After the federal government obtained a court order to keep The Progressive magazine from publishing an article describing the technology of the hydrogen bomb, Seven Days, a bimonthly published in New. York, stepped into the breach. What follows is excerpted from the Seven Days articie, written by staffers Barbara Ehrenreich, Peter Biskind and Jane Melnick and scientist Michio Kaku. It has not been cleared with the Department of Energy or any other federal agency : THE HEART of the successful H-bomb is the successful A-bomb. Once you've got your A-bombs made, the rest is frosting on the cake. 1. Getting the Ingredients
Uranium is the basis ingredient of the A-bomb. There are two kinds of uranium, the rare U-235,used in bombs, and the more common, heavier, but useless U-238. Natural uranium contaims less than 1 percent U-235, and in order to be usable in bombs it has to be "enriched" to 90 percent U-235.
Ten pounds of U-235 (or slightly less plutonium) is all that is necessary for a bomb. It is infinitely easier to steal ready-to-use, enriched uranium or plutonium than to enrich some yourself.
If stealing uranium seems too tacky, you can buy it. Unenriched uranium is available at any chemical supply house for $23 a pound. Commercial-grade (3 to 20 percent enriched) is available for $40 a pound from Gulf Atomic. You will have to enrich it further yourself. Quite frankly, this can be something of a pain. You'll need to start with a little more than 50 pounds of commercial grade uranium (it's only 20 percent U-235 at best, and you need 10 pounds of U-235, so...). But, with a little kitchen-table chemistry you'll be able to convert the solid uranium oxide you've purchased into a liquid form. Once you've done that, you'll be ready to separate the U-235 you'll need from the U-238.
First pour a few gallons of concentrated hydrofluoric acid into your uranium oxide, converting it to uranium tetrafluoride (Safety note: Concentrated hydrofluoric acid is so corrosive that it will eat its way through glass, to store it only in plastic. Used twogallon plastic milk containers will do.) Now you have to convert your uranium tetrafluoride to uranium hexafluoride -- the gaseous form of uranium, which is convenient for separating out the isotope U-235 from U-238.
To get the hexafluoride form, bubble fluorine gas into your container of uranium tetrafluoride. Fluorine is available in pressurized tanks from chemical-supply firms. Be careful how you use it, though, because fluorine is several times more deadly than chlorine, the classic World War I posion gas. Chemists recommend that you carry out this step under a stove hood (the kind used to remove unpleasant cooking odors).
First transform the gas into a liquid by subjecting it to pressure. You can use a bicycle pump for this. Then make a simple home centrifuge: Fill a standard-size bucket one-quarter full of liquid uranium hexafluoride. Attach a six-foot rope to the bucket handle. Now swing the rope (and attached bucket) around your head as fast as possible. Keep this up for about 45 minutes. Slow down gradually, and very gently put the bucket on the floor. The U-235, which is lighter, will have risen to the top, where it can be skimmed off like cream.
Repeat this step until you have the required 10 pounds of uranium. (Safety note : Don't put all your enriched uranium hexafluoride into one bucket. Use at least two or three buckets and keep them in separate corners of the room. This will prevent the premature buildup of a critical mass.)
Now it's time to convert your enriched uranium back to metal form. This is easily enough accomplished by spooing several ladlesful of calcium (available in tablet form from your drugstore) into each bucketful of liquid uranium. The calium will react with the uranium hexafluoride to produce calcium fluoride, a colorless salt which can be easily separated from your pure, enriched uranium metal.
A few precautions . Uranium is not dangerously radioactive in the amounts you'll be handling. If you plan to make more than one bomb, it might be wise to wear gloves and a lead apron, the kind you can buy in dental supply stores, Plutonium is one of the most toxic substances known. If inhaled, a thousandth of a gram can cause massive fibrosis of the laugs, a painful way to go. Even a millionth of a gram in the lungs will cause cancer. If eaten, plutonium is metabolized like calcium. It goes straight to the bones, where it gives out alpha particles, preventing bone marrow from amanufacturing red blood cells.
The best way to avoid inhaling plutonium is to hold your breach while handling it. If this is too difficult, wear a mask. To avoid ingesting plutonium orally, follow this simple rule: Never make an A-bomb on an empty stomach. If you find yourself dozing off while you're working or if you begin to glow in the dark, it might be wise to take a blood count. 2. Stuffing Your A-Bomb
You will now have three or four bowls of uranium metal. Keep the blows covered -- you don't want your silvery white uranium to tarnish. Now take about five pounds of the uranium and pack it into a hemispheric steel bowl (a stainless steel salad bowl should do).Uranium is malleable -- like gold -- so you should have no trouble hammering it into the bowl to get a good fit. Take another five-pound hunk of uranium and fit it into a second stainless steel bowl.
These two bowls of U-235 are the "subcritical masses," which when brought together forcefully will provide the critical mass that makes your A-bomb go. Keep them a respectful distance apart while working, because you don't want them to "go critical" on you... at least not yet.
Now hollow out the body of an old vacuum cleaner and place your two hemispherical bowls inside, open ends facing each other, no less than seven inches apart, using masking tape to set them up in position. The reason for the steel bowls and the vacuum cleaner, in case you're wondering, is that these help reflect neutrons back into the uranium for a more efficient explosion. "A loose neutron is a useless neutron," as the A-bomb pioneers used to say. as far as the A-bomb goes you're almost done. The final problem is to figure out how to get the two U-235 hemispheres to smash into each other with sufficient force to set off a truly effective fission reaction. Almost any type of explosive can be used to drive them together. Gunpowder, for example, is easily made at home from potassiam nitrate, sulfur and carbon. Or you can get some blasting caps or TNT. Best of all is C4 plastic explosive. You can mold it around your bowls, and it's fairly safe to work with (but it might be wise to shape it around an extra salad bowl in another room and then fit it to your stainless steel bowls). Once the explosives are in place, all you need to do is to hook up a simple detonation device with a few batteries, a switch, and some wire. Remember, though it is essential that the two charges, one on each side of the casing, go off at once.
Now put the whole thing in the casing of an old Hoover vacuum cleaner, and you're finished with this part of the process. The rest is easy.
A word to the wise about wastes : After your A-bomb is completed, you'll have a pile of moderately fatal radioactive wastes like U-238. These are not dangerous, but you do have to get rid of them. You can flush leftovers down the toilet (don't worry about polluting the ocean; there is already so much radioactive waste there, a few more bucketfuls won't make waves), or if you're the fastidious type -- the kind who never leaves gum under their seat at the movies -- $99 Text Omihed and bury it in the back yard -- just like Uncle Sam does. If the neighbors' kids have a habit of trampling the lawn, tell them to play over by the waste. You'll soon find that they're spending most of their time in bed.
Make THREE more A-bombs, following the directions above . 3. Assembling Your H-Homb
The heard of the H-bomb is the fusion process. Several A-bombs are detonated in such a way as to create the extremely high temperature (100 million degrees C.) necessary to fuse lithium deuteride (LiD) into helium. When the lithium nucleus slams into the deuterium nucleus, two helium nuclei are created, and if this happens to enough deuterium nuclei rapidly enough the result is an enormous amount of energy, the energy of the H-bomb.
Lithium deuteride can be purchased from any chemical-supply house. It costs $1,000 a pound. If your budget won't allow it, you can substitute lithium hydride at $40 a pound. You will need at least 100 pounds: It's a corrosive and toxic powder, so be careful. Place the lithium deuteride or hydride in glass jars and surround it with four A-bombs in their casings. Attach each one to the same detonator so that they will go off simultaneously. The container for the whole thing is no problem. They can be placed anywhere (inside an old stereo console, a discarded refrigerator, etc.). When the detonator sets off the four A-bombs, all eight hemispheres of fissionable material will slam into each other at the same time, creating four critical masses and four detonations. This will raise the temperature of the lithium deuteride to 100 million degrees C. fast enough (a few billionths of a second) so that the lithium will not be blown all over the neighborhood before the nuclei have time to fuse. The result: at least 1,000 times the punch of the puny A-bomb that leveled Hiroshima (20 million tons of TNT vs. 20,000tons). 4. Using Your Bomb at Home
Many families are attracted to the H-bomb simply as a deterrent . A discreet sticker on the door or on the living room window saying "This Home Protected, by H-Bomb" will disccurage IRS investigators, census takers and Jehovah's Witnesses. You'll be surprised how fast the crime rate will go down and property values will go up. And, once the news gets out that you are a home H-bomb owner you'll find that you have unexpected leverage in neighborhood disputes over everything from parking places and stereo noise levels to school-tax rates. 5. Overcoming Anxiety
Naysayers and doom-mongers have tried to discredit everything nuclear, from energy to war. They say radiation is bad for you. Everything is bad for you if you have too much of it. If you eat too many bananas, you'll get a stomachache. If you get too much sun, you can get sunburned (or even skin cancer.)
Same thing with radiation. Too much may make you feel under the weather. But it also may bring unexpected benefits. It speeds up evolution by weeding out unwanted genetic types and creating new ones. (Remember the old saying, "Two heads are better than one.) Nearer Home, it's plain that radiation will get rid of pesky crabgrass and weeds, and teen-agers will find that brief exposure to a nuclear burst vaporizes acne and other skin blemishes. Many survivors of the Hiroshima bomb found they were free from skin, and its attendant (Text Omitted)