1. 18-Till-I-Die

    18-Till-I-Die Banned

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    How Long Would Nuclear Weapons "Last"?

    Discussion in 'Research' started by 18-Till-I-Die, Dec 5, 2018.

    Ok this sounds absurd, but it goes to something I'm writing lol

    How long does a nuclear weapon "last", by that I mean how long is it still usable, or will it ever become worn out or inoperable if maintained. Like if an atomic bomb is built, say, in 2100-ish would it still be useful in 22,000 AD? Or would it have become useless after a while like, the radioactive materials becoming worthless?

    A side note, could you use cold fusion as opposed to normal nuclear fission to build an atomic weapon, and if you did would the same apply to cold fusion ("hypernuclear") weaponry as to fission weapons?
     
  2. Wreybies

    Wreybies Thrice Retired Supporter Contributor

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    That's nearly 20k years. I would think other components to the bomb mechanism would suffer material failure before the fissionable material. I recently read an interesting article regarding the conservation of plastics in artwork and other non-art museum artifacts.

    https://news.nationalgeographic.com/2018/05/preserving-plastic-art-spacesuits-science/

    Plastics in the bomb (as simple as the covering of wires) would become a problem well before the amount of time you mention has passed by.

    ETA: I collect and refurbish vintage fountain pens from the turn of the 20th century to the late 60's. Most are made of celluloid, a highly, highly combustible early plastic. Pens in lighter colors of celluloid (especially jade green) are often deeply discolored. Most people assume the discoloring is from ink that has leaked out of the bladder and stained the semi-translucent celluloid. It's not. It plasticizer from the ink bladders that outgasses over the years and stains the celluloid. Pens that I keep for collectible value are kept without their bladders in place. I clean, refurbish and reassemble them without the bladders for that reason.

    This pen...

    [​IMG]

    Should be as bright as this one.

    [​IMG]

    It's not the ink, which is easy to clean out. It's the old bladders that do that.
     
  3. 18-Till-I-Die

    18-Till-I-Die Banned

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    Well I figure some of that could be circumvented by saying "it's 22nd century stuff, it works better" lol

    I was more asking like would the bomb, assuming it was maintained or sustained in some way, still work? I assume then the answer is no, which is what I kinda figured. Thanks for the help.

    Also like, would it be possible to make a cold fusion bomb and would that be easier to sustain?
     
  4. BayView

    BayView Huh. Interesting. Contributor

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    In terms of the nuclear material, it would depend at least somewhat on what is being used for bombs in 2 100AD. The half-life of U-235 (dropped on Hiroshima) is 700 million years. It wouldn't have degraded hardly at all by 22 000AD. But the half life of Pu-239 (Nagasaki bomb) is 24 000 years - so it would be significantly weaker by 22 000AD.

    Overall, though, I'd agree with Wreybies that it would be the other components of the bomb that would be more likely to decay.
     
  5. Wreybies

    Wreybies Thrice Retired Supporter Contributor

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    I think you could get around this - from a story-telling angle - by just taking plastic out of the equation. Use ceramics as casing, insulators, and semiconductors instead; no wires, solid state. I would buy that in a story.
     
  6. 18-Till-I-Die

    18-Till-I-Die Banned

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    @Wreybies
    Yeah thank you, that's kinda what I was going for. Basically like, some warrior castes, the families and "houses" of these warrior legions, some maintain "atomics" almost as an heirloom to be used if you really need to let it rip. So since a lot of them started in the late 22nd to early 23rd century the idea was they're kind of a more advanced version of the technology we use, so yeah I guess like ceramics in the casings and semiconductors.


    @BayView
    Oh wow! I was unaware that the half-life of uranium was SEVEN-HUNDRED MILLION years, wow...ok so I guess that would work then, thank you!

    And thanks very much both of y'all, very useful info!
     
  7. exweedfarmer

    exweedfarmer Banned Contributor

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    To the best of my understanding, U-235 wasn't much used after the original bomb because it's so hard to refine. I would think that the conventional explosive used to set off the bomb would degrade and the wires, and the sequencer, and somebody might spill their beer on it and....
     
    Last edited: Dec 5, 2018
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  8. anotherghost

    anotherghost Member

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    After some light browsing:
    "if they use tritium for "boosting," it has a really short half-life and needed to be replaced every few years"
    Apparently the plutonium in nuclear weapons takes nearly 25,000 years to decay, though. You could use that to your advantage.
     
  9. 18-Till-I-Die

    18-Till-I-Die Banned

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    I was thinking, honestly, about saying they were "hypernuclear" weapons which basically means they're based more on an advanced form of fusion technology, liken to cold fusion. The blanket term "atomics" describes them, as the technology evolved from what we call atomic bombs obviously and, technically, they're kind of like thermonuclear weapons but they're way, way, WAY more powerful--like upwards of 300 megatons.
     
  10. anotherghost

    anotherghost Member

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    I like that idea, that much firepower would be less likely to just become inert especially if you flesh it out in a way that highlights its hardiness.
     
  11. The Dapper Hooligan

    The Dapper Hooligan (V) ( ;,,;) (v) Contributor

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    Maybe. Plutonium 239, the kind used in nuclear weapons, has a half life of 24,110 years. which means that 20,000 years after manufacture you'd be left with a bit over half the original amount of fissionable material. So unless the weapon was manufactured with an overly large percentage of fuel, it's likely you wouldn't have enough to reach critical mass. But future Tech is future.
     
  12. exweedfarmer

    exweedfarmer Banned Contributor

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    "I am not an evil man, but I have done an evil thing." Robert Oppenheimer speaking about his involvement in the Manhattan Project.
     
  13. Kalisto

    Kalisto Senior Member

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    It can depend on a lot of things, including, but not limited to, how the weapon was engineered, the quality of the nuclear material used to make it, and just how radioactive it actually is. Things that have a lot of nuclear activity, tend to degrade faster. It's estimated that the infamous "Elephant's Foot" in Chernobyl (aka the most radioactive thing known to man) will only remain radioactive for the next 100 years. That's because the more radioactive something is, the faster it breaks down. (Don't get me wrong. The Elephant's Foot is still incredibly dangerous.)

    Pure Uranium takes about 1.4 Million years to finally turn to lead. But as far as radioactive, Uranium is actually fairly weak. It takes quite a bit of it and quite a long exposure before you feel the effects. (Again, that doesn't mean you should play with it.) It's really plutonium where things get a little interesting, but again, it can depend on the isotopes. Unlike a lot of other elements, plutonium is just stable enough to stick around for a bit. The isotope Plutonium 239, which is used for nuclear weapons, has a 24,100 year half life. But remember, it's going to be less and less radioactive as time goes on.
     
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  14. Some Guy

    Some Guy Manguage Langler Supporter Contributor

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    Unstable elements could also chemically react with other common elements. The materials would react as emissions brokedown seals, and exposed more elements to each other. These by-products also interact, sometimes violently, when released from containment. I imagine hydrogen, lithium, cesium, possibly argon and others would seep, hiss, or float from containment to unintended zones. It's really a spontaneous chemical factory. Metals would oxydize with time, and crack, then fail. Neutron bombardment would increase mass in some elements and reduce mass in others. 'Gold' was produced from lead (nanoscopic amounts) by neutron bombardment. Some elements degrade in bombardment. These devices are heinously complex, and usually somewhat unassembled until just before use. If one has sat assembled more than a few decades, the surrounding area will not be pleasant.
     
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  15. Cave Troll

    Cave Troll It's Coffee O'clock everywhere. Contributor

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    In 22K wouldn't they have things like anti-matter ballistic missiles,
    making nukes look like a joke in comparison? Cold fusion would be
    better utilized as a power source due to the amount of energy it can
    produce and how efficient it is.
    Just some food for thought.
     
  16. 18-Till-I-Die

    18-Till-I-Die Banned

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    Oh believe me they do. One of the kinda cornerstones in the setting are "light arrows" which are basically arrow-shaped slabs of fancy future alloy chucked by relativistic space fighters at a target, which have like a 50-100 gigaton yield and can be fired off in "hails of arrows" that can level a continent. But for GROUND combat?

    Well, obviously if you intend to conquer a planet then erasing the entirety of Asia from it and blasting Texas-sized chunks off to form new moons around it big enough to make Sailor Jupiter feel breast envy isn't a great idea lol

    So "atomics" are kept, both as a genuine weapon of war, but also as kind of family heirlooms for the warrior caste.
     
  17. 18-Till-I-Die

    18-Till-I-Die Banned

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    @CaveTroll

    One thing maybe I should expand on: the difference between NAVAL warfare and GROUND warfare in the setting is extreme, with sheer numbers and what could be called trench warfare being taken as a matter of course for ground combat, and naval warfare largely built around "big shit go boom" superweapons. Obviously one is not useful in the other field, since having a billion-man army is cute and all but a relativistic "light arrow" can turn California into a hellish, smoking crater (...or more of a hellish, smoking crater than it already is). And also, having a giant fleet of thousands of fighters and supercarriers is all well and good but since most are the size of the Alien Mothership from ID4: Resurgence landing one on a planet isn't really an option. So the two groups, the warrior caste, or Imperial Knights, who handle ground warfare for the Empire of Mankind and the vast Imperial Navy, which is at this point basically a nomadic civilization of naval PMCs that operate under the Empire's aegis, are almost like separate races that serve the Empire. And the Knight families maintain stockpiles of "atomics" in case they need to go big or go home, cause the bad guys? They like armies of flesh-eating drones, some of which are the size of the Empire State building, so when the bad guy goes Pacific Rim you have to go Duke Nukem.

    Just a bit of back story.:D
     
  18. Cave Troll

    Cave Troll It's Coffee O'clock everywhere. Contributor

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    This chick gives Sailor Jupiter breast envy. :D
    Anime Lady.jpg


    Interesting, hand me down nukes. Kinda a strange thing to keep in the
    family, but they seem to have them in Dune, so...I suppose that works. :)

    Also do they have a way to clean up the fallout once they conquer an area?
    Or do they just take a pill or get a shot and go about their day like radio-active
    fallout is no big deal? Cause even with evolving a better tolerance to radiation,
    it will not be enough to handle it at those levels.
     
  19. Cave Troll

    Cave Troll It's Coffee O'clock everywhere. Contributor

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    So apply WH40K logic, and all is well.
    Machines as big as mountains, and ships that
    have weapons that can tear holes in planets.
    Got it. :superidea:
     
  20. 18-Till-I-Die

    18-Till-I-Die Banned

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    @CaveTroll
    Kinda yeah, but to be honest I drew a lot from Lensmen too. I honestly never read Dune, I only saw the movie a few times, so my grasp of that series is kind of slim.

    But yeah like, again, to put all this in perspective the "Thousand Fleets" that make up the Navy are basically individual civilizations at this point which operate under the Empire, and that's all well and dandy but things like invasions, planetary defense, etc have to be handled by actual GROUND TROOPS and that requires a force of Knights who are basically Master Chief, son of Eddard, and generally if you want to fight one you'll need an antitank rifle and an RPG or two.
     
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  21. Alan Aspie

    Alan Aspie Banned Contributor

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    No.
     
  22. exweedfarmer

    exweedfarmer Banned Contributor

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    Nuclear weapons cannot be counted as weapons unless your enemy is the biosphere of the planet.
     
  23. disasterspark

    disasterspark Active Member

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    I'm kinda guilty of saying that.
     

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