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Watching "The Dark Knight Rises", Bane announces halfway into the movie at the stadium that what they have is a neutron bomb. But then at the end of the movie there is an actual nuclear explosion shown as if it was a fission bomb. My understanding was that a neutron bomb only releases highly energetic particles like neutrons so that all organic matter is destroyed by the radiation. I thought the point was to keep buildings/cities/material wealth intact so that at first you deploy a neutron bomb, kill the people in the city, wait for radiation to settle down, and then move in and take over the city. So a neutron bomb shouldn't blast like that with the ability to level a city and everything in it. Is a neutron bomb supposed to "explode" like that? Did I have the wrong idea? Or is it just another case of Hollywood getting the physics wrong? How much of an "explosion" is a neutron bomb supposed to have?


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(IANAWS: I am not a weapons specialist) The blast a neutron bomb is similar to that of a large conventional bomb, though I couldn't tell you exactly how large. Essentially a neutron bomb is just an atom bomb with less fissionable material in the core so a chain reaction isn't reached. I haven't seen the movie so I couldn't tell you if the explosion was far too big or not. But there definitely is an explosion, just not as big as a full atomic bomb. –  Michael Brown Jan 18 '13 at 13:49

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up vote 5 down vote accepted

A neutron bomb is still a hydrogen bomb, just designed in such a way as to allow much of the neutron radiation to escape, instead of remaining trapped to enhance the chain-reaction.

A neutron bomb explosion would be basically the same as a hydrogen bomb, just with a little less explosive energy, and a little more neutron radiation---making it more harmful to people (especially because its harder to shield from neutrons).

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This: fission/fusion/neutron-spalation rather than fission/fusion or fission/fusion/fission as in a high yield thermonuclear explosive. –  dmckee Jan 18 '13 at 19:57
The most common designs, as I understand it, were normal H-bombs more or less minus the U238 jacket (final "-fission" step). So yes, as zhermes said, still a big explosion. As a living object, you couldn't really tell the difference before expiring. –  Phil Perry Jun 23 at 23:02

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