Science: Nature's Atom Bombs

Many stars are variable. The "novae" flash into sudden brilliance and then fade back to dimness. Others wax & wane regularly every few days. In a letter to Britain's Nature magazine, D. Stanley-Jones suggests that both types of uneasy stars may be natural versions of the man-made atomic bomb.

An atomic bomb has two "subcritical masses" of plutonium or uranium 235. When the two masses are far away from each other, nothing happens. The neutrons generated spontaneously within each piece escape so rapidly through the surface that a chain reaction cannot get started. But...

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