Any igneous rock derived from magma that is poured out or ejected at the Earth's surface. Extrusive rocks are usually distinguished from intrusive rocks on the basis of their texture and mineral composition. Lava flows and pyroclastic debris (fragmented volcanic material) are extrusive; they are commonly glassy (e.g., obsidian) or finely crystalline (e.g., basalts and felsites).
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Any glassy rock formed from lava or magma that has a chemical composition close to that of granite. Such molten material may reach very low temperatures without crystallizing, but its viscosity may become very high. Because high viscosity inhibits crystallization, the combination of sudden cooling and loss of volatiles, as when lava extrudes from a volcanic vent, tends to chill the material to a glass rather than crystallize it.
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Bomb with a guidance system that directs its path toward a target. It is steered by fins or wings on the bomb that move in response to guidance commands. Guidance systems may be electro-optical, laser, infrared, or inertial. Electro-optical systems send pictures of the area so that the bomb can be guided onto the target. Laser-guided bombs follow the reflections of a laser beam trained onto the target by an aircraft or a spotter on the ground. Infrared guidance responds to radiation generated by warm areas of the target. Inertial navigation is based on inputting coordinates derived from radar systems or from Global Positioning System satellites into the bomb's gyroscopes. Smart bombs, initially used in the Vietnam War, offer far greater accuracy than traditional gravity, or “dumb,” bombs.
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Small thermonuclear weapon that produces minimal blast and heat but releases large amounts of lethal radiation. The blast and heat are confined to a radius of only a few hundred yards; within a somewhat larger area, the bomb throws off a massive wave of neutron and gamma radiation, which is extremely destructive to living tissue. Such a bomb could be used with deadly efficiency against tank and infantry formations on the battlefield without endangering towns or cities only a few miles away. It can be carried in a missile or delivered by a howitzer or even an attack aircraft.
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Weapon whose enormous explosive power is generated by the nuclear fusion of hydrogen isotopes. The high temperatures required for the fusion reaction are produced by detonating an atomic bomb (which draws its energy from nuclear fission). The bomb's explosion produces a blast that can destroy structures within a radius of several miles, an intense white light that can cause blindness, and heat fierce enough to set off firestorms. It also creates radioactive fallout that can poison living creatures and contaminate air, water, and soil. Hydrogen bombs, which may be thousands of times more powerful than atomic bombs, can be made small enough to fit in the warhead of a ballistic missile (see ICBM) or even in an artillery shell (see neutron bomb). Edward Teller and other U.S. scientists developed the first H-bomb and tested it at Enewetak atoll (Nov. 1, 1952). The Soviet Union first tested an H-bomb in 1953, followed by Britain (1957), China (1967), and France (1968). Most modern nuclear weapons employ both fusion and fission.
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In volcanology, any unconsolidated volcanic material that has a diameter greater than 1.25 in. (32 mm). Bombs form from clots of wholly or partly liquid lava ejected during a volcanic explosion; they solidify and become rounded during flight. The final shape is determined by the initial size, viscosity, and flight velocity of the magma.
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First atomic bomb test, near Alamogordo, New Mexico, July 16, 1945.
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Any of various processes and phenomena associated with the surface discharge of molten rock or hot water and steam, including volcanoes, geysers, and fumaroles. Most active volcanoes occur where two plates converge and one overrides the other (see plate tectonics). Volcanism can also occur along the axis of an oceanic ridge, where the plates move apart and magma wells up from the mantle. A few volcanoes occur within plates, far from margins. Some of these are thought to occur as a plate moves over a “hot spot” from which magma can penetrate to the surface; others appear to result from an extremely slow form of plate spreading.
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