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Has North Korea tested a boosted fission nuclear device?
North Korea claimed that it had successfully tested a hydrogen bomb last week on January 6th. Seismic data the same day registered 5.1 magnitude body waves, corresponding to estimates that the blast would have contained between 4.7 and 7 kilotons of energy. That energy yield is much smaller that previous tests of H-bombs, which release upwards of 30 kilotons, and the current consensus (1,2) is that the test was not a thermonuclear device. While an H-bomb is most likely ruled out, it still leaves the possibility that North Korea has the capability to design compact nuclear weapons that use boosted fission, in which a relatively small energy release from nuclear fusion catalyzes a higher rate – and higher yield – of nuclear fission. A boosted fission nuclear device is still a threatening weapon of mass destruction and indicates a significant technological advance in the North Korean nuclear program.
By February 1, 2016, will a major news source run an article reporting that the blast detected on January 6th is from a boosted fission nuclear weapon?
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Predictions are the heart of Metaculus. Predicting is how you contribute to the wisdom of the crowd, and how you earn points and build up your personal Metaculus track record.
The basics of predicting are very simple: move the slider to best match the likelihood of the outcome, and click predict. You can predict as often as you want, and you're encouraged to change your mind when new information becomes available. With tachyons you'll even be able to go back in time and backdate your prediction to maximize your points.
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Metaculus help: Community Stats
Use the community stats to get a better sense of the community consensus (or lack thereof) for this question. Sometimes people have wildly different ideas about the likely outcomes, and sometimes people are in close agreement. There are even times when the community seems very certain of uncertainty, like when everyone agrees that event is only 50% likely to happen.
When you make a prediction, check the community stats to see where you land. If your prediction is an outlier, might there be something you're overlooking that others have seen? Or do you have special insight that others are lacking? Either way, it might be a good idea to join the discussion in the comments.