The Scientist Who Used A Nuclear Bomb To Light A Cigarette

Grace Higgins | August 19th, 2019

Forgot your lighter? Then you would probably ask your colleagues or someone you saw smoking on the street, well that was too easy for the American scientist Ted Taylor who in 1952 decided a better option would be to light his cigarette with a nuclear bomb. That’s right, a nuclear explosion was used to light a cigarette, helping the celebrated theoretical physicist get his daily dose of nicotine.

The physicist is Ted Taylor is known to have been a very talented nuclear bomb designer. What is not known is how he managed to light his cigarette by a nuclear explosion, of course, if you are a genius like Ted then it doesn’t take too long. The source was a 15 kiloton nuclear bomb that was being tested in a northern Nevada town of Elko. At 3:50 in the evening, all the researchers and troops were safely in their trenches, ready to observe and monitor the nuclear bomb testing.

It was June 1st, 1952, when they tested this particular fission bomb, and Ted decided he had another plan – to use it to light his cigarette. He already had his cigarettes, so he quickly grabbed a parabolic concave mirror. Using a bit of wire he suspended the cigarette and aimed the parabolic mirror towards the intense explosion that would come out of the nuclear fission bomb. He arranged all in a way that would ensure the tip of the cigarette would be hit by the most light.

When the bomb went off a 37,000 feet tall mushroom cloud exploded upwards, with winds of 41 mph in all directions. The intense heat that Ted had calculated carefully was focused onto the tip of the cigarette, making it light up within a second. Thus Ted entered the history books, or even the legend books, of someone who had lit a cigarette with a nuclear bomb. This personal project did help grow his reputation immensely, allowing him to go on and do many more great projects.

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