Visit Your Local PBS Station PBS Home PBS Home Programs A-Z TV Schedules Watch Video Donate Shop PBS Search PBS
Citizen Kurchatov: Stalin's Bomb Maker


Super Bomb

Igor Kurchatov smilingIt had taken Kurchatov four years to build the bomb, almost the same amount of time the Manhattan Project took to build the American bomb. Certainly he had all the espionage materials, but it was still a monumental task.

Soviet science had nullified the atomic monopoly the United States held over the world. Scientists became secret heroes of the Soviet Union. They were no longer mere academicians, but important contributors to the national defense. Also, Kurchatov had always striven to lift Soviet science to international levels, and now his team had proven that Russians could match the best in the world.

Kurchatov and his team already had ideas for improvements to the bomb -- ideas that were strictly Soviet and didn't rely on espionage from the West. However, Beria had prevented the scientists from adding some of the improvements to the first bomb, because he still thought western science was somehow better than Russian science. But they had proved themselves and immediately started to plan for the next bombs.

On top of everything else was the next step in nuclear weapons, a thermonuclear bomb. Instead of utilizing the energy of fission from uranium or plutonium, these bombs released the more powerful energy of hydrogen fusion. Theoretically, this bomb was much more destructive than the fission bomb. Instead of destroying small towns, these bombs could wipe out entire cities.


  Next: The Layer Cake
Previous: Equivalent Rewards
Site Index Home Good of Mankind Cold War Stalin's Regime Ends America's Hydrogen Bomb The Layer Cake Super Bomb Atomic Powers Arzamas-16 A New Weapon Nuclear Secrets Revolution