fredag 7 mars 2014

140307 - Cobalt bomb

One (or several) cobalt bomb(s) is a possible doomsday-weapon. Its an ordinary nuclear weapon, with a admixture of Cobalt-59. Co-59 is not radioactive itself, but the nuclear device sends out a lot of neutrons wich is absorbed by the Cobalt, and turn it into Co-60 wich is very radioactive. It has a half-life of 5,7 years.

The reaction is;
Co-59 + n Co-60 (T½ = 5,7 years) β + Ni-60 + 2γ

The radioactive Cobalt-60 can be spread over large areas and contaminate the surrounding things, plants, humans and animals. As little as 1 gram Co-60 can contaminate one squarekilometer, so it will be uninhabetable. The Cobalt will waporize in a nuclear explosion, then condense to solid form, in form of dust.

The cobalt bomb occurs in at least two movies, the most famous is;
"Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb", the other is "On the Beach". It's also named in the James Bond-movie Goldfinger, where the bad guy has plans a little, but dirty bomb in Fort Knox to contaminate the Gold, with "Cobalt and Iodine".

Newly manufactured Co-60 has an activity at 10 Sv at a hypotetical detonation fallout. Lethal dose is in 30 minutes is about 5 Sv. It takes 142 years (27 half-lives) to the Cobalt (wich has decade to Nickel) to be safe.

There is no evidence that a country has manufactured cobalt bombs. In a hypotetical bomb, for examle, the tamper can be made of Co-59.

Source: Wikipedia

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