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By 1939 nuclear scientists had begun to delve seriously into the fission of uranium atoms causing a chain reaction particularly in the U235 isotope As a result vast progress was made in the fields of neutron bombardment the comparative efforts of slow neutrons versus fast neutrons in sustaining chain reactions and the possible methods of separating U235 from U238 in natural uranium Moreover the possibility of an immense atomic explosion was becoming common knowledge and calculations for a critical mass were just around the corner As early as the spring of 1942 scientists and leaders across the United States were being exposed to plutonium courtesy of Glen Seaborgs neutron bombardment of U238 With two unique isotopes of fissionable material at the disposal of the countrys greatest minds it was fitting that two unique atomic weapon designs emerged The gun bomb focused around driving together two sub-critical masses and the implosion bomb relied on a uniform shockwave to compress a plutonium center Although both designs created the desired bang they contained very unique features and lent themselves to plutonium and uranium in different ways The primary research and design center for the bombs was the Los Alamos Scientific Laboratory in New Mexico The designing of the bombs stemmed from a nuclear chain-reaction that is normally started by an initiator The initiator injects a burst of neutrons into the fissile core at an appropriate moment Elbert The timing of the initiation of the chain reaction is important and must be carefully designed for the weapon to have a predictable yield A neutron generator emits a burst of neutrons to initiate the chain reaction at the proper moment near the point of maximum compression in an implosion design or at the complete assembly point in the gun design A tamper is placed around the given nuclear material and acts as a barricade to keep the bomb compact for a longer time before it blows itself apart This
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