Thursday, November 29, 2012

atomic hand grenade

The Atomic Hand Grenade.   Is this for real?   Is this a joke?   I had heard about the nuclear hand grenade years ago but didn't find much information on it.   It was said that a soldier could throw a hand grenade for about 100 feet.   Unfortunately, the kill radius of the atomic hand grenade is suppose to be around 300 feet.   So the soldier who throws the nuclear hand grenade will get killed by the blast or radiation.   To see a larger version of any of the pictures, just click on them.
No, the above explosion is not from a nuclear hand grenade.   I never did understand how you could pack a critical mass of uranium into something the size of a hand grenade.    That is probably why I took the stories of a an atomic hand grenade "with a grain of salt".

With this recent round of talk of the development of a nuclear hand grenade it is proposed to use hafnium-178m.   What is hafnium?   It is just an element much like oxygen, carbon, or your other elements.  
It's atomic weight is 178 atomic units (protons + neutrons) which means it is heavy.   But what about the "m"?   That is the "kicker".   The "m" stands for metastable meaning that the nucleus of the atom has absorbed some energy and is now in an excited state,   It has too much energy for the nucleus to handle and it has to get rid of some of this excess energy.    It does this by giving off a gamma ray to carry away the excess energy and becomes hafnium-178.   No fissioning of the nucleus like in uranium and no fusion of nucleii like in the hydrogen bomb.    The nucleii of the hafnium-178m just slowly give off the gamma rays with not that many atoms giving off the gamma rays at any one time because it's half-life is 31 years which is the amount of time it takes for half of the hafnium atoms to give off a gamma ray and return to the Hafnium-178 stable state.   By the way the excitation energy of each Hafnium-178m nucleus is 2.4 million electron volts.  Wow!  But what if you could get a chunk of hafnium-178m to cascade and dump all of its excess energy from all of its atoms at once.   It is claimed that this can be done and the intense radiation would be lethal.   Would there also be a blast effect?   I don't know.   Perhaps someone reading this blog may know or have an opinion and post it in the comments section for all of us to read.   So would a nuclear hand grenade be possible?   Could be.    Pity the poor soldier throwing it.  
Sometimes the Davy Crockett atomic bazooka is referred to as a nuclear hand grenade causing some confusion over the nuclear hand grenade controversy.   Now this atomic bazooka was actually developed and test fired.
Yeah this had a nuclear warhead.

Well perhaps the nomenclature of bazooka really isn't appropriate.   I think that atomic recoilless rifle would probably be more appropriate.
This is the warhead.   It really isn't very big in size but it sure packed a whallop.
The warhead weighed 51 pounds and had an explosive power of 20 tons of TNT.   And it was actually test fired at the Nevada Atomic Test Site twice.   One test was called Little Feller I and the other test was called Little Feller II.   Here is a couple of websites where you can actually see the Davy Crocket nuclear being test fired.
This is the Little Feller I.

Here are some websites with videos of the test firing of the nuclear bazooka.

Have a good day and enjoy life to its fullest.    Lew


Sundog A said...

The Davy Crockett wasn't just test fired it was DEPLOYED. Over 2000 were manufactured.

Lew said...

I didn't know that they had actually been deployed. Thanks for letting me know. Lew

Unknown said...
This comment has been removed by the author.