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New Video Shows Largest Hydrogen Bomb Ever Exploded via The New York Times

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Last week, the Russian nuclear energy agency, Rosatom, released a 30-minute, formerly secret documentary video about the world’s largest hydrogen bomb detonation. The explosive force of the device — nicknamed Tsar Bomba, or the Tsar’s bomb, and set off on Oct. 30, 1961 — was 50 megatons, or the equivalent of 50 million tons of conventional explosive. That made it 3,333 times as destructive as the weapon used on Hiroshima, Japan, and also far more powerful than the 15 megaton weapon set off by the United States in 1954 in its largest hydrogen bomb blast.

From several angles and distances, the video shows the development of the weapon’s gargantuan mushroom cloud, hinting at the bomb’s churning power and apocalyptic force.

Over decades, the big challenge for the makers of the nation’s nuclear arsenal (as well as Russia’s) turned out to be devising not big hydrogen bombs but small ones, which were judged as more useful for targeted attacks. Miniaturization let hydrogen bombs be made small enough so that many warheads could fit atop a single missile (putting many cities simultaneously at risk) or that they could be sent into war aboard trucks, submarines and other non-aerial platforms.

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