Science: Tritium All Around

Every drop of ordinary water contains about 2,000 atoms of tritium, a key ingredient of the hydrogen bomb. This seemingly startling discovery was announced last week by Drs. Willard F. Libby of the University of Chicago and A. V. Grosse of Temple University. But no one need swear off drinking water—at least for that reason. Only one quintillionth (1/1,000,000,000,000,000,000) of its hydrogen atoms are tritium. An explosion is not likely.

Tritium is the big brother of the hydrogen family. Ordinary hydrogen has one lone proton in its nucleus with an electron circling around it. Deuterium (heavy hydrogen) has one proton and one...

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