An atomic bomb is a form of nuclear weapon tied to fission reaction, rather than hydrogen bombs, which are tied to fusion reactions. The name is a bit of a misnomer: the energy of the weapon comes from the nucleus of the atom, rather than the atom itself (hence the term "nuclear" weapon). To date, only two nuclear weapons have been used in war, both of them atomic bombs, and both used in World War II against Japan: "Little Boy" (dropped over Hiroshima), and "Fat Man" (dropped over Nagasaki).
Role in the Story Edit
President William Martin declares Theresa and HAL a danger, and has her kidnapped. She is taken to the USS Ronald Reagan, where is placed into the F-22 and sent up into the air. The bomb goes off at 60,000 feet, though Theresa escapes from the F-22 at 55,000 feet. Theresa describes the light as being "so intense" she could "see it through the flesh of [her] arms." William Martin explained this execution to Americans in a televised address soon afterward.
Later, when dealing with North Korea, the possibility of their possessing atomic bombs is a major issue.
In her narration, Theresa says that an atomic bomb was chosen because "everybody said nothing could survive an A-bomb." This isn't entirely true. In the atomic bombs used in 1945, death was dependent on the distance from ground zero: complete and utter destruction was only found within one mile of ground zero; severe damage was found 1.5 miles from ground zero; moderate damage was found within two miles of ground zero; light damage was found within 3.5 miles from ground zero. Therefore, to say "nothing could survive an A-bomb" makes as much sense as saying "nothing could survive being shot in the head."