fizzle v : end weakly; "The music just petered out--there was no proper ending" [syn: taper off, peter out, fizzle out]
- Rhymes: -ɪzəl
In nuclear weapons, a fizzle occurs when the testing of a nuclear bomb fails to meet its expected yield. The reason(s) for the failure can be linked to improper bomb design, poor construction, or lack of expertise. All countries that have had a nuclear weapons testing program have experienced fizzles. A fizzle can spread radioactive material throughout the surrounding area, involve a partial fission reaction of the radiological material, or both.
Nuclear tests considered to be fizzles
- Buster Able – Considered to be the first known failure of any nuclear device.
- Upshot Knothole – Ruth – The test failed to declassify the site (erase evidence) as it left the bottom third of the shot tower still standing. The Ray test conducted the following month was allegedly shot on a shorter tower to ensure that the tower would be completely destroyed. This North Korean debut test was weaker than all other countries' initial tests by a factor of 20, and considered possibly the worst initial test in history.
Terrorist concernsOne month after the September 11, 2001 attacks, a CIA informant known as "Dragonfire" reported that al-Qaeda had smuggled a low-yield nuclear weapon into New York City. Although the report was found to be false, concerns that a "fizzle bomb" capable of yielding a fraction of the known 10 kiloton weapons could cause “horrific” consequences, and that it could kill thousands.
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