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Citizen Kurchatov: Stalin's Bomb Maker


Hazards of Nuclear Testing

Soviet H-BombKurchatov's empire of nuclear research and production was saved again by producing the hydrogen bomb. It wasn't as powerful as the 500 kiloton test the Americans performed earlier in November, but it was a completely Soviet design. From design to production, the scientists relied on very little espionage.

On March 1st, 1954 the Americans began their "Castle" series of thermonuclear weapons tests. The first of the explosions, the Bravo test, yielded over 15 megatons. The scientists had predicted only 5 megatons, so they were caught by surprise.

Observers on distant ships were covered with radioactive dust and a Japanese fishing boat, the Lucky Dragon, was exposed to a heavy dose of radiation. All the crew members on the Japanese boat suffered from the exposure. Natives from nearby islands were also evacuated.

It was another sign of the many dangers of nuclear tests. Kurchatov was forced to realize the incredible danger his work had created. A nuclear war would be catastrophic, but even testing these weapons could cost lives.


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