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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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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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    $\begingroup$ This: fission/fusion/neutron-spalation rather than fission/fusion or fission/fusion/fission as in a high yield thermonuclear explosive. $\endgroup$ Commented Jan 18, 2013 at 19:57
  • $\begingroup$ 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. $\endgroup$
    – Phil Perry
    Commented Jun 23, 2014 at 23:02
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Any sufficiently large explosion will produce a mushroom cloud, just due to convection currents cause by heat, which rises and spreads.

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    Commented Oct 11, 2021 at 10:33

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