But…enough about blogging, on to my futurist agenda. To dive right into that let us go back to a paper written in 1998:
Both of these approaches do away with the intermediary of lasers and particle accelerators, using instead very large electric current pulses generated by
pulsed power sources to implode a fusion target. The current pulses may be
generated by large capacitor banks or by the compression of magnetic fields
with high explosives (Appendix A), a technique pioneered by Andrei Sakharov
And from 1998 we jump a couple years to 2000; https://www.chemie.tu-darmstadt.de/media/ak_fessner/damocles_pdf/2013/ONC.pdf
-the most powerful chemical
explosive known (equivalent to 2.38 kg of
TNT per kg) and its detonation velocity of
10100 m/s also the fastest. There’s just one
small problem with it: Its price. Because the
only known method of synthesizing it is so
long and difficult, each gram of
octanitrocubane is actually more expensive
From 2000 we go to 2014 :https://www.osti.gov/servlets/purl/1182281
- High temperature superconductors for plasma
confinement and the magnetic nozzle that result
in drastically reduced cooling requirements
A hydrogen bomb essentially uses molecular energy (high explosive) to compress highly enriched uranium or plutonium enough to produce a nuclear fission explosion (splitting large atoms) which is then used to light off a fusion explosion (fusing small atoms). Reorganizing molecules gives off a little energy, splitting large atoms gives off about a million times more, and fusing small atoms quadruples that energy, producing four million times more than the original chemical reaction. Splitting those big atoms comes with the most baggage so going from a relatively infinitesimal amount of molecular energy straight to four million times more is a far larger gain than just fourfold.
The trick is to produce the energy of a fission explosion with molecular energy on a much smaller scale and then use that to produce a fusion reaction. The analogy that comes to mind is using a kitchen match to start a forest fire instead of dropping a thousand pounds of napalm. The original concept was researched by the Russians but the explosives and magnetic field generation technology available was not capable of making it happen. Not only those factors but manufacturing tolerances and computing power are also critical. Technology has advanced so fast that I would bet some money we may now be able to make it happen.
Much of the fusion energy research of the last half a century pursuing “commercial” applications has been a cover for weapons research. A dirty little secret and one of those few “true” conspiracy theories. What the “clean fusion bomb” represents is a nightmare for the superpowers. It is simple enough to identify those seeking to possess nuclear weapons because fissile material is required and that means Uranium 235 (or Plutonium derived from it – those “big atoms”). But, and this is the whole point, NOT requiring fissile material to generate fusion also represents a way to travel throughout the solar system with great economy and efficiency using Nuclear Pulse Propulsion. So this is a conspiracy I may wish was true, and may actually be true.
Fusion bombs require a fission bomb to light them off- which is a huge drawback if you want to use fusion explosions for propelling spaceships. Fissile material comes with a great many problems attached but if you have a way to light off an H-bomb without a fission bomb- all those problems magically go away. Unfortunately, one very big problem rears it’s ugly head- Nuclear Proliferation. Concerning Human Space Flight Beyond Earth and Lunar Orbit (HSF-BELO), or, “Interplanetary Travel”, the original problem remains. The solution was found over 60 years ago by one of the great geniuses of the 20th century, Stanislaw Ulam. Nuclear Pulse Propulsion eliminates the problem of confining nuclear reactions which makes all other nuclear schemes impractical.