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Physics/Nuclear propellant

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Question
Would it be possible to make a propellant for a kinetic energy penetrator made of a nuclear explosive? Something like a 1-10 ton nuclear explosion driving the kinetic energy penetrator forward in the tube to incredible velocities. And could it achieve greater velocities than with gunpowder?

Answer
It's possible, but extremely tricky.  You're better off going with orbital tungsten penetrators or something like that, probably, if you were looking to hit something from above.  For like a cannon-type weapon it's completely impractical since a single shot would ruin the gun with radioactive contamination (the neutron flux would turn tons of the gun into radioactive cobalt 60 if you used any reasonable steel to make it).

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Dr. Stephen O. Nelson

Expertise

I can answer most basic physics questions, physics questions about science fiction and everyday observations of physics, etc. I'm also usually good for science fair advice (I'm the regional science fair director). I do not answer homework problems. I will occasionally point out where a homework solution went wrong, though. I'm usually good at explaining odd observations that seem counterintuitive, energy science, nuclear physics, nuclear astrophysics, and alternative theories of physics are my specialties.

Experience

I was a physics professor at the University of Texas of the Permian Basin, research in nuclear technology and nuclear astrophysics. My travelling science show saw over 20,000 students of all ages. I taught physics, nuclear chemistry, radiation safety, vacuum technology, and answer tons of questions as I tour schools encouraging students to consider careers in science. I moved on to a non-academic job with more research just recently.

Education/Credentials
Ph. D. from Duke University in physics, research in nuclear astrophysics reactions, gamma-ray astronomy technology, and advanced nuclear reactors.

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