New answers tagged nuclear
The uranium-based gun design was the fundamental approach of the project from the beginning. The "fat man" design used plutonium-239, a substance much easier to produce than uranium-235, but requiring a much more complicated implosion type warhead. It was not clear until 1944 that the implosion design would even work. John von Neumann essentially invented ...
To simply say that they wanted to try out different types is to miss the point that weapons-grade uranium and plutonium have fundamentally different production methods and lend themselves to very different weapon designs. Uranium bombs require a very high percentage of the isotope U-235, which is only present in miniscule quantities in natural uranium. ...
Wikipedia answers this rather well. Basically, a plutonium bomb is more complicated than a uranium bomb. However, weapon-grade plutonium is also easier to obtain than weapon-grade uranium, since the plutonium can be separated chemically from burnt nuclear reactor fuel, whereas uranium needs to be enriched in a costly process. In fact, all of the enriched ...
Nuclear bomb making was a new endeavor and it was not clear which approach would be successful - cheaper, faster, more powerful, smaller, more reliable &c &c. They really had to try all feasible approaches before settling on one.
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