Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Tsar Bomba : the most powerful nuclear weapon ever detonated

Developed by the Soviet Union, the bomb was originally designed to have a yield of about 100 megatons of TNT (420 PJ), but the yield was reduced to 50 megatons in order to reduce nuclear fallout. This attempt was successful, as it was one of the cleanest (relative to its yield) nuclear bombs ever detonated. This is equivalent to 1,400 times the combined power of the bombs that destroyed Hiroshima and Nagasaki, 10 times the combined power of all the explosives used in WWII, or one quarter of the estimated yield of the 1883 eruption of Krakatoa.
The fireball reached nearly as high as the altitude of the release plane and was seen almost 1,000 kilometres (620 mi) from ground zero. The subsequent mushroom cloud was about 64 kilometres (40 mi) high (nearly eight times the height of Mount Everest), which meant that the cloud was well inside the mesosphere when it peaked. The base of the cloud was 40 kilometres (25 mi) wide. All buildings in the village of Severny (both wooden and brick), located 55 kilometres (34 mi) from ground zero within the Sukhoy Nos test range, were completely destroyed. In districts hundreds of kilometers from ground zero, wooden houses were destroyed, stone ones lost their roofs, windows and doors; and radio communications were interrupted for almost one hour. One participant in the test saw a bright flash through dark goggles and felt the effects of a thermal pulse even at a distance of 270 kilometres (170 mi). The heat from the explosion could have caused third-degree burns 100 km (62 mi) away from ground zero. A shock wave was observed in the air at Dikson settlement 700 kilometres (430 mi) away; windowpanes were partially broken to distances of 900 kilometres (560 mi). Atmospheric focusing caused blast damage at even greater distances, breaking windows in Norway and Finland.