On this day in history, in 1952, the World’s first thermonuclear weapon was detonated by the United States of America – the Hydrogen Bomb. This device, named for its use of hydrogen fusion, is what gave the U.S. an advantage over the Soviet Union during their nuclear arms race.
The Hydrogen Bomb was significantly more potent than the conventional nuclear devices the Soviet Union had created. Julius Robert Oppenheimer, a creator of the Atomic Bomb, believed that this would speed up the arms race. This proved to be true when the Soviet Union detonated a thermonuclear device just one year later. Within the next two decades, seven nations created their hydrogen bombs, accelerating the arms race even further.
The first detonation, codenamed Ivy Mike, involved an 82-ton H-Bomb. Due to its large mass, this Hydrogen Bomb was not mobile. It’s remarkable that this bomb gained most of its explosive energy from fusion rather than fission. To detonate, it relied on a fission explosion that triggered the fusion process within a heavy hydrogen isotope.
The mushroom cloud created by the explosion was roughly 100 miles wide and 25 miles high, leaving a crater more than a mile wide on the islands surrounding Enewetak Atoll.
Also on this day…
In 1512, the Sistine Chapel’s ceiling opened for public viewing. This was arguably Michelangelo’s most beautiful work. The mural in the Sistine Chapel covers nine panels, the most famous painting among them being The Creation of Adam.
Michelangelo had been an artist since his early teen years. From the age of 13, he worked under the ruler of the Florentine Republic and notable patron of the arts, Lorenzo de’Medici. After demonstrating amazing work on famous sculptures such as Pieta and David, Michelangelo was brought to Rome to begin the masterful paintings in the chapel.