Time of Reaction

The released neutron travels at speeds of about 10 million meters per second, or about 3% the speed of light. The characteristic time for a generation is roughly the time required to cross the diameter of the sphere of fissionable material.

A critical mass of uranium is about the size of a baseball (0.1 meters). The time, T, the neutron would take to cross the sphere is:

T = 0.1 meters

1 x 10 7 meters/second
= 1 x 10 -8 seconds

The complete process of a bomb explosion is about 80 times this number, or about a microsecond.

This time was informally known as a 'shake' ("as fast as the shake of a lamb's tail") by the physicists at Los Alamos.

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