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Subject: 4th Generation Nuclear Weapons
Roman    2/5/2004 9:32:52 PM
There have been rumours for some time now about the development of a 4th generation of nuclear weapons. One of the ideas bandied about is pure fusion nuclear weapons that would not require a fission trigger. The obvious advantage of such weapons is that they do not leave behind as much contaminating radiation as ordinary thermonuclear nukes - they are relatively 'clean' weapons. Rumours for other 4th gen nuclear weapons that I have heard about involved at least partial shaping of the nuclear explosion. Does any of the above sound feasible for the next generation of nuclear weapons to any of our resident nuclear experts or are these rumours completely wild and silly? (note: some relatively reputable websites dealing with nuclear weapons carry these rumours)
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Carl D.    RE:4th Generation Nuclear Weapons   2/8/2004 4:58:04 PM
Far out physics, but not a far out question. I can recall seeing an article on advanced nuclear weapons, including pure fusion weapons, in Scientific America a few years ago. Besides getting a fusion reaction to go without a fission trigger, other subjects included issues of efficiency to use less fissionable material in such a way that there would be less fallout, and the use of nuclear pumped x-ray and other wavelenght lasers as a hard target weapon that would have little "collateral" effects. I've read of using either solid state lasers and even conventional explosives as possible triggers. One use for the 3rd generation nuclear weapon, the neutron bomb, that has been discussed is to use one or more against possible asteroid collisions. The object, if intercepted out far enough, would be deflected by the force of the neutrons hitting its surface, thus not breaking it up as would an intercept involving heat and shock might create.
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Carl D.    RE:4th Generation Nuclear Weapons   2/10/2004 9:07:10 PM
For some more information on this, on the Nuclear Weapons Archive webpage, under Other Archived Material, are excerpts from Weapons of Tomorrow, by Brian Brethut, Plenum Press 1983.
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french stratege    RE:4th Generation Nuclear Weapons   2/11/2004 7:28:01 AM
It is related to directed energy thermonuclear device like shaped conventional charge are directed charge.France, US and Russia are working on.
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Roman    RE:4th Generation Nuclear Weapons   2/11/2004 3:44:30 PM
That was interesting reading indeed. It appears that question of feasibility is still unresovled and will remain so for some time.
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