FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- Fifteen-year-old science 'whiz kid' Elizabeth Horvath, who would like someday to design nuclear weapons for the Defense Department or find a way to tame the H-bomb for power, says she has already designed a hydrogen bomb.
The Florida Atlantic University freshman has built a model of her H-bomb and she's convinced the device would work. Furthermore, she said Thursday, 'I've figured a way to make it more powerful.'
She said she sent copies of her H-bomb plans to the Department of Energy, but, 'No one even answered me. I don't know if they even care.'
Miss Horvath said she obtained the information she needed to design her H-bomb from reference books and declassified government records.
'What I found interesting was they told you where to go to rip off the material,' she said. 'That was pretty surprising.'
Before she designed the H-bomb, Miss Horvath designed 'refinements' of conventional atomic bombs, she said in a telephone interview.
'I designed different kinds of atomic bombs,' she said.
Asked how she thought she could make her H-bomb more powerful, she said, 'By using different ways of setting fissionable materials to get greater yields.'
Although she said she has never designed a neutron bomb, she said it would be 'very similar to the hydrogen bomb. I have looked into the question of neutron bomb design. The only real difference between my design and the neutron bomb is the release of radioactive particles.
'More radioactive particles are released by the neutron bomb because the Uranium 238 casing is left out. The U-238 increases the power of the bomb but it stops a lot of neutrons from going out. On the neutron bomb, there is only a metal casing, no U-238,' she said.
Miss Horvath is the daughter of Emerich Horvath, a Fort Lauderdale plumber.
Nancy Romance, curriculum director of the Broward County Schools, who taught in the middle school attended by Miss Horvath, said, 'Some people who have talked to Elizabeth who are experts in the field of nuclear physics say the simplicity of her design is quite staggering.
'She's a very brilliant child. I wouldn't be surprised if she won a Nobel prize some day,' Mrs. Romance said.
Miss Horvath said she has designed both the Hiroshima and Nagasaki type atom bombs. 'I've looked into both kinds and made refinements on both of them ... the implosion type (Nagasaki) and the gun type (Hiroshima). I have made them more powerful than they would normally be by themselves,' she said.
Asked how she made them 'more powerful,' she said by making them 'dirtier' (with greater fallout).
Miss Horvath said she planned to remain at Florida Atlantic for her undergraduate studies and might take graduate work there, although she may decide instead to enroll at Massachusetts Institute of Technology 'or some other school when I'm ready for my doctorate.'
'I don't want to go into the nuclear industry. I would like to go into design of nuclear weapons for the government, or into fusion research,' she said.
If she goes into fusion research, she said, it is her hope to take part in the effort to sustain a controlled hydrogen atom fusion reaction as a source of unlimited cheap power.