Hacker News new | past | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login
Did America Forget How to Make the H-Bomb? (2009) (motherjones.com)
34 points by tosh on Sept 5, 2019 | hide | past | favorite | 5 comments

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/FOGBANK - "A root cause investigation showed that input materials were subject to cleaning processes that had not existed during the original production run. This cleaning removed a substance that generated the required impurity. With the implicit role of this substance finally understood, the production scientists can control output quality better than during the original run."

Cites https://www.lanl.gov/orgs/padwp/pdfs/nwj2_09.pdf - "Fogbank: Lost Knowledge Regained".

This can be a problem in trying to reproduce old chemistry research too, even research published entirely in the open. You may have to do a little historical sleuthing to determine how the materials used for research circa 1920 differ from their modern reagent grade counterparts.

IIRC there were similar issues with early titanium alloys not being reproducible due to impurities in the base metals.

For all the talk about fusion energy research, much of the work done at the national ignition facility is related to the nuclear physics end of the "stockpile stewardship" problem. I have often heard that aside from obtaining the material, the design challenges are mostly associated with conventional chemical high explosives and directing the shockwave in a controlled way. On the other hand, there is no test ban on conventional high explosives so its surprising so few resources were allocated to that considering the billions put into replacing nuclear testing.

Guidelines | FAQ | Lists | API | Security | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact