Explosives

Get the science behind the inner workings of bombs, missiles and handheld weapons, including grenades. Learn how they work and how they are used to inflict maximum damage.

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Trinitite: How the First Nuclear Bomb Turned Sand to Glass

Sand turned to glass at White Sands Missile Range. What do we know today about the remnants of the world's first nuclear blast?

Package Bombs Are Rare in the U.S., But Here's How to Spot One

Bombs are complicated to build so they aren't a common go-to method of madness for criminals. But would you know one if you saw one?

Is North Korea Equipped to Attack the United States?

In late July 2017, North Korea upped its threats the United States and its allies with nuclear strikes — and the U.N. responded with strict and overwhelming sanctions.

How to Survive a Nuclear Attack

Sheltering in place could give you the best chance of surviving a nuclear attack.

The Mother of All Bombs Is Big But It's No Nuke

The MOAB is the largest nonnuclear bomb ever used by the U.S. So what makes it OK to drop this bomb and not a nuclear warhead? We dive in to find out.

Using Glowing Bacteria and Lasers to Detect Landmines

With tens of millions of active landmines still buried around the globe, scientists are looking for efficient and safe methods to remove them.

The Simple Difference Between Ballistic Missiles and Cruise Missiles

Despite the phrase "going ballistic," the term "ballistic" refers to how a missile travels through the air, not its explosive capability.

Russia Once Built a Doomsday Device Nicknamed 'Dead Hand'

How did it work? Is it still around? The BrainStuff team investigates.

10 Terrorist Plots That Failed

Since the 9/11 terrorist attacks, an estimated 54 other attacks on the U.S. have failed. And these are only the ones we know about. Some, like the underwear bomber and the shoe bomber, live on in infamy. Others are more obscure.

How Controlled Detonations Work

It's a delicate, hair-raising business that usually ends in triumph, but can, in certain circumstances, end in tragedy. Welcome to the world of a bomb squad technician. It's explosive.

How does the military intercept missiles?

In 2013, North Korea said it had readied missiles for potential strikes on U.S. military bases. The U.S. government said it was ready to intercept them. But what does that really mean?

Can you really outrun an explosion?

"Die Hard" films' John McClane (not to mention a long line of other Hollywood action heroes) never met an explosion he couldn't outrun. In real life, it's not so easy to sprint away from a blast.

How Bomb-sniffing Dogs Work

You probably have no idea what explosives smell like. But dogs can be trained to detect that distinctive smell, even if it's just wafting through the air.

How the Star Wars Program Didn't Work

Back in 1983 when the Cold War was in full swing, the U.S. was looking for an effective new tactic to deter a nuclear strike. The "Star Wars" missile defensive initiative, however, wasn't it. Why not?

How Suicide Bombers Work

Suicide bombings are chillingly logical. By hiding explosives on a willing carrier, individuals smuggle death into densely populated areas. But are these bombers strictly a modern phenomenon?

How Napalm Works

You may have thought militaries stopped using napalm after the Vietnam War thanks to the United Nations, but this incendiary weapon lives on in modern warfare. Has it also been used in Iraq?

How IEDs Work

Whether you call it a homemade bomb, a booby trap or an improvised explosive device, an IED is simple to make, easily hidden and extraordinarily destructive. Why are these deadly devices one of the No. 1 killers of soldiers in Iraq.

Why does the Army have a Javelin missile simulator?

Javelin missiles cost up to $80,000 each. So how does the U.S. Army afford to train its soldiers to fire them?

How Nuclear Detectives Work

Do you feel your job is unfulfilling? Maybe you should consider becoming a nuclear detective. These modern Sherlocks might just stop nuclear war from happening.

Is it worse to be near an explosion on land or in water?

Taking a hit from an explosion probably isn't on your to-do list. But if blasts were all around you, would water or land stop your lungs from imploding?

Fallout Shelter Pictures

Fallout shelters were once all the rage during the height of the Cold War in America. This gallery depicts some of the most common features of fallout shelters.

How Blast-resistant Clothing Works

Your most rugged pair of blue jeans can't hold a candle to the cutting-edge blast-resistant clothing and technology. Sure, these fabrics are tough, but can they diffuse bomb blasts?

How did the U.S. shoot down its spy satellite?

An out-of-control satellite was headed for Earth. Shooting it down could save lives, but was it all just a ruse to test anti-satellite defenses?

How the Guardian Anti-missile System Works

In the last few years, the threat to commercial airplanes has become larger than ever. Learn how the Guardian Solution for Commercial Airplanes, created by Northrop Grumman, can defend the planes from lethal types of attacks.

How can you train honeybees to sniff for bombs?

Those same, buzzing insects that seek out molecular hints of the pollen they use to make honey can just as easily detect traces of materials used to bombs. How are honeybees used to find bombs?


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