Here is a link to a brief article outlining the science behind the bomb: http://www.lanl.gov/history/postwar/development.shtml. Make sure especially you remember who Edward Teller is.
The first test took place on Elugaleb Island in the Enewetak Atoll in the Marshall Islands on October 31, 1952. The bomb was referred to by the nickname “the sausage.”
Here is a short film with sound and narration of the first test explosion:
This one shows the shock wave traveling from the bomb:
And here the US entered the “thermonuclear age.” How big was the explosion?
According to http://nuclearweaponarchive.org/Usa/Tests/Ivy.html, “The mushroom cloud climbed to 57,000 feet in only 90 seconds, entering the stratosphere. One minute later it reached 108,000 feet, eventually stabilizing at a ceiling of 120,000 feet. Half an hour after the test the mushroom stretched 60 miles across, with the base of the mushroom head joining the stem at 45,000 feet.” The fireball from the explosion reached a width of 3.5 miles. The crater was 6200 feet wide and 164 feet deep.
Here is a before and after photo of Eleugaleb Island:
And as impressive as this was, it was not the largest thermonuclear device ever exploded by the US. That honor went to the CASTLE Bravo Test in 1954, where we accidentally nuked a Japanese fishing boat. More on that coming soon…