Sometimes counterfactual questions are the most revealing. What intrigued Holmes was not what the dog did in the night, but what it didn’t do: it didn’t bark. Nuclear weapons are so dramatic — they draw our attention so forcefully — that sometimes we don’t stop to wonder why other, alternative states of affairs haven’t come to pass.
Why is it that nuclear weapons are not bigger?
There is no theoretical limit to the size of hydrogen bombs. In the early days of nuclear weapons, when physicists were issuing dire warnings almost daily, one of the things they kept repeating was that you could build bigger and bigger bombs without any upper limit. The Soviets tested a bomb that was 52 megatons in 1962. Larger bombs could have been built. Yet they weren’t. How can this be?
If nuclear weapons are powerful because of … Read More »