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Citizen Kurchatov: Stalin's Bomb Maker

 

Savior of Russia

Kurchatov's future after the death of Stalin and the arrest of Beria was uncertain, but he kept working on the hydrogen bomb with the same energy. However, some scientists not directly involved with the project refused to contribute any more research to developing bombs.

Semipalatinsk-21In July of 1953, a train arrived at the Semipalatinsk test site to prepare for the hydrogen bomb test. However, they quickly realized that the tremendous blast of the stronger H-bomb would create a radioactive cloud that could endanger the lives of thousands of people living in surrounding communities.

The scientists proposed two solutions: either evacuate the people or refit the bomb and a plane for dropping the bomb from the air. An air explosion wouldn't create as much radioactive debris because it wouldn't blast away as much soil. The last proposal for refitting the bomb and plane implies that the bomb was not as deliverable as the Soviets claimed later.

It was decided to delay the test and evacuate the surrounding communities. On August 8th, as the scientists were preparing for the test, they listened on the radio to Malenkov's speech before the Supreme Soviet. He proclaimed that the United States no longer held a monopoly on hydrogen bombs. Pressure on the scientists was already extremely high, but this added a little more emphasis.

Sakharov and Kurchatov watched the explosion from a hill several miles away. The bomb exploded with a 400 kiloton force, ten times stronger than the last Russian atomic bomb test. Kurchatov bowed to Sakharov and announced, "Thanks to you, the savior of Russia!"

 

1953
August 12th
Soviets test their first hydrogen bomb.

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