Nuclear Physics

Resources are provided for informational purposes only. Inclusion on this list does not imply or confer endorsement by Partnership for a Secure America, PSA’s staff, Board of Directors, or Advisory Board.


Barnaby, Frank. “Types of Nuclear Weapon.” In Plutonium and Security, 264-79. Palgrave Macmillan UK, 1992.

Frank Barnaby explains the difference between the types of nuclear weapons and the processes that go into creating a nuclear reaction in each. He also notes the materials which are used to create each type of weapon and how those materials interact with one another.


Bunn, Matthew. “Nuclear 101: How Nuclear Bombs Work.” Lecture, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Cambridge, MA, September 10, 2013.

Matthew Bunn, an Associate Professor of Public Policy at the Belfer Center, gives a lecture on the basic physics of nuclear explosions, providing a variety of graphs, infographics, and technical drawings to illustrate the processes involved in nuclear reactions.


Harney, Robert, Gerald Brown, Matthew Carlyle, Eric Skroch, and Kevin Wood. “Anatomy of a Project to Produce a First Nuclear Weapon.” Science and Global Security 14, nos. 2-3 (2006): 163-82.

Robert Harney and a team of scientists explain the entire process of building a nuclear weapon from an explanation of the necessary resources to gather to a description of the physics of the final nuclear reactions.


“How Do Nuclear Weapons Work?” Union of Concerned Scientists. Last modified September 30, 2016.

This guide from the Union of Concerned Scientists uses infographics and technical drawings to show the differences between different types of nuclear weapons. The accompanying article provides additional information on the parts of the bomb showed in the drawings, and how they work to create a nuclear reaction in each case.


Lovins, A. B., and L. H. Lovins. Energy/War: Breaking the Nuclear Link. New York: Harper and Row, 1980.

A.B. and L.H. Lovins describe the differences between the processes which take place in nuclear energy production and nuclear bomb detonation. They also explain how the materials used in nuclear energy production could be misused to create nuclear weapons. 


Tsipis, Kosta. Arsenal, Understanding Weapons in the Nuclear Age. Simon and Schuster, 1983.

Tsipis’s book offers a basic scientific description of the processes taking place during a nuclear explosion. The book explains how nuclear weapons are made, what causes the reactions that lead to an explosion, and how different models of nuclear weapons use different processes to cause a nuclear reaction.


United States Department of Defense. The Effects of Nuclear Weapons. Edited by Samuel Glasstone and Philip J. Dolan. Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1977.

This report was commissioned by the Department of Defense and Energy Research and Development Commission in the 1970s to examine how nuclear explosions occur and what effects they have on their environment upon explosion. The report describes the physics of nuclear explosions and the complex processes that set them into motion.


Resources are provided for informational purposes only. Inclusion on this list does not imply or confer endorsement by Partnership for a Secure America, PSA’s staff, Board of Directors, or Advisory Board.