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A Nonny Moose

1961 The Near Miss at Aramageddon.

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250 times the power of Hiroshima and Nagasaki... Would that also indicate the area damaged, or purely the effect in the area? In the map NC looks far from Washington, or indeed any major centre. However if the bomb's effect was 250 times Hiroshima... I suppose its effect (immediate, not purely after effects from contamination of the atmosphere and soil) would be much broader?

 

At any rate I had read about the Cuban Missile Crisis and how WWIII was narrowly averted before. Wasn't aware of this. However one wonders, how exactly is this an act of war? Wasn't the B 52 an American plane? If it dropped a bomb by accident that wouldn't be a signal to Russia to start a war, surely? That would just make America look stupid.

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I think the "250 times as powerful" number refers to the actual energy released in the blast.

 

However, that's NOT to say it would bring devastation in a radius 250 times greater than in Hiroshima.

 

You see, assuming the energy is spread equally in all directions (not entirely true, but close enough for most intents and purposes), the blast wave appears as an expanding sphere. The limited amount of energy is used to "push" the surface of that sphere outwards. But as the radius increases, the sphere grows, and there is less energy for each square metre of sphere surface.

 

This means that the devastation effects are proportionate to the cube root of the power. In short, to increase the blast distance by a factor of 10 compared to Hiroshima (and we seem to like comparing stuff to the Hiroshima bomb), you'd have to have 1000 times as much energy. A blast 250 times the power of Little Boy would destroy stuff in a 6.3 times greater radius. Or an area roughly 16 times larger, if my math doesn't fail me.

 

Though, that is only part of the equation. The 1961 bomb is said to have near-detonated on impact. That means that half of the energy is transferred directly into the ground. Most of the other half would go skywards, and only a narrow strip - the "equator" of the fireball - would destroy stuff on the ground. The Hiroshima bomb was an aerial blast, meaning that its blast energy - at least the part of it that didn't go skyward or to the sides - was directed down- and outwards upon detonation, thus frying the poor Japanese city. A surface detonation would be far less efficient as far as explosive energy goes, meaning that the area of total destruction if this bomb had gone off, somehow could wind up being smaller than what was destroyed in Hiroshima.

 

However, the radiation effects would have made Hiroshima seem like a minor nuisance. That half of the explosive energy going groundwards would tear up a pretty big crater, sending a good chunk of dirt, rock and debris flying. This dirt, rock, debris and the dust it creates/gets transformed into would also be highly radioactive, because of its proximity to the detonation. And, being dust, it would fly with the wind and spread far, irradiating whatever it eventually landed on. In Chernobyl, the radioactive dust that spread across Europe was created when parts of a power plant exploded. Now make that a good few thousand cubic metres of dust, and see how far that would spread. You would most likely have to evacuate the entire Southeast of the US, and live with an increased amount of cancer in the rest of the country. Maybe even New York would have to be deserted for a few years (depending on the half-life of the isotopes). I guess the US as a nation would survive the event just fine, but with some economic hardship and a definite dip in productivity.

 

Still less than a hassle than if Yellowstone goes off, though.

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  • Original Poster
  • The point is that in 1961 unless someone was really fast on the uptake this would have been seen as an attack, and the Americans would have nuked the Russians who would have retaliated.  There were many trigger fingers around and very few reasonable men.

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    I think the "250 times as powerful" number refers to the actual energy released in the blast.

     

    However, that's NOT to say it would bring devastation in a radius 250 times greater than in Hiroshima.

    Indeed, it is why the US and the USSR hardly bothered with producing megaton weapons. The destructive powers only increases marginally compared to the energy input your require. The ones that they did made were more for showing off. 

     

     

    But really, this is nothing. Yeah, it would have been a terrible accident. But there have been times we were just minutes away of full blown nuclear war. Which is a tad bit worse than one nuke going off by accident.

     

     

    EDIT: this is a fun little site I found a while back. To put a nuclear explosion in perspective. 

    http://nuclearsecrecy.com/nukemap/

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  • Original Poster
  • How many of us have seen Seven Days in May?  Or how about Dr. Strangelove (or how i learned to stop worrying and love the bomb).  And while we are at it, how about some main stream science (speculative) fiction such as "if This Goes On" and "Revolt in 2100" both by R. A. Heinlein (also a former naval person).

     

    In Strangelove, I particularly like the scene with Slim Pickens riding the bomb into the future.

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