience.com/5752-hard-nuclear-weapons.html
  5. https://www.energy.gov/ne/about-us/history
  6. https://www.differencebetween.com/difference-between-subcritical-and-vs-critical-and-vs-supercritical-mass/

One Reply to “What is the Atomic Bomb?”

  1. Hey Josh,
    This blog post is very intriguing! Personally, I’m fascinated by how bombs function too. I had never heard of the “Little Boy” bomb before, so learning about it was interesting. Another issue I was curious about was how to properly dispose of or detonate a bomb. So perhaps you could discuss that in your future blog post. Anyway, good luck with your research!

    Mahdiya A.

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