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June 14, 2004

Gamma Ray Bombs May Revolutionize Explosives Technology

It's not technically a nuclear bomb; there is no fission or fusion. But the explosive power comes from a high-energy nuclear isomer shedding energy in the form of gamma rays, and it could provide 1000 times the force of conventional chemical explosives:

But in future there may be cheaper ways to create the hafnium isomer - by bombarding ordinary hafnium with high-energy photons, for example. Hill Roberts, chief scientist at SRS, believes that technology to produce gram quantities will exist within five years.

The price is likely to be high - similar to enriched uranium, which costs thousands of dollars per kilogram - but unlike uranium it can be used in any quantity, as it does not require a critical mass to maintain the nuclear reaction.

The hafnium explosive could be extremely powerful. One gram of fully charged hafnium isomer could store more energy than 50 kilograms of TNT. Miniature missiles could be made with warheads that are far more powerful than existing conventional weapons, giving massively enhanced firepower to the armed forces using them.

The effect of a nuclear-isomer explosion would be to release high-energy gamma rays capable of killing any living thing in the immediate area. It would cause little fallout compared to a fission explosion, but any undetonated isomer would be dispersed as small radioactive particles, making it a somewhat "dirty" bomb. This material could cause long-term health problems for anybody who breathed it in.

This article is actually from last year. I struck upon it because someone found my site searching for this information.


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posted by Ace at 09:31 PM

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